Population Control in the
Population control is an important
part of managing a sled dog team. One needs to maintain a fairly
steady supply of new dogs to replace those that grow too old to run with
the team, yet also control the numbers to prevent overpopulation.
I know several mushers who have ended up with fairly large numbers of
retired sled dogs in their yards, but not enough younger dogs to put
together a full team.
My goal is to be able to
field a team of 8 working dogs. My retirees remain in
the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs kennel throughout the remainder of their lives, and I hope to
limit their number to no more than 2 at a time.
Consequently I need to maintain a wide age-spread among
my dogs, literally ranging from puppies through geriatrics.
At this stage of the kennel's development, this can be achieved
by bringing in two or three new puppies every other year.
Some of the Stardancer dogs
have come from either the
North Star Borough Animal Control Shelter, some from
Companions Animal Rescue, two Stardancer dogs came from the Hedlund
Husky Preservation Project and very rarely we have a litter
of puppies from our own breeding.
As a general rule all
Stardancer dogs are spayed or neutered either before or shortly
after we acquire them. Dogs whelped in our kennel or acquired as puppies are
generally spayed at about 14 months of age because there are
health and behavioral concerns that make it advisable to delay
spaying or neutering working dogs until after they have reached
puberty. For more details about these concerns, visit the
Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete; One
Veterinarian's Opinion by Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP.
Dogs reproduce very quickly and it is important
that responsible breeders go to great lengths to ensure that only the
very best dogs be allowed to contribute their genetic material to the
next generation. Please remember that the goal is not to produce more
puppies (there are plenty of puppies in the world) nor is the goal to
just maintain the current ability of the team. The goal of any
breeding of working dogs should be to
IMPROVE the breed. This can only be done by selecting the very
best dogs, and spaying or neutering any dog that is not truly
To date, we have
done exactly one breeding, and this will probably a one-time event in
our kennel. We were very fortunate to acquire a truly
exceptional intact lead dog (Torus) at about the same time that
another musher who also prefers the larger "trap line" types was
planning to breed a proven bitch (Lucky)The deal was simple and
straighforward. Half the litter stayed with the Stardancer
kennel and the other half have a lifetime home with Lucky's