The Parts of a Dog Sled

The Parts of a Dog Sled
Dog sleds are used as a navigational device used for traveling, hunting and in the sport of dog sledding to get through icy and snow covered terrain. The sleds are designed specifically to carry one or two people, gear or supplies and up to six or more dogs. Common types of sled dogs include Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes and the Canadian eskimo dog. Dog sledding can often times be referred to as mushing. Overall designs of a dog sled may vary but most sleds comprise the same basic parts.

Handle Bar

The back of the sled is where the musher stands and guides the sled. An important part of the dog sled is the handle bar. The handle bar itself is not a steering mechanism; it is simply a support bar that is generally the width of the sled. It is used for leaning to one side for navigation. It also provides overall support and it gives the musher something to hold to along with the towlines. The towlines are the rope and harness support that keeps the dogs in place. They can also be used to maneuver or to halt the dogs if the brakes fail to work properly.


The runner is also commonly known as the skis that support the sled. These are basically the tires of the sled. They need to be in good working order and condition otherwise serious accidents and problems could occur. The runner also includes foot boards. The foot boards are a rubber or non-skid standing surface for the musher to stand.


On a dog sled, the brakes are enforced by the foot. When the brakes are applied, a large metal bar enforces a U shaped claw. The claw digs into the ice and snow and begins to brake the sled team. This is a very important mechanism on the sled and must always be in working order. In more modern sleds, a drag brake is used. This is a rubber mat that lies between the runners. This braking system is more uniform as opposed to abruptness of the claw. Once the sled is parked, a snow hook and snub line can be used to ground the sled and keep it from being carried off by the dogs when not in use.


The body of the dog sled can also be referred to as the cargo bed and carries most of the load. There are two general types: a basket or a toboggan. Basket types are generally raised 4 to 6 inches above the runners to keep contents dry. They can hold a fair share of supplies or materials. Toboggan styles are geared toward having a second rider or additional cargo. They generally set directly on top of the runners and can provide more stability and speed with heavy loads as opposed to the basket sleds that set up a few inches higher. Older more traditional sleds are made from wood, bone and rawhide. More modern version may include plastics, aluminum and carbon fiber for long lasting wear.

Brush Bow

The brush brow is located at the very front of the sled or the opposite end of where the musher stands. This may often be referred to as the bumper of the sled. It is used to deflect incoming brush, drifts or other large debris. The triangular or half rounded shape of the brush bow is usually aerodynamically designed to flow with the dogs against the prevailing winds.

Article Written By Julie Boehlke

Julie Boehlke is a seasoned copywriter and content creator based in the Great Lakes state. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Boehlke has more than 10 years of professional writing experience on topics such as health and wellness, green living, gardening, genealogy, finances, relationships, world travel, golf, outdoors and interior decorating. She has also worked in geriatrics and hospice care.

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