We are very proud of our dogs. They have wonderful personalities and they love to work.
This has not just happened by chance. It is the result of over 40 years working with sled dogs; it is the result of a planned acquisition, and a breeding program to produce a unique ‘Chocpaw’ dog. From the outset we wanted a dual purpose dog that could compete on a race circuit and also work on expeditions. It is our belief that a dog with the structure and heart that can run competitively can certainly work on expeditions. They can work long, hard, and are less susceptible to injury. We start the pups in training at 7 months and by 10 months they are ready for a winters work. We have had many dogs work an expedition to 12 and 13 years of age and a few beyond 15. An average winter’s work exceeds 2000 miles (3220 km).
Structure and desire to run are paramount in our dogs. Whether born in the Chocpaw kennel, or acquired from other kennels, all our dogs are assessed on their temperament as well. We do not tolerate aggression, whether to other dogs but especially not towards people. We do have some shy dogs or dogs that would prefer you leave them alone. These dogs have chosen 1 or 2 staff members as friends. The vast majority are friendly and outgoing. For all dogs that stay in the kennel, they all look forward to the opportunity to work.
To these essentials we try to instill in every dog a sense of purpose. A dog with a purpose is a happy dog. A dog disciplined and conditioned to work as part of a team is a happy dog.
There are no purebred dogs in the Chocpaw kennel. The sled dogs of our heritage and history were not purebred dogs. They were mixed breed dogs. The one standard for being a sled dog was that they worked in harness. We have pedigrees for most of my dogs. Those I don’t have pedigrees on I do not use in a breeding program.
We run Alaskan Sled Dogs, not to be confused with Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, or Alaskan Village Dogs. Our dogs may have traces of these breeds. The Alaskan Sled Dog is a mixed breed dog developed through the selection and breeding of dogs based solely on their performance. This accounts for the wide variation in size and appearance.
We spend a lot of time watching the dogs at work and play, evaluating their performance, attitude and behaviour so that in late winter we can match breeding pairs to produce teams.
Raising pups in spring and summer is ideal, as our schedule allows us plenty of time to interact with the pups. All our litters, once weaned from their mothers, run free in our puppy pen. Depending on the year, this could mean multiple litters interacting in the puppy pen. We spend time each day playing with the pups and teaching acceptable behaviours. They will stay and play together until approximately 5 months of age when they are transferred to their own house.
When fall begins, their formal training begins with daily runs in harness. The first winter is spent working expeditions where the pups learn a work ethic, team work, and the joys of being a sled dog.