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Sled dogs carry on Alaska’s legacy at Denali National Park and Preserve

  • Denali is the only national park with a sled dog kennel.
  • Visitors may encounter the dogs, but they are not there for entertainment.
  • Working dogs are canine rangers with important duties in the park.

Long before there were visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve, there were sled dogs.

“We’ve had dogs almost continuously for the past 100 years here at the park,” Denali Kennel Manager David Tomeo said, noting that theirs is the only dog ​​sledding kennel in the entire federal government.

The very first park employee purchased the first sled dogs in 1922 to mark park boundaries, build patrol cabins and go out to tell gold diggers they could no longer harvest sheep and caribou in the park to feed their crews, according to Tomeo.

A century later, Denali’s sled dogs continue to do important work in the Alaskan wilderness, but they’ve also become a popular visitor attraction.

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What Breed Are Denali Sled Dogs?

Denali sled dogs are Alaskan huskies.

“It’s a mixed breed. It’s not a purebred or registered in a kennel club,” Tomeo said, noting that their genetic diversity dates back to the Gold Rush era, when all kinds dogs were brought to Alaska. “Some people might call them mutts, but the fact that we put so much intention into our breeding, they’re so carefully bred for health and genetics, … they’re bred more carefully than purebred dogs.”

USA Today

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