Freighting Dog, not Sled Dog

A “cap” refers to the facial markings over the skull of an Alaskan Malamute, but we used this “intro” as an excuse to save yourself from referring to the Malamute as a “sled dog.”

Malamutes are “freight” dogs considered too slow for professional sled dog racing. Long ago, the Inuit used these dogs to pull a travois, a frame that had a platform or netting mounted on two long poles to form an elongated triangle.


A travois


Sled parts believed to date back to 1150 A.D. and the Thule culture, ancestors of today’s Inuit, have been found by archeologists in North America. Scientists think the early sleds were made of whale and caribou bones, the runners built up from moss and mud. Early harnesses and tug lines were probably made from seal skin, and together, these formed the manner by which the Malamute helped move food and goods over land. Fast forward to WWII, and the dogs were used as rescue dogs, and to drag heavy loads through the snow.

Understandably, the Malamute is a star at canine weight pulling events. Its powerful build,  tireless, balanced, and steady gait are well suited for the job. In fact, Mark Johnson, a judge for the 2010 Alaskan Malamute Club of America National Specialty Working Dog Showcase, along with his wife, Michelle, competed in their first weight pull in 2003, and their Malamutes earned many titles in both IWPA and AMCA events. Check out the Alaskan Malamute Club of America where the club offers rules and guidelines for events such as weight pulling, packing, carting, cross country and freighting, among other activities.

“Running Team” by Amit Eshel – Siberian Art

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