LEARN – History of the Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskies are a medium-sized dog breed that originated from Siberia Region in Russia. From the name of the place, the dog breed has acquired its name. Contrary to the common belief, the Siberian Huskies are not a hybrid of the wolf or a type of wolf. The breed belonged to the Spitz genetic family. […]
Siberian Husky dog sitting in the snow with tongue out
History of the Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskies are a medium-sized dog breed that originated from Siberia Region in Russia. From the name of the place, the dog breed has acquired its name. Contrary to the common belief, the Siberian Huskies are not a hybrid of the wolf or a type of wolf. The breed belonged to the Spitz genetic family.

Thickly furred double coat, triangular, erect ears and the distinctive markings make it easier for anyone to identify the huskies. The active, resilient and energetic dog is somewhat smaller than a very similar looking dog breed known as the Alaskan Malamute.

Siberian Husky is one of the fine examples of the prowess of selective breeding. This dog breed proves that selective breeding can produce a form that is perfectly suitable for the purpose for which the breed had been developed.

History

The history of the Siberian Husky showed that the Chukchi people of Northern Siberia first developed the breed. For centuries, the Chukchi tribesmen bred sledge dogs and kept them as their companions. The Siberian huskies are direct descendants of those sledge dogs.

Chukchi tribe people valued the ability of the Siberian sledge dog breed to pull the sledge and guard them. They treated the sledge dogs as a part of the family. They used to permit the dog to enter their family dwelling space to spend nights. Once Chukchi people started taking part in trade, a Russian fur trader, known as William Goosak, first introduced the breed to Nome, Alaska as the Siberian sledge dogs.

big dog of Chukchi husky breed on a chain in dog farm
Chukchi husky dog

1908

In the fall of 1908, the Huskies were first brought to North America without much fanfare. While most of the dog breeds came to America when they were a celebrated breed in their home country, the Siberian Huskies take a different route. These dogs were brought to America quietly through a point where America and Asian peninsula almost meet.

The History of the Siberian Husky denotes that the dogs were imported to Nome Alaska first. William Goosak, the Russian fur trader, was the one who brought this breed first to The United States. He brought these dogs so that they could take part in 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes race. As the Huskies were almost half of the weight of the giant sledge dogs and did not have an immense stature, people were not impressed. They called the dogs, Siberian rats.

1909

All Alaska Sweepstakes was a gruelling 408 miles race that started in 1908 for the first time. While the Siberian Huskies have won many races in their native lands, the first race that they took part on the American soil became one of the most important races for the breed.
Even though no one was impressed by the looks of the Huskies, Goosak was able to persuade a Danish sailor, known as the Louis Thurtrop, to use the Huskies in his team. In April 1909, the first team of Siberian Huskies trotted out of Nome to make history for the breed.

Even though the odds against this team was 100 to 1, the Huskies performed tremendously and nearly won the race. It was said that Thurstrope was not a judicious sledge driver, and he took an unnecessary rest in Candle. That decision pushed the team to third place. It was said that if Thurstrope won the race, it would have broken the banks of Nome.

Siberian Huskies sledging in the snow
Siberian Huskies sledging in the snow

The performance of the Huskies impressed the spectators so much that a young man, known as Fox Maule Ramsay went to Siberia himself in November 1909. He spent about $25,000 to find the best specimens of the breed and brought them to the USA.

1910

Ramsay was one of the competitors in the Nome race. So, once he brought the Huskies to the US, he divided them into three teams. On this year, he entered All Alaska Sweepstake Race with all three teams of Siberian Huskies. Two of his uncles took two teams, and he drove one.

The team of Siberian Huskies that entered the race under the name of Col. Charles Ramsay and was driven by John Johnson came first. The team of the Siberian Huskies finished the race with an elapsed time of 74 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. The team of Fox Ramsay came second, and the other team of the Siberian Huskies came fourth in the race.

This single race turned the perception of people about the Siberian Huskies. Overnight, all the amusements that people tend to feel about the dogs turned into admiration. Even though the progeny of the Fox Ramsay’s dogs won many races in the later period, it was the small Siberian Husky team of Goosak that showcased the abilities and resilience of the then-unknown Siberian sledge dogs, which became known as Huskies.

1913

Roald Amundsen, the explorer who first reached the South Pole, started preparing for an expedition to the North Pole. For this occasion, his friend Jafet Lindberg, who was the co-owner of the largest mining company of Nome started gathering the best Siberian Huskies. It was Leonhard Seppala who was responsible for the training of these dogs.

1914

As the First World War started in this year, Amundsen was almost compelled to give up his dream expedition to the North Pole. However, Seppala continued the training of the Siberian Huskies.

1915, 1916, 1917

Seppala took part in the All Alaska Sweepstakes for four consecutive years with his team of Siberian huskies and won the race in these years. Over time, Seppala became one of the foremost trainers of the Huskies and participated in other races, once the All Alaska Sweepstakes got cancelled.

1917

During this time, the communist rulers of Russia offered a free trade deal with the. However, with the increased trade, the tribespeople started getting affected by smallpox. The epidemic decimated and weakened the Chukchi tribe. The History of the Siberian Husky indicated that during this time, the Soviets executed all the Chukchi village leaders, who were the successful breeders of the Siberian Huskies. After that, the Soviets started the standardised sledge dog breeding program in that region.

Wise Chukchi woman cheerful looking at the camera
Chukchi woman

1925

The famous serum run in this year brought the Huskies, as well as Seppala, back to the limelight.

In January of this year, Nome was affected by a Diptheria epidemic. The closest place that had enough serum was about 600 miles away. Even though the run was a joint effort of different sledge dog teams, it was Seppala and his team of Huskies that completed the most dangerous and the longest 264 miles of the marathon.

The team of the Huskies was led by a dog named Togo. As a result of this gruesome marathon, Togo became permanently lame. A team led by another Husky, Balto, and driven by Gunnar Kassen completed the last leg of the race. There is a statue of Balto in the central park honouring all the sledge dogs that took part in the serum run.

1926 and 1927

After this run, Seppala went to New England with his 40 Siberian Huskies. There, Seppala entered his Siberian Huskies in a race in Poland Spring, and the dogs easily won the race. It was the first race that the Huskies won outside of Alaska. The team of Huskies also bagged the more prestigious New England point to point three-day race in Laconia.

1930

In this year, the American Kennel Club first recognised the breed. During this time, Seppala formed a partnership with another Siberian Husky aficionado Elizabeth Ricker. They started the Poland Springs Kennel and began racing and exhibiting the dogs.

Siberian Huskies racing together on cold snow in a sled dog race.
Siberian Huskies in a sledging race

1933

Admiral Richard E. Byrd brought about 50 Huskies for an expedition. In this expedition, he hoped to cover a 16000-mile journey around the coast of Antarctica. This historic trek proved the benefit of the small stature, speed, and resilience of the Huskies to the world.

1938 and 1939

The United Kennel Club acknowledged the breed as the Arctic Husky in 1938. In 1939, Canada registered the husky for the first time. The Siberian Husky Club of America was found in 1938.

1940

An archaeological excavation conducted in the ancient Ipiutak sites at the Point of Hope in Alaska found dog remains. The 2000 years old remains of the dogs were positively identified to be that of the Siberian sledge dogs. This evidence proved the fact that the Huskies are indeed the descendants of an ancient breed.

1939-1945

During World War II, the United States Army used the Siberian huskies to form search and rescue units for the Arctic regions.

1945-1994

During this extended period, the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica used the Siberian Huskies for their expeditions. A bronze statue of a BAS dog now sits outside its Cambridge headquarters.

1952

The Soviets declared that the Chukchi dog had never existed and the Siberian Huskies are an American breed which has nothing to do with Siberia.

1960

The Us Army formed a project for constructing a space research and defence facility under the ice. Camped century, which was a part of the project ice worm, had 150+ crew who brought an unofficial mascot with them. The mascot was Mukluk, a Siberian Husky.

Modern Day

The Huskies are still quite popular among the dog lovers. The recent popular TV shows and movies have stoked the popularity of the huskies even further. Many Universities and colleges have also chosen Huskies as mascots.

Conclusion

All in all, the Siberian Huskies are quite popular sledging dogs of today. Its friendly and energetic nature has turned these dogs into popular family dogs as well. These dogs are known for their intelligence and the protective nature towards their owners. The History of the Siberian Husky indicates that if you want an energetic and loving companion by your side, go for the huskies without any doubt.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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