Dogsledding has a longstanding history as a part of Quebec and Canadian culture. It began as a method of transportation and then slowly developed into the popular sport and winter activity that it is today. Drivers of sled dogs are referred to as “mushers” and the origin of the word comes from Canadian sled drivers lingo. The word “marche” in French means to walk or work, which became “mush” in English, which is used to advance the dog teams. Mushers use this and other precise sled dog commands to communicate with their “work companions”.
About the Dogs: Types of Dogs
There are several breeds of sled dogs which are part of the sport, these include the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, and the Alaskan Husky. The Siberian Husky is a working dog of medium size, effective in pulling lightweight over long distances. They are often more reserved and independent, with a thick undercoat and a fur of many colours. The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest varieties of sled dogs, is a larger and powerful breed. They are designed for strength and endurance, recognized for pulling heavy loads, and also come in a variety of different colours. The Alaskan Husky is actually a crossbreed between husky-type dogs and other more slender breeds such as greyhounds, setters and hounds. The reason for this crossbreed was to have a faster dog for racing. It is the most common type of sled dog today and they have a wide variety of colours, weights and sizes. Their fur is never long to optimize the discharge of heat during running.
A common misconception about sled dogs is that they are all large robust animals, when in fact many of the dogs, including the Alaskan Husky, have lean frames and powerful muscles, in addition to shorter fur which gives them a more slender appearance.
Another common question asked is if I have to wear so many layers of clothing outside, are the dogs cold? Definitely not! Sled dogs have been living outside for thousands of years – it’s their natural habitat! They are adapted to outdoor life, so they absolutely love the cold and are always ready for some fun in the snow.
About the Dogs: How We Care for Them
Safety and wellbeing of our dogs are of utmost importance to us. All our dogsled operations are required by contract to comply with provincial and federal regulations and have their health regularly checked by veterinarians. They must have a MAPAQ (Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec) permit in order to operate in Quebec. Both MAPAQ and Aventure Écotourism Québec regularly inspect the kennels to ensure legal conformity with respect to safety, health, ethical treatment and well-being of the dogs.
Our team is passionate about sled dog welfare, with the handlers either raising the dogs and caring for them from birth or rescuing them as adults and taking them in. A dogsled pack is a family, they work, live, and play together, and we are simply extended members of their family. From human to husky, we all love getting out on the snowy trails! The dogs love heading out, so come and meet the pack and share this wonderful experience together!
Activities such as dogsledding are part of our shared human heritage. We are committed to supporting local traditional activities such as dogsledding, horseback riding, canoeing, falconry, and snowshoeing so that we can learn about their cultural significance and ensure they continue to be there for future generations to enjoy.