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Running Eurohounds
Running Eurohounds

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A Eurohound is a type of dog bred for sled dog racing. The Eurodog is typically crossbred from the Alaskan Husky and a Pointer.

According to Egil Ellis, a top sled dog racer, various types of pointers have been popular with Swedish sled dog racers for at least the last 50 years, and Alaskan Huskies were imported to Sweden in the 1980s; crossbreeding pointers and Huskies began “to come up with something new, something that the mushers did not have in Alaska”. “A Eurohound is a cross between an Alaskan Husky and German Shorthaired Pointer… This cross first successfully entered the competitive sled dog racing world in Scandinavia.” The Eurohound is not a purebred breed of dog but instead is continually crossbred from purebreds and mixes in order to produce dogs for specific running conditions.

Rather than inbreeding similar-looking dogs in order to create a new breed with a consistent appearance, Eurohound racers crossbreed for specific working traits and health. Crossbreeding includes breeding between two established breeds, with two tightly bred but unrelated gene pools, and breeding the first generation cross back to one of the purebred breeds. Crossbreeding is also done for the purpose of heterosis (hybrid vigor). The dogs most often used for Eurodog crosses are purebred Pointers (German Shorthaired Pointers and English Pointers), Vorester Pointer and Alaskan Huskies (Gareth Wright lines primarily) from tightly bred sprint dog lines used for racing.

A first-generation Eurohound cross (fifty percent Pointer, fifty percent Husky) have short coats, suitable for sprint races, which don’t involve resting or sleeping on the trail. When the first-generation cross is crossed again with the Alaskan Husky, the resulting generation can have thicker coats, suitable for longer-distance teams. Most distance mushers prefer the pointer genetics to only be 1/8 in a dog for maximum performance. This then reduces the Eurohound influence, and dogs should be termed Alaskan Huskies or Hound crosses.

The term “Eurohound” was coined by Ivana Nolke, to distinguish the European racing dogs being imported into Alaska. Vorester ex greyhound crosses are coined “Greysters” and popular for dryland racing limited class snow racing.

Appearance and breeds
As the Eurohound is a carefully bred performance dog type rather than a kennel club registered purebred breed, its appearance will vary. Characteristics of Pointers, Huskies, and any other breeds used in breeding may show up in the dogs. Breeders may target a specific size or coat length for the type of racing they do. “Our pointers and most of our crossbreeds have a weight of 18–24 kilos” (Egil Ellis).

Fairly common features of fifty percent crosses are half-dropped ears, black with white blazing as shown in the photo, or solid with patches of spots. Some completely spotted dogs appear as well. Once the percentage of pointer drops, the dogs start to look more like Alaskan Huskies.

The Alaskan husky sprint dog has been tightly bred for performance, since sled dog racing began in Alaska. The German Shorthaired Pointer and English Pointer gene pool is restricted by the fact that they are registered breeds, but they too were bred for performance; the Scandinavian pointers from which the first Eurohounds came had been used historically for sled dog racing and hunting.

Although more accurately and traditionally called “crossbred”, crossbred dogs are sometimes referred to more fashionably as “hybrid”, for unknown reasons. In biology, a hybrid animal is one with parentage of two separate species, differentiating it from crossbred animals, which have parentage of the same species. Hybrids are usually, but not always, sterile. All dogs, including crossbreeds, are of the species Canis lupus familiaris. Crossbred dogs are not a hybridization with another species.