Swing Dogs in a dog sledding team help the leaders set the pace and aid in turning the team. If only the leaders wanted to turn in the direction of the musher’s commands, the team may not turn, so the swing dogs back the leaders up in these cases.
The job of the Team Dogs in a dog sledding team is to follow the dog in front of them and steadily pull. They provide the horsepower.
Depending on the race you are running will determine the make up of the team. For example in the Iditarod a team will start with 16 dogs. In a sprint race the team make-up often depends on the number of miles in the race (ie. a 4-dog team will often run a sprint race of 4 miles).
The International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) has set the standards for dog sled racing the the Untied States and they classes of races from one dog to unlimited.
Tomorrow: Wheel Dogs