SIberian Husky


History :
The Siberian Husky (Russian: Сибирский хаски, Seebeerskij huskie, “Siberian Dog”) is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family. It is recognizable by its thickly furred double coat, sickle tail, erect triangular ears and distinctive markings.

Huskies are an active, energetic and resilient breed whose ancestors came from the extremely cold and harsh environment of the Siberian Arctic. Siberian Huskies were bred by the Chukchi of Northeastern Asia. The dogs were imported into Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush and later spread into the United States and Canada. They were initially sent to Alaska and Canada as sled dogs but rapidly acquired the status of family pets and show-dogs.

The Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Alaskan Malamute are all breeds directly descended from the original “sled dog”.[2] Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog as can be seen with the Alaskan Malamute.[3]

In this breed of canine, the word “Husky” is a corruption of the derogative term “Eskie” which was also shared by the Inuit people met by Europeans when they first made expeditions into their lands. By standard, Huskies are not burly, thick, fat, or overweight. 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 Strait on the way into, or out of, Alaska,[2] though this theory is continuously disputed by scholars.[4] Some sources say that the word Siberia originates from the Turkic for “sleeping land”. Another version is that this name was the tribal name of the Sibilla, ancient Turkic nomads. [5]

Breeds descending from the Eskimo dog were once found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Siberia to Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Labrador, and Baffin Island.[2]

Siberian husky in wintertime serving as a sled dog.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 overestimated.[2]

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.[2]

On February 3, 1925 Gunnar Kaasen was first in the 1925 serum run to Nome to deliver diphtheria serum from Nenana over 600 miles to Nome. This was a group effort by 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, although unlike the real dog, Balto the character was portrayed as half wolf in the film. 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” [2]

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.[2]

Only beginning to come to prominence, in 1933 Navy Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd brought about 50 Siberian Huskies with him on an expedition in which Byrd hoped to journey around the 16,000-mile coast of Antarctica. Many of the dogs were trained at Chinook Kennels in New Hampshire. Called Operation Highjump, the historic trek proved the worth of the Siberian Husky due to its compact size and greater speeds.[2] Siberian Huskies also served in the United States Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit of the Air Transport Command during World War II.[6]

~ by venansiusorlando on March 22, 2010.

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