A guide to dog sledding activities in Lapland
What to expect from Dogsledding in Lapland
Dogsledding is one of the most popular winter activities in Lapland. It gives guests the chance to cross roadless arctic wilderness and is sometimes (within national park boundaries) the only possible way of transportation.
It is great fun, as you glide across crisp white snow, through Arctic forests and over frozen lakes – the only sounds being the excitement of the dogs and the sound of the sleds skis crunching through the snow.
For some it is exciting, and yet for others it is almost spiritual, however there is no denying it is an Arctic experience not to miss.
And for anyone wondering if the dogs enjoy themselves – the answer is a resounding YES. There is now doubt that as a well-oiled team, they love what they do!
Due to its popularity, spaces fill fast, and as sleds are limited to four, places are limited, so it is highly recommended to book ahead. For those looking for a little more adventure, then take a look at an arctic dogsled activity where you are able drive your own sled. Tromso dog Sledding and Kiruna dog sledding are popular, however you can find quality companies across Lapland.
About Dog Sledding
Dogs have been an important part of Arctic life for over a thousand of years. Perfectly suited to Arctic conditions with thick coats and padded paws, the first evidence of dog sledding in the Arctic dates back to around 1000AD where it is believed the first to harness dog power were the native people of what is now Northern Canada.
It is safe to say, that since then, dogsledding has helped shape the Arctic. Early dogsleds are thought to have been single dogs pulling light loads of firewood or supplies, however as the need for pulling larger and heavier loads arose, the modern concept of dogsledding with a team of dogs was born.
It was most likely European settlers who learnt the skill, adopted dogsledding into their lives, and brought the practice back to Europe, where it was for many years the preferred mode of transport for polar explorers.
Since then, the people living in Northern Europe, and across Lapland have adopted dogsledding as an iconic Arctic activity and mode of transport.
Modern Scandinavians have now taken the practical side of dogsledding in Lapland to a new level with int introduction of dogsled racing, which started with the Idiarod in the US and subsequently the longest dogsled event in Europe, the Finnmarkslopet in Norway which started in 1981.
A dogsled team
Sled dogs can be categorised in for groups based on their position within the team.
The lead dog(s) sit at the front of the pack. They are fast and intelligent dogs who have the experience to set the pace and steer the team.
Behind the lead dogs are the swing dogs who help to navigate corners by ‘swinging’ the team around bends.
The dogs closest to the sled are known as wheel dogs. They are typically the largest and strongest dogs in the team.
The remaining dogs that sit between the wheel dogs and swing dogs are known as team dogs. As a rule of thumb, the more team dogs the greater the power.