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What is a Dogcart?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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The term “dogcart” is used in two different, but related senses. In the first sense, a dogcart is a lightweight, high-wheeled cart designed to be pulled by a single strong horse. In the other sense, a dogcart is a small, lightweight cart pulled by a team of dogs. Usage of this word in both senses dates back centuries, with numerous illustrations in various manuscripts and works of art demonstrating the myriad ways in which dogcarts have been used.

In the case of a dogcart designed to be pulled by a horse, the two-wheeled design is usually very well-balanced, to make it extremely easy for the horse to pull. Depending on the design, a dogcart may accommodate one to two people, or a crate of hunting dogs for transport to the field. When used to carry hunting dogs, a dogcart may be known as a game cart, and a groom or whipper-in typically rides with the dogs while driving the cart to ensure that the animals stay settled and calm.

A dogcart for horses is generally very easy to maneuver, which can be extremely useful. The harness and design of such carts is typically simple, allowing a single person to harness a horse to the cart quickly and easily. For horses, the lightweight design is greatly appreciated, in contrast with more solid, heavy carts which can be stressful to pull. Drivers need to be careful about overloading a dogcart, however, as a single horse can only bear so much weight.

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Dogcarts designed to be pulled by dog teams are even more lightweight, and they are typically very low to the ground. Such carts have historically been used to move goods, along with people, and in the modern era, some people drive teams of dogs for recreation. Dogs can also be used to pull modified wheelchairs for the disabled.

Both types of dogcarts are produced commercially by companies which specialize in such things, and they can also be found at harness and antique stores. Some people enjoy restoring vintage examples or building their own customized versions for very specific purposes, and dogcarts are a not uncommon sight at certain historical re-enactment venues. In both cases, the animals require special training to learn to pull the cart safely and efficiently.

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