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Welcome to the Siberian Husky dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Siberian Husky pages.

- Kitt Killion

Siberian Husky Breed Information

Alternative names - Chukcha, Chuksha, Keshia

Country of origin - Russia (Siberia)

Common nicknames - Sibe, Siberian, Husky

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 5 Section 1 #270|Stds
ANKC:|Group 6 (Utility)|Stds
CKC:|Group 3 (Working)|Stds
KC (UK):|Working|Stds
UKC:|Northern Breeds|Stds

The Siberian Husky (Russian: Sibirskiy Huski) is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in eastern Siberia, belonging 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 peoples 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.

1. Appearance

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 blond, or piebald spotted. Striking masks, spectacles, and other facial markings occur in wide variety. They tend to have a wolf-like appearance. Though the breed is not related to the wolf any closer than any other breed of dog, it is thought they maintained this appearance through isolated breeding in Siberia.

1. 1. Eyes

The eyes of Siberian Huskies are most often brown or blue. The breed may have one brown eye and the other blue ("bi-eyed"), called parti-colored by Siberian Husky enthusiasts, and is not considered a fault by the American Kennel Club. The eyes are an almond shape, moderately spaced and set slightly obliquely. This breed may also be prone to heterochromia, "an eye condition in which one iris is a different color from the other, complete heterochromia, or where part of one iris is a different color from the remainder (partial heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia). It is a result of the relative excess or lack of pigment within an iris or part of an iris, which may be genetically inherited or due to mosaicism, or acquired by disease or injury".

1. 2. Ears and tail

Its ears are triangular, well furred, medium-size, and erect. Often faulted in other breeds by kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club, this kind of ear shape is known as prick ears. Its fox-like brush tail is carried in a sickle curve over the back, and trails behind the dog in motion. Most Siberian Huskies have a white tip on the end of their tail.

1. 3. Coat

The Siberian Husky's coat comprises two layers, a dense undercoat and a longer topcoat of short, straight guard hairs. 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.

1. 4. Nose

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.

1. 5. Size

* Males
o Height: 21 to 23.5 inches (53.5 to 60 cm) at the withers.
o Weight: 45 to 60 lb (20.5 to 28 kg)

* Females
o Height: 20 to 22 in. (50.5 to 56 cm) at the withers.
o Weight: 35 to 50 lb (15.5 to 23 kg)

2. Temperament

As a working breed, Siberian Huskies are a high-energy canine requiring lots of exercise. They have served as guard dogs, companions, and sled 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.

A 2000 study of dog bites resulting in human fatalities by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found fifteen such fatalities (6% of the total) were caused by "husky-type" dogs (excluding Alaskan Malamutes) between 1979 and 1997.

2. 1. Behavior

The Siberian Husky has been described as a behavioral representative of the domestic dog's forebear, the wolf. It exhibits a wide range of the ancestor type's behaviors. They are frequently known to ululate 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. Fifteen-minute obedience training classes will serve well for Siberian Huskies, as will daily training.

3. Health

Siberian Huskies, with proper care, have a typical lifespan ranging from eleven to fourteen 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 often found in this breed, as with many medium or larger-sized canines.

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 .

4. History

Of all dog breeds which resulted from one common ancestor, the Tomarctus (Canidae) , the Eskimo dog (also known commonly as the sled dog), has most certainly caught the imagination of dog enthusiasts world-wide. The Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Alaskan Malamute are all breeds directly descended from the 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. Recent research indicates it is possible that a back-migration may have occurred from North America across the Bering Straight, according to studies focusing on distribution of Y chromosome DNA (patrilineal line) markers. However, MtDNA (matrilineal line) analysis of women on the Aleutian Islands indicates that Aleuts are more closely related Chuckchi and Siberian Eskimos rather than Kamchatkan populations, with such evidence supporting archaeological research that Aleuts crossed the Bering Straight.

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 can not be under appreciated.

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 (AAS), 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.

4. 1. Dogsled racing

Siberian Huskies are still used occasionally as sled dogs in dogsled racing but have been widely replaced by the more popular Alaskan Husky and hound-type crossbreeds that are specially bred and selected for speed and have less heavy coats. Freight Siberian Huskies were selectively bred to pull a medium load over long distances at a medium pace, and simply can't keep up with their faster counterparts. Siberians are still popular in races restricted to purebreds and are faster than other pure sled dog breeds such as the Samoyed and slower but much stronger Alaskan Malamute. Today the breed tends to divide along lines of “racing” Siberians versus “show” Siberians.

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, husky racing on forest tracks using specially designed tricycles, known as rigs, instead of sledges is popular during the winter months.

5. 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.
* Barko from the Uncle Scrooge story, "North of the Yukon."
* Exile 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.
* 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.
* King, mascot of Northeastern University.
* Kyoto, a white Siberian owned by the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Stephane 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.
* 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.

Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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