Mushing Terminology

Categories // UK9 How To Article

What did he just say?

If you are new or a beginner in dog sports some of the terminology used can be quite confusing. We have compiled a list of the most common lingo you will hear at a race.


Alaskan Start

Connect your dog team to the rig via a gang line at your van/stake out and run your team to the start line with help for your handlers


Bikejor uses one or two dogs to pull a human riding a bicycle. The dogs wear the same harnesses that sled dogs wear and are hooked to the bike with a gangline. The gangline usually incorporates a bungee cord to smooth out the shocks of speeding up and takeoff

Bikejor/Scooter Arm

This is a flexible attachment that fits below the handlebars and allows you to maintain correct direction and safely run your dog, it also keeps the lead away from the front wheel.


A type of sock that is made to protect the dog’s feet from small cuts and sores. These are made from various materials, i.e., denim, polar fleece, trigger cloth, etc.


Canicross can be run with one or two dogs, always attached to the runner. The runner wears a waist belt, the dog a specifically designed harness, and the two are joined by a bungee cord or elastic line that reduces shock to both human and dog when the dog pulls.

Drop Link

A short chain or cable that connects the stake out line to the collar

Dropped Dog

A dog that the musher has dropped from his team at a checkpoint. The dog is cared for at the checkpoint until it is retrieved by the musher’s handlers.

Eskimo hook

This is very similar to a toggle on a duffle coat used as an alternative means of connecting a tug line to a tug


Connects the pulling dogs to the sled. Consists of one or more rope sections that runs down the middle of the dog team, upon which Tuglines and Necklines attached. The gangline attaches to the Sled/Rig.


A person who assists the musher, usually during a race or in the dog yard.


A webbing of fabric, usually nylon and fleece (but historically was hide and fur), that snugly fits around a dog’s body, to which the Tugline is attached.

Lead Dog or Leader

Dog who runs in front of others. Generally, must be both intelligent and fast, and are often females.


A person who drives, cares for and manages a sled dog team - also called a Dog Driver


Mushing is a sport or transport method powered by dogs. It includes carting, dog scootering, sled dog racing, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. More specifically, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled on snow or a rig on dry land.

Neck Line/Link

Line that connects dog’s collar to tow line and between the two collars of a double lead.


Leading a team with some sort of motorized vehicle that can set the ‘pace’ at a specific speed


Pushing the sled with one foot while the other remains on the runner


This is a 3 or 4 wheeled vehicle that is used on dry land when there is no snow available.


All of the gear used to attach dogs to a sled.


A musher who is running the race for the first time or who has never completed the race.

Safety Line

An extra line that runs from the Gangline to the sled, in case the main line breaks.


Dog scootering uses one or two dogs to pull a human riding a kick scooter. The dogs wear the same harnesses that sled dogs wear and are hooked to the scooter with a gangline. The gangline usually incorporates a bungee cord to smooth out the shocks of speeding up and takeoff.

Sled Bag

A bag that sits on the bed of the sled and can be used to store items that ride in the basket to contain them.

Snow Hook or Ice Hook

Heavy piece of metal attached to sled by line. The snow hook is embedded in the snow in order to hold the team and sled for a short period of time.

Snub Line

Rope attached to the sled which is used to tie the sled to a tree or other object.


Metal or wooden post driven into the ground to which dog is tied.  Can also be used at either end of the stakeout


A main chain/cable with separate short chains/cables to attach several dogs to. May be strung between the front and back bumpers of a truck, or between two trees.

Swing Dog(s)

Dog that runs directly behind the leader. Further identified as right or left swing depending on which side of the tow line he/she is positioned on. His/Her job is to help “swing” the team in the turns or curves.

Team Dog

Any dog other than those described above found in between the swing dogs and wheel dogs


A loop of rope at the rear of the harness that the rig line attaches to via a brass or bronze trigger clip or Eskimo hook.

Tug Line

Line that connects dog’s harness to the tow line.

Wheel Dogs or Wheelers

Dogs placed directly in front of the sled. Their job is to pull the sled out and around corners or trees. They are generally stronger and often larger than their teammates and must take the greatest load when making turns or changing directions.