The Origin of Siberian Huskies
The Chukchi people, from Siberia, developed the breed we now know as Siberian Huskies. They were bred to meet specific requirements like transporting the Chukchi to and from villages for trading and to their hunting grounds, often up to 100 miles away. Once there they would catch as many seal as they could load on their sled then the dogs would pull this light to moderate load back to the village. A prime consideration in the breeding of these dogs was that they provided speed and endurance over great distances while expending the least energy from limited food consumption. Their dogs also had another useful purpose. They were sometimes brought into the igloo at night to sleep with the children to keep them warm, this would explain their loving temperament with children even today.
A change to the Siberian Huskies original function occurred in 1908. A Russian fur trader called William Goosak brought a team of Siberian Huskies with him from Siberia into Alaska, with the purpose of entering them into the All Alaska Sweepstakes, a long distance race of 408 miles with stops, for resting. These were the first Siberians to start racing. These dogs were described as small and compact, with not a lot of leg length compared to the taller longer legged mixed breeds already being used for racing in Alaska. The team came third in this endurance race, beaten due to a poor strategically manoeuvre on the part of the driver.
These imports and later litters from them were also described as having heavy bone, when the first AKC standard was drawn up in 1938. That was changed to medium bone in a later standard. From this point the future held a dual purpose for these little dogs, showing and working (although not as popular, competition in obedience was undertaken too). The records prove many of the American breeders did work and show their dogs, certainly in the early stages of the development of the breed.
They were introduced into Britain in 1971, at first for pets, showing and obedience, then used for very short sprint races of between two to five miles. Obviously nowhere near what they were originally bred for. In Britain we do not have the freezing weather for long enough, or the longer trails needed to truly work test our dogs, but we can asses working attitude.
As with all breeds, there are differences of opinion on how we interpret the British standard, but one phrase, which stands out, is “never appearing so heavy or so coarse as to suggest a freighting animal, nor so light and fragile as to suggest a sprint racing animal”. Siberians are not a heavy freighting breed, but it is accepted that they were required to pull light loads over long distances. So very heavy and coarse dogs are equally as unacceptable as very fine and racy dogs.
This is where the judges are important, for it is how they interpret the standard, which influence breeders of the future.