Husky History

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.

Dogsled racing

A team of white Siberians mushingSiberian 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.

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Husky Books
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Books on Siberian Husky available in the UK.

Siberian Husky -

Siberian Husky: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog (Kennel Club): A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog By Lorna Winslette.

More books by the Kennel Club

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Siberian Huskies for Dummies

Siberian Huskies for Dummies By Diane Morgan

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The New Complete Siberian Husky

The New Complete Siberian Husky
By Michael Jennings

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How to Train your Siberian Husky

How to Train Your Siberian Husky
By Liz Palika

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