An Original Sled Dog
Lovable and affectionate, the Siberian husky has a deep connection with people as well as deep roots in history.
Well-known for mushing in sled dog races, the husky is also just as eager to join in a game of fetch or chase. A popular choice for families, the breed is also one of the first to be tapped for to join a search and rescue team.
Recent DNA analysis has shown that the Siberian husky is one of the oldest breeds known to man.
Believed to be a descendant of Eskimo dogs, known as “Esky,” the Siberian husky was imported to Alaska in 1908 from northeastern Siberia, in Russia.
The dogs were used as sled dogs during the gold rush; when it was discovered how well the breed traveled in the cold climate and the long distance they could sustain, the Siberian husky was used in dog sled races in Nome. Eventually, the Siberian husky became a staple in the Nome Sweepstakes and participated in the annual sled competition.
Famously, the Siberian husky was a major asset in delivering diphtheria serum to more than 3,000 ailing residents of Nome from Nenana in 1925, a 674-mile trek through rugged terrain known as the “Great Race of Mercy” which is now commemorated each year through the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Today, a bronze statue of Balto, the lead sled dog in the pack of 150 mushers, is erected in New York City’s Central Park, dedicated to the endurance and “indomitable spirit of sled dogs” who made the journey through ice, treacherous waters and blizzards to save the Nome community from such an incipient epidemic. Balto became the most famous dog celebrity at the time, only the second such celebrated canine following in Rin Tin Tin (the German shepherd adopted from a World War I battlefield that went on to star in 23 Hollywood films).
In 1930, the Siberian husky was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The breed quickly established itself as a hard-working dog, accompanying Admiral Richard E. Byrd in 1933 on his 16,000 mile journey around Antarctica and serving in the U.S. Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit during World War II.
The breed continues to be a top choice for mushing expeditions as well as search and rescue teams. In addition, the Siberian husky has become a popular choice for families.
While considered to be somewhat independent in nature, the Siberian husky is also known to be very affectionate and therefore has become a favorite family addition nationwide.
Due to the breed’s high intelligence and susceptibility to boredom if not given an activity, the Siberian husky benefits greatly from daily training, even if limited to a 15- or 20-minute session.
Known to be “escape artists,” the Siberian husky can travel quickly and quite far if given the opportunity to wander away from home. It is well advised to make sure your husky has identification tags on at all times and, if possible, a microchip implantation in case of separation.
In addition to their well-documented physical attributes, the Siberian husky may apply its intelligence to mimicking your actions at home. Some husky owners have noted that their dogs will teach themselves how to turn off lights using their paws on the light switches, and open refrigerator doors with their teeth.
Siberian huskies are also known to bark infrequently, preferring instead to howl or cry when communicating.
An active, well-exercised and trained husky will be less likely to get into trouble.
Siberian huskies are commonly mistaken as Alaskan malamutes. The main difference is their size; huskies weigh 35 to 75 pounds on average—half of the typical malamute.
Also, Siberian huskies are born with a variety of eye colors, unlike the malamute: ice-blue, dark blue, amber, brown or one brown eye and one blue eye (heterochromia), or parti-colored eyes, where the color is half brown and half blue (partial heterochromia).
Siberian huskies can have a variety of fur colors and patterns, including black and white, copper-red and white, gray and white, pure white or the rare “Agouti” pattern in which individual hairs are banded from reddish brown to black.
The breed is easily recognizable with its white masked face and white-colored paws, legs and tail tip.
Unlike most other dog breeds, the Siberian husky’s fur coat is very thick, with a topcoat that protects the dog from harsh cold conditions as well as extremely warm temperatures.
Regular grooming is recommended in order to maintain the quality of the breed’s coat.
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon they are known to occur in the breed. Your Siberian husky will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms can include discoloring of the pupil, and treatment may include surgery to remove the cataract.
- Corneal dystrophy is a hereditary developmental disorder of the Siberian huskey that results in an infiltration of lipid in the cornea of the eye. The condition may result in visual impairment.
- Canine glaucoma happens when increased pressure within the eyeball damages the retina resulting in loss of retinal cells. This affects the optic nerve and results in a loss of retinal cells. Untreated or poorly managed glaucoma will damage the optic nerve and cause permanent blindness.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness between the ages of three and five.