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Sled Dog Endurance

December 28, 2016

Champions of endurance, sled dogs can run for over a thousand miles without fatigue.



The secret to sled dog endurance. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.


How sled dogs keep going. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The Iditarod is a grueling dogsled race across 1131 miles of Alaskan snow. But according to exercise physiologist Michael Davis of Oklahoma State University, it’s common to see dogs trot across the finish line without any sign of fatigue.

MICHAEL DAVIS (Oklahoma State University):

The dogs would be perfectly happy to keep on going. And for all appearances, they could do that indefinitely.


So how do they do it? Davis explains that on the first day of the race, dogs, like human athletes, draw on energy reserves within their cells. But as the race progresses, the dogs actually start to replenish those reserves while they’re exercising, quickly turning the 12,000 calories they consume each day into energy their muscles can use—a trick humans can’t match. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard