Leisure: With dog sleds through the heath

With dog sleds through the heath

Alexandra Krüger, German champion in sled dog racing, steers her seven Alaskan Malamutes with shouted commands. photo

© Jens Büttner/dpa

Dog sleds connect many people with the Nordic countries. But there are also numerous “mushers” in Germany. Even where you wouldn’t expect them.

Anyone who only associates dog sled races with snow and Scandinavia needs to be proven wrong. There are around 250 sled dog drivers in Germany who practice the sport professionally, said Arno Steichler, President of the World Sleddog Association (WSA).

They represent those so-called mushers who compete with classic sled dog breeds. Overall, however, there are significantly more: The German national association VDSV claims to have more than 1700 members and is therefore Europe’s largest individual association.

German champion is bison breeder

One of the newcomers is Alexandra Krüger from Gnevsdorf in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With her Alaskan-Malamute team, she promptly became German champion in 2021 in her first professional short-distance race. A steep career for the fact that she only got her first dog shortly before the start of the corona pandemic. In doing so, she fulfilled a childhood dream, says Krüger. One animal quickly became two and eventually seven of the animals originally bred by the Inuit in Alaska.

Krüger – who runs a horse farm with bison breeding in her main job – uses the Retzower Heide for training, but here she also offers guided tours for guests. Incidentally, the rare snow in Germany does not prevent her from pursuing her passion: “In any case, this is a sport that you can only do from October to March,” she says. In summer the dogs are free.

Most drive without snow

According to WSA President Steichler, the majority of mushers in Germany mainly do so-called dryland races, i.e. without snow. Wheelchairs, among other things, are used for this, but there are also disciplines with bicycles or on foot. The main thing is that a dog pulls.


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