Meet the Dogs

The Sled Dog Association of Scotland welcomes all dogs who enjoy running and pulling in harness – dogs of Arctic heritage compete alongside Alaskan/Pointers, sleek trailhounds, gundogs and dogs of no particular breed. Here are a few of the types of canine athletes you will find taking part in our races.

Siberian Husky

Origin and History
Breed of medium-sized, muscular working dog whose origins date back thousands of years in Siberia. Raised by the Eskimo like Chukchi of Northeast Siberia to pull their sleds, the Siberian also acted as a guard to their homes and as a companion. Down through the centuries this service has created in the Siberian husky a strong sense of gentleness and devotion to people and their families. The Siberian is popular in sled dog racing. Among purebred dogs, the term husky is properly applied only to this breed, although it is often used of any mixed-breed arctic sled dog.

Siberians are very affectionate sociable dogs that seek attention of others (both four-legged and two-legged) and are not suitable as guard dogs as they would probably lick an intruder to death.

General Appearance

A medium sized working dog should be well muscled but not heavy. Any extra weight should be reduced to a minimum, as it is easier on the dog during racing if it is not carrying excess weight. However, the dog should not resemble a sprint racer or Greyhound.They tend to stand between 21”–23.5” in dogs, and 20”–22” in bitches at the shoulder and weigh between 45lbs–60lbs (dogs) and 35lbs–50lbs (bitches). Its weather-resistant double coat is composed of a dense, downy under layer and a medium-length, very dense, softer outer coat. The colour of the coat varies from black, white, tan, grey, red, brown, and sable, and there are various of these colour-combinations that a husky can come in.


■a foxy head with triangular, well-furred ears
■almond shaped eyes which can vary in tones of browns and blues. A husky may also have two different coloured eyes or what is known as a ‘split eye’ (where the one eye can be split – where half maybe blue and the other half brown.)
■an arched neck on a moderately sized body
■a straight back and a lean loin
■a sloped croup
■a tail that is carried in a sickle curve when the dog is on the move and should not be as tightly curled as in the Samoyed
■oval feet that are cat like in appearance
Good Points:
■Likes Children
■Doesn’t bark (but tend to howl, usually as a commune)
■Love to please
■Hard workers
■Very affectionate
Bad Points:
■Like digging up your garden
■Can become very destructive if bored (become bored easily)
■Love to hunt so don’t let them off the lead
■Well known as escape artists
■Each dog throws the undercoat twice a year
■Stubbornness that leads to a difficulty (but not an impossibility) to train

Alaskan Malamute

Origin and History
The Alaskan Malamute is named after a native Inuit tribe called the Mahlemut. These magnificent dogs have only been registered as a breed since the early 1930s when they were bred to form teams for the Antarctic expeditions. They are relatively unknown prior to this. To date there are only approximately 600 in the UK.

The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a “one-man” dog. He is a loyal devoted companion, playful on invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity.

General Appearance
The Alaskan Malamute is the heaviest of the Arctic spitz-type breeds and causes much conversation over its “wolfy” appearance. It is primarily a working sled dog used for hauling heavy freight and therefore should be heavy boned and powerfully built. They are not built for speed and are therefore less desirable for sled dog sprint racing.

The Malamute should have a thick, coarse guard coat, not long and soft. The undercoat is dense, oily and woolly. The double coat is critically important to the dog’s survival in Arctic conditions.

The chest should be strong and deep; the body should be strong and compactly built. The loins should be well muscled and not so short as to interfere with easy, rhythmic movement with the powerful drive from the hindquarters.

The head and skull should be broad and powerful. The eyes should be almond shape and the ears moderately rounded. The tail should be carried over the spine and have the appearance of a waving plume. The Alaskan Malamute must have strong, tight compact feet to be an efficient draft animal with great endurance.

Dog – 25” – 28” – (desirable freighting size is at the lower end of the range)
Bitch – 23” – 26”
Weight – 85lb to 125lb

The most common markings are wolf grey but black and red-coated Malamutes are quite acceptable. The facial markings are varied too ranging from an “open face” i.e. no black spectacles around the eyes to a black mask. Uneven splashes of coat are undesirable and the only solid colour allowed is the all-white.

Good Points:
■Strong and keen to work
■Loves children
■Keen to please
Bad Points:
■Not easy to train
■Can be dominant with other dogs

Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is considered to be North America’s oldest purebred indigenous dog. It is known to have been resident in the Arctic for 4000 years and was breed by the Thule people who have been resident of Alaska since 500AD. It was and still is used as a dual purpose dog, often being put to work hunting seals or hauling supplies and people.

In the 1800s and 1900s they were in great demand for Polar expeditions, but the population fell from 20,000 in the 1920s to being virtually extinct. The Canadian Government funded a breeding and research programme in 1972. Though the Canadian Eskimo Dog is still a rare breed, it is slowly growing in strength and popularity.

The Canadian Eskimo Dog has a zest for life, they have a gentle disposition, are alert and very intelligent. The CED should be powerfully built, athletic and imposing in appearance. A Powerful physique giving the impression that he is not built for speed but rather for hard work. He has erect, triangular ears and a heavily feathered tail that is carried over his back. Males should be distinctly more masculine than females, who are finer boned, smaller and often have a slightly shorter coat. The coat is very thick and dense, with a soft undercoat and stiff, coarse guard hairs. They are fairly easy to care for of the year, needing brushing only one or two times a week. However when he sheds (which happens once a year, or more depending on the climate) he will need grooming every day. They have a mane of thicker fur around the neck, which is quite impressive in the males and adds an illusion of additional size.

CED/CID’s can be almost any colour and no one colour or colour pattern should dominate. Solid white dogs are often seen, as well as white dogs with patches of another colour on the head or both body and head. Solid liver or black coloured dogs are common as well. Many of the solid coloured dogs have white mask-like markings on the face, sometimes with spots over the eyes. Others might have white socks and nose stripes with no eye spots or mask.

Dogs 58-70 cms (22-27½ ins), bitches 50-60 cms (19½-23½ ins).

Dogs 30-40 kgs (66-88lbs), bitches 18-30 kgs (40-66 lbs).

Greenland Dogs
The Greenland Dog originates from the coastal area of the Arctic regions of Northern Siberia Alaska, Canada and Greenland and is one of the oldest breeds in the world. Remains have been found in the New Siberian Islands that have been carbon dated to around 9,000 years old. It is known that the dog first reached Greenland with the Sarqaq people around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The breed has been known in the past by a variety of names including Eskimo Dog, Husky, Inuit Dog, Esquimaux and settled on it’s current name Greenland Dog in 1990 to fall in line with the rest of Europe where it is known as the Gronlandhund. Unfortunately, due to the decline of dog-drawn transport, they have suffered a great fall in numbers since the turn of the last century. It is believed that the first Greenland Dogs were brought into the UK in around 1750.

Strong in body and mind, Greenland Dogs require firm handling and are not for the novice dog owner. Owners Dog must be patient and determined when training, particularly in the early months of a dog’s life, but will find the rewards wholly worthwhile. The Greenland Dog does not make for a good guard dog, although their size and appearance could deter potential burglars. They are an independent, stubborn and dominant breed yet highly intelligent and will challenge their owner so training must be persistent, patient and consistent in correcting the dog. They are affectionate with people but as with all primitive Spitz breeds, they can be assertive with other dogs where their pack mentality is brought to the fore. A passionate and tireless sled dog who enjoys life to the full, a happy extrovert with a true sense of humour and are extremely inquisitive.

dogs: 58-68 cms (23-27 ins) at shoulder; bitches: 51-61 cms (20-24 ins) at shoulder.
dogs: 34-47.5 kgs (75-105 lbs), bitches: 27-41 kgs (60-90 lbs).


Origin and History
The Samoyed takes its name after an area in North West Siberia and the tribes that inhabited this area became known collectively as the Nenets. The Samoyed is an ancient breed, which in its native Siberia is used to herd reindeer, pulling sleds, guarding (more to notify of a strange presence than anything else) and its hair and hides were used for clothing.

This breed is stunning in appearance for its white coat but the original Samoyeds used in polar expeditions and imported into the UK were not just pure white but mixed in colour including brown and black but with the white being the most favoured.

As mentioned above the breed was used on early polar expeditions including those by Jackson, Nansen and Shackleton and many of the survivors of these expeditions were imported back to the UK to help found the breed here. However, the first true reference that has been found to Samoyeds is in 1690, although the first Samoyed came in to the UK in the 19th Century as a present to the Prince of Wales from his Russian cousin. Indeed in a portrait painted of the Prince and Princess of Wales for their Silver Wedding a Samoyed can be seen laying in front of them. However, the breed was first seriously imported into the UK in 1889 by Mr Kilburn Scott. Mr Scott and his wife began breeding and showing Samoyeds from 1896. The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1905. Currently approximately 1000 Samoyeds are registered with the Kennel Club each year.

Above all, the Samoyed is known for its kindness to all mankind. It is an affectionate and playful dog. Displays of nervousness or aggression to man are taken as serious faults. Having said that male Samoyeds can be quite aggressive towards each other and it can be difficult to keep two male Samoyeds together when there are bitches around.

General Appearance
This is a working dog whose appearance should be strong, active and graceful. The watchword for Samoyeds is medium and well balanced – there should be nothing exaggerated in any way. The breed standard states strong, active and free of coarseness. It is a dog is built for endurance rather than sprinting being required to work all day herding/guarding as well as pulling as required.

A Samoyed therefore should be well boned, muscular with a deep chest, well sprung ribs and strong loin. Feet should be flat and long with good furring.

The coat is the crowning glory of the Samoyed and should consist of a thick, close soft undercoat with a harsh overcoat coming through which stands away from the body. The tips of the outer coat should be silvertipped. The quality of the coat was critical to survival in Siberia. A feature of the Samoyed is its smiling expression. Ears should be thick, not too long and rounded at the tips set well apart and well furred on the inside.

Dogs – 20”- 22” at the shoulder
Bitches – 18”- 22” at the shoulder
Weight in proportion to size. Average weight for dogs is approximately 30 kg and 20-22 kg for bitches.

Pure white, white and biscuit and cream. Outer coat should be silver tipped.

Good Points
■Very affectionate
■Good with children
■Keen to please
■Intelligent and keen to work
Bad Points
■Can be vocal
■Very independent minded which can lead to them being seen as difficult to train
■Regular detailed grooming required


For Example:

■ Eurohounds
■ Scandinavian Hounds
■ Cumbrian Trailhounds
■ Alaskan Huskies.

There are also a number of non-KC registered Nordic breeds and Nordic breed crosses as well as non-nordic dog breeds competing in the open classes at present, such as Springer Spaniels, German Shepherd Dogs, Border Collies and German Wirehaired/Shorthaired Pointers .
In the mid to late 80’s the lure of competition in Alaska was growing for many European mushers. Predominantly Scandinavians, who wanted to arm themselves with teams that could compete at races such as the Open North American Championships (ONAC) and other top races in Alaska. Some very good Alaskan huskies had been previously imported to Scandinavia; these lines were based around Attla, Wright, Champaigne and Streeper dogs but were not progressing any further than their North American counterparts.
Pulka and Skijoring competition in Scandinavia had taken part for well over 50 years by this time, they were used for traditional hunting in the summer months which kept them fit and it was to these ‘hunting dogs’ that the mushers turned.
English and German Pointers have been used for this cross breeding purpose as well as the Scandinavian equivalent known as the Vorshter. Due to the individual characteristics of each dog being used, the resulting crossbreed would remain an uncertainty until proven in harness, so it was something of an experiment. But then most styles of breeding are the same in this respect.
Other breeds of dog were used at this point such as Greyhounds and Salukis, but these resulted in dogs that were too “houndy”; the Alaskan traits simply did not stick. The consideration of crossing dog types was made predominantly by mushers from Norway, they became the pioneers of the Scandinavian hound, otherwise know as the Eurohound but technically the same dog. At the forfront of this experiment were people such as Asbjourn Erdal Aase, Sletti Sedorf and Roger Leegard. Others such as Ellis, Waerner, Hillestad, Ropertz and Helmut Peer came much later when they too saw the competitive advantages and began to simulate the main Norwegian breeders.

It is important to consider the style and characteristics that each dog brings to the ‘party’.
From the Alaskan comes the inbred will to pull in harness. Some will have longer coats than others, but the majority will show strong working tendencies due to the lines selected.
From most ‘hound/hunting’ types a substantial amount of stamina comes, and varying degrees of speed. The English Pointer will show fairly stubborn tendencies, are often ‘solid’ in the head and normally heavier muscled than most. The German Pointer shows similar physical characteristics but has a ‘softer’ head. They are renowned to be more of a thinking dog and have been known to remember stress situations and be permanently put off by them. Bad trail surfaces and fast descents at a young age could be the stress occasions the GSP remembers.
The Vorshter is physically ‘finer boned’ and tend to throw dogs which are lighter on their feet and consequently smoother running. The down side is a dog which is very easily spooked and requires a different handling style, and a softer, calmer approach.
In all cases, it is important to determine the use for these dogs as the cross breeding, like all breeding, allows the musher to determine the size of the offspring reasonably specifically. So, if 4 dog class is your thing, it might make sense to look for parents of predominantly English Pointer lines and if Open class is your goal then a smooth running Vorshter might be your thing.
To complicate the issue, Pulka racers crossed Vorshters with Greyhounds to produce a Greyster. The smooth running Vorshter gained extra size and muscle from the Greyhound to produce a good limited class dog; suitable for breeding back to the more traditional Pointer crosses.
In general, the favored mix at present is a dog that contains two types of hound cross, i.e. a bit of Vorshter with a bit of Pointer and a bigger bit of Alaskan.
(Information extracted from an article written by Graeme Scott)

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