If the word “drafting” is unfamiliar to you, you’renot alone. It’s one of those dog sports that probably isn’t on the radar of the average dog owner. The basic definition is the act of pulling a cart or wagon. (And “carting” is often used interchangeably.)
Some of the breeds in the Working Group were originally bred as draft animals to assist farmers in transporting goods to and from market, and generally making themselves useful around the farm.
Some of the better-known breeds who are naturals at it are Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards, and Leonbergers.
Bred to be strong, hardworking, and even-tempered, the big guys (and gals) excel at jobs that require an able body and stable mind. What was once a necessary job is now a pleasurable hobby for many dogs and the people who love to watch them pull. That said, there are still rural or remote parts of the world where dogs are still engaged in draft work.One town in Canada has its own four-legged newspaper delivery service!
While it sounds like a simple concept—putting a harness on your dog and letting him pull a cart or wagon—doing it right, and safely, requires instruction from an experienced trainer and specially-designed equipment.
Nowadays, many breeds, and mixed-breeds, participate in drafting and carting sports. As any dog owner can tell you, a dog with a job—even one that’s just for fun—is a happy dog, and having an outlet allows him to display his work ethic and the traits that are hard-wired from generations of careful breeding.
Do you want to give the sport of drafting or carting a go? Several national breed clubs allow any breed, and mixed-breeds, too, to participate in drafting and carting trials. Or you may choose to learn the basics of the sport for the sheer enjoyment of watching your dog do what he was bred for.
Check out the AKC’s own Penny Leigh for information on getting started in drafting and carting.