An Interview with Dogsledder Petter Karlsson

About Petter Karlsson

Petter Karlsson is from the north of Sweden, where he has a Farm and a Dogsledding company. They offer multi day tours through the biggest nature reserve in Europe, and Petter himself competes in long distance races. He has won the biggest and toughest races in Europe in the past few years and is on a mission to put together the best dog team in the world. 

Petter Karlsson with some young puppies.
Be it in the summer in 25-degree weather taking care of the cows, or racing dogs through a snow storm in -35 degrees, he is always wearing his Muck Boot Arctic Sport boots.
Winter has arrived early this year, it’s not even November yet and we already have 30cm of snow. Fall training is already in full swing and my 3 handlers and I are training dogs almost every day. Currently we are using ATV’s and Cart’s to train the dogs, but we hope to switch to sleds soon. Up here in the north of Sweden, only 150km below the arctic circle, the winters are cold and long, and we usually have enough snow to go out with the sleds for about 6 month a year. My main goal for the upcoming season is to win the 1200km Finnmarksløpet race in Norway for the 3rd time, but more than everything I just love to be out with my dogs, exploring the nature! We also offer dogsled tours and when the racing season is over, I will guide some 8-day expeditions into the biggest nature reserve in Europe myself. I always enjoy these trips and next to the proven race dogs I also take some young dogs with me and see who has the talent to get a shot at being in the race team next year.   
Meet the Team 
Currently we have 36 dogs in training with the race team, and from them we will take the 26 best, form two teams and then go compete in long distance races in Sweden, Finland and Norway. The other dogs will stay at home where they will make some guests happy on our multi day tours. In my race team I have a good mix of dogs from 2-8 years old, male and female, big and small. The interesting thing about long distance races is that not only big and strong dogs will be in the race team. I want dogs that can run 1000km in 6 days and still be happy and healthy, and often it’s the dogs that are more relaxed and not pull that hard in the beginning that stand there at the finish line, still smiling and asking for a treat. One of my favourite dogs is Grey, a small female almost only half the size of the biggest dog in my team, but she is always happy, always hungry and has a very strong and determined mind. Having her on the team does not make the team go faster in the first half of the race, but it will make the team better in the second half, and that’s when it counts.
Grey and Teddy resting during the Arctic Circle Sled Dog Expedition 2021.
Grey and Teddy resting during the Arctic Circle Sled Dog Expedition 2021.
Meet the Puppies
Every year we also have some puppies, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them grow and teach them how to become a sled dog. They have the natural desire to pull, so we don’t have to teach them that, all we have to do is to teach them how to behave and how to control their energy. From my office I see directly into the puppy pens, and when I watch them play and have fun with each other it’s better than watching TV! We introduce them to food already at 2 weeks old, and when they are 4 weeks old, they all run out of their house when they see the food coming. But it’s also a lot of work because we have to make sure that every puppy gets the same amount of attention. Especially the small and shy ones get run over by their bigger siblings, so it is our duty to not get blinded by the attention seekers and show some love to everyone. At the moment the youngest litter of puppies is one month old, and if you want to stay updated about their hard life of being cute you can follow @petterkarlssonsleddogs on Instagram, we will regularly post updates!
A few of the puppies gathering around Petter in his Muck Boot Arctic Sport boots.
Fun Facts
When the dogs are getting too old for racing, they retire and will join the tour team. Once they don’t like to go out on tours anymore, they will stay home and then go on short training runs with the young dogs and teach them how it’s done. That means some of the best dogs in the world that were winning the biggest races in Europe get to spend the later years of their lives on tours with our guests, showing them around their backyard and make for some unforgettable memories. 

One of my all-time favourite lead dogs is Kira. When I won the Finnmarksløpet in 2016 I had a cold and she was on my team, and every time I coughed, she barked like crazy and then the whole team sped up. First it was a bit annoying, then I started to try to control my coughs to get the energy boosts when I needed them, for example in steep uphill’s and until now I still have to laugh about it thinking back on this. She retired from racing now and is enjoying her new life as a tour dog. Every time one of us walks over to her kennel and calls her name, she jumps out, wags her butt (not only the tail), barks and smiles in joy. She is one of the fans’ favourites on our tours too and with her loud and sparkling personality she makes everyone smile. Life with so many dogs is not always easy, it’s more like 365 days of craziness every year, but being able to go out and explore the nature with them and helping them to do what they love is what makes it all worth it! 


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