Siberian Husky

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

The Siberian Husky was developed by the Chukchi people who are native to the Chukchi Peninsula which is so far north that the Arctic Circle runs right through it. The Chukchi Peninsula is so called because it is bounded by the Chukchi and Bering Seas. This Peninsula is also so far east, it is the closest point in Russia to what is now Alaska. No wonder, when the Great Race of Mercy to Nome happened in 1925, a Norwegian fellow, Leonhard Seppala and his legendary team of Siberian Huskies were used to begin this 640-mile journey in blizzard conditions.

History of the Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky and pupSiberian Husky and pup

In the fall of 1908, dogs from Siberian first arrived in North America. This unknown breed sneaked through a remote back door to America at a point where the peninsulas of Asia and America almost meet. The dogs were imported into Nome, Alaska by the Russian fur trader William Goosak. The team of these Siberian dogs was first entered in the 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes race of 408 miles with its $10,000 first prize. Weighing only 40 to 52 pounds, Goosak's dogs were so much smaller compared to their longer legged, heavier Alaskan competitors, the people of Nome referred to them as "Siberian Rats." However, they displayed strength, speed, and endurance under the most harrowing conditions.

In 1910 Fox Maule Ramsay, a young Scotsman from Nome, travelled to the Russian Chukski Peninsula in Siberia where he acquired around 60 of the best specimens of the Siberian dogs he could find. These then became famous for winning races. Although Ramsay's dogs and their progeny went on to win many races, it was Goosak's team of stoic little aliens who set the stage for the importation of the greatest of northern racing breeds, the Siberian Husky.

Siberian Huskies Pulling a SledSiberian Huskies Pulling a Sled

In 1913, Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer was the first man to reach the South Pole. He then planned an expedition to the North Pole. He was sponsored by his Norwegian friend, Jafet Lindberg, the co-owner of the mining company in Nome who offered to buy and train the dogs for Amundsen. From all over the Seward Peninsula, the best Siberians were then selected and purchased.

Unfortunately, in the next year, 1914 World War One broke out. Consequently,  Amundsen had to give up his North Pole dream. However, this group of sled dogs was given to Leonhard Seppala, an employee of Lindberg's and a fellow Norwegian. With the encouragement of the Mining Company, Leonhard Seppala continued to train the Siberians, entering them in the last four Sweepstakes races, winning the last three - 1915, 1916, and 1917. Sadly, the outbreak of World War I ended the great race series.

The Famous Race of Mercy to Nome

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

In January 1925 the Great Race of Mercy to Nome, was the amazing feat that drew the public's attention to the Siberian Husky. When Nome was gripped in a dreadful diphtheria epidemic, with air travel was still in its infancy and the closest life-saving serum over 600 miles away, the only means of transporting the serum was by sled dog teams. Leanhard Seppala was given the responsibility to oversee these teams. He left Nome with 20 Siberians led by his legendary dog Togo, taking the perilous first leg in blizzard conditions. Due to the urgency for the medicine, another 18 dog sledding teams transported the cylinder of serum almost to Nome. The last leg was driven by Gunnar Kaasen whose lead dog was Balto. Today, a statue of this wonderful dog stands in New York's Central Park, honouring all of the sled dogs of the Serum Run.

Although Ramsay's dogs and their progeny went on to win many races through the years, it was Goosak's team of stoic little aliens who set the stage for the importation of the greatest of northern racing breeds, the Siberian dog, later to be known as the Siberian Husky. The breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1930, with the first standard being published in the April 1932 AKC Gazette [1].

History of the Siberian Husky in Australia

NZ Grand Champion Siberian HuskyNZ Grand Champion Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky was introduced into Australia by Mr D George. He became interested in sled dogs when he met some people from the supply ships that travelled from their Melbourne base to Antarctica. In 1976 Mr George then imported a dog, Forstals Tumac from England followed in 1979 by two bitches, Danlee Karelia and Skimarque Duska. Danlee was mated to Tumac producing the first litter of Siberian Huskys born in Australia. From this litter, Myvore Lara was sold to Mr and Mrs Perkins who then imported a male, Tuskin of Hunevoss, from New Zealand to breed under their prefix, Frosty Pines. Then Duska was also mated to the New Zealand import producing Myvore Inuk. He founded the breed in Western Australia for Ms Bell of the Kimoberg prefix. Ms Bell then imported Maicohs Goosak of Kimoberg from USA.

Then Myvore Layka and Forest Pines Anya founded the Kolymar kennel for Edna Harper who, in 1983 imported Rossfort Nijinski from UK. He was a tremendously successful show dog, winning Best Exhibit in Show at what was then the largest show in Australia with an entry of 6,700 individual dogs[2]. Not to be outdone, other USA lines were carefully selected by Shona Prebble in New Zealand. These produced NZ Grand Ch Melander Mack Kenzie (pictured) who, after a brilliant local career at home where he won Best Exhibit in Show 15 times, was selected to represent our dogs 'Down Under' at the prestigious Eukanuba World Challenge at Long Beach, California, USA. This event brings together the top winning dogs from around the world to celebrate the magnificence of pure breed dogs.

The Siberian Husky Today

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

The Siberian Husky makes a spectacular show dog with its characteristic quick, smooth and seemingly effortless gait that makes it appear to be light on its feet. When the dog is moving at a trot, the neck is extended so the head is carried slightly forward. Built to pull light loads in harness, it is a medium sized dog with a friendly and gentle nature dog that it is also alert and outgoing.

The Husky comes in all colours from black to pure white. A variety of markings on the head is common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds. The dog stands  53.5-60 cm (21 - 23 1/2ins) at the withers with bitches 51-56 cm (20-22 ins). The dogs weigh 20-27 kg (45-60 lbs) and the bitches 16-23 kg (35-50 lbs)

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

The head consists of a medium sized skull, rounded at the top and tapering towards the well-defined stop. The bridge of the nose is straight. The muzzle is of same medium length as the skull and both are of medium width. The nose is black, tan or liver according to the colour of the dogs' coat. Flesh coloured noses and pink streaked 'snow' noses are acceptable in a pure white dogs. The lips should also be well pigmented. They house a normal scissors bite. The eyes are almond shaped are set obliquely but should never be too close together. The thick well furred ears are of medium size, triangular in shape with rounded tips should point straight up.

Body

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

The neck is of medium length, arched and carried proudly when the dog is standing. The shoulders are well laid and the parallel, straight forelegs are moderately placed with substantial bone, but never heavy. The length of leg from elbow to ground is slightly more than from the elbow to the top of the withers. The pasterns are strong and flexible and slightly slanted, with dewclaws that may be removed. the medium sized feet are oval and compact but not long with tough and thickly cushioned pads are furred between the toes.

Its body proportions reflect the basic balance of power, speed and endurance. The chest is deep and strong without being too broad. The well-sprung ribs are flattened on the sides to allow freedom of movement. The back is straight and strong, with a level topline from withers to croup which slopes away from the spine at an angle.The hind legs are moderately spaced and parallel. The upper thighs are well muscled and parallel, the stifles well bent and the hock joint is set low to the ground.

Siberian HuskySiberian Husky

Tail and Coat

The well furred fox-brush shaped tail is set on just below the level of the top line and, when moving  is usually carried up over the back in a graceful curve. However, the tail should not curl to either side of the body, nor flat on the back. The hair on the tail is of medium length and approximately the same length on top, sides and bottom, giving the tail the appearance of a round brush.

The double coat is of medium length but is never so long as to obscure the outline of the dog. The undercoat is soft and dense and of sufficient length to support to outer coat. The guard hairs of the outer coat are never harsh to touch. Instead, the coat should stand straight off the body. The only permissible trimming is the whiskers and fur between the toes.

References and Further Reading

[1] The Siberian Husky, ISHC; 'Brief History of the Siberian Husky in Alaska', Natalie and Earl Norris; and The Complete Siberian Husky, Lorna Demidoff and Michael Jennings Revised 1998 by Robert H. Thomas.

[2] Edna Harper, 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' The Siberian Husky published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 Page 227


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