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 Nowadays, dogsleds are largely considered an outdated form of transportation but are still used by indigenous peoples and in rural areas, and of course, during recreational dogsled races.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 (especially in Russia), 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.
- An advert for a hot Kellogg's cereal (can't remember the name) that was "crunchy, not mushy", features a man trying to make his sled-dogs go, but they never do, because he can't say "mush". The cereal's tagline? "You may never say "mush" again.
- Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi has an impressive example as Doraemon and gang, in two separate sleds, crosses the Antarctic on a frenetic sled chase. They don't have dogs, but they have two rolls of Robot Wire which can take any forms by playing a tune, so they travel using two-dimensional robot sled-dogs made of wire. It works surprisingly well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buck from The Call of the Wild starts out as a pampered pet in California, then gets beaten into an ace sled dog in the Klondike Gold Rush before going feral at the end.
- "The Cremation of Sam McGee", a Narrative Poem by Robert Service, is about two Gold Rush-era prospectors traveling across the Yukon in this manner when one of them freezes to death.
- Kate Shugak: One of Kate's neighbours is a professional musher who breeds sled dogs and races the the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Although Kate, like most of the natives, prefers ski mobiles, she has used dog sleds at times to get to areas inaccessible to mechanical transport.
- 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.
- The story "Quiquern" from The Second Jungle Book tells the story of two Inuit teenagers and their sled dogs.
- "Silver Chief, Dog of the North" was the star of a series of children's books by Jack O'Brien. A wolf-dog hybrid, Silver Chief was born in the wild and then tamed by Sergeant Jim Thorne of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He became Thorne's constant companion through many adventures in the Canadian Northwest Territories. Since the stories are set in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and almost always in winter note , dog sleds are Thorne's primary means of transportation, and when they're on the move, Silver Chief can always be found at the head of his team.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- F Troop: In "The Singing Mountie", a Mountie arrives at Fort Courage, looking for Agarn's look-a-like French-Canadian cousin, Lucky Pierre Agarniere. He arrives at Fort Courage on a sled pulled by dogs despite the fort being in the desert. When Sgt. O'Rourke examines the sled, he discovers wheels have been mounted underneath the runners.
- Iditarod: The Toughest Race on Earth: A reality series that chronicles the struggles that competitors in the Iditarod race go through.
- The Top Gear Polar Special saw Richard Hammond and an expert musher racing against Jeremy Clarkson and James May in a modified Toyota Hilux to see which team could reach the magnetic North Pole first. Hammond and the dogs lost, and were picked up by the crew off-camera instead of going all the way to the Pole.
- The Westerner: In "Brown", Lovable Rogue Burgundy Smith attempts to acquire Dave's Heroic Dog Brown so he can sell him as a sled dog leader to prospectors in the Klondike.
- Dog Sled Saga'' casts the player as a rookie musher who has to foster his own sled dog team.
- In God of War Ragnarök Kratos and Atreus get around the Fimbulwinter-frozen Midgard on a sled pulled by two tamed wolves.
- 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?"
Solid Snake: "Right now my fifty huskies are my only family. I've got to take care of them."
Campbell: "Don't worry about your dogs."
- Indie adventure game The Red Lantern is set entirely in a snowy wasteland, and your primary means of transport is your trusty sled-dogs.
- 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.
- On Molly of Denali, Tooey's father Kenji is a professional musher. Tooey wants to be a musher someday too. Many episodes feature the characters navigating through Alaska using sled dogs. One episode puts particular focus on Balto himself.
- 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.
- The Sirius dog sled patrol is a military unit, responsible for patrolling the extremely remote areas of Northeast Greenland and maintaining Danish sovereignty.