Mushing Terms









Bag a Dog: Place an injured or sick dog in the sled bag. Sled bags are designed to safely carry dogs.

Checkpoint: A location at which it is verified that mushers are actually following the trail. In continuous races, dogs are often examined by veterinarians at the checkpoints as well.

Continuous Race: A race from one point to another usually over multiple days. Rest time and running time are included in the total used to determine the winner. Only dogs used at the start are allowed to continue and finish. Dogs dropped from the race may not reenter. The Iditarod is a continuous race.

Drive Bow: The handlebar of a dog sled.

Dropped Dog: Dogs are dropped from the team for various reasons. In general, any dog that is no longer contributing to the team and/or who’s health may be at risk is dropped. A standard reason to drop a dog is ADR, “ain’t doing right.” ADR is when, while there are no real distinct symptoms, it is still the musher’s opinion that the dog isn’t quite well and therefore should be dropped. Dropped dogs are taken care of by race staff until they are released to mushers’ handlers.

Double Lead: A pair of dogs in front of the team in lead position.

Heat Race: A race that consists of one to several legs. The sum of the times for the legs is used to determine the winner. The legs are usually fifty miles or less. The Fur Rendezvous is a heat race.

Gangline: See towline.

Hike: The most common form of the “go” command for sled dogs. Others are used such as “Let’s go” “Alright,” and “Go.” I’ve never heard a musher use the word, “Mush.”

Hooked Down: Secure the sled generally using a snow hook.

Hook: Short for snow hook.

Lead: The first dog or dogs in front of the team.

Musher: Somebody foolish enough to hold onto a sled while three to twenty hyped up dogs pull it forward. They often have in their little canine minds the goal of shaking the musher off of the sled.

Swing: The dogs immediately behind the lead dogs. This use of “Swing” is not universal.

Single Lead: A single dog by itself out in front of the team.

Sled Bag: A pack attached to the sled used to carry gear and food for musher and dogs. Sled bags are also designed to carry injured or sick dogs.

Snow hook: A metal hook attached by a line to the Towline. This hook is designed to catch and hold in snow and or ice much like a grappling hook. Snow hooks usually have two side by side tines.

Team: Dogs in the central section of the group. These are dogs other than lead, wheel, and swing.

Towline: Central line that connects the tuglines to the sled.

Tugline: The line that connects the rear of the dog’s harness to the towline (or gangline)

Wheel: The dogs just in front of the sled. These dogs usually do the most work and are usually among the biggest dogs in the team.

Whoa: The stop command for sled dogs. Used almost universally.



Home | Rob's Blog | Writing | The Dogs | About Rob | Equipment | Sponsors | Instruction | Videos