Dogs became breeds because their behavior, size, shape, speed, and other traits made them ideal for a particular kind of work that helped people. Along the way, hunters bred the best hunting dogs to each other; farmers bred their best flock protectors together, and eventually, pure strains or purpose-bred dogs developed whose ability was not only suited to the work but highly dependable.
Different traits are needed for different jobs, and new jobs keep emerging, so modern breeds are often offshoots of older breeds, with refinements bred into them that adapt them to today’s work.
In Alaska, this exciting process can still be seen as mushers breed for the work at hand, sled dog racing. The dogs who run the Iditarod today are not yet called a breed and they may never be, but they represent the process by which breeds have been developed. Mushers call the dogs they use in the Iditarod, Alaskan Huskies, a combination of Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and a few other breeds mixed in for different traits.
For more information on breeding and the development of the Alaskan sled dog, please click here.