Want to breed champion huskies? Here's the winning recipe.
In 2010, Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt smashed the Yukon Quest record by nearly a day. How’d he do it? Well, he had a 25-year head start. That’s how long Gatt has been breeding dogs to create the perfect husky bloodline. Want to follow in his footsteps? Here’s his advice for picking a bitch and sire.
Good in the long run: This one is obvious. For long-hauls like the Quest, Gatt says you want to mate two dogs that can go the distance, trotting 150 kilometres per day for days on end.
Paws of steel: Huskies’ feet are their Achilles heel. Even if a dog is an athlete, it won’t produce great offspring if its paws are easily cut or bruised.
Hairy beasts: For the brutal cold of the central Yukon, thick fur is essential. So, says Gatt, don’t breed a husky that lacks a warm coat.
Hungry for it: If sled dogs were the size of people they’d eat 30,000 calories a day. Some huskies don’t have the digestive system to handle that much food. Breed the ones that do.
Not the sharpest tool: According to Gatt, huskies shouldn’t be too smart. Don’t mate two geniuses unless you want their puppies to have an existential breakdown on the trail.
Know your stuff: Unless you’re a serious musher, it’s best not to get into the breeding game. Badly bred pups can end up in the pound, or worse. “These days, I encourage people to buy good dogs instead of trying to breed them,” Gatt says.