The Siberian Husky is one of the most  recognised sled dog breeds. The others are the Alaskan Malamute, the Canadian Eskimo dog, and the Samoyed. If you also want information on these other sled dogs you should contact their breed clubs, the addresses are available from the Kennel Club.

The Siberian Husky’s origins can be traced to the ancient Chukchi sled dogs of the Kolyma River Basin in Northern Siberia.  The breed was developed  and encouraged  by the Chukchi people – an ancient tribe whose culture was based on the long-distance sled dog.

These origins began some 2,000 years ago and evolved in the harsh conditions and climate of that region.  The Chukchi’s sled dogs were required to travel enormous distances in order to hunt for their survival.  They were bred to pull light loads at moderate speeds over incredible distances on relatively little food and are the smallest of all native sled dog breeds.

The Chukchi highly valued their good, fast, dogs and often traded among each other, especially at the Markovo Fair, held on the Anadyr River, although such was the isolation and lifestyle of the tribe that it was not until the late 19th century when fur trading, and  then the Gold Rush  at the turn of the 20th century made their influence on the breed that became known as the ‘Siberian Husky’.

In 1908 it happened that a Russian fur trader, Goosak, returned to Nome with nine Siberian Chukchi dogs for the purpose of entering the 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes Race, but it was Charles Fox Maule Ramsay who imported the first selected teams of Siberian Huskies into Alaska in 1909.  The younger son of the 13th Earl of Dalhousie, he had come from Scotland to supervise the family investments in the gold fields.  Fascinated by the excitement of sled dog racing and having seen Goosak’s small Chukchi dogs, he chartered a schooner and went to the Markovo Fair, selecting around 70 of the best dogs there.

The results of the 1910 All Alaska Sweepstakes were momentous.  Ramsay’s three teams were placed first, second and fourth – setting a record that remained unbeaten until the centennial anniversary run of the race in 2008.  The Siberian Husky had arrived!  These 70 dogs chosen by Charles Fox Maule Ramsay formed the foundation of what is known today as the Siberian Husky.

When Ramsay left the Klondike he sold his dogs to a young Swede, Leonhard Seppala, later acknowledged to be the greatest dog driver of all time, whose daring 261 mile leg of the famous serum relay run won him and Siberian Huskies international acclaim, whilst saving the township of Nome from an outbreak of diphtheria.

Leonhard Seppala was the first to introduce Siberian Huskies into the United States out of Alaska when he came with his team to New England with his team in the 1920’s.  His dogs won every race and their beauty, speed and temperament intrigued American racing enthusiasts.  Seppala, along with Mrs. Elizabeth (Nancy) Ricker, began breeding Siberian Huskies.  More were obtained from Alaska and thus the breed began.  The Siberian Husky’s reputation, versatility and beauty in the show ring and at work in harness have made it one of the most popular breeds in North America.

The history of the Siberian Husky as a registered breed outside North America has its fuzzy origin in and around the mid 1960’s.  Certainly well before this time Siberian Huskies made sporadic appearances on the European scene, most notably when Leonhard Seppala brought over a team which he sold to the French film company, Pathe.  It is believed that one of Scott’s dogs, a Siberian Husky called Timothy, returned to Britain around 1912, but it was not until May of 1968 that the first ‘known’ pair of Siberians was imported by Mr. and Mrs. Proffitt, having seen the breed whilst on holiday in Europe.  Togli and Killlik were imported at eight weeks old from Norway and carried with them the Alaskan Anadyr lines, a kennel originating from the original Siberians of the early 20th century.

The foundations of the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain lay in the former Husky Club of Great Britain, which encompassed the then acknowledged sled dog breeds of Eskimo Dog*, Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky.  It was during this time that the British Kennel Club finally recognised the Siberian Husky breed by way of a reciprocal agreement with the American Kennel Club.

By 1976, the Husky Club of Great Britain finally succeeded in convincing the British Kennel Club that the latterly known ‘Husky’ should be correctly termed ‘Eskimo Dog’ which then led to the Club’s name changing to ‘Eskimo Dog Club of GB’.  As the name implies, the Siberian Husky could no longer be included, especially with the growing numbers of both enthusiasts and their dogs.  The Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain obtained the Kennel Club’s permission to form a society in early 1977 with the expressed aims of educating interested parties and promoting the working aspects of the breed, whilst collating and instigating a series of checks for hereditary disease.  These aims and ideals continue to form the basis of the Club’s Code of Ethics.

In Spring 1980 the Siberian Husky Club was pleased to announce that the nephew of Charles Fox Maule Ramsay, Simon Ramsay, 16th Earl of Dalhousie had accepted their invitation to become the Club’s Honorary Patron.  He was succeeded by James Hubert Ramsay 17th Earl of Dalhousie in 1999 thus continuing the bond of past associations with the Ramsay Family and the Siberian Husky’s history.

Presently the SHC of GB organises a Championship and Open Show each year plus a number of working rallies during the winter season as well as various seminars for all levels of Judges, Breeders and Beginner Mushers.  Hereditary disease remains of utmost importance to the Club, which monitors hip and eye testing results in the Breed, offering advice and information where possible to caring breeders and owners.  Its Code of Ethics formalises these principles for Member Breeders adherence and third party insurance cover included in the Club’s annual subscription further provides assurance for Member Owners.

When originally imported from North-East Siberia at the start of the 20th century, the Siberian sled dogs quickly earned a reputation for their excellent endurance or staying power, beauty and temperament.  Today ‘endurance’ of the Siberian Husky takes on a new dimension, namely the survival or the breed in today’s highly competitive sled dog sport.  In the early 1970’s, as cross-breed dogs became more prevalent in sled dog racing in the United States many predicted that the Siberian Husky would vanish from the working scene.  More recently some show dogs have evolved into a less athletic and heavier type and by way of counter-action some working kennels have taken their dogs in the opposite direction, thus creating a divergence of type from the Breed Standard.

Despite these trends, there are simply too many people around the world who prefer the temperament, working style, looks and heritage of the true Siberian Husky.  In keeping with the historic endurance of their breed, these devoted individuals refuse to quit, thereby maintaining the Siberian Husky as one of the purest, healthiest and most beautiful breeds in the world and long may this continue.

* This breed latterly divided into Canadian Eskimo Dog and Greenland Dog

The Siberian is little changed today and is still capable of fulfilling his original function and could if necessary survive in his historic self-sufficient lifestyle.
This is no problem to owners willing to adapt to and tolerate his natural instincts, but would be a liability to those who really want a more ‘civilised’ dog.
On the next pages is a list of the postivies and negatives of the Siberian Husky. To assist you in deciding whether he is the dog for you. Please pay particular attention to the ‘negative’ points – your Siberian is most unlikely to be an exception to the rule.