Last Updated on August 16, 2021 by Marco
Once upon a time, teams of Huskies pulled sleds in the coldest place on earth – Antarctica. In 1899, 75 of these beautiful dogs disembarked from a ship called the ‘Southern Cross’, about to take their place in history with the British Antarctic Expedition. There was a huge blizzard on the first night, and these incredible dogs lay on top of their human masters and kept them warm enough to live through the night. Amazingly, one of these dogs was thought lost when it was blown out to sea on an ice floe but it turned up again ten weeks later, alive and in good health! This story demonstrates how hardy this breed is.
For the next 70 years, sled dogs like Huskies were a vital part of the exploration of this vast southern continent, and it was not until the 1970s that their time was up, with the invention of the snowmobile, and laws forbidding foreign animals in Antarctica.
In this article, we will answer the question, how much weight can a Husky pull? We will also discuss how much weight sled dogs and other dogs can pull too.
How Many Pounds Can A Sled Dog Pull?
In the 1950s, an English scientist came up with the ideal dimensions for a sled dog. It was stated that they should be 23 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh 90 pounds.
A dog of these dimensions could pull a load of 120 pounds. This was dependent on various factors such as the temperature, the dog’s diet, the weather factors (i.e. snow and wind), and mental fatigue. If conditions were optimal, dog teams could cover up to 16 miles per day. The lighter dogs went at the front of the pack, and the heavier dogs went to the rear.
These dogs would need to consume 5,000 kcal per day to keep up this level of activity. Ideal foods for energy and overall health were seal and whale meat, and the blubber, which has very high calorific value, keeping weight on the sled dogs.
They would have a sled-pulling career of around 7 to 8 years if they were properly fed and cared for. After this, the dogs develop osteoarthritis in their hips and shoulders from the pressure of the sled harness.
The Story Of Boo Boo
To illustrate just how phenomenal these dogs are at pulling sleds in snow, consider Boo Boo. He was actually born in Antarctica in 1961 and began his career the following year. By the time he retired in 1971, he had covered 10.5 thousand miles on foot, he had “pulled sledges of over 1,000 lbs accounting for 4,675 tons of supplies moved of which his own contribution was 500 tons” (Cool Antarctica).
Boo Boo was given a nice retirement, as thanks for his amazing contribution to the British Antarctic Exploration effort. Rather than being chained up like the other sled dogs, Boo Boo was allowed to wander around the station freely. He was often seen visiting his female sled dog girlfriends, delivering them his portion of seal meat as a gift. How sweet is that?
How Much Can A Husky Pull?
Huskies can pull a weight of around 90 pounds. The average Husky can run 10 to 20 miles if untrained, and 40 miles at a time if trained. Trained Huskies working in a team pulling a sled can travel 137 miles in one day! Scientists attribute this to their ability to draw fat directly from their bloodstream once all of their stores of glycogen had been used up.
How Much Can Other Dogs Pull?
The world record for weight pulling is by an Alaskan Malamute called Delbert, who pulled an astonishing 5,400 pounds! Delbert himself weighed a whopping 150 pounds, so he was a big dog indeed.
Dog Weight Pulling is a recognized sport with some international kennel clubs, including the United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club.
The rules state that the dogs should pull over a distance no greater than 16 feet. They wear a special harness to ensure that they do not injure themselves.
Having said that, whilst Huskies make superb sled-pulling dogs, this sport comes with associated risks such as damage to hips; Huskies are prone to hip dysplasia so dog pulling as a sport seems to be the domain of bull-type breeds – dogs with squat legs and big chests, such as the American Staffordshire or the Pit Bull Terrier.
Learn more about: What Is A Siberian Husky Timber Wolf Mix?
A (Very) Brief history Of Dog Sledding
The oldest sled was found in Finland, which archaeologists dated back as far as 9,000 years.
Teams of sled dogs were used in Greenland to travel across the ice and hunt polar bears. They pulled sleds made of driftwood and wore harnesses made of leather straps. 10 to 14 sled dogs would pull in a fan formation, with the dogs spread out across the ice, with no leader.
Teams of sled dogs worked in Alaska in the 1800s when the fur trade began, and then in Canada when gold was struck at Klondike. Not only did these sled dogs pull the valuable cargo, but they were also used as mail couriers.
One fur trader called Goosak was ridiculed for his team of Huskies, which were small compared to other fur traders’ dogs. But when Goosak’s so-called ‘Siberian Rats’ beat the other dog teams in a race, their reputation as being both hardy and fast was established.
Sled dogs were even used in World Wars I and II, to transport supplies, munitions, medicine, and mail to the front. The US military preferred dogs over horses because they could cover trickier terrain.
How Much Weight Can A Husky Pull?
So there you have it, readers. Huskies and other sled dogs who are seasoned can pull up to 90 pounds if they are well-cared for.
Whilst today we may not have the need for sled dogs as we did in the past, dog sledding is still a popular past-time for Husky enthusiasts.
You can check out a cute video of Husky teams doing what they do best here. This is the 2010 Thunder Bay Classic in Canada, where teams of 5 dogs pull a light sled with one driver and minimal cargo. Just look at the dogs’ faces, they are clearly loving every minute of the race!