siberian Husky running

Siberian Husky When You Need A Powerful Sled Dog

Where Did The Siberian Husky Come From?

The forerunners of the Siberian Husky arrived in Nome, Alaska in 1909 near the end of the Nome Gold Rush. The breed was developed in the Chukchi Peninsula of Siberia by a nomadic people called Chukchi. The Chukchi bred the Husky for companionship and also to pull sleds over the long distances they traveled. In Alaska, they were initially used as sled dogs and gained fame for their ability to run long distances.

The Siberian Husky became world-famous in 1925 where an outbreak of diphtheria hit Nome. There was a vaccine for diphtheria available at that time but the supply in Nome was outdated. The town doctor had ordered new vaccines. However, the new supplies did not arrive before the port was frozen which made delivery by ship impossible. The town sent a radio telegram asking for help.

 

Gunnar Kaasen with Balto. They completed the last leg of the great serum run in 1925. Balto became world-famous and has a statute in New York City Central Park.

There were only a few airplanes in Alaska in 1925 and none were readily available to make the dangerous flight to Nome. So, the best option for the town was to organize a dogsled relay for a trip of 674 miles from the town of Nenana, Alaska. Supplies of the diphtheria vaccine were sent to Nenana from Anchorage by railroad.

The winter of 1925 was unusually cold even for Alaska. Fortunately, the Siberian Husky has a thick double coat that protects it in extremely low temperatures. A team of about 20 mushers and 150 Siberian Huskies made the 674 mile trip under extreme weather conditions in 5 and 1/2 days and most likely saved the town of Nome from a deadly pandemic.

Several of the mushers suffered severe injuries from the bitter cold and many of the dogs died during the arduous trip. The last part of the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race covers the path used in the 1925 “Great Race of Mercy.”

What Siberian Huskies Look Like?

The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized 35 to 60-pound spitz type dog breed. They have a very thick coat that consists of a dense undercoat and a longer outercoat of thick straight hair. Their coat is denser than most any other dog breed and protects them from the sub-zero winter temperatures of the far north.

Siberian coats come in several colors including black, white, brown, gray, sable, and red. Most colors are combined with white. They shed twice a year and will need frequent brushing to remove the loose hair. They are very clean dogs and only need an occasional bath.

Their eyes are almond-shaped. They usually have blue or brown eyes although sometimes they have one of each color. Occasionally, their eyes will be particolored (heterochromia). The coloration does not affect their vision.

The Siberian is smaller than other well-known sled dogs such as the Alaskan Malamute and Canadian Eskimo Dog.

Siberian Husky
Alaskan Malamute
Canadian Eskimo Dog

Are Siberian Huskies Aggressive?

You will not find many other dog breeds that are less aggressive than the Siberian Husky. This dog was bred to work in packs while pulling sleds and to be a companion to its humans when not working. Consequently, it is very friendly to both animals and humans. It probably will not even be a good watchdog as it doesn’t bark. It may howl once in while, however.

Siberians rank number 45 (out of 79) in Stanley Coren’s book, “The Intelligence of Dogs,” and that indicates they are average when it comes to how difficult they are to train. They are friendly and tolerant of children but also have an independent, some might say stubborn, side as well. Housetraining them, however, is not so difficult. They are very good family dogs in that they are playful, very good with kids and other family pets.

In the distant past, the ancestors of Siberian Huskies were allowed to roam freely during the summers in Siberia. They hunted in packs for whatever they could catch to eat. This past may be the reason they seem to have a passion for escaping. You will need a high fence in your backyard as the Siberian can easily get over a 6-foot fence. And, you need to make sure they can’t tunnel under the fence because they are excellent diggers.

Are Siberian Huskies Healthy?

Because of the small gene pool, there is some concern that Siberians may be vulnerable to the founders effect. For this reason, breeders should have their dogs genetically tested before using them in a breeding program. It also means protective buyers should only get a dog from a reputable breeder.

Leonhard Seppala and some of his dogs. Togo is the dog on the far left.

Siberian Huskies have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and should be healthy for most of their life. The Siberians in the United States have descended from dogs that were imported to Alaska in the 1930s by Leonhard Seppala. Seppala was one of the mushers in the Nome serum “Great Race of Mercy” in 1925 and his dog Togo (dog) was a great hero of that endeavor. Togo was 12 years old at the time and lived to a relatively ripe old dog age of 16 years.

Are Siberian Huskies Expensive?

Siberian Husky puppies will likely cost somewhere around $1,000 give or take a few bucks. A puppy with an outstanding pedigree may, of course, cost much more. Premium puppies can go upwards of $5,000 or more.

Where Can I Buy A Siberian Husky?

The Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. is a good place to start looking for a Siberian Husky to buy, adopt, or find a rescue dog. Another website to consider is Adopt-a-Pet.com. The Siberian Husky is a popular dog in the United States and ranks 14 on the AKC’s most popular list. Unfortunately, some owners get more “dog” than they bargained for and this has led to an increase in the number of Siberians that are abandoned or placed in shelters.

If you are an experienced dog owner and have the time to train, supervise, and play with your dog, the Siberian Husky will not disappoint you.

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