The Siberian Husky is a beautiful dog breed with a thick coat that comes in a multitude of colors and markings. Their blue or multi-colored eyes and striking facial masks only add to the appeal of this breed, which originated in Siberia. It is easy to see why many are drawn to the Siberian’s wolf-like looks, but be aware that this athletic, intelligent dog can be independent and challenging for first-time dog owners. Huskies also put the “H” in Houdini and need a fenced yard that is sunk in the ground to prevent escapes.
The History of the
The Siberian Husky is not a dog-wolf hybrid. The original dog was developed about half a million years ago by the Chukchi people in Siberia. He was a working dog who pulled heavy sleds over long distances. The Chukchi tribe lived inland and had to travel to the sea to hunt. They needed a way to get a full sled of walrus meat back home. A sledding dog was just the answer. The Chukchi women took care of the dogs, so the dogs were always around children.
In the early 1900s, the dogs were brought to Alaska to compete in long-distance races, notably the All-Alaska Sweepstakes. Known as Siberians after their homeland, they gained fame for their sledding capabilities and began to be used to deliver mail as well as race.
The Siberian Husky’s greatest feat came in 1925 when people in Nome, Alaska, suffered a diphtheria epidemic in the middle of winter. Antitoxin was needed desperately. A long-range relay of about 20 mushers brought the antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome in six days, nearly 700 miles in temperatures that hovered around 40 degrees below zero. The run brought fame to the breed.
Siberian Huskies were used on the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions, as well as in the U.S. Army’s arctic search-and-rescue efforts during World War II. Many Siberian Huskies were assembled and trained at Chinook Kennels in New Hampshire for use on the Byrd Antarctic Expedition beginning in 1928. Siberians also performed gallantly in the Army during World War II as part of the Air Transport Command’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit.
Today the Siberian is still famous as a great sled dog who can win races, but he’s also a terrific family pet and companion. He ranks 18th among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club.