A History of the Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Alaskan Malamute are all breeds directly descended from the original sled dog, which 2004 DNA analysis confirms is one of the oldest breeds of dog. It is thought that the term "husky" is a corruption of the nickname "Esky" once applied to the Eskimos and subsequently to their dogs.
Breeds descending from the Eskimo dog or Qimmiq were once found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Siberia to Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Labrador, and Baffin Island.
With the help of Siberian Huskies, entire tribes of people were able not only to survive, but to push forth into terra incognita. Admiral Robert Peary of the United States Navy was aided by this breed during his expeditions in search of the North Pole.
Dogs from the Anadyr River and surrounding regions were imported into Alaska from 1908 (and for the next two decades) during the gold rush for use as sled dogs, especially in the "All-Alaska Sweepstakes," a 408-mile (657-km) distance dog sled race from Nome, to Candle, and back. Smaller, faster and more enduring than the 100- to 120-pound (45- to 54-kg) freighting dogs then in general use, they immediately dominated the Nome Sweepstakes. Leonhard Seppala, the foremost breeder of Siberian Huskies of the time, participated in competitions from 1909 to the mid-1920s.
On February 3, 1925, Gunnar Kaasen was first in the 1925 serum run to Nome to deliver diphtheria serum from Nenana, over 600 miles to Nome. This was a group effort by several sled-dog teams and mushers, with the longest (91 miles or 146 km) and most dangerous segment of the run covered by Leonhard Seppala. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates this famous delivery. The event is also loosely depicted in the 1995 animated film Balto, as the name of Gunnar Kaasen's lead dog in his sled team was Balto, although unlike the real dog, Balto the character was portrayed as half wolf in the film. In honor of this lead dog, a bronze statue was erected at Central Park in New York City. The plaque upon it is inscribed,
Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance · Fidelity · Intelligence
In 1930, exportation of the dogs from Siberia was halted. The same year saw recognition of the Siberian Husky by the American Kennel Club. Nine years later, the breed was first registered in Canada. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1938 as the "Arctic Husky," changing the name to Siberian Husky in 1991. Seppala owned a kennel in Nenana before moving to New England, where he became partners with Elizabeth Ricker. The two co-owned the Poland Springs kennel and began to race and exhibit their dogs all over the Northeast.
As the breed was beginning to come to prominence, in 1933 Navy Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd brought about 50 Siberian Huskies with him on an expedition in which he hoped to journey around the 16,000-mile coast of Antarctica. Many of the dogs were trained at Chinook Kennels in New Hampshire. Called Operation Highjump, the historic trek proved the worth of the Siberian Husky due to its compact size and greater speeds. Siberian Huskies also served in the United States Army's Arctic Search and Rescue Unit of the Air Transport Command during World War II. Their popularity was sustained into the 21st century. They were ranked 16th among American Kennel Club registrants in 2012, rising to 14th place in 2013.
The original sled dogs bred and kept by the Chukchi were thought to have gone extinct, but Benedict Allen, writing for Geographical magazine in 2006 after visiting the region, reported their survival. His description of the breeding practiced by the Chukchi mentions selection for obedience, endurance, amiable disposition, and sizing that enabled families to support them without undue difficulty.
Owning a Siberian Husky... Is this the right dog for you?
Siberians are relatively easy keepers, but their thick coats require weekly brushing. New owners should be prepared to provide an outlet for exercise daily, whether through walks or an enclosed space in which to run. Predatory instincts are strong, so Siberians should be supervised around small animals in and around the home.
Siberian Huskies are high energy. Always look to a dogs historical roots and modern jobs for insight. These dogs were originally bred to run in sub zero temperatures for long distances and still do. Their endurance and desire to go is not the correct match for the average pet owner. But for many Siberian owners, this breed becomes a lifelong passion of the heart and they would own no other.
They need the company of other dogs or of people at all times. If you work all day, or have room for only one dog, don't get a Siberian. Loneliness for this breed equals TROUBLE. A lonely Siberian Husky will display a full spectrum of undesirable behaviours.
Siberian Huskies have a pretty common trait for digging holes in backyards. If you take great pride in your landscaping efforts, a Siberian is not for you.
While capable of strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky is also very friendly with strangers and make poor watch dogs. A Siberian will not alert his owner to strangers. They are usually pretty happy to see just about everyone. Which I see as a positive for the Siberian. An owner is not bothered with irritating barking every time someone enters or passes by his property.
The breed in general is not good with: Cats or any small animals, rodents, birds or fowl, because of their prey drive instinct. There are of course exceptions, but don't count on it. If you desire to have or currently own such pets do not get a Siberian Husky.
Siberian Huskies are vocal. They rarely bark, but will whine, or moan, and also chirp and howl. Head held high, they will produce one of the most haunting song like sounds. Now this Siberian song fest may be music to the ears of a Siberian and the Siberian Husky fancier, but the neighbourhood may not agree.
Siberian Huskies shed a lot. When they blow coat in the spring it is a lot like a doggie hair storm. Brushing helps and you can speed the shedding up with a warm bath. But if you don't like fur all over the house, the car, the furniture and if you don't want to match you wardrobe to you dogs coat colour, you don't want to get a Siberian.
Siberian Huskies need a lot of exercise. They have a high endurance level and need a owner that wants to keep up with them. Huskies love to do what they were bred for, so being involved in Siberian Husky sledding, carting and other events or breed clubs is a plus for the dog and the owner. Obedience and agility are also good outlets and activities for the Siberian Husky and owner. They can make good walking/running partners, if the weather is not to warm.
Siberian Huskies have a tremendous desire to RUN. But the very first dash that a puppy makes could be it's last. These dogs should never be allowed to run at large. They face too many hazards in today's world: Cars, other dogs, guns, poison, antifreeze. In addition, they can come in contact with diseases: Parvo, distemper, corona, parasites. The clever Siberian Husky can surely add to that list, easily. They also have a strong prey drive. A gentle family Siberian Husky, at large can inflict, death or injury to livestock, fowl, cats, and wildlife. These mis-adventures could cost you some time in court , large sums of money and ultimately cost your dog, it's life. A Siberian, for their own protection, should be kept confined or under control at all times.
Siberians are escape artists. Some can be contained in 6 foot fencing. Others can clear an 8 foot fence like they have wings. Most Siberian Huskies require completely enclosed kennels to keep them where they are safe when they are not being supervised. Each Siberian Husky varies, but in general this breed is a lot of work to contain. The Siberian is the "Houdini escape artist" of the dog world.