Weightpulling (or the often used abbreviation “pullen”) is a dog sport that was launched by the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) in the early 1970s, as an alternative to the prohibited dog fights.

Pulling can be seen as a measure of strength between different dogs and they compete in different weight classes. There is no aggression or violence involved. Nowadays, this sport is becoming increasingly popular, even though it is currently officially forbidden to practice this sport in the Netherlands. Here in the Netherlands, the “Trekhondenwet” (Article 107 of the Animal Health and Welfare Act) applies, which states that a dog may not pull a cart, sledge, boat or other object. Only sledge dogs have an exemption from this law.



What is the purpose of weight pulling? Weight pulling is a sport in which the dog has to pull a certain weight in a as quick as possible timeframe. The dog pulls a cart in a custom-made harness. This cart is then loaded with weights. During matches, the weight is increased incrementally at each successful attempt. The start is one of the most important parts. The dogs are specifically trained for this.

It is a sport for specialists. Ignorance and lack of experience within this sport can cause damage to the dogs joints and muscles. A professional approach of this sport is therefore a must.

Initially, the dog will be trained to get used to the harness and to pull light weights. Once the dog is used to this, the cart will or can be used.



The dogs are trained in 2 ways. With baiting and without baiting. The best thing to do according to experts is training without baiting. This because the dog would not have the drive to go for the bait and usually this works more relaxed for his / her boss instead of the dog going blind for the bait. Therefore, in this sport it is also important to stay as calm as possible. It’s very important to reward the dog after the effort, so that the dog associates the effort with something positive.

In fact, it’s all pretty simple: Weight pulling tries to get the dog to pull a heavy as possible weight as possible (responsible weight!) over a predetermined distance and time. It goes without saying that a dog cannot just participate a weight pulling match: it has to be trained, warmed up, and get used to the special weight pull equipment.



Throughout the whole world weight pull competitions are being organised, it is obvious why the American Staffordshire Terrier is an extremely suitable breed for this sport.

Each club or organization will have different rules regarding distance, the surface that the cart will be pulled on, and object or the cart to be pulled, time, as well as the “calling” of the dog. In many cases, the distance to be pulled is about 4 meters and this distance must be completed in, for example, up to 60 seconds. The dog may be encouraged by means of voice and / or toys. In most cases, food is not allowed to lure the dog. If the dog fails to pull the distance within the stated time frame then a re-start may be possible. Also, a re-start is possible when the dog grabs his toy by accident.

The winner of the competition could be the dog which pulls the highest weight, this in terms of percentage of his or her own weight. Another possibility could be that dogs can be classified into weight classes.



The most common used weight classes are;

  • The 25 kg Class – these are all dogs weighing 25 kg or less,
  • The 35kg Class – these are all dogs weighing 25.1kg to 35kg,
  • The 45kg Class – these are all dogs weighing 35.1kg to 45kg,
  • The 55kg Class – these are all dogs weighing 45.1kg to 55kg,
  • The Unlimited Class – these are all dogs weighing over 55 kg.

There are various records available. Of course, depending on the type of object or cart which is pulled and the surface on which it is pulled on. To give you an idea of the power of our American Staffordshire Terrier, competitions are known where our breed was capable to pull over 1300 kg.



It does not need any explanation that weight pulling is, or can be, a heavy load for the skeleton and muscles of the dog. An age of 18 months is the minimum age to allow dogs to participate in this type of sport. In addition, it is advisable to check the dog’s health and check for possible abnormalities in the hip and the elbows (HD and ED).


Weightpulling in the Netherlands

As mentioned before, in the Netherlands this sport is prohibited (for the moment) but in many parts of the world it is possible to practice this sport without any problems. To take the wind out of the sails for the “haters” of this sport, they can be referred to the American IWPA, this is the International Weight Pull Organization. This organization was founded in 1984 and since their existence, they have never had any injuries during their official organised competitions.

Because this sport is forbidden in Holland we see the terrier races as a popular alternative here in the Netherlands. These races are similar to the greyhound races. The track is in the form of a horseshoe and has a length of about 150 meters. These races were originally organised in England during the hunting pauses and this to keep the terriers in optimal condition outside the hunting season.

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