Explaining sled dogs’ size

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When many people think of sled dogs, they probably picture big, fluffy Siberian Huskies.

But most of the dogs that will be pulling sleds in the upcoming John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will be leaner Alaskan Huskies and mixes.

Ero Wallin, a musher with Silver Creek Sled Dogs near Two Harbors, explained why many elite sled dogs are smaller.

“One way to think about it is when you’re running a marathon or you watch people run Grandma’s Marathon, they’re in shape. They’re not these big dudes, you know. Yes, they have to have a good amount of weight and a good amount of muscle, but they have to be speed,” Wallin said. “And when people think of sled dogs, they think of big Malamutes or bigger Huskies. These are just typical Alaskan Husky mutts. They’re not super big, but they’re athletes.”

The 39th Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at Billy’s Bar in Duluth.