Canicross is the sport of cross country running with dogs. Originating in Europe as off-season training for the mushing (sledding) community, it has become popular as a stand-alone sport all over Europe, especially in the UK. Canicross is closely related to Bikejoring, where participants cycle with their dog and skijoring, where participants ski rather than run.
Canicross can be run with one or two dogs, always attached to the runner. The runner typically wears a waist belt, the dog a harness, and the two are joined by a bungee cord or elastic line that reduces shock to both human and dog when the dog pulls.
Originally canicross dogs were of sledding or spitz types such as the husky or malamute but now all breeds have begun taking part including cross breeds, small terrier breeds to large breeds such as rottweilers and standard poodles. Not only can all breeds run but people of all ages and abilities can take part. Including children and the disabled such as the visually impaired. Some breeds are very well suited to not only running and pulling but running at steady pace over a long distance. It encourages people and their dogs to take part in outdoor activity and meet other like minded individuals.
The first canicross event staged in the UK took place in 2000. In March 2008 CaniX UK ran the first ever cani-cross event at Crufts, the largest dog show held in the UK. Over 100 runners and their dogs took part in the event.
Canicross events are held all over the UK and Europe by sled dog organisations, by canicross clubs and also many running events will allow runners to participate with their dogs. The European Canicross Federation (ECF) can be contacted for more information on events held within Europe.
Distances vary, with events held to cover distances from a mile up to 28 miles or more.