Sled dogs are popular during winter, and many dog owners living in a country where it snows make it a hobby. Siberian huskies are the iconic breed of dogs built for sledding.
Siberian huskies are tough and have sturdy coats that can fight the coldness during winter. However, other dogs can also use as sled dogs.
German shepherds are one of the dog breeds people use as sled dogs aside from Siberian huskies. But are they strong enough to pull a sled?
How much weight can german shepherds pull? A healthy german shepherd dog with no history of orthopedic injuries can effortlessly pull 2-3 times its body weight. The length of the pulling distance depends on the age, the lifestyle of your german shepherd, and how often the german shepherd pulls.
There is much more to learn about this topic! Let’s get started and learn more about how strong german shepherds are!
How Much Can German Shepherd Pull?
German shepherds are one of the powerful dogs on the planet. They are known as helpers. German shepherds help their owners to pull the wagon in gardening, taking out the trash, pulling a wheelchair, etc.
German shepherds love to pull sleds, wheelchairs, bicycles, and small carts. They love to pull things because it entertains them, and it cures their boredom.
A fully grown and healthy german shepherd can usually pull 2-3 times of their body weight (max is 3). The usual weight of a healthy male german shepherd when fully grown is 30-40kg, and the female german shepherd is 22-32kg.
To see if your german shepherd can pull the object you require them to pull, you must check first the weight of your german shepherd and the object your german shepherd will pull.
Multiply the weight of your german shepherd into three. After multiplying the weight of your dog to three, compare the multiplied weight of your german shepherd from the weight of the object your german shepherd will pull.
If the object is much heavier, then one german shepherd is not enough to pull that certain object. If you think it is heavy for your german shepherd to pull the object by itself, I suggest you add one more dog to help your german shepherd.
However, sometimes one german shepherd can pull a 350 pounds disabled while sitting in its wheelchair, which is four times its weight!. So it means that the weight one german shepherd can pull depends on something.
The weight one german shepherd can pull depends on its age, lifestyle, and gender. Male german shepherds are stronger than female german shepherds. Old aged german shepherds will have a hard time pulling heavy things, and unhealthy german shepherds will easily get tired when they pull heavy objects.
However, we don’t recommend letting your german shepherd pull a weight that is four times or more of its body weight. The reason why is to avoid various injuries and to avoid your german shepherd getting too tired.
It is essential to check the weight of the object your german shepherd will pull before you attach them to the sled or carts. If you think it is too heavy, then add one more german shepherd.
If you force your german shepherd to pull an object heavier than him/her, this can cause minor or severe injuries or worse, death.
Can A German Shepherd Be A Sled Dog?
Now that you know how strong a german shepherd let us go to another topic closely related to our main topic.
If german shepherds are tough dogs, then probably you ask if they can be used as sled dogs in sledding competitions or if you have a sled hobby, right?
Can a german shepherd be a sled dog? Yes! German shepherds can be sled dogs, and they are great sled dogs! Some people much prefer german shepherds as sled dogs than the huskies because german shepherds are much bigger and stronger than huskies, which makes it easier for them to pull the sled than huskies.
The only reason why huskies became the traditional sled dogs is that sleds are usually used in the snow, and cold countries and huskies are the dogs best for the snow and cold countries because of their tough and thick coat. That is why people living there have no choice but to use huskies as sled dogs.
I don’t have any anger or issue about the huskies. Yes, they are great sled dogs, and they are adorable pets. But to make this article more clear and honest, I have to compare them and give an honest statement that is proven by science and from the testimonials of different pet owners.
German shepherds are not just good sled dogs but also a great pet. If you have a little child that loves riding a sled, bicycle, or cart and no one will pull, then german shepherds are one of the best dogs I would suggest you get!
German shepherds are great sled dogs, and they are also very loyal. They are also friendly and harmless with kids that makes them a good pet for your child that loves riding a sled or cart.
How Fast Can A German Shepherd Pull A Sled?
How fast can a german shepherd pull a sled depends on different factors:
- The weight of the sled
- The surface
- The age, lifestyle, and gender of the german shepherd
- The length of the trip
Let’s say that the sled is only loaded with some woods or something that is around the same weight as the german shepherd itself. The german shepherd is a healthy male and two years of age. Also, let’s assume that the german shepherd will travel on a flat and rough surface.
Given that scenario, the german shepherd will probably run at their top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h). But this is not a pacing a german shepherd can execute for too long. If you are looking for a 30-minutes trip with a continuous run, the reasonable speed of a german shepherd would be between 3-5 mph (4.8-8 km/h).
The german shepherd can run continuously for an hour or more at a pace around 1-3 mph (1.6-5 km/h). However, this is just an estimation and it depends on many factors like the age, lifestyle, and gender of the german shepherd, and the weight of the sled.
Never force your german shepherd to pull a sled at a fast pace that is heavily loaded. Remember that the german shepherd can only pull a weight that is 2-3 times their body weight.
How Long Can A German Shepherd Pull A Sled?
If your German shepherd is fully grown and healthy, you should expect your german shepherd to pull a sled and travel at a reasonable speed for 30 minutes without a break while pulling two times its body weight without any issues.
Your german shepherd will get tired if they continuously travel while pulling a heavy sled for hours. Like I have said, your german shepherd can travel without a break at a reasonable speed for 30 minutes if your german shepherd is pulling two times its body weight.
If you are going to make a long run, like an hour or so, you should give your german shepherd a 10-minute break every after a 30 minutes run to catch his/her breath and to regen his/her stamina.
After you reach your destination and after a tough day, you should give your german shepherd a rest and let them sleep, especially if you push them to a limit. German shepherds are like us humans. They need to rest after a long day of work.
Giving them rest is to make sure that their legs and heart will stay healthy and to avoid your german shepherd suffering from overwork.
How To Teach A German Shepherd To Pull A Sled?
All dogs love pulling, even small dogs like chihuahuas. Dogs such as huskies and malamutes were bred for that task. However, if you have a breed of dog that is strong and capable of pulling heavy things, then they can be great for sledding.
Here are the steps to teach your german shepherd to pull a sled:
- Step 1 – Introduce the harness to your german shepherd and let them feel comfortable with it.
- Step 2 – Attach the harness into a sled or cart that is empty and easy for your german shepherd to pull. Teach your dog to pull the cart or sled around the yard first and reward them with treats. Also, teach them a signal or command that means go and reward your german shepherd for moving when you say go.
- Step 3 – Attach the harness to your german shepherd and run behind him. If your German shepherd feels uncomfortable, ask a good friend to bring his/her dog and to run in front of you with their dog to turn on your dog’s chase instinct.
- Step 4 – Teach your german shepherd commands that will make them go left and right. Likewise, give them treats when they perform it correctly.
- Step 5 – Once your german shepherd is capable to follow your direction commands, escalate the weight until your dog can pull the sled with a weight that is equivalent to a sled with a human. Try a short run first before getting into a long run. If your German shepherd feels tired, then end the run.
4 Other Breed Of Dogs Can Pull The Most
Aside from german shepherds, there are other breeds of dogs that are so strong that they can pull a heavily loaded sled.
Mastiffs are dog breeds that have impressive strength. They are popular because of their size and strength. A mastiff can pull 6900 pounds and never get lame. The top speed of a mastiff is around 37 mph.
Saint Bernard is also a tough dog. There is a record where a saint Bernard pulled 4,030 pounds, which is so impressive and hard to believe! Saint Bernard has a top speed of 30 mph.
Rottweiler is also a breed of dog that is known for its speed and toughness. There is a record where a rottweiler pulled a 6880 kg or 15,168 lbs! Rottweilers can run up to 25 mph.
American Pit Bull Terrier
American pit bull terrier is also a robust breed of dog. The best record of American pit bull terrier in weight pulling competition is 5000 pounds! They can run between a speed of 25-30 mph.
German shepherds are indeed a tough breed of dog. They are great for sledding and for pulling various heavy objects. However, even though they are incredibly strong, you still need to make sure that you only give them an object to pull that is 2-3 times heavy of their weight.