Thursday, March 03, 2016

What You Don't Look For in an Iditarod Winner

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race starts Saturday in Anchorage, but snow is in short supply so, for the first time ever, they are importing tons and tons of the stuff by train, and spreading it on a 3-mile track for the photo-opportunity that is always the start of the race.

In the interim, the hundreds of dogs to be used by the 85 mushers in the race are getting their vet checks.

Don't look for too many American Kennel Club dogs in the Iditarod. If you want to win, you breed for performance and that means out crossing on occasion, and ignoring almost every single criteria valued by sniffing pretenders in the show ring.

Color of nose?  Nope. Lay of ear?  Nope.  Placement of tail?  Nope. Color of coat?  Nope.  Length of coat?  Nope.  Expression?  Nope.  "Movement" (whatever that is)?  Nope.

You look for strength, drive, muscle tone, stamina, biddability, and tolerance.  You look for a strong heart, clear lungs, and feet that can take a pounding.

What you don't look for is Kennel Club papers.


JoeMama said...

I was surprised to learn that many "mushers" like out-crosses to bird dogs like pointers. Upon reflection, I saw the advantages. Bird dogs are working dogs, are about the right size, can run all day and tend to have great hips.

Amy Nexus said...

The problem with pointers is that they lack coat, it takes a lot of work to breed them in and get an adequate coat. Even though sighthounds are the best runners they also lack coat and their bone structure is too light.

Racing greyhound breeders care not a whit about AKC registration for the same reasons mentioned in this post. An unhealthy dog unable to race is not bred, and if a dog is a fabulous runner no one cares what coat color it has. In fact, when breeders of AKC greys petitioned the AKC to allow cross breeding with racing dogs (NGA registered) because their dogs could no longer work, had so many health issues and the gene pool was so limited, the AKC refused. They claimed it was due to lack of adherence to the standard and poorly kept records. The racing organizations of both horses and dogs have clearer pedigrees going back much further than the AKC, so that was only an excuse. Typical for the AKC. Closed stud books continue to be their undoing in the US.

jeffrey thurston said...

Interesting- the sled dogs in the photo slideshow look like skinny mutts- very enthusiastic, some floppy ears and slim builds. Many look a bit Siberian Husky-ish- but none looke "purebred"!