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-THE SIBERIAN HUSKY-
Standard, appearance & character

Graphics with kind permission of the designer Erika Tsogoeva.

The images and texts are protected by copyright and may not be copied or reproduced without permission.

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GENERAL

The Siberian Husky is a breed recognized in the USA since 1930, hence its country of origin is defined as the USA. However, the ancestors of today's Siberian Huskies did not originate from the USA; they arrived there in the early 20th century through some scientists and traders.

The roots of the Siberian Husky date back thousands of years to various peoples in Northern Russia and Siberia. This is also reflected in the breed name, which combines the words "Siberian" (German: "Sibirisch") and "Husky" ("Esky"). However, "Husky" used to be used as a derogatory term for the dogs imported from Siberia, as they appeared small and frail compared to the native sled dogs in Alaska. But through many races, especially in Alaska, and later in other parts of North America, these small, beautiful Huskies proved their endurance and gained increasing popularity. The heroic story of Togo (& Balto) also brought significant attention to this "new" breed, leading to the recognition of the Siberian Husky as a breed. As a result, some dogs from the USA were also shipped to Europe.

The ideal characteristics of a Siberian Husky are defined in the so-called "Standard." This serves the purpose of preserving the function, character, and appearance of the Siberian Husky in its origin, as a Siberian Husky must be built in a way to perform sledding work as energy-efficiently and wear-resistantly as possible. The Standard also defines specific expressions and typical features, as it would not be a breed if the Siberian Husky could look just like a Dachshund or Whippet. The Standard of the original breed club (SHCA) is further elaborated and interpreted in more detail.

The characteristic temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, yet attentive and sociable. They do not exhibit possessive traits of a guard dog, nor are they overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive towards other dogs. An adult Husky is expected to display a certain level of reserve and dignity. Their intelligence, trainability, and enthusiasm make them pleasant companions and willing workers."

- SHCA Illustrated Standard

This description accurately captures the character traits of the Siberian Husky, which is why they can be used for various activities beyond sled dog sports. Their nature and intelligence make them excellent everyday companions, and they excel in activities such as mantrailing, trekking tours, hiking, and biking, providing great variety in their lives.

With the right level of "will to please," Huskies can also participate in agility and obedience, as well as in search and rescue or therapy dog work, provided they are well-balanced and open individuals. Most Huskies adore children, but their hunting instinct can be triggered if cats run away.

However, it's important to keep in mind their peculiarities. Besides their famous "wilfulness," Siberian Huskies are extremely communicative. They tend to be a "Very Important Pup," and other dogs usually don't hold much importance for them, especially if those dogs are not of the same breed. Some individuals may have a certain sensitivity, which can be pleasant for experienced dog handlers. Digging, chasing, and chewing are among their favorite activities, which should be monitored from an early age and playfully managed through training to prevent them from becoming mischievous adults. Due to their strong hunting drive, they should not be off-leash. Siberian Huskies are highly intelligent and independent, so they are best suited for people who want to experience a lot with their canine companions and have a lot of fun together.

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Character

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The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog with a typical arctic appearance, characterized by a dense double coat consisting of an undercoat and a topcoat. The undercoat is shed approximately twice a year, and during the periods in between, they hardly shed at all. Females measure 50.5-56cm and weigh 15.5-23kg, while males measure 53.5-60cm and weigh 20.5-28kg. The Siberian Husky comes in a wide range of colors, including classic markings with a colored body and white limbs in light red, red/brown, black, dark gray, gray, silver, as well as agouti, black and tan, sable, saddle back, solid black, solid white, and Pinto. Colors not present in the breed include merle and brindle.

Their head is adorned with triangular, close-set, erect ears, and almond-shaped, slanting eyes that provide ideal vision even in snowstorms. Their gait is typically light and effortless. The Siberian Husky can pull light loads over long distances at a medium pace (steady lope or slow canter) with an average speed of about 8-12 km/h.

The characteristic arctic tail, resembling a dense, round brush, is perfect for keeping the Husky's nose warm during cold winter nights. The tail should be carried well while in motion, but not resting on the back or curled over, as it needs to maintain its ability to keep the Husky warm and avoid increasing air resistance while running, which would require more valuable energy.

The hyperextension (overextension) of the front pastern joint should be about 15°.

Equally important are well-knuckled and padded yet flexible paws, which form a sturdy foundation for the whole dog and ensure secure movement on snow and ice.

The proportions of the Siberian Husky are essential to fulfill its function as a sled dog and to demonstrate good, energy-efficient movement according to the standard.

There are three balance lines to determine if a Siberian Husky is well-built. The first line runs through the front foot, along the forearm, and should go up through the top third of the shoulder blade, with the cervical spine lying completely in front of this line. The second line is a horizontal extension of the (straight) topline, and the head should be above this line when in a level position. The third balance line is a vertical line from the tuber ischiadicum (see Point of croup below), which should fall on the toes or claws of the hind limb. It is also useful to check the height relationship of the two pivot points of the front and rear limbs, meaning if the hip joint is on a line with the upper third of the scapula (shoulder blade). The head proportions of the Husky are also precisely defined. The muzzle should be as long as the distance from the nose tip to the stop, which is the steep transition from the muzzle to the base of the skull.

More specific proportions include the ratio of leg length to chest depth, which should be 55:45 to prevent the Siberian Husky from getting stuck in deep snow. Equally important is the ratio of the height of the hock to the entire length of the rear limb, which should be 1/3. Furthermore, the body length, measured from the shoulder joint to the tuber ischiadicum (point of croup), should be longer than the dog's height at the withers (about 10% longer than tall) to provide enough space for the Siberian's legs to move efficiently under the body during trotting and enable energy-saving single tracking (hind paws stepping into the tracks of the front paws).

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Proportions & Function

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Hereditary diseases

The Siberian Husky is, in general, a healthy breed with few issues related to the musculoskeletal system. However, like any other breed, there are also hereditary diseases within this population. Some of the most common or well-known ones include:

  • Eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and XL-PRA1 (progressive retinal atrophy)

  • Epilepsy

  • Tumors

  • Ectopic Urethra

  • Siberian Husky Polyneuropathy (SHPN1)

  • Shaking Puppy Syndrome (Siberian Husky Variant 1) SPS1

  • Cryptorchidism (undescended or hidden testicles)

  • Zinc deficiency dermatosis

For some of these diseases, genetic tests are available (e.g., XL-PRA1, SPS1, SHPN1), as well as examinations like the DOK eye examination or gonioscopy. Unfortunately, only a few Siberian Husky breeders conduct genetic testing. However, as of May 2023, we have conducted these tests for all our current breeding dogs. It is important to note that there are still other genetic diseases that cannot be tested for yet. This is where responsible breeders play a crucial role in conducting careful breeding selection and knowing their lines as well as possible, as there is no line or individual unaffected by genetic diseases.

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