Weight Pulling

weight pulling

About Weight Pulling

  • Invented: 1984
  • Founded By: Mark Johnson 
  • Highest Governing Body: International Weight Pull Association (IWPA)

Many dog sports are perceived by society as forms of animal cruelty. However, this could not be further from the truth in the case of weight pulling. Weight pulling is essentially the ultimate competition of strength for dogs; these canines are tested on their ability to pull weighted sleds on a track, at times weighing thousands of pounds. This discipline provides the opportunity to create a stronger bond between the dog and the handler. The look of happiness between the dog and the handler during competition shows the beauty of this sport.

In almost forty years of activity, weight-pulling has evolved from a purely regional activity to a sport that now has tournaments all over North America. This has created a large community of passionate handlers, or dog trainers, that dedicate their free time to improving the mutual trust with their dogs and preparing them to be in the best conditions to set new records.

Weight pulling is an adrenaline-filled sport that is appreciated even by casuals of dog sports. The dogs’ strength and endurance, which allows them to pull more than five thousand pounds at once, make these competitions a must-watch.


What is weight pulling?

Originally considered an adjunct category of dog sledding, weight pull has become an internationally recognized sport. Weight pulling is defined as an activity where dogs compete to pull the highest weight on a sixteen-foot track. The sport also involves the presence of a handler, which could be either the owner or the trainer of the dog. The handler usually stands in front of the dog without making any contact, simply cheering them on. Thus, the dogs are not forced in any way to compete.

Is weight pulling safe for dogs?

Similar to other dog disciplines, weight pulling has always been the object of an ethical debate over its safety. Weight pulling requires a great physical effort from the dogs, which are called to pull amounts of weight that most humans would not be able to stand. However, the International Weight Pull Association (IWPA), the highest governing body in this sport, has strived to guarantee the safety of the dogs. The fact that no dog has been hurt since the start of competitions in 1984 further proves that weight pulling is safe for dogs.

What dog breeds are best for weight pulling?

In weight pulling competitions, dogs are given one minute to pull great amounts of weight along a sixteen-foot track. This requires strength and quickness coming from the joints, which means that only dogs with great joints are fit to compete. Thus, only specific breeds such as the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge, Alaskan Malamute, and Siberian Husky have enough power in their joints to pull weight. Specifically, the Alaskan Malamute is typically considered the best performing breed, as many of them have broken the five thousand pounds mark.