How long do they live?

This is a forum for bonding with your fellow Dogsters about the traits, quirks and idiosyncrasies of your favorite breed. Please remember that there are absolutely no animal sales or requests for studding or breeding allowed on our sites. All posts and interactions should be in the spirit of Dogster's Community Guidelines and should be fun, friendly and informational. Enjoy!

Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
Barked: Thu Feb 5, '09 9:40am PST 
I just adopted a ten year old retired sled dog from a touring kennel in Colorado. Her name is Ginger (not terribly original, but it's what she already knows) and she's very sweet.
I just wanted to know, do any of you know the lifespan of these dogs? I'm sure it varies enormously, but considering that she's in good health, no arthritis or other movement problems,eats well, has plenty of energy for running, I hope that we will have more than just a couple years together.
Do any of you have a 14, 15, 16 and up husky to compare to?
I plan to be living with her on the oregon coast in a rural area, so I can give her plenty of exercise.
This dog-owning thing is new to me, I've never had one before, and I'm hopeful but a little apprehensive.
(as of right now we are still at the kennel and she is out on a 20-mile sled run with some clients. Lots of energy still!)
Fuzzy- Huskies Dog- Team

'09 Jr. Yukon- Quest- Red Lantern!
Barked: Tue Feb 10, '09 4:48pm PST 
It depends on the dog and the lines she's from. A lot of my guys are 9-11 and still running strong. My old leader Bax is retired now, but he's 16 and still acting like a big puppy!

For some reason, some Alaskans do tend to have long lives. It may be an active lifestyle, the attention to their care by mushers, genetics, or a combination.

I wouldn't worry about your new girl. If she's 10 and still running happily, she may live a long time smile.
Fun On The- Run Kennel- Racing

'10 Junior- Iditarod, 6th- place!
Barked: Wed Feb 11, '09 10:29am PST 
I second what Kristen said. I have a 12 year old who is still one of my main leaders! It really depends on the dog though, because I have a nine year old who is almost retired already. I think the dogs being in such good shape all of their lives, have a longer lifespan than dogs who don't get as much exercise.


Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
Barked: Fri Jul 31, '09 12:58pm PST 
Pookah lived to be over 18 and then passed in her sleep.

Chain free is- the way to be!
Barked: Sat Aug 1, '09 2:03pm PST 
I've never heard of the "Durango Dog Ranch," but I'm looking into it.

First of all, let me say THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS for adopting a retiring sled dog. Since this is your first real dog ownership experience, it will be somewhat more difficult than it would have been with a pet dog.

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating abused/neglected sled dogs since 1998. Sometimes it is a very difficult task. Do you know if Ginger has had any exposure to a house, a car (not a dog truck), a veterinary clinic? Has she ever been around other dogs off-lead? (many sled dogs have not)

This reply isn't meant to scare you. Most of these dogs finally let their true spirits soar when they find themselves in a real home and off of their chain. My rescues have blossomed into some beautiful sentient beings. It just takes time, and a lot of patience. If you ever need to talk, or have a specific question about something your rescued sled dog is doing, please don't hesitate to drop me a line at ashley@lakotasong.com

We need more people willing to adopt retired sled dogs.

I urge you to check out my website - Break The Chains - Save The Sled Dogs, in particular the "Rescue & Rehabilitation" page.

ETA: The original question... I've never lost a dog before 12 years of age... Most of my huskies go between 12 and 14. However, my very first sled dog abuse case ever, that Alaskan Husky made it til 16, when I finally chose to euthanize her because she was just so incontinent that she was unable to stay clean (was also blind and partly deaf). She had a really long, excellent life here.

Edited by author Sat Aug 1, '09 2:11pm PST

Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
Barked: Sun Aug 16, '09 4:57pm PST 
Hey Khuno, maybe this should be a private message, but thanks for your advice answering my questions two weeks ago! I'm hoping she'll live a long life, and it seems likely as she is totally healthy at 11 years old. Hooray for hybrid vigor and regular exercise!
to answer some of your other points:
Since I got Ginger in February, she has turned into a wonderful pet. I haven't looked at your website yet, but Ginger DIDN'T come from an abusive situation, she was NOT chained all day, had plenty of good food, clean shelter, adequate vet care, and was even allowed in the house once in a while. They only chained the dogs while they were eating, for safety (and to prevent the fat ones from snarfing down extra food). Otherwise they had several fenced acres to roam in. I really don't think ALL sled dogs are abused and need rescue, but that a few bad mushers give the rest a bad image. I don't even know if people like that should even be called mushers, because abused dogs won't win races! Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience, but from the kennel I saw, and meeting other musher's dogs at a race, they seem to really like their life. It's just different from being housepets, not necessarily worse.

I've decided not to say that I "rescued" her, because while her life with me is different, I don't know if she likes it better. She loooooooved sledding, and I can't provide that anymore. Mostly she makes my life better, and that's why I got her in the first place.

I haven't had any problems with her (besides her initial escape I mentioned on my profile). Her manners with other dogs are excellent, on and off leash, probably because she lived freely with a pack before. When I first took her home, she was scared of other dogs (only knew the dogs from her pack, not strangers) but now she is little miss confident, walks up to them tail high and proud! She is slightly scared of large humans that try to touch her face, but not to the point of biting them- she just ducks away. I can trim her nails and brush her with no problem at all. I can even walk her off leash now, at least in safe places like hiking trails, quiet streets, and large parks. She doesn't chase cats, so it's safe to take her to friend's houses. She was already housetrained, only had a couple accidents this whole time (peed in the guest room we hardly use when she was shut inside). At first she was scared of riding in the car and had to be lifted into it, but now she jumps up when I open the door. You're right, she was used to dog trucks, but not riding in the cab. It didn't take to long for her to associate car rides with good things, though.

I think she has a lot better manners than many dogs I know who were housepets their whole lives! (she has only learned to beg at table and put her paws on me since I've accidentally encouraged it! ) I tell everyone that I got so lucky with her to get a naturally perfect dog. I think you might have a bit of a bias against working/racing mushers, but Ginger's previous owners were great people who treated their dogs well, and just had more than they needed. They had already decided to stop breeding dogs, and had all the females spayed, and find homes for the extras. They were trying to eventually have under 20 dogs.
I'm just glad they trusted me to give their girl a good life, because Ginger is an awesome dog.