everything you need to know

Dog sledding is definitely done in Italy and it’s a lot of fun: if you want information about where to go dog sledding in Italy and how to do it, here you will find everything you need to know.
In the beginning it was the Eskimos and Lapp hunters. Then came the postal service in Canada and Alaska, the story of Balto the dog and the Disney movie. And the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, the two races between Canada and Alaska that are thousands of kilometers long, true adventures in nature that put the lives of men and animals to the test.

Dog sledding in Italy: everything you need to know

Today the art of mushing (i.e. the ability to manage the sled and dogs) is an outdoor activity that even children can practice on all the Italian mountains. Here’s everything you need to know about dog sledding in Italy.

What are dog sledding dogs?

The Nordic races were born to live in that hostile environment and to struggle: there are Alaskan Husky e i Siberian Husky (20-24 kg, fast and relatively low-powered), the Greenlanders (30 kg, suitable for long distances) and the Alaskan Malamutes, the “snow locomotives”. Sometimes even the Japanese Samoyed, the only ones who bark and don’t howl.
Huskies do not necessarily have to be purebred: indeed, they are usually crossed with other breeds – even with wolves – to take advantage of their different physical characteristics.

How do you drive a dog sled?

It just is whisper to dogs. To go straight, the musher “simply” remains with both feet on the sled skates. “Hike” to leave, and “whoa” like John Wayne on horseback, to stop. If you’re uphill or want to help tired dogs, he throws one foot (or both) off the skates and pushes. To turn left he whispers “haw,” and “gee” for right.
Keep your hands firmly on the handlebars of the sled and shifts all your weight inside the curve to balance the centrifugal force.
To brake, apply pressure with your foot on the mat that is in the middle of the skates. There is also a parking brake and a snow-hook, a real parking anchor.

What speed do the sleds reach?

The packs range from 2 to 20 dogs, based on the length of the route. In sprint races (from 2 to 22 km in length) speeds can even reach 35/40 km/h, in long distance ones it is around 25 km/h for many kilometers. In the Iditarod you do up to 200 km a day.

How are dog sledding wetsuits made?

Among dogs it is fundamental identify the leader or leaders: without a good pack leader no pack, even if well guided, can work. In a formation made up of eight dogs there are first the two leader dogs who guide the others by carrying out the musher’s commands and setting the pace for the pack, then i due swing dog (a strong but not captivating couple), two team dogs (the team dogs, the four-legged Gattusos) and finally the two wheel dogs, the real supporting forces of the team. They are usually the youngest and most exuberant.

What do dogs eat?

The digestion of Nordic dogs is very delicate and demanding more fat and protein during the winter. Huskies willingly eat both high-quality kibble and frozen meat, freshly defrosted from the refrigerator: for them it is a natural habit having always eaten in the snow. Just like wolves.

Could our dog fit into a wetsuit?

No, you cannot have your German Shepherd housed. He would suffer as much as you would. If you have a real husky you might have some chances, but you have to train him gradually, very slowly.

Where can I take a dog sledding course in Italy?

In Italy there are now an infinite number of centres, more or less one in every main ski resort. The best school by far is that of Ararad Khatchikian, in Tarvisio in Friuli (, tel.0428–651331) which breeds dozens and dozens of dogs and has several North American competitions under its belt. His brother Armen instead works in Ponte di Legno – Passo Tonale (, tel.0364-92231).
In Val d’Aosta you can try Pila and LaThuile (, tel.335-1829414) while in Trentino, among others, Athabaska is preferred which operates in Campiglio and Andalo (www.athabaska. info, tel. 333-1328490). And then to Livigno, Carinthia, Vipiteno…

How to become a musher?

The writer obtained an official musher license in northern Finland a few years ago. And the school officials were offended when someone modestly asked if the license (first level out of four) was just a gadget for tourists. Anyone who wants to practice in Lapland on the paths where dog sledding was born can contact

“Charity is not giving the dog a bone. Charity is sharing a bone with the dog when you are as hungry as the dog” (Jack London). If you like reading these adventures, start with “White Fang” by London and finish with “The Great North” by Gary Paulsen.

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2024-01-03 10:55:10


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