The Woof-derful World of Dogs in Sport!

Updated: Aug 13

✦ On first glance the words “dog” and “sport” do not really seem to sit comfortably in the same sentence.

Man’s best friend kicking a footie around, swimming laps of the pool, swinging a golf club or serving an ace? Of course not! However, dig a little deeper and there are more than the fair share of sports-related activitives that our furry buddies can and do get involved in.

The majority of dogs are full of beans with boundless energy levels and that is something that needs to be addressed. They absolutely need to burn off that pent up energy which often means more than just a brief walk around the block or in the local park. Maybe you could consider introducing your beloved pooch to some of the following!

The most obvious commercial sport that springs to mind is greyhound racing. Established over 100 years ago, typically dogs will race around an oval track chasing what they believe is a hare or rabbit but what is actually an artificial lure, most often a mechanical form of windsock. It is a sport that is hugely popular in the USA, UK and Australia where it has become a key component of the betting and gambling industry.

Australia is home to the world’s largest commerical greyhound racing industry which saw $7 billion placed in bets in 2019/20 alone.
Dogs take part in marathon competitions featured on Brilliant Online
Dogs competing with their owners in running competitions has become very popular

Animal rights and welfare groups are highly critical of the sport though, especially the fact that so many of the dogs are left abandoned after they retire from the track. Adoption movements spearheaded by kennel owners have subsequently become more prevalent in recent years to help the retired dogs find homes – recent figures showing adoption rates of over 95% in the United States alone suggest they are on their way to achieving their goals.

Take away the oval course and add some snow and you have sled dog racing! This winter sport sees timed competitions where a team of dogs pull a sled manned by a driver around a designated course with the quickest team declared the winner. Races include sprints which can be anywhere from four to 100 miles, mid-distance which is between 100 to 300 miles and long-distance where anywhere between 300 to over 1,000 miles are covered. Typically categories include four-dog, six-dog, eight-dog and 10-dog teams.

Sled dog racing is especially popular in the Arctic regions of the United States, Canada, Russia,

Greenland and some European countries. It was a entered as a demonstration sport at the 1932, 1952 and 1994 Winter Olympics although it never did receive official event recognition or status.