The sled dogs we use at White Wolf are known as "Alaskan Huskies". The Alaskan Husky is a very specialized dog. Many of the best trace back to tiny villages in the interior of Alaska. Towns like Tanana, Koyukuk, Huslia, Allakaket, and Ruby have all played a major role in today's superior canine athletes. Over the years, countless breeds, including Alaskan Malamute, retrievers, hounds, shepherds, Siberian Huskys, Saluki and even cattle dogs have all been mixed into the lineage, according to each musher's theories and expectations.
Most mushers desire dogs with shorter coats. Even in extreme cold, fleece jackets can be strapped onto a dog with a short coat. However, the effects of a long-coated dog overheating in temperatures above 15 or 20 degrees can be disastrous or even fatal.
At 40 below, snow can be as abrasive as sandpaper; but in warmer temperatures the same snow can form balls that form in between the dogs' toes. When sled dogs travel for long distances, booties offer protection from both of these effects. Mushers consider the feet of such importance that this is a prime consideration in breeding. "Tight" feet (that don't splay) are desirable as well as tough pads that don't easily abrade.
Sled dogs must love to run and this love must overcome any other condition that is present for them. Most importantly, the ability to push on, to keep to the trail, to keep eating, and to sleep well during rests - just like any human athlete. Dogs with "good heads" can overcome malaise that might be communicated from dog to dog during stressful times.
The Eyes And Ears
Eye color and ear type are of little concern and these features are accepted in almost any combination. You will see sled dogs with large, small, erect, and floppy ears. You also will notice blue eyed, brown eyed, gray eyed or even a combination of both brown and blue.
If a sled dog has any misalignment in its gait or imperfection in its legs, its muscles may not withstand the wear of countless miles in many types of conditions. These dogs take thousands of strides during any race or long distance trip. This is another primary consideration in breeding.
A 50-pound dog needs to consume 10,000 calories a day during a long-distance race or trip. When the temperatures are extremely cold, even more calories are required. A sled dog's diet is much like a master chef's secret recipe - each musher has his own twist, based on much research and experimentation.
Male Vs Female
Males generally outnumber females on race teams. For trips such as we provide the ratio is inconsequential. Females can be snappish when they're in heat and can disrupt their own team and others nearby. This becomes a major consideration in the makeup of each team during a race or a trip. Males, on the other hand, are more aggressive. The placement and composition of each team takes careful consideration, although during a trip dogs can and will be switched as needed. In a race, however, this maneuver loses time and is only done as is absolutely necessary.
The Evolution of Speed
Most people's reaction when they see one of today's sled dogs is "I didn't expect them to be so small or thin." A long-distance sled dog is a more refined animal than the 100 pound-plus canines of the "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" days. Most of today's teams are composed of 40 to 60 pound dogs, and the prime age is usually between 3 and 7, with some pulling a sled up until they are even 11 years old! This concludes our brief introduction to Sled Dogs, if you would like to learn more please feel free to email us.