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Eurohound: The Ultimate Sled Dog for Endurance Racing - PawSafe
Dog Breeds

Eurohound: The Ultimate Sled Dog for Endurance Racing

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Eurohound

Eurohound is a newer and rare breed of dog that is specifically bred for sled racing. This canine athlete is a cross between the Alaskan Husky and various pointers, combining the strength and endurance of the former with the speed and agility of the latter. The result is a dog that is highly athletic and excels at pulling sleds over long distances.

Eurohound puppies are born with a natural instinct to pull and are eager to learn and work. They require a lot of exercise and training to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Puzzle toys like snuffle mats can help these unique dogs stay mentally active, but this is not a breed that will settle for a daily walk around the block. Eurohound breeders are knowledgeable about the breed and can provide valuable information on training, nutrition, and care.

If you are considering getting a Eurohound, it is important to understand their unique needs and temperament. If you are an extremely active person who enjoys outdoor activities, a Eurohound may be the perfect companion for you (so long as you have a dog harness to stop pulling). To give you the complete guide to this exceptional dog, we have looked at the fascinating history of dog sledding in Norway and other expert sources.

Ivanke Nolke coined the term “Eurohound” to distinguish the Alaskan Husky from the European sledding dogs. Eurohounds are known for their speed, endurance, and agility and are common dogs in races organized by the International Sled Dog Racing Organization

One of the unique features of Eurohounds is their ability to run in a variety of positions in a sled dog team. They can lead the team, run in the middle, or run in the back. This versatility makes them a valuable asset in sled dog racing, where teams need to be able to adapt to changing terrain and weather conditions.

Eurohounds are also known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They are social dogs that enjoy being around people and other dogs. They are intelligent and trainable, and they excel at obedience and agility training.

Overall, Eurohounds are a fascinating breed of dog that combines the speed and endurance of sled dogs with the intelligence and versatility of hunting breeds. They are a popular choice among sled dog racers and make great pets for active families who enjoy outdoor activities.

Origin and History of Eurohounds

Let’s rewind a bit, right after World War II. Norway and its neighboring Scandinavian countries experienced a sled racing renaissance of sorts, but with a twist. Instead of the classic mushing teams you’d picture covering long distances, skijor and pulka style dog sled racing started making waves. These races were zippy, short bursts, usually covering 15–30 kilometers (that’s roughly 9.3–18.6 miles) over hilly terrains. And instead of a big squad of dogs, they required nimble teams of just 1 to 4 dogs.

Now, here’s the juicy bit. The Norwegian Sled Dog Racing Association had a rule: racers could only use purebred dogs. So, guess who became the star of the show? The German Shorthair Pointer! Traditionally a hunting dog, this pointer found its stride (quite literally) in the sledding scene. By the early 1970s, a new breed emerged, fondly dubbed the “sled pointer”. This was a Pointer that wasn’t looking for game; instead, it was all about the thrill of the race, bred for the snow and not the hunt.

Imagine swapping out a bus for a sports car, but in the sled dog world. That’s the vibe they were going for.

Enter the rise of “nome-style” dog racing. This was when racers looked across the pond, nodded appreciatively at what the Alaskans were doing with their speedy Alaskan Huskies, and said, “Let’s get some of that action.” And just like that, Alaskan Huskies were imported into Norway.

Now, here’s where things get super interesting. The Norwegian Sled Dog Racing Association had an open-minded moment. Instead of saying, “Hey, only purebred dogs can race,” they went    with a more inclusive approach: “If the dog can race, it can race.” It was a bit of a game-changer.

This cool decision opened the door for breeders to experiment a little. Some clever folks thought, “Why not bring in the sturdy and powerful and ancient landrace of Greenland Dogs to the mix?” And voila! By blending the genes of the Alaskan Husky with the Greenland Dog, the Eurohound emerged. The result? A top-notch sled racing dog, built for speed and power.

In simple terms, the Eurohound is like that epic hybrid smoothie you make when you mix your two favorite fruits together – the best of both worlds! 

Alaskan Husky vs. Eurohound: Two Stars of the Sled World

When it comes to sled dogs, both the Alaskan Husky and Eurohound have their own fan clubs and for good reason. They’re both magnificent in their own right, but they also come with distinct backgrounds, purposes, and characteristics. Let’s break down the differences.

Alaskan Husky

  1. Origin: Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Alaskan Husky isn’t a purebred dog. It’s a type or category of sled dog, descended from various Northern breeds, including the Siberian Husky, Greyhound, and even German Shepherds.
  2. Purpose: Traditionally bred to haul light freight over long distances at a moderate speed. They’ve been the backbone of sled dog teams in North America for generations.
  3. Appearance: Varies significantly since they’re bred for performance rather than appearance. Generally, they have a lean, muscular build, and a double coat which can come in any color or pattern.
  4. Characteristics: Alaskan Huskies are known for their stamina and resilience, especially in frigid temperatures. They’re versatile and can perform well both in long-distance races and shorter sprints.

Eurohound

  1. Origin: A more recent addition to the sled dog scene, the Eurohound is a mix between the Alaskan Husky and German or English Pointers.
  2. Purpose: Specifically bred for sprint races, Eurohounds excel in short, high-intensity races rather than ultra-long distances.
  3. Appearance: Since they are a mixed breed, their appearance can vary. However, they often lean towards a sleeker build than the Alaskan Husky, with a coat that can range from short (like a Pointer) to thicker (like a Husky) depending on the generation and specific mix.
  4. Characteristics: Eurohounds have the energy and vigor of Pointers, combined with the pulling strength of Huskies. They are often faster in sprint races than their Alaskan Husky counterparts but may lack the extreme cold resilience of the latter.

In a nutshell, while the Alaskan Husky is the versatile, enduring workhorse bred for varied sledding challenges, the Eurohound is the sleek sprinter, optimized for high-speed races. Both are testaments to the power of functional breeding, where ability and performance take center stage.

Role in Sled Dog Racing

Eurohounds have become increasingly popular in sled dog racing, particularly in Europe, where they were first developed. They are especially well-suited for shorter, faster races, such as the 300-mile Finnmarksløpet in Norway or the 250-mile Femundløpet in Sweden. Eurohounds are also used in mid-distance races, such as the 500-mile Yukon Quest in Alaska and Canada.

One advantage of Eurohounds over other sled dog breeds is their ability to run at a faster pace for longer periods of time. They are also known for their excellent temperament, which makes them easy to train and handle. Eurohounds are often used in teams of six to eight dogs, and they are known for their ability to work together and maintain a consistent pace.

Breeds in the Eurohound

According to Endurance Kennels, the Eurohound is a cross between Alaskan Huskies and the German Short-haired Pointer. However, the Alaskan Husky itself is not a purebred dog and neither is the Eurohound. So the specific breeds used in the development of Eurohounds can vary, but some of the most common may include:

  • German Shorthaired Pointer;
  • Greenland Dog;
  • Siberian Husky;
  • Eskimo Dog;
  • Weimaraner;
  • Greyhound; and
  • Alaskan Husky

Overall, the Eurohound is a versatile and athletic breed that has become increasingly popular in sled dog racing. Their speed, endurance, and excellent temperament make them a great choice for both short and mid-distance races.

What Does a Eurohound Look Like?

When we talk about the Eurohound, we’re not looking at a standard, cookie-cutter appearance like some purebred dogs. Instead, Eurohounds represent an exciting blend of breeds, each bringing something unique to the mix. This is what happens when dogs are bred for a job—what we lovingly call “functional breeding.” And honestly, it’s a refreshing and more ethical approach than focusing solely on looks or color.

The Eurohound’s roots are all about performance. Unlike the approach where similar-looking dogs are inbred for a consistent appearance and breed standard, Eurohounds are the result of blending the best working traits and health factors for sprint racing. 

The key players in the Eurohound family tree? German Shorthaired Pointers (and their English counterparts), Alaskan Huskies from dedicated sprint dog lines, and other pointers. Alaskan Huskies are chosen for their endurance in challenging subzero temperatures, while pointers are the champions of energetic sprints. 

And, while we’re on the topic, if you mix Greyhound or Saluki with sled pointers, you get a “Greyster” – a breed renowned for dryland racing and some snow races.

Picture this: a first-generation Eurohound mix (that’s half pointing breed and half husky) flaunting a short coat perfect for sprint races where there’s no time to nap on the trail. Due to this sleek coat, these Eurohounds often need to be indoors or in warmed-up barns during super chilly weather, in contrast to their Alaskan Husky cousins who shrug off the cold. 

Breed this first-generation mix again with an Alaskan Husky, and you’ll get pups with thicker coats made for longer journeys. Distance racing aficionados usually prefer a dog with just 1/8 pointer genetics for peak performance. Beyond that, they lean more towards being called Alaskan Husky mixes or mixed hounds. 

Fun fact: Eurohounds can dash at impressive speeds of up to 25 miles per hour!

Appearance-wise, a fifty percent cross might sport half-dropped ears and a coat pattern of black with white highlights, or maybe a solid base sprinkled with spots. Many resemble the German Shorthair Pointer, giving off classic hunting dog vibes. As the pointer percentage decreases, they begin to bear a closer resemblance to Alaskan Huskies.

In essence, the Eurohound showcases the beauty of functional breeding – a mix of speed, stamina, and style, all rolled into one incredible canine.

How Big Does a Eurohound Get?

Eurohounds are medium-sized dogs that can range from 45 to 65 pounds in weight and stand about 20 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a lean and muscular build that makes them perfect for endurance sports such as mushing.

Coat and Colors

The Eurohound’s coat is typically short and dense, providing excellent insulation against the cold. They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, gray, and brown. Some Eurohounds have a solid color coat, while others have a mix of colors or a patterned coat.

Eurohounds have almond-shaped eyes that are usually brown or blue. They have erect ears that are triangular in shape, and a long, slender tail that is carried low when they are relaxed and higher when they are excited.

Temperament and Behavior

Personality Traits

Eurohounds are highly energetic, independent, and intelligent dogs. They are bred for speed and endurance, and their temperament reflects this. They are known for their strong work ethic and their ability to focus on a task for extended periods of time. They are also very social animals and thrive on interaction with their human handlers.

Interaction with Humans

Eurohounds are generally friendly and affectionate towards their owners, but they can be wary of strangers. They are very loyal and protective of their families, and make excellent watchdogs. However, they are not suitable for inexperienced dog owners, as they require a lot of attention and training to keep them well-behaved. They also need far more intensive exercise  than the average dog, so this is not a companion or pet breed of dog.

Interaction with Other Pets

Eurohounds are pack animals and are generally good with other dogs. However, they have a strong prey drive and may not get along with smaller pets such as cats or rabbits. It is important to socialize them from a young age and supervise them when interacting with other animals.

Overall, Eurohounds are highly active and intelligent dogs that require a lot of exercise and stimulation. They are not suited to be pets and are best kept as working dogs.

Care and Maintenance

Dietary Needs

Eurohounds are active dogs that require a high-quality diet to maintain their energy levels. They need a balanced diet that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It is recommended to feed them high-quality dry dog food that is specifically formulated for active dogs. A study on mushing dogs including Eurohounds, found that most mushers feed their dog a raw diet that is high in fat and protein.

Exercise Requirements

Eurohounds are bred for speed and endurance, and they require a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy. They need at least an hour of exercise every day, which can include running, hiking, or sledding. They also enjoy participating in dog sports such as agility, flyball, and skijoring.

They are ultimately sledding dogs that do best in sports like cani cross, bikejoring, scootering (racing using a two-wheeled kick bike, with either one or two dogs in harness, spanning 1.5 to 4 miles) or relay races.

Grooming

Eurohounds can have a short, dense coat that is easy to maintain. They are heavy shedders and require regular brushing to keep their coat healthy and shiny. During shedding season, they may require more frequent brushing to prevent matting and tangling. It is also important to keep their ears clean and their nails trimmed.

However, most Eurohounds have a short coat like the Pointer and require minimal grooming other than an occasional brush every few to distribute the oils in their coat evenly. They usually need a lot of paw care in the form of a paw palm, as keeping these dogs’ paws in good condition is a number one priority.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Eurohounds are generally a healthy breed of dogs. However, like any other breed, they can suffer from certain health issues. Some of the most common health issues that Eurohounds may experience include:

  • Hip dysplasia;
  • Eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy;
  • Skin allergies; and
  • Hypothyroidism

Hip dysplasia is a common condition that affects many dog breeds, including Eurohounds. This condition occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, leading to joint instability and arthritis. Eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy can also occur in Eurohounds and can lead to vision loss.

Skin allergies are another common health issue that Eurohounds may experience. These allergies can be caused by a variety of factors, including food, pollen, and flea bites. Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.

Average Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Eurohound is around 12 to 14 years. This lifespan can vary depending on a number of factors, including genetics, diet, and exercise. Eurohounds that are well-cared for and receive regular veterinary care are more likely to live longer, healthier lives.

It is important to note that some Eurohounds may live longer or shorter than the average lifespan. Factors that can impact lifespan include genetics, environment, and overall health. It is important for Eurohound owners to provide their dogs with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and appropriate veterinary care to help ensure a long and healthy life.

Training and Activities

Trainability

Eurohounds are highly trainable dogs, as they are intelligent and eager to please their owners. However, they require consistent and patient training to reach their full potential. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with Eurohounds, as they respond well to rewards and praise.

It is important to start training Eurohounds at a young age, as they can be stubborn and difficult to train if left untrained for too long. Basic obedience training, such as sit, stay, come, and heel, should be taught first before moving on to more advanced training.

Suitable Activities

Eurohounds are bred for speed and endurance, making them excellent athletes. They excel in activities such as sled dog racing, skijoring, bikejoring, and canicross. These activities provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they require to stay healthy and happy.

In addition to these activities, Eurohounds also enjoy hiking, swimming, and playing fetch. It is important to provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behavior.

Eurohounds are not suitable for apartment living, as they require a lot of space to run and play. They thrive in homes with large yards or in rural areas where they can run freely.

Overall, Eurohounds are highly trainable dogs that excel in a variety of activities. With consistent training and plenty of exercise, they make excellent companions for active individuals and families.

Adoption and Purchase

Adoption Process

Adopting a Eurohound is a great way to give a loving home to a dog in need. To adopt a Eurohound, interested individuals can start by researching local animal shelters or rescue organizations that specialize in sled dogs. These organizations often have Eurohounds available for adoption, as well as other sled dog breeds.

The adoption process typically involves filling out an application, meeting the dog, and going through a screening process to ensure that the dog is a good fit for the family and the family is a good fit for the dog. The screening process may include a home visit, reference checks, and an interview.

Price Range

The cost of purchasing a Eurohound can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the dog’s age, pedigree, and training. On average, Eurohounds can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500.

It’s important to note that purchasing a Eurohound from a reputable breeder can be expensive, but it ensures that the dog comes from a healthy bloodline and has been properly socialized and trained. It’s also important to avoid purchasing Eurohounds from puppy mills or pet stores, as these dogs may have health and behavioral issues.

In addition to the initial cost of purchasing a Eurohound, owners should also budget for ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary care, and training. These expenses can add up quickly, so it’s important to carefully consider the financial commitment of owning a Eurohound before making a purchase.

Overall, adopting or purchasing a Eurohound can be a rewarding experience for individuals and families who are willing to provide a loving home and commit to the ongoing care and training of these active and intelligent dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Eurohounds and Greysters?

Eurohounds are a mix of several breeds, including the Pointer, Greyhound, and Alaskan Husky, whereas Greysters are a mix of Greyhounds and Alaskan Huskies. Eurohounds are typically smaller and more agile than Greysters, making them better suited for shorter distances and more technical courses. Greysters, on the other hand, are larger and more powerful, making them better suited for longer distances and straighter courses.

Where can I find reputable Eurohound breeders?

Reputable Eurohound breeders can be found through various online directories and breed clubs. It is important to do research and ask for references before purchasing a dog to ensure that the breeder is ethical and the dogs are healthy.

What kind of food should I feed my Eurodog?

Eurohounds require a high-protein diet to maintain their energy levels and muscle mass. A diet consisting of high-quality meat, such as chicken or beef, along with vegetables and grains, is recommended. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet for your individual dog.

How does scootering with a Greyster compare to a Eurohound?

Scootering with a Greyster may be more challenging due to their larger size and strength, but they are also able to cover longer distances at a faster pace. Eurohounds may be more maneuverable and better suited for technical courses.

Where did sled dogs originate?

Sled dogs originated in the Arctic regions of the world, where they were used by indigenous peoples for transportation and hunting.

What breeds are commonly used to create Alaskan Huskies?

Alaskan Huskies are not a purebred dog breed and are created by breeding various sled dog breeds, including Siberian Huskies, Greyhounds, and Pointers.

Final Thoughts

Eurohounds are a relatively new breed of sled dog that have quickly gained popularity in the world of mushing. With their unique blend of speed and endurance, Eurohounds are well-suited for long-distance races like the Iditarod and Yukon Quest.

While they may not be as well-known as other sled dog breeds like Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes, Eurohounds have a lot to offer mushers. They are highly trainable, intelligent, and have a strong work ethic. Their compact size also makes them easier to handle than larger breeds.

Eurohounds are a great choice for mushers who are looking for a dog that can perform well in long-distance races. They are also a good option for those who are looking for a versatile sled dog that can be trained for a variety of tasks.

Overall, Eurohounds are a valuable addition to the world of sled dog racing. With their unique blend of traits, they are sure to continue to gain popularity among mushers and fans alike.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.