The Siberian Husky is a Spitz type Arctic dog originating from, as its name suggests, Siberia. This is one of the most famous dog breeds in the world that will literally charm you at first sight with its gracious stance, wolf-like appearance and cute gaze. But, it is not just about the beauty of this dog. Huskies are also well-known after their incredible personality, which is highlighted by huge affection for humans, lively spirit and pack loyalty. These qualities make them excellent family companions, who like to spend as much time as possible with all the members of the household. They are particularly nice and tolerant with children. On top of that, Siberians possess great working qualities, considering how incredibly agile, strong, resourceful, and hardy they are. Proven as some of the best sledge dogs in the world, they are often used for dog sled racing, mushing and carting. However, Huskies are very independent and stubborn dogs with a strong prey drive. They demand a lot of hard work and discipline in order to be properly trained and socialized. That is why they’re not recommended for the inexperienced dog owners. With that being said, let’s jump onto the list of ten most interesting Siberian Husky facts.
1.) Siberian Huskies are actually descendants of Chukchi Sled Dogs, which were developed through selective breeding by Chukchis, an indigenous Nomad tribe from northeastern Siberia. It still cannot be precisely estimated how much this breed is actually old, but some DNA tests suggest it is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Scientists believe that the whole Husky strain had evolved through genetic admixture between now extinct Taimyr wolves and ancient dogs of North Asia. The same evolutionary process was evidenced with the Greenland Dog strain. No wonder people call this dog the Greenland Husky since he is actually the closest relative to Siberian Husky, not Alaskan Malamute as the many of you probably thought.
2.) The name Husky originated from the actual pronunciation of the word Eskimos (Inuit people living in the Arctic circle) by the English sailors, which sounded like Huskimos. That pronunciation was later altered to the Huskies. The name itself can be literally translated as the Eskimo dog.
3.) Huskies were first introduced in the USA by William Goosak, Russian fur trader. He bought a few of these dogs from the Anadyr River region in Siberia to Nome, Alaska, in the 1908 during the Nome Gold Rush (1899–1909). The people of Nome initially mocked Huskies, calling them “Siberian rats” since they were considerably smaller than Alaskan Malamutes. However, just a year later, these “funny’ dogs proved them all wrong when Huskies under the lead of Leonhard Seppala, the first American breeder of these dogs, won “All-Alaskan Sweepstakes”, the famous dog-sled race from Nome, to Candle, and back (408 miles/657 km). Yeah, they were smaller than Malamutes, but their speed and endurance had no match in this harsh sporting event for more than a decade after this initial victory. Sadly, this wasn’t the only time citizens of Nome witnessed the irony of destiny, as you will see in the next paragraph.
4.) This breed became famous worldwide after the serum run to Nome or the “Great Race of Mercy” as some people call it. This was an emergency event that took place in that same city of Nome back in 1925. Namely, there was an outbreak of diphtheria in the middle of winter that threatened the very lives of many citizens of this town. They were in desperate need of diphtheria serum, but it couldn’t be transported from the closest city of Nenana (nearly 650 miles away) neither by plane, nor by car due to severe weather conditions (temperatures were around -40°C/°F). So, they put all their hope into 20 mushers with their 150 Huskies, who had to endure this exhausting group endeavour. Thankfully, they succeeded. In just six days, on February 3rd, Gunnar Kaasen with his lead dog Balto reached Nome and brought antitoxins after crossing the last 53 miles of this long journey. Balto later became probably the most famous Husky in the world, although Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog Togo covered the longest and most dangerous part of this run – Norton Sound to Golovin (91 miles). In the memory of this brave effort, starting from 1973, every year the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has been organized on this same route. Also, the animated movie called Balto, which was filmed back in 1995, was inspired by this event.
5.) Siberian Huskies were also used in some other noble endeavours during the long history of the breed. In 1933, Admiral Richard E. Byrd took with him 50 Huskies on a 16.000 mile long coastal expedition in Antarctica. And, once again, these dogs proved their worth since this expedition was a success. Also, Siberians were used during the World War II as an important part of the US Army’s Arctic search and rescue unit.
6.) Huskies are simply incredible escape artists, which can do all sorts of crazy tricks just to check what’s going on in the neighborhood. They can easily figure out how to open unlocked doors, they can jump and climb over walls, slip collars, dig beneath fences (yeah, they are superb diggers), break cages or even chains. On top of that, Huskies are very curious and eager to explore the surroundings, so they won’t hesitate to run away if chance be. But, the worst thing is that Husky usually won’t return home like some other dogs, he will continue his brave adventure wherever it takes him. Unfortunately, the majority of new owners is completely unaware of these particular Siberian Husky facts, which is the reason Huskies are among the dogs that most often end up abandoned, lost or even killed. So, make sure you have a securely fenced yard if you wish to own a Husky. And if, despite that, your Sibe somehow run away, do whatever you can to find him!
7.) The Siberian Husky is an incredibly resilient, swift, energetic and hardy breed. This dog can withstand extremely low temperatures (down to -60°C/-76°F) and can run more than 20 miles without a single stop. Also, he can live and work on low food supplies, which makes him an extremely efficient dog in harsh Nordic environments. In comparison with Alaskan Malamute, Sibe can more easily withstand hot summer temperatures since its dense coat is neither thick nor long as that of its Alaskan counterpart.
8.) Contrary to common belief (yeah, people are in general afraid of Huskies, I know this firsthand – they think these dogs are bloodthirsty like wolves), Sibe is not suspicious and certainly not aggressive towards strangers. To put it clearly, he is a downright terrible watchdog :) He won’t bark at strangers or confront them, he literally won’t do a single thing to notify his owner about anything suspicious. Usually, Husky will probably just lie in some corner and happily observe unknown people, even if they’re burglars carrying out all your valuables :)
9.) I’m aware many of you still have a problem to distinguish Huskies from Malamutes, which is not that surprising considering how similarly looking they are. Yeah, Malamutes are larger dogs with longer coats, but it’s hard for an inexperienced man (or woman) to have a proper judgment without the visual comparison between the two. So, here’s the catch for all newbies here. Probably the easiest way to distinguish Siberian Husky from Alaskan Malamute is by checking the dog’s eyes! Unlike Malamutes, which have only brown eyes, Huskies can have brown or blue eyes. They can as well have one blue and one brown eye. Also, quite common in Siberians are parti-eyes, which are half brown and half blue.
10.) As popular as they truly are, it comes as no surprise many Huskies were staring in various Hollywood movies, such as Eight Below, Iron Will, Snow Dogs, Snow Buddies, as well as some popular TV series like Due South. Also, Huskies appeared as protagonists in several novels, such as Child of the Wolves, Arctic Shadow, Wild Voice of the North, Bear, etc.
With this, I’ll conclude the list of ten most interesting Siberian Husky facts. I hope it will help you to better understand and appreciate this wonderful dog breed. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new in the end. All the same, have fun and kiss your Huskies instead of me :)