A dog sled is a sled pulled by dogs over ice or through snow. At one time, people who lived in the Arctic regions relied on sled dogs as their main mode of transportation. Sled dogs also have been used to transport supplies, mail and medicine.

Dog sled teams can travel at speeds up to 20 mph. Such travel requires endurance and speed. Though many breeds of dogs are used, two common breeds of sled dogs are Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.

Dog sledding is sometimes called “mushing,” and a person who travels by dog sled is called a “musher.” Mushers take great care when selecting their dog sled team, which includes several dogs with different jobs. The dogs are tied together by a long “gangline” running between them.

Many mushers consider the “lead dog,” which stays out front, the most important member of the pack. “Swing dogs” follow behind the lead dog and help it turn the pack. After the swing dogs come the “team dogs,” which provide momentum and speed.

The “wheel dogs” bring up the rear. Wheel dogs, usually the largest dogs on the team, must be able to free the sled if it gets stuck in snow or ice.

Dog sledding has also become a recreational sport. Each year mushers from around the world travel to Alaska for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Over the course of nine to 15 days, mushers and their teams make their way across 1,161 miles of trail. Even though race conditions can be quite brutal, with heavy snowstorms and wind-chill temperatures dropping below -100° F, the Iditarod remains the most popular sporting event in Alaska.


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    • COOL, Izzy, we are glad you enjoyed WONDERing about dog sled races today! We hope you have a terrific day, Wonder Friend! :)

  1. Once me my dad and my brother took my dog (Lola, a puggle) to Art Hill and she pulled us down the hill it was so funny a lot of kids said funny things as we went down it was so much fun.

    • WOW, what a cool story about making your own dog sled, Ella– we think you’re a very crafty Wonder Family! We are so glad you connected a fun family activity to our Wonder about dog sledding today! Thanks for sharing your comment, Ella! :)

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Hi,my name is Shyann and I really liked this, and I wish for more information on the what is a sled dog. Oh, I meant I love this so, bye. Thank you for the information. GOOD BYE Wonderopolis. 😀

    • You are so welcome, Shyann! We are so glad to have you WONDERing in Wonderopolis, today! Thank you, Wonder Friend! :-)

  3. Dear Wonderopilis,

    I think Dog Sleds are Wonder-ful!
    I’ve always wanted to be in a Dog Sled!
    It would be fun riding in a Dog Sled.
    I wonder if one of the members of
    Wonderopilis has been or even seen
    a Dog Sled.

    Your friend,

    • Absolutely WONDERful, Kailey! We’ve never actually seen a real dog sled up close before, but we have lots of experience seeing them virtually on our computers. Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I liked your story it was really good! Thanks for teaching me about sled dog races. The races are so awesome. When I grow up I want to be in one. That will be so cool. Also, please write to me.

    Your Friend,
    P.S How long has Wonderopolis been here?

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I learned that dog sleds are used for many things like carrying medicine.

    Your friend,

    PS. Are you friends with DOGO news?

    • WONDERful, Kyle! It sounds like you learned a lot from this Wonder. We’ll be sure to check out DOGO. Keep WONDERing with us Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a dog sled?
  • What types of dogs make up a dog sled team?
  • What is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race?

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Try It Out

Don’t have a sled or a pack of dogs? Can’t make it to Alaska? No problem!

You can still participate in the Iditarod by taking a virtual journey with the Iditarod Traveling Quilt! If you’re in a crafty mood, you can even create your own quilt square to be included in the “virtual quilt.”


Still Wondering

Attend the Geographical Dog Show at National Geographic Xpeditions, where you will learn about how dogs were domesticated from wolves and why people bred dogs for different tasks.


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