A racing sled is pulled over deep snow by two huskies

How Much Weight Can A Sled Dog Pull? {Solved!}

Working as part of an Arctic expedition team, the 22 – 24 dogs that make up renowned explorer Joe Henderson’s pack carry a total load of 2,500lbs (that’s about 110lbs per dog when shared out equally). This weight is carried relatively easily for miles and miles without stopping.

This is less weight than a lone sled dog who is attached to a kick sled. A kick sled and musher come in at a combined weight of around 220lbs (20lb sled + 200lbs musher), however is usually only pulled for short durations and is also propelled forward by the kicking action of the musher.

When dryland mushing on the other hand, the low level of friction created by pneumatic tyres (vs sled rails over snow) mean sled dogs are capable of pulling far greater weights, sometimes as much as thousands of pounds (!) during dedicated weight pulling competitions.

The weight pulling records set by sled dog species are summarised in the table below.

This article explores the limits of how much weight a sled dog can pull. If instead you wanted to learn whether a dog can pull a sled on its own you can check out our short guide here

A large Alaskan malamute pulls a heavy weight on a sled in the snow
By Изображения пользователя Boris on Canva

Which sled dog breeds can pull the most weight?

Of the dog breeds traditionally employed to pull sleds the Alaskan Malamute can pull the most weight overall, whilst the Alaskan Husky is pound for pound able to generate the most force.

We know this because the maximum pulling power of sled dog breeds has been measured during weight pulling events (the equivalent of strong man for canines, organised by the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA).

In IWPA competitions weights are stacked on wheeled carts or a snow sled to test a dog’s ability to pull to its maximum capacity.

Of course, these maximum weights are not a true reflection of a dog’s ability to pull a sled as this discipline requires both endurance as well as raw power.

Incidentally, the title of the strongest dog in the world as awarded by the Guinness Book of Records is measured upon the number of pounds a dog can pull relative to its own body weight. 

This unit of lbs/lbs of body weight allows the relative strength of all dog breeds to be compared. 

To establish the relative strongest sled dog breed we scoured through the IWPA records for the most recent 4 years posted online and extracted the sled dog breeds

IWPA Championship Sled Dog Records (2015 -2019)

Breed lbs/lb of bodyweight Dog weight Weight pulled Surface Competition
Alaskan Husky
46.2
53lbs
2450lbs
Wheels on carpet
2016 James Webber Memorial IWPA Championships
Alaskan Malamute
43.6
93lbs
4060lbs
Wheels on carpet
2016 James Webber Memorial IWPA Championships
Siberian Husky
31.4
65lbs
2040lbs
Wheels on carpet
2016 James Webber Memorial IWPA Championships
Samoyed
18.6
40lbs
745lbs
Wheels on carpet
2016 James Webber Memorial IWPA Championships
An Alaskan malamute sitting on rock next to the sea
Image By 東山Easton / 500px

How much weight can a Malamute pull? 

Alaskan malamutes are the largest and heaviest of all the sled dog breeds and are capable of pulling the most weight. 

In dedicated weight pulling competitions this can amount to astonishing weights being heaved across the finish line.

An Alaskan Malamute named ‘Delbert’ was recorded as top dog in the 2018 – 2019 season following a successful pull of 3,800lbs across the 16 foot course.

Even more impressive, Delbert was recorded heaving a gigantic 5,400lbs load during a separate Alaskan Malamute Club of America weight pulling event.

Round up

Dogs have been used as a working animal to carry loads since ancient times. It’s not difficult to see why they’re so popular; they don’t seem to mind being burdened with heavy items and can even run at high speeds while pulling weights that would be far too much for us humans.

When it comes down to it, there really is no arguing against their usefulness in any situation from hauling cargo, lending a paw to hunting or military operations all the way through to everyday tasks like delivering mail and newspapers.

In each scenario the question of “how much weight can a sled dog pull” can most likely be answered with…more than you think!