Drafting dog

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A drafting dog, 1915
Milk sellers: photochrom showing two peddlers selling milk from a dogcart in Belgium. 19th century

A drafting dog, pulling dog, or draft dog (also spelt draught dog) is a dog bred and traditionally used for pulling a dogcart, or in winter also for sled pulling.[1][2] Dogs bred for this work have strong builds. All drafting dogs have the qualities that are needed, strength and determination. Many draft dogs are either mastiffs or of livestock guardian descent, both of which are dogs that are solidly-built and strong.[3]

Working animals[edit]

A full-grown greater Swiss mountain dog

These dogs are working animals, traditionally used for pulling small carts called dogcarts.[1][4] The size of the cart matched the size of the dog. In modern times, dog carting has become a leisure and competition activity.[1][5] In the 20th century, headcollars were introduced to make control simpler, and they have become standard equipment in a variety of designs.[6]

Several popular breeds were once bred specifically to pull carts, including Collies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, St. Bernards, Bouvier des Flandres, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers, though they often found other uses such as guard dogs and sheepdogs.[7][8]

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was a large working dog used by butchers, cattle dealers, manual workers and farmers, who used them as guard dogs, droving and draught dogs.[9][10]

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large working dog with a calm temperament ideal for pulling a cart, as they used to do in Switzerland. More recently they have been used to pull carts to give children rides, or to appear in parades.[11]

In culture[edit]

The Dutch-Belgian artist Henriëtte Ronner-Knip (1821–1909) painted many pictures in the Romantic style of drafting dogs pulling dogcarts.[12] Sled dogs were used to pull equipment and men efficiently over the snow and ice on Roald Amundsen's 1911 expedition to the South Pole.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nelson, Kristen Rajczak (2011). Pulling Dogs. Gareth Stevens Publishing. pp. 4-15 and whole book. ISBN 978-1-4339-4666-0.
  2. ^ Nadine Gerth; Steffen Sum; Sue Jackson; J. Matthias Starck. "Muscle plasticity of Inuit sled dogs in Greenland". Archived from the original on 2016-08-10. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  3. ^ Mansourian, Erika. "Breeds Who Enjoy Drafting Just for the Haul of it". www.akc.org. Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  4. ^ "Dogcarts". Dogcarts and Lioncarts. Archived from the original on 13 March 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019. Website contains many paintings of drafting dogs pulling dogcarts.
  5. ^ Waldbaum, Laura (2011). Carting with Your Dog. Dogwise Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61781-032-9.
  6. ^ Jensen, Per (2007). The Behavioural Biology of Dogs. CABI. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-84593-188-9.
  7. ^ Mehus-Roe, Kristin (21 January 2009). Canine Sports & Games: Great Ways to Get Your Dog Fit and Have Fun Together!. Storey Publishing, LLC. pp. 232–237. ISBN 978-1-60342-645-9. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  8. ^ Coren, Stanley; Hodgson, Sarah (15 February 2011). Understanding Your Dog For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-118-05276-1. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  9. ^ Great Swiss Mountain Dog Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (in English), Vertebrate Animals Department, Naturhistoriches Museum der Burgergemeinde Bern
  10. ^ Moustaki, Nikk i (2012). Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. CompanionHouse Books. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-59378-722-6.
  11. ^ Young-Knox, Sara (2 December 2012). "Conway celebrates with jolly holiday parade". The Union Leader. Archived from the original on 2013-12-26. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Henriette Ronner-Knip - Artworks". The Athenaeum. Archived from the original on 24 November 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  13. ^ Huntford, Roland (1985). The Last Place on Earth. London and Sydney: Pan Books. pp. 90, 248. ISBN 0-330-28816-4.

External links[edit]