Friday, March 20, 2009

Dog Breeds I know for Skijoring and Scootering

Seamus Loves me

By now I have plenty of experience with Alaskan Huskies and German Shorthaired Pointers as working dogs. My first Alaskan Husky "Flash" recently died at 16 years of age. He was my first leader and a great dog that I took for granted.

Flash is the black Husky under my arm. From right to left is Kit Callahan, Jean Cleary, George Salmon, Cindy Samon and myself at the 1999 Limited North American Championships in Fairbanks AK

I used Alaskans exclusively for my first ten years of competitive skijoring. For the last five years I have been using German Shorthaired Pointers for my "A" team. My first GSP was "Otto" who I really like. He was just a garden variety GSP from an add in the local paper. He was a cull from a hunting kennel. I liked Otto so much that my next two dogs were also GSPs from the pound in Susanville CA that I found through Both Mojo and Seamus turned out to be great dogs for skijoring and scootering. They have good top speed that you need for competition and Mojo has the brains and ambition to be a great lead dog. Seamus on the other hand can really go but is as dumb as a rock. He has a very sweet and lovable personality though.

This photo show Tempo in lead with Streak and Flash following single file, breaking trail for me. Living the Dream!

As much as I love my GSPs I now regret that I did not stick with the Alaskan Husky. The main reason is that I love to skijor in the backcountry. The GSPs are so thin coated that they suffer from chafing when the snow is a little crusty. I can't use them for breaking trail in front of me. In my world, living the dream is having a three dog team in front of you breaking trail while you follow on skis. I took this for granted when I had Alaskans. I had no idea how much I would miss it when I went over to the GSPs. I can still run them in the winter because they have good feet and the stiff hair between their toes does not build up snow when the snow is wet like other bird dog breeds with fine hair. They just need a packed trail generated by a snowmachine or another skier ahead.
What I do like about the GSPs is that I can run them for an extra two months in fall and spring because they are not as prone to overheat. This gives me an advantage for scooter racing because I can start training them earlier in the fall than my closest competitors who are running Alaskans.
I can't say much about any other breeds for skijoring or scootering. I know my closest competitors are all running Alaskan Huskies. Other breeds are far behind in speed needed for competition. Any dog can be taught to be a good skijor dog but in the elite world of competitive skijoring and scootering the Alaskan Husky rules. Occasionally a German Shepherd, a Malinois a GSP, a Dalmation or a coonhound make take the day money but in distance sprint, freight and all other sled dog sports you can't beat the Alaskan Husky.
Notice I didn't mention the Siberian Husky. I love Siberians for their personality and independence. They make great scooter and skijor dogs. They are not very competitive though. You have to love the dog you have and there is nothing wrong with that.

This is my 2001 team of Alaskan Huskies on top of a mountan near Lake Tahoe


KiersTi said...

I love the Alaskan huskies. They are just a georgeous, all purpose, tough, smart and fast dog. I think they'll end up with the staying power, while the greysters will fade away- mixed into AK husky. Thanks for your info here. I've been browsing and enjoying the lead dog training section.

Mike Callahan said...

Thank you Kiersten for the kind comment.
I might be a little late coming back to my blog with photos but I hope to keep posting because I love the sport so much. Recently I have been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I have a big fight ahead and my dogs having been in almost peak performance are now going to have to languish a little.


J. Jeffrey Bragg said...

Seppala Siberian Sleddogs, although probably not competitive at elite racing levels, are great for skijoring, bikejoring and scootering, due to their responsiveness and manageability. They want to do the right thing and listen up well. Great for the person who just likes to get out to enjoy the dogs and the experience.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, this is fab! I knew about dog sledding, but these dog sports (skijoring, scootering and bikejoring) are all new to me! Thanks so much for sharing this blog.

Anonymous said...

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