“Draft Work” or “Carting”
Several breeds of dogs have been specifically bred to assist people with their daily work, including the Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Newfoundlands, and many more, by pulling carts, wagons, sleds or travois. In addition, those that were not bred for this purpose can be trained to do this kind of work.
Even today, in many countries, draft dogs are referred to as “the poor man’s horse.” They haul milk and produce from farms to market, make deliveries in towns, or even provide basic transportation by pulling dog sleds or small surreys. A single, fully trained draft dog in the larger breeds can pull loads as great as 2000 pounds for short distances and well over 1000 pounds on a daily basis. When properly trained and handled, a draft dog loves his work.
In addition to performing in demonstrations and parades, many draft dogs in America today assist their handlers in their daily life. Some are certified Assistance dogs; some regularly “bring home the groceries”; some assist in hauling their crates, food, and other show supplies from the parking lot to the grooming area at dog shows; some work search and rescue, hauling supplies into areas that are difficult to reach; and many of them love giving rides to the neighbourhood children.
As a sport, canine draft work can be done by almost any breed, including rescue dogs and mixed breeds. The primary requirements are that the dog needs to be sound of body and in good health, he needs to perform well in basic obedience work, and the size of the draft equipment and the weight to be pulled must be in proportion to the size and strength of the dog. Most medium to large sized dogs can haul practical loads. However, even breeds as small as the Papillon have been trained to do draft work, pulling modified toy dump trucks for carts.
Definitions / Commonly Used Terms:
- Drafting (draft-ing) v. — pulling a load in a vehicle with livestock.
- Carting (cart-ing) v. — pulling a two-wheeled cart with horse or oxen.
- Draft Work with Dogs: Refers to a dog pulling a cart, a wagon, a sled, a log, etc.
- Dog Carting: Refers to an activity where a dog pulls a wheeled vehicle.
- Driving: Refers to carting where the handler rides in the vehicle being pulled by the dog.
- Cart: A two-wheeled vehicle consisting of a box, often with a seat, balanced over an axle and connected to the dog by a pair of wooden or metal shafts. With a properly balanced cart, only the weight of the shafts rests on the dog’s harness. These may be designed to carry cargo or passengers.
- Wagon: A four-wheeled vehicle. A wagon may also carry freight or passengers. With a wagon, the weight is supported entirely by the vehicle, however, the wagon itself is generally much heavier than a two-wheeled cart.
- Travois: This is a device with no wheels which is dragged by the dog. Usually made of wood or aluminium and useful when travelling over rough terrain.
- Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America Draft Test Regulations (PDF)
- Having Fun With Draft — From the BMDCC
- The Newfoundland Dog Club of America Draft Work
- Carting with your Berners — From the Sierra West BMDC
Cart Plans and Information
Photos courtesy of MuddyPawz