Sled dogs have been used to transport people and supplies for more than a thousand years in northern regions. From Alaska to the Antarctic,note sled dogs were frequently used in the far north, where vehicles would be impractical or even impossible to operate. Nowadays, dogsleds are largely considered an outdated form of transportation but are still used by indigenous peoples and in rural areas, and of course, during recreational dogsled races.
In fiction set in northern regions, however, dogsledding will often be depicted as the dominant form of transportation due to its "exotic" nature. Expect to hear fictional mushers shouting mush as they prompt their dogs into motion. The dog team is likely to be composed of spitz-type dogs, though a diverse variety of breeds have been historically developed for draught work. The Siberian Husky remains the quintessential sledding breed in popular media, although the Alaskan Husky — a non-standardized landrace bred solely for working ability — is preferred by actual North American mushers. Wolf-dog hybrids are also a popular choice in fiction, despite the fact they would make terrible working dogs in real life.
Other breeds, such as the Alaskan Malamute, Chinook, and Greenland Dog, are rarely depicted in fiction, if at all.
Such an adventure is a good way to show off an Heroic Dog.
- Balto is a fictitious telling of Balto and the 1925 serum run to Nome. Here, Balto is a wolf-dog hybrid. Regarding the sequels, Wolf Quest doesn't have anything to do with mushing, but Wings of Change is about Balto and other sled dogs proving their worth when air mail threatens to make them obsolete.
- The Simpsons Movie: When Homer tries to return to Springfield from Alaska, he uses sled dogs and is extremely abusive towards them, whipping them even when they're resting. The dogs eventually attack him and then abandon him.
- Air Buddies: The first sequel, Snow Buddies, is about the Buddies helping a Siberian Husky puppy win a sled dog race.
- Eight Below is about eight sled dogs forced to be left behind in an Antarctic expedition. This film and a similar 1983 Japanese film Nankyoku Monogatari (known as Antarctica) were based on the 1958 ill-fated Japanese expedition in the South Pole.
- Iron Will: Will Stoneman is a young man who loses his father in a mushing accident. He needs money to care for his family and save the farm, so he undergoes grueling training to participate in a dog-sled race.
- Kevin of the North: A guy from Los Angeles inherits his grandfather's lands in Alaska, but to collect them, he has to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. His Huskies are stolen by rivals, so he puts together a rag-tag team of improbable breeds, including a Bulldog, a Jack Russell Terrier and a poodle, among others.
- Togo: Another cinematic adaptation of the 1925 serum run to Nome. This one tells the story of the Siberian Husky Togo, the lead sled dog who ran the longest distance, only to be overshadowed by Balto, who ran the last leg and thus got most of the credit.
- Snow Dogs: A dentist from Florida finds out that his roots actually lie in Alaska when he's informed he's inherited a team of sled dogs. The plot revolves around a dog-sled race called the Arctic Challenge.
- Much of White Fang's narration is devoted to the organization of dogsleds and the politics thereof. Makes sense, given that it's the main mode of transportation in the far north.
- Buck from The Call of the Wild starts out as an ace sled dog in the Klondike Gold Rush before going feral at the end.
- Stone Fox is centered around a sled race where the prize is enough to save the protagonist's grandfather's farm from being repossessed, so he spends most of the book training with his dog Searchlight.
- The story "Quiquern" from The Second Jungle Book tells the story of two Inuit teenagers and their sled dogs.
- Winterdance is about a poor musher who enters the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to win money, only to find out he is way in over his head. By the end he has developed heart disease due to the harsh conditions. What's funny is that this book was the inspiration for the much more optimistic Snow Dogs.
- In Pugs of the Frozen North, all the teams' sleds are pulled by a team of animals.
- Shen and Sika's sled is pulled by the titular pugs (sixty-six in all).
- Prof. Shackleton Jones' sled is pulled by ROBODOGs until he trades them in for Mitzi's dogs.
- Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling and Sideplate have standard huskies.
- Mitzi Von Primm has huskies styled to look like poodles.
- Helga Hammerfist's sled is pulled by polar bears.
- The Puppy's Wish: Birki's mother gives Anja rides on her sleigh and it's stated that one day Birki will too.
- In the pilot episode of Due South the snowmobiles the modern RCMP use are all frozen up, so Fraser — to the incredulity of his coworkers — pursues a criminal through a blizzard by dog sled as part of his Establishing Character Moment as a heroic "traditional" Mountie. Yes, he gets his man.
- Iditarod: The Toughest Race on Earth: A reality series that chronicles the struggles that competitors in the Iditarod race go through.
- Dog Sled Saga casts the player as a rookie musher who has to foster his own sled dog team.
- Metal Gear Solid: It is mentioned that Solid Snake retired to Alaska and spent much of his retirement dog-sledding and was going to race through the Iditarod had he not been force out of retirement and take on the mission from his old comrades.
Colonel Roy Campbell: "The Iditarod? The longest sled race in the World? When did you become a dog musher?"
- CatDog: In the episode "Mush, Dog, Mush!," CatDog and the Greaser Dogs participate in the Idigadog Dog Sledding Competition. Cat has to train Dog to the extreme due to Dog's good nature.
- What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown: After Charlie Brown tries to play at mushing with Snoopy and the latter turns the tables on him, Snoopy has a nightmare that he's a real sled dog in Alaska. The special pulls no punches in showing the harsh conditions of the lifestyle and how they drive Snoopy insane.
- The 1925 Serum Run to Nome used sled dogs to transport serum to Nome, Alaska and surrounding towns to prevent a diphtheria epidemic after harsh weather conditions made aerial transportation impossible. Probably the most important event in the history of dog-sledding.
- Sled-dog racing is still practiced around the world; the most famous of these races is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which commemorates and replicates the 1925 Serum Run to Nome.