In deep snow, the dog is the most important partner in the hard struggle for survival of man and nature. Eskimos bred their dogs so they could serve their purposes, and also in the long-haul ice or snow they were the best means of transport. The dog was also a very useful animal when speaking about delivering food, as it was too difficult for a man to move meat after hunting an animal. Such factors like the color of the eyes of the appearance of the skin were of secondary importance for the owner. Such properties as strength and obedience were more important. Therefore, these old-times’ dogs have almost nothing in common with those sled dogs of the modern times, which are more a result of long series of breeding. The term sled dog will be more understood today as a dog which can keep up enormous physical and mental pressure. Such dog is drilled for the matter of pulling the sleigh on it’s own stimulus. Dog sled races today are of two kinds, either over short distances of up to two runs or in the form of long-haul races. In the case of the long run the sled dog should pull not only the driver but overcome long distances in any weather and track conditions.
The organization of shorter races is the responsibility of the respective national sports associations which regulate what kinds of dogs may participate, which classes, which is the size of the harness, and define the distances.
The participation in a dog sled race requires a reliable dog team and the right dog sled. During the long-distance race dog food, shoes for the dogs, also known as Booties, and everything you need for the establishment of a bivouac, a night camp is just as important as taking the proper equipment.
The most important race is probably the Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Anchorage in Nome.