Weight pulling
An American Staffordshire terrier pulls a cart loaded with concrete weights.

Weight pulling is a dog sport involving a dog pulling a cart or sled loaded with weight a short distance across dirt/gravel, grass, carpet, or snow.[1] It is a modern adaptation of freighting, in which dogs were used as freight animals to move cargo.[2][3]


Canine weight pull has a long history dating to at least the Klondike Gold Rush, where it was used as means of entertainment while trialing sled dogs used for freighting gear and passengers through Arctic and sub-Arctic terrain in North America.[2][3][4] Mail delivery was also conducted by dog sled in these remote settlements until the 1930s with the last postal dog sled team being retired in 1963.[5][6] For both freighting and mail delivery, dogs were expected to meet minimum standards of strength and speed, ranging from 75–100 pounds (34–45 kg) per dog on the faster mail team to 200 lb (91 kg) per dog on the slow freighting team.[7][8] Jack London's 1903 book The Call of the Wild makes one of the first literary references to the sport where the fictional dog Buck pulls a heavily loaded sled while spectators place bets on his ability.[9] London spent almost a year in the Yukon, and his observations form much of the material for the book.[10]


A Yakutian Laika pulling a cart over dirt

Weight pull matches start with either an empty cart or sled or at low weights. Carts may be placed on dirt, carpet or even rails.[4] Dogs are sorted into classes by weight and then fitted with a specially constructed freighting harness designed to distribute the weight and minimize the chance of injury.[11] At the start of a round, dogs are asked to pull the car or 16 feet within a set time frame. Dogs who successfully complete the round are eligible to go on to the next round. At the completion of each round, additional weight is added to the vehicle. The winner of each class is the dog who pulls the most weight.[2]

While historically associated with freighting and carting dog breeds, today's weight pull competitions are open to any dog regardless of breed, size or gender.[2][1]

Sanctioning Organizations

Weight pull on ice

Canine weight pulling competitions are sanctioned by various organizations, each with their own rules.[2]


Proponents of weight pull cite the improved fitness and wellbeing of the dogs, especially working breeds.[1] Handlers often cite improved bond with their dog and that no force or baiting with food is used to convince the dogs to pull.[25][26] The activity has been criticized for cruel or harmful by animal rights activists who cite that dogs are at risk of physical injury including muscle strains and tears,[26] allegations of doping the dogs or abusing them during training and that the sport may be used by some to prepare dogs for dog fighting.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bovsun, Mara (2015-08-21). "This Secret from the World's Strongest Dogs Can Improve Your Dog's Fitness". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kehler, Missy. "A Basic Introduction to Weight Pulling". alaskanmalamutes.us. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  3. ^ a b c Bennett, Noah (2021-06-01). "Weight Pulling for Dogs: Rules, Champions and Records. How to Begin". Pets Life Guide. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  4. ^ a b Long, Terry (2010-07-13). "Competitive Canine Weight Pull". Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  5. ^ Muse, Ben (2009-04-01). "Sled dogs to snowmobiles". Arctic Economics. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  6. ^ "Alaskan Dog Sled Mail Carrier". Smithsonian Institution. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  7. ^ Anderson, David (1992-01-01). "The Use of Dog Teams and the Use of Subsistence-caught Fish For Feeding Sled Dogs in the Yukon RIver Drainage, Alaska" (PDF). Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
  8. ^ Hegener, Helen (2019-03-09). "Sled Dog Mail". Northern Light Media. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  9. ^ London, Jack (1903). The Call of the Wild. Macmillan. OCLC 28228581.
  10. ^ Courbier-Tavenier, Jacqueline (1999). "The Call of the Wild and The Jungle: Jack London and Upton Sinclair's Animal and Human Jungles". Cambridge Companion to American Realism and Naturalism: Howells to London. Cambridge University Press: 240–241.
  11. ^ "IWPA - International Weight Pull Association - Equipment Resources". Iwpa.net. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b "ISDRA Weight Pulling Rules". International Sled Dog Racing Association, Inc. 1995-09-01. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  13. ^ a b Podolak, John (2011-03-01). "Weight Pull" (PDF). Alaskan Malamute Club of America. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  14. ^ a b "IWPA - International Weight Pull Association - About Us". Iwpa.net. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  15. ^ "APA Home". Weightpull.com. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  16. ^ a b Higgins, Lee (2014-04-16). "Pounds and controversy stack up at dog weight-pulling competitions". Aljazeera America. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  17. ^ "World Wide Weight Pull Organization". worldwideweightpull.net. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  18. ^ "Home - United Kennel Club (UKC)". Ukcdogs.com. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  19. ^ "The Alaskan Malamute Club of the UK". Alaskanmalamute.org.uk. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  20. ^ "Alaskan Malamute Club, Victoria Inc". Amcv.org.au. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Alaskan Malamute Club of America – The American Kennel Club (AKC) National Breed Club for the Alaskan Malamute". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  22. ^ "American Dog Breeders Association American Pit Bull Terrier Registry". American Dog Breeders Association. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  23. ^ "NWDA". Nwdak9.com. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Sveiki atvykę!". Weightpulling.lt. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  26. ^ a b Nicholson, Zara (2011-10-06). "Weight pulling: cool or cruel?". Iol News. Retrieved 7 February 2019.