Dog sledding


Overview

Dog-sledding travel guide, including maps, top dog-sledding experiences, tips for dog-sledding, when to try dog-sledding and dog-sledding tips

There is no better way to zip across the frozen tundra than on a husky sled. With no engine to interrupt the silence, the only sounds are the swoosh of the sleigh and bursts of yelping canine exuberance.

You can try dog sledding in many parts of the word – traditionally, the colder and more remote the region, the more likely people are to harness doggie-power. Areas above the Arctic Circle – Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Russia – are popular dog-sledding destinations.

Husky sledging isn’t just about whooshing through a crystalline wilderness behind a team of speeding sled dogs, though – it can turn into a winter safari, too. Dog sledding is a great way to glimpse wintertime’s Big Four wildlife (moose, caribou, wolf, brown bear) as well as nature’s own light show, the aurora borealis (northern lights).

Dog sledding is also easily combined with other winter holiday experiences such as a stay at an Ice Hotel, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing or pleasingly-hot post-sledding saunas.

Dog sledding consists of teams of dogs harnessed to wooden or metal sledges, whilst the driver or ‘musher’ stands behind the dogs on runners. Dog speed and direction are controlled by voice commands, not reins.

Dog sled teams are comprised of leader dogs, swing dogs and wheel dogs. Lead dogs run in front and are chosen for their courage and bravery; behind them swing dogs help with turning; wheel dogs are the brute strength needed to break the sled out from the snow.

Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are most often harnessed for dog sledging; however, one infamous team of poodles once completed the Iditarod race – a gruelling 1,840km scamper across Alaska's mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and windswept coastline.

But don't worry – you don't have to tackle such a long-distance trail – though go husky sledding for an afternoon and you might well be hooked.

Further Reading

Dog sledding Top 5

  1. Head out on a multi-day dog-sledding trip from Kiruna, Sweden. Home of the famed Ice Hotel, Kiruna is a great base for both short afternoon taster sledding sessions or longer expeditions. On multi-day trips you get to explore further and form a deeper bond with your dogs, as well as camping out in remote (mercifully heated) cabins.
  2. Mush dogs in Yukon, Canada. Dod-sleds have long been a favoured mode of transport in these parts, plus the dogs in North America and Scandinavia tend to be friendlier than those raised in Greenland and around. Most operators are based in Whitehorse, so head here to plan your trip.
  3. Take a husky safari in Spitsbergen. Mush your dogs across this island in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, keeping a keen look out for the resident polar bears. As well as exploring the glaciers and iced-up lakes, you could ride out to the Nooderlicht, an elegant schooner purposefully frozen into the the ice each winter to provide one of the world's most atmospheric hotels.
  4. Husky-sled in Alaska, home of the Iditarod. Alaskans are serious about their dog-sledding, as this annual 1,800km race attests. But novices can also have a go: try the Winterlake Lodge in south-central Alaska to combine sledding with a comfy hotel. Or take your hounds out in Denali National Park.
  5. Mix culture and dog-sledding in Nunavut, Canada. This northerly territory is the homeland of Canada's Inuit, who have long been utilising doggy power to get around. Head to capital Iqaluit in April for the Toonik Tyme festivities – to celebrate the coming of spring the town hosts dog-sled races as well as ice-sculpture competitions and throat-singing workshops.