The Siberian Husky (Сибирский хаски, Sibirskiy Haski) is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family. It is recognizable by its thickly-furred double coat, sickle tail, erect triangular ears and distinctive markings.
An active, energetic and resilient breed whose ancestors came from the extremely cold and harsh environment of the Siberian Arctic and were bred by the Chukchi of Northeastern Asia, , it was imported into Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush and spread from there into the United States and Canada, initially as a sled dog. It rapidly acquired the status of a family pet and a show-dog.
Siberian Huskies share many outward similarities with the Alaskan Malamute
as well as many other Spitz breeds such as the Samoyed
, which has a comparable history to the Huskies. Siberians have a thicker coat than most other breeds of dog. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, usually with white paws and legs, facial markings, and tail tip. The most common colors are black and white, grey and white, copper-red and white, and pure white, though many individuals have blondish, or piebald spotted. Striking masks, spectacles, and other facial markings occur in wide variety. They tend to have a wolf
The eyes of a Siberian Husky are bright blue or brown. Additionally, one eye may be brown and the other blue (complete heterochromia
); or one or both eyes may be "parti-colored," that is, half brown and half blue (partial heterochromia). All of these eye color combinations are considered to be acceptable by the American Kennel Club
, which also states that the eyes are "an almond shape, moderately spaced and set slightly obliquely." Long guard hair is not desirable and is considered a fault.
The absence of the outer coat is often present during shedding, also known as the telogen phase or telogen effluvium, with the latter often associated with stress. Recently, the shedding present during the telogen phase has been termed as a cycle separate from the resting state, and called exogen. .
In some instances, Siberian Huskies can exhibit what is called "snow nose
" or "winter nose". This condition is called hypopigmentation
in animals. Show-quality dogs are preferred to have neither pointed nor square noses in shape. The nose is black in gray, tan and black dogs, liver in copper-colored dogs, and may be flesh-colored in white dogs. "Snow nose" is acceptable in the show ring.
- Height: 21 to 23.5 inches (53.5 to 60 cm) at the withers.
- Weight: 45 to 60 lb (20.5 to 27 kg)
- Height: 20 to 22 in. (50.5 to 56 cm) at the withers.
- Weight: 35 to 50 lb (15.5 to 23 kg)
As a working breed, Siberian Huskies are a high-energy canine requiring lots of exercise. They have served as companions and sled dogs, but they are unsuitable as guard dogs. Over time, this combination of factors has lent the Siberian Husky a strong sense of gentleness and devotion.
The Inuit tribes who used this breed for utilitarian and survival needs trained them to pull heavy sledges for great distances over frozen tundra, drawing umiaks, and securing game by assisting in hunting.
The Siberian Husky has been described as a behavioral representative of the domestic dog's forebear, the wolf, exhibiting a wide range of its ancestors' behavior. They are known to howl
, sing and talk rather than bark. Hyperactivity displaying as an overactive hunting drive, a characteristic of kenneled dogs, is often noticeable in dogs released from their captive environment for exercise - a behavior welcome in hunting dogs but not in the family pet. The frequency of kenneled Siberian Huskies, especially for racing purposes, is rather high, as attributed through the history of the breed in North America. A fifteen-minute daily obedience training class will serve well for Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are a very stubborn and dominant breed of dog. Siberians need consistent training and do well with a "Nothing In Life Is Free" training program. They are extremely intelligent and after learning a new skill will often decide when to show off this skill when asked to perform it.
Siberian Huskies, with proper care, have a typical lifespan ranging from twelve to fifteen years of age. Health issues in the breed are genetic defects of the eye such as juvenile cataracts
, corneal dystrophy
, and progressive retinal atrophy
. Hip dysplasia
is not often found in this breed, though as with many medium or larger-sized canines, it can occur. However, Siberians in general have remarkably good hips. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (the OFA) currently has the Siberian husky ranked 143rd out of a possible 150 breeds at risk for hip dysplasia, with only 2% of tested Siberian huskies showing dysplasia. Compare this percentage to that of those of some other breeds - Golden Retriever (22%), German Shepherd (20%), Pugs (60%) and French Mastiff (55%), and it is clear that the Siberian husky is a breed with solid hips.
Siberian Huskies used for sled racing may also be prone to other ailments, such as gastric disease , bronchitis or bronchopulmonary ailments ("ski asthma"), and gastric erosions or ulcerations .
The Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Alaskan Malamute are all breeds directly descended from the original "sled dog." Recent DNA analysis
confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog
as can be seen with the Alaskan Malamute.
In this breed of canine, the word "husky" derives from Inuit tribes called "huskies", named by Caucasians who made early expeditions into their lands. The word "Siberian" in this breed's name is derived from Siberia itself, because it is thought that Eskimo or sled dogs were used to cross the land bridge of the Bering Straight on the way into, or out of, Alaska, though this theory is continuously disputed by scholars.
Breeds descending from the Eskimo dog 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 peoples were able to not only survive, but 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. The Siberian Husky's role in this feat cannot be over estimated.
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 2, 1925 Gunnar Kaasen was first in the 1925 serum run to Nome whom delivered diphtheria serum from Nenana over 600 miles to Nome. This was a group effort comprised of several sled dog teams and mushers. 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 named Balto. In honor of this lead dog a bronze statue was erected at Central Park in New York City. The epitaph upon it is inscribed with
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 a stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance--fidelity--intelligence
In 1930 the last Siberians were exported as the Soviet
government closed the borders of Siberia
to external trade. The same year saw recognition of the Siberian Husky by the American Kennel Club. Nine years later the breed was first registered in Canada. Today’s Siberian Huskies registered in North America are largely the descendants of the 1930 Siberia imports and of Leonhard Seppala
’s dogs. Seppala owned a kennel in Nenana before moving to New England. Arthur Walden, owner of Chinook Kennels of Wonalancet
, New Hampshire
, was by far the most prominent breeder of Siberian Huskies. The foundation of his kennel stock came directly from Alaska, and Seppala's kennel.
Only beginning to come to prominence, in 1933 Navy Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd brought with him around 50 Siberian Huskies, many of which were assembled and trained at Chinook Kennels in New Hampshire, during an expedition in which Byrd hoped to journey around the 16,000-mile coast of Antarctica. Called Operation Highjump, this 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.
Siberian Huskies are still used as sled dogs in sled dog racing Siberians are still popular in races restricted to purebreds and are faster than other pure sled dog breeds such as the Samoyed and the slower but much stronger Alaskan Malamute. Today the breed tends to divide along lines of "racing" Siberians versus "show" Siberians. Racing sibes tend to have more leg to enable them more reach when running. Show sibes tend to be a bit smaller.
Apart from dog sled racing -- they are very popular for recreational mushing and are also used for skijoring (one to three dogs pulling a skier) and European ski-pulka. A few owners use them for dog-packing and hiking. They have also seen use as therapy dogs.
In the United Kingdom and also in Australia, siberian husky sled dog racing occurs on forest tracks using specially designed scooter with two wheels for one or two dogs, or three wheeled rig for three or more dogs. This is due to the lack of snow coverage.
Siberian Huskies in media and culture
- Balto, famous lead dog of the last team of the 1925 serum run to Nome.
- Togo, Leonhard Seppala's famous leader for the longest portion of the serum run.
- Exile (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) from Road Rovers.
- The sled team from the Disney movie Snow Dogs.
- Diefenbaker from the hit television series Due South.
- Six of the eight dogs on the sled team from the Disney movie Eight Below. Maya, Old Jack, Dewy, Max, Truman, Shorty,
- Tusky Husky the Husky Alien from Krypto the Superdog.
- Jenna from Balto, Balto 2: Wolf Quest, & Balto 3: Wings of Change.
- Poppy, Galford's companion from Samurai Shodown.''
- Shadow from the game Dead to Rights, is a Police dog but appears to be a more vicious husky.
- Jonathan, a white Siberian, is the official mascot of University of Connecticut.
- Paws, mascot of Northeastern University.
- Kyoto, a white Siberian owned by the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Stéphane Dion. Kyoto was named after the Kyoto Protocol.
- Based on a true story, Iron Will, a film by Disney starring a group of Siberian huskies and their young owner partaking a dog-sled race. Also starring Kevin Spacey. Gus is the lead dog
- Blizzard T. Husky, mascot of Michigan Technological University.
- University of Saskatchewan (Canada) uses the Husky as their mascot and team name; The U of S Huskies
- Victor E. Huskie, mascot of Northern Illinois University.
- Harry the Husky, mascot of University of Washington.
- The Four Generals of Mutsu, Kisaragi, Uzuki, Hazuki and Minazuki, and Hakuro of Hokkaido from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin
- Kigaragi's sons and Hakuro's grandchildren from Ginga Densetsu Weed
- Steele the villainous and vain husky from Balto (film)
- Apashe is the new dog in The Last Trapper.
- Mascot for Hanford West High School in Hanford,Ca