Siberian Husky Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Siberian Husky General Appearance : The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog, quick and light on his feet and free and graceful in action. His moderately compact and well furred body, erect ears and brush tail suggest his Northern heritage. His characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He performs his original function in harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. His body proportions and form reflect this basic balance of power, speed and endurance. The males of the Siberian Husky breed are masculine but never coarse; the bitches are feminine but without weakness of structure. In proper condition, with muscle firm and well developed, the Siberian Husky does not carry excess weight. Size, Proportion, Substance : Height - Dogs, 21 to 23½ inches at the withers. Bitches, 20 to 22 inches at the withers. Weight - Dogs, 45 to 60 pounds. Bitches, 35 to 50 pounds. Weight is in proportion to height. The measurements mentioned above represent the extreme height and weight limits with no preference given to either extreme. Any appearance of excessive bone or weight should be penalized. In profile, the length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the rear point of the croup is slightly longer than the height of the body from the ground to the top of the withers. Disqualification - Dogs over 23½ inches and bitches over 22 inches. Head : Expression is keen, but friendly; interested and even mischievous. Eyes almond shaped, moderately spaced and set a trifle obliquely. Eyes may be brown or blue in color; one of each or parti-colored are acceptable. Faults - Eyes set too obliquely; set too close together. Ears of medium size, triangular in shape, close fitting and set high on the head. They are thick, well furred, slightly arched at the back, and strongly erect, with slightly rounded tips pointing straight up. Faults - Ears too large in proportion to the head; too wide set; not strongly erect. Skull of medium size and in proportion to the body; slightly rounded on top and tapering from the widest point to the eyes. Faults - Head clumsy or heavy; head too finely chiseled. Stop - The stop is well-defined and the bridge of the nose is straight from the stop to the tip. Fault - Insufficient stop. Muzzle of medium length; that is, the distance from the tip of the nose to the stop is equal to the distance from the stop to the occiput. The muzzle is of medium width, tapering gradually to the nose, with the tip neither pointed nor square. Faults - Muzzle either too snipy or too coarse; muzzle too short or too long. Nose: Black in black, gray, sable, or agouti dogs; liver in red dogs, black, liver or flesh-colored in white dogs. The lighter- streaked “snow nose is equally acceptable. Lips are well pigmented and close fitting. Teeth closing in a scissors bite . Fault - Any bite other than scissors. Neck, Topline, Body : Neck medium in length, arched and carried proudly erect when dog is standing. When moving at a trot, the neck is extended so that the head is carried slightly forward. Faults - Neck too short and thick; neck too long. Chest deep and strong, but not too broad, with the deepest point being just behind and level with the elbows. The ribs are well sprung from the spine but flattened on the sides to allow for freedom of action. Faults - Chest too broad; "barrel ribs"; ribs too flat or weak. Back - The back is straight and strong, with a level topline from withers to croup. It is of medium length, neither cobby nor slack from excessive length. The loin is taut and lean, narrower than the rib cage, and with a slight tuck-up. The croup slopes away from the spine at an angle, but never so steeply as to restrict the rearward thrust of the hind legs. Faults - Weak or slack back; roached back; sloping topline. Tail : The well furred tail of fox- brush shape is set on just below the level of the topline, and is usually carried over the back in a graceful sickle curve when the dog is at attention. When carried up, the tail does not curl to either
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side of the body, nor does it snap flat against the back. A trailing tail is normal for the dog when in repose. Hair on the tail is of medium length and approximately the same length on top, sides and bottom, giving the appearance of a round brush. Faults - A snapped or tightly curled tail; highly plumed tail; tail set too low or too high. Forequarters : Shoulders - The shoulder blade is well laid back. The upper arm angles slightly backward from point of shoulder to elbow, and is never perpendicular to the ground. The muscles and ligaments holding the shoulder to the rib cage are firm and well developed. Faults - Straight shoulders; loose shoulders. Forelegs - When standing and viewed from the front, the legs are moderately spaced, parallel and straight, with the elbows close to the body and turned neither in nor out. Viewed from the side, pasterns are slightly slanted, with the pastern joint strong, but flexible. Bone is substantial but never heavy. Length of the leg from elbow to ground is slightly more than the distance from the elbow to the top of withers. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed. Faults - Weak pasterns; too heavy bone; too narrow or too wide in the front; out at the elbows. Feet oval in shape but not long. The paws are medium in size, compact and well furred between the toes and pads. The pads are tough and thickly cushioned. The paws neither turn in nor out when the dog is in natural stance. Faults - Soft or splayed toes; paws too large and clumsy; paws too small and delicate; toeing in or out. Hindquarters : When standing and viewed from the rear, the hind legs are moderately spaced and parallel. The upper thighs are well muscled and powerful, the stifles well bent, the hock joint well-defined and set low to the ground. Dewclaws, if any, are to be removed. Faults - Straight stifles, cow-hocks, too narrow or too wide in the rear. Coat : The coat of the Siberian Husky is double and medium in length, giving a well furred appearance, but is never so long as to obscure the clean-cut outline of the dog. The undercoat is soft and dense and of sufficient length to support the outer coat. The guard hairs of the outer coat are straight and somewhat smooth lying, never harsh nor standing straight off from the body. It should be noted that the absence of the undercoat during the shedding season is normal. Trimming of whiskers and fur between the toes and around the feet to present a neater appearance is permissible. Trimming the fur on any other part of the dog is not to be condoned and should be severely penalized. Faults - Long, rough, or shaggy coat; texture too harsh or too silky; trimming of the coat, except as permitted above. Color, Patterns and Markings: Color, Patterns and Markings. All ranges of the allowable colors which are black, gray, agouti, sable, red, and white. May be solid colored. May have multiple shades. May have white markings. A variety of symmetrical or asymmetrical markings and patterns are common, including piebald. No preference should be given to any allowable color, marking or pattern. Merle or Brindle patterns are not allowable and are to be disqualified. Merle is defined as a marbling effect of dark patches against a lighter background of the same color and is not to be confused with a color patch of banded guard hairs amid white, as is seen in dogs with allowable piebald. Brindle is defined as darker and lighter single-colored guard hairs producing a vertical tiger striping, not to be confused with banded guard hairs and a different color undercoat, which may produce some apparent horizontal striping. Gait : The Siberian Husky's characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He is quick and light on his feet, and when in the show ring should be gaited on a loose lead at a moderately fast trot, exhibiting good reach in the forequarters and good drive in the hindquarters. When viewed from the front to rear while moving at a walk the Siberian Husky does not single-track, but as the speed increases the legs gradually angle inward until the pads are falling on a line
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directly under the longitudinal center of the body. As the pad marks converge, the forelegs and hind legs are carried straightforward, with neither elbows nor stifles turned in or out. Each hind leg moves in the path of the foreleg on the same side. While the dog is gaiting, the topline remains firm and level. Faults - Short, prancing or choppy gait, lumbering or rolling gait; crossing or crabbing. Temperament : The characteristic temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. He does not display the possessive qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs. Some measure of reserve and dignity may be expected in the mature dog. His intelligence, tractability, and eager disposition make him an agreeable companion and willing worker. Summary : The most important breed characteristics of the Siberian Husky are medium size, moderate bone, well balanced proportions, ease and freedom of movement, proper coat, pleasing head and ears, correct tail, and good disposition. Any appearance of excessive bone or weight, constricted or clumsy gait, or long, rough coat should be penalized. The Siberian Husky never appears so heavy or coarse as to suggest a freighting animal; nor is he so light and fragile as to suggest a sprint-racing animal. In both sexes the Siberian Husky gives the appearance of being capable of great endurance. In addition to the faults already noted, the obvious structural faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Siberian Husky as in any other breed, even though they are not specifically mentioned herein. Disqualification : Dogs over 23½ inches and bitches over 22 inches. Merle and brindle patterns.
Approved February 9, 2021 Effective May 12, 2021
JUDGING THE SIBERIAN HUSKY By Donna Beckman
I n judging the Siberian Husky, the fi rst thing to remember is his job: carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great dis- tances in a very cold climate. Th e essence of breed type for the Siberian includes all of the char- acteristics required of an athletic, endur- ance sled dog. Standing back to form that initial impression of the dog, the judge should be asking if the length of the dog is slightly longer than the dog is tall; if there is slightly more daylight under the dog than the apparent depth of the body; if the dog has well laid-back shoulders and matching angles in the rear; if the neck is well arched and of su ffi cient length; if the topline is strong and level; if there is a slope to the croup and a well set-on tail; if the head is in balance and pleasing; if the coat does not obscure the outline of the dog. Th is observation should give the judge an idea of how the dog will move, and what the judge will discover during the physical examination; the judge will form an impression of the dog’s strengths, and potential concerns. When approaching the dog, it is best done from the front so as not surprise the dog. A Siberian could greet you with kisses or reserve. Be aware that few Siberi- ans will stand still as statues! You should, however, not expect shyness or aggression. Although Siberian breed type is not limited to his head, you will fi nd a num- ber of our treasured breed characteristics in the head. Th e Standard for Siberian Huskies calls only for a scissors bite. So, checking the bite is a very quick process.
In looking at the Siberian’s head, you should see an intelligent, interested, even mischievous gaze—which is signi fi cantly due to the almond-shaped, tri fl e obliquely set eyes. If the eyes are round, the quizzical expression will not be there. Th e length of muzzle and distance from stop to occiput should be approximately equal. And, although a treasured Breed characteris- tic, Siberians’ ears are often a barometer of their mood; as Siberians can do many things with their ears. Th e Standard calls for an ear that is high on the head, medium, thick, trian- gular, strongly erect, pointing straight upward, and well furred. Th e head attaches to the body by a well arched medium length neck. Although the Standard does not mention the proster- num, a correctly built Siberian needs a pro- sternum that you should easily be able to feel. Th e width of chest between the front legs should not be broader than the width of your hand. Th e Siberian Standard calls for well laid back shoulders, and although not speci fi - cally mentioned in the Standard, the shoul- der blade and upper arm should be approx- imately equal in length. Due to the coat, you will need to use your hands to “mea- sure” these bones, as well as the angle of the shoulder layback. Look for the position of the forelegs, which should be “well under” the dog. Never forget the importance of the front assembly in a working sled dog. Th e feet of a Siberian are one of his greatest assets in the snow. Th ey should be medium sized, oval in shape, toughly pad- ded, compact, and well-furred.
The Siberian Husky’s ears should be of medium size, triangular in shape, and set high on the head. The eyes should be almond
shaped and set a trifle obliquely. Photo courtesy of Sarah Hubbach.
Although proportion is easier to see from afar, the physical examination helps determine the depth of chest, and distance from elbow to top of withers. Th ick fur at the withers may make a dog appear taller than he actually is. Th e Siberian Standard has an upper height disquali fi cation, but no preference should be given to either extreme OR the middle of the provided range. If you have ANY doubt an exhibit’s height, please measure the dog! A correct Siberian coat is a smooth- lying, dense, double-coat, and should nev- er obscure the overall outline of the dog. In order to be assured of the limits of the body and the overall structure of the dog, feel through the coat. In doing so, you can also determine the dog’s muscling, weight, the correctness of the coat, as well as the shape
“A correct Siberian Husky SHOULD NEVER APPEAR ‘HUSKY’ IN HIS BUILD.”
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of the Siberian’s rib cage. Th e ribs should be sprung, but fl attened on the sides for freedom of movement. Remember that the Standard for Siberian Huskies states that weight is in proportion to height. A correct Siberian Husky should NEVER appear “husky” in his build. Th e Siberian’s topline should appear level. Because grooming and hand stack- ing can a ff ect the appearance of the topline, please evaluate the topline not only by looking as the dog is stacked, but also by feeling the topline, and watching it as the dog moves. Th e topline of the Siberian should be straight and strong, but with some fl exibility. Th is fl exibil- ity is di ff erent from a weak back. When viewed from above, the dog’s loin is nar- rower than the ribcage, and when viewed from the side, you will see a slight tuck-up at the loin. Th e croup should slope from the topline, and the tail should be set on below the level of the topline. Th e slope to croup and tail set can be seen when the dog is moving, but also when the dog is standing by placing your hand on the croup (feeling the downward angle) while gently pick- ing up the tail to see where it is set. The tail of the Siberian Husky is a remarkable thing. Some dogs may drop their tails, while others are carried over the back in a sickle shape, and others will wag it furiously. Even when mov- ing, a tail may be up, down, wagging, or trailing—all perfectly acceptable. The most important aspect of the tail is that it is set on correctly, does not curl tightly or to one side, and that it is of fox-brush shape. Remember that you never need to see a Siberian’s tail over his back in the ring. Evaluate the hindquarters is while the dog is moving. But, how a dog stands can provide some indicators of how the dog will move. A hock significantly behind the rear of the pelvis can mean excessive rear angulation or unequal bone length. It is important that the angles of the fore- quarters balance with the angles of the hindquarters. You can use your hands to measure the pelvis and thighs, wanting them of approximately the same length. From the rear, hindquarters should be moderately-spaced and parallel.
When gaiting, the Siberian Husky should drop his head and carry it a bit forward. His gait should be balanced and ground-covering, but not exaggerated. His tail may be carried in any number of ways. The fore and rear leg should be at approximately equal extension, and the legs meeting under the body should do so approximately in the middle of the dog’s body. The topline should remain firm and level.
Th e Standard allows for variety in coat color, eye color, and markings. Although allowable, some markings and colors might be confusing when evaluating the dog. For example, a head with more white might appear broader than a darker head—even if the heads have identical conformation. Look at the underlying structure, not the color or markings. Far more important than color is the length, texture, and double nature of the coat. Long, harsh coats are not desirable. And, trimming of the coat, other than the whiskers or feet, should not be condoned. When the dog moves away from you, he may initially not single track. Howev- er, as the speed increases, the legs should angle inward under the dog, eventually meeting the imaginary line under the longitudinal center of the dog—which is single tracking. The same is true for the dog when moving toward you. You want to see those legs come together in a “V.” Side movement is the opportunity to see the proof of your physical exam. A well-built Siberian gaiting should appear to float effortlessly with no wast- ed motion. Please require that handlers move Siberians at a loose lead at a mod- erate speed. When gaiting, the Siberian’s head should be carried a bit down and forward, and remember that the tail can do many things. A Siberian should move “within himself,” meaning that the gait should be a controlled trot.
The Standard calls for the length of leg from elbow to ground to be slightly longer than the distance from elbow to top of withers. In full extension, the forelegs of the Siberian should meet the ground under the dog’s nose, with the rear extension being approximately equal. The inside rear leg should fall where the front leg just left, and this should be under the center of the body (both front-to-back and side-to-side). A dog that lifts high in the front or kicks up in the rear is expending too much energy moving, often indicating a lack of balance, poor proportion, or incorrect speed. Inside legs meeting somewhere oth- er than the center of the body, overreach- ing or underreaching, could indicate a lack of balance between the shoulder and rear assemblies, or incorrect proportions. Although the Siberian gait should in no way be exaggerated, it is important that the Siberian covers ground with a good stride. Dogs with fast foot turn- over and choppy gait usually expend too much energy moving and do not possess the correct proportion and angles called for in the Standard. Watch the topline as the dog moves; it should remain firm and level. There should be no bouncing at the withers or pounding at the front or rolling of the topline. Any of these may indicate struc- tural shortcomings, such as straight or loose shoulders, too much rib spring, too
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“When judging the Siberian Husky, PLEASE KEEP IN
MIND THAT THESE ARE WORKING, ENDURANCE, SLED DOGS.”
Fig. 1: Siberian Husky Proportions
long in the body, or poor conditioning. It is when gaiting, that you should see all of the good qualities apparent during your examination of the dog (correct propor- tion, good angles, fi rm muscling, balance) come together harmoniously to allow for the hallmark seemingly e ff ortless gait of the Siberian. Please do not let the repetition of “moderate” and “medium” in the Sibe- rian Standard make you think we are looking for average and mediocre. We call for a well laid-back shoulder—do not accept an average shoulder as being good enough. We ask for good proportion and balance—do not think that mediocrity in proportion and balance is acceptable. We want good reach and drive—do not think that an average or short stride is su ffi cient. Please do not think that “medium” and “moderate” means you should reward average and mediocre. (See Figure 1.) Here is picture of a young dog that illustrates the propor- tions called for in the Standard for Sibe- rian Huskies. Th e Green Horizontal line measures the length of body based on the Siberian Standard, “from the point of shoulder to the rear point of croup.” Duplicating that same line and rotating it vertical, when placed on the ground, that distance should be slightly longer than the dog’s height at the withers. ( Th e dog’s
withers are marked by a short blue hori- zontal line.) In this illustration, the dog’s body is approximately 11% longer than the dog’s height at the withers. Th e Standard further calls for a leg (from elbow to ground) slightly longer than the distance from the elbow to the top of the withers. Th e red vertical line mea- suring the distance from the dog’s elbow to ground has been duplicated and placed at the elbow. Th is line extends higher than the dog’s withers. In this illustration, the elbow-to-ground measurement is approxi- mately 11% longer than the distance from the elbow to withers. When judging the Siberian Husky, please keep in mind that these are work- ing, endurance, sled dogs. Th e Breed’s proud history and heritage should be seen in all exhibits. Th e Siberian in your show ring today should not be much di ff erent in structure and type from those original imports or from those that saved Nome in 1925. Never stop asking yourself if the dog in your ring looks like an athlete that could run thousands of miles in harsh snowy conditions. Reward those that could. BIO Donna Beckman is owner/exhibitor/ breeder of Siberian Huskies for nearly 40 years. She has served the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc., for two terms as
President, Recording Secretary, three terms as Treasurer, Show Chairman, Show Secretary, DWAA-winning News- letter Editor, and Delegate to the Ameri- can Kennel Club. She is currently serving as SHCA Judges’ Education Committee Chairman. She was the recipient in 2012 of the Peggy Grant Memorial Award for lifetime service to SHCA. She is the co- breeder of many Champions in the USA and in foreign countries, and of mul- tiple Best in Show, Group winning, and Group placing Siberian Huskies in the US and several foreign countries, includ- ing a 32-time US Best in Show Winner. She is approved by AKC to judge Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, Akitas, and Alaskan Malamutes. She has judged at All-Breed, Group, and Specialty Shows across the continental US and Alaska, in Europe and Australia, including the SHCA National Specialty. She is the author of the book, Th e Siberian Husky (Dog Life Series).
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SEARCHING FOR BREED TYPE When Judging the Siberian Husky By Donna Beckman B reed type is not only found in the head or in the more cosmetic characteristics of a dog, but rather in all aspects that set that breed apart
your ring. He may act silly or aloof. He may kiss you or wiggle as you examine him, or he may pay you no attention at all. He may be fascinated by bait, or spit it out. But, most likely, if that bait were thrown, he would not stand and stare at it—he is not a Doberman. More likely, a Siberian will leap in the air to get the bait, or completely ignore it. But, a Siberian will rarely remain like a statue in your ring. Th is is a breed that is rarely still, but must be expected to be examined and gaited. Most importantly, a Siberian should not show signs of aggression or shyness. Of course, a young puppy may be a bit more unsure of himself in the ring for the first time, but this slight wariness is not the same as fear. Head Many of the treasured hallmarks of the Siberian are found in his head. Th e char- acteristic mischievous expression and the almond-shaped, oblique eyes are a result of a muzzle that is equal in length to the distance from the stop to the occiput. Th e well furred, triangular, slightly rounded erect ears are set high on the head of the Siberian, immediately di ff erentiating him from any of his Arctic cousins. Th ese facial characteristics help the Siberian survive in the cold climate of his origins. Movement It is the characteristic “smooth and seemingly e ff ortless” gait of the Sibe- rian that proves the correct outline and conveys the athleticism of the Breed. Although many Standards call for simi- lar movement, no other breed moves like a well moving Siberian. Th e movement is balanced, controlled, with a firm and level topline, a slightly dropped head, no wasted movement, and good reach and drive. It is ground-covering but without any waste of energy.
from others. Th is is especially true in Work- ing breeds, where the function of the breed drives the form to make the Breed success- ful at his job. It is the judge’s job to find the entry possessing the best of that elusive thing called Breed Type, di ff erent in all breeds, and to do this in the two minutes allotted per dog. Th is can be a di ffi cult task. So, with acknowledgment to the late Richard Beau- champ’s Rule of 5 , here are some hints that will help identify those qualities to look for when judging the Siberian Husky. Outline Th e first things to consider are those characteristics that enable the Siberian to perform his job as an endurance sled dog. Many of these structural characteristics are visible in his silhouette. Th e correct Siberian silhouette shows a dog that is slightly longer (from point of shoulder to rear most point of croup—pelvis) that his height at the withers. Unlike many dogs in the Working Group, the correct Siberian silhouette will show legs slightly longer from the elbow to ground than from elbow to top of with- ers, and the chest should not extend below the elbow. Th e Standard calls for a well laid-back shoulder, so the silhouette of the Siberian should have the forelegs set under the withers. Th e neck should be of medium length with an arch. Th e topline should be firm and level from withers to croup. Th e tail should either be over the back in a sickle curve or dropped, but set on below the level of the topline, with a sloping croup. Temperament Th e temperament of the Siberian should be apparent as the exhibit enters
The outline of the Siberian is integral for his job as a long distance endurance sled dog.
The gait of the Siberian should be smooth and seemingly effortless.
Coat Th e coat and markings of the Siberian are di ff erent from any other breed. Most notably are the number of colors, from white to black, the vast variety of mark- ings, and the common eye color combi- nations. Th is wide variety can prove a challenge for judges to see the dog beyond the color and markings. Th e double-coat of the Siberian is di ff erent in length and texture from the other Arctic Working breeds, with the key factor being that the Siberian’s coat should never obscure the outline of the dog. And, judges should remember that the correct Siberian coat should never be trimmed, as trimming causes the coat to lose its insulating qualities important for the survival of the Breed at work. If you keep these high points in mind, you will be able to find those exhibits that show correct Siberian Husky Breed Type.
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LIVING & PLAYING WITH SIBERIAN HUSKIES
By Sandy Weaver Carman
A ccording to AKC reg- istration statistics in 2013, the Siberian Husky is the 14th most popular dog breed in America. Could it be because the puppies are so adorable? Could it be because the people who get one gener- ally get one or two or eleven more? Could it be because this is an amazingly versatile breed? Or could it be all three? Whatever the reason or reasons, Siberi- ans have been gaining in popularity for the past decade, and the people who love them are discovering sports they never knew existed. Siberian Huskies excel in the con- formation ring, where owner handlers out- number professional handlers, and both appreciate the wash and wear coat. Sibe- rians excel at agility competition, which combines their love of teamwork with their innate athleticism. Th ough some believe the breed is hard to train, a positive train- ing method that harnesses their desire to work as part of a team is a wonderful way to train Siberians. You’ll find them earning top scores in obedience, rally, and agility competition, and also doing well in track- ing and Coursing Ability Test. But there are many other ways to enjoy life with your Siberian Husky, and this article will give you just a few fun ideas. Before we get to the dog sports you may not be as familiar with, let’s talk about
Siberians in conformation, obedience and agility. Th e breed was recognized by the AKC in 1930, twenty-eight years after first being imported from villages in Siberia. Th e first Siberian to win Best in Show at an AKC all-breed show was CH Bonzo of Anadyr, and that happened in 1955. To this day, there’s only been one Sibe- rian to win Best in Show at Westminster, and that’s CH Innisfree’s Sierra Cinnar in 1980. Siberians are admired by judges for their soundness of movement and steady, if sometimes silly, temperament in the ring. Th ough many trainers dismiss Siberi- ans as dumb or stubborn, quite the oppo- site is true, as evidenced by the number of advanced titles earned by Siberians. Th ere are 2 OTCH Siberians and 22 MACH Siberians, with one PACH thrown in for good measure. Th ere is also at least one tracking Champion. Th ose performance titles go in front of the Siberian’s registered name, like a conformation Championship, illustrating the importance that AKC puts on them. One Siberian team, Michelle Zenorini and her bitch Rachel, have the highest-level MACH in Siberiandom, a MACH10. Th at means they’ve achieved the requirements for a MACH (20 days where they qualified in both Standard and Jumpers and 750 speed points, earned by time under the course time on qualify- ing runs) ten times over. Th ere’s no rally Championship, but there are 32 Siberians
Lure coursing. Photos courtesy of Sheila Goffe.
“Though some believe the breed is hard to train, A POSITIVE TRAINING METHOD THAT HARNESSES THEIR DESIRE TO WORK AS PART OF A TEAM IS A WONDERFUL WAY TO TRAIN SIBERIANS.”
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Lure coursing. Photos courtesy of Sheila Goffe.
with the RAE title, the highest title pos- sible in rally. Because Siberians are predisposed to run all day, many Siberian owners who compete in agility only choose indoor tri- als, to lessen the likelihood that their dog might take o ff . Th ere are ways to minimize the chance of losing your dog while run- ning an agility course, though no breed is immune to taking a notion to take o ff . I trained my dogs to run to their crates for their jackpot right after running the course, on the theory that if they left the ring, I could yell “jackpot” and have a fighting chance that they’d go to their crate. Th is technique never had to be used, and it did backfire on me one day. My dog Billy landed a jump and was looking straight at his open crate. He decided it was time for his jackpot and left the ring. But he came back and finished the course when I called him, much to my delight. Th is breed does love to work! Siberian Huskies make wonderful fam- ily dogs, and are happiest when they have another furry friend or two. Th ey are his- torically designed to work as a member of a team, and that generally means a team of dogs. Having more than one Siberian lets them burn o ff energy together, and gives them companionship when the family is away at work and school. New owners
of the breed should be aware of several potential issues. Th ey are designed to run all day long, pulling a sled. If allowed to run loose, they will often run away, or as one long-time musher says, “Run to.” Th ey don’t know what they’re running to, but that’s what they’re doing! A fenced yard and willingness to use a leash any time you’re outside of that fence make keep- ing your Siberian safe and at home much easier. Siberians are not watch dogs—they typically are very friendly, and are general- ly good with children. Th ey’re not so good with landscaping—they seem to delight in digging holes. And Siberian Huskies are double-coated, meaning that a couple of times a year, they will blow their thick undercoat. If you are a fastidious house- keeper and like to wear black or navy blue a lot, a Siberian may not be for you. Because of their high energy level, espe- cially in their first two years, an active life- style suits a Siberian Husky well. Siberians are very adaptable and can live in any cli- mate, but in hot, humid weather exercise needs to be done early in the day or after the sun goes down. Th is is an active breed, so some form of exercise—mental and/ or physical—will keep them happier and easier to live with. Puppy kindergarten and basic obedience classes are very beneficial, especially for a first-time Siberian owner.
And especially during their first couple of years, it’s good to remember—a tired pup- py is a good puppy! Siberian Huskies are a generally healthy breed, with eye problems (juvenile cata- racts, glaucoma and corneal dystrophy) and hip dysplasia as the known hereditary issues. Good breeders screen eyes annually and hips after the dog is two years old but before breeding it, so ask to see current eye clearances (SHOR or CERF forms) and OFA certificates showing both parents to be free of hereditary eye problems and hip dysplasia before purchasing a puppy. Once you’ve decided that a Siberian Husky is for you, what will you do with it? If you live in an area with snow in the winter, sledding or skijoring are the natu- ral sports to consider, since that’s what this breed was designed to do. Working your Siberian Husky in harness is good for the body and soul—both yours and your dog’s. As a highly intelligent and athletic breed, the Siberian Husky is happiest when doing what it is bred for—pulling sleds! As a working breed in North America, the Siberian Husky can trace its heri- tage back to the Alaskan Gold Rush and beyond. Leonhard Seppala brought the breed to the limelight in 1925 during the epic e ff ort to rush diphtheria serum by dog team to the snowbound town of Nome,
“This is an active breed, so some form of exercise— MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL—WILL KEEP THEM HAPPIER AND EASIER TO LIVE WITH.”
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“Shortly thereafter, I moved to Virgin- ia, where I barely knew anyone. Now that I was out of New York and had a backyard, the first thing I wanted to do was get a dog. It wasn’t long before I found Wolfie, a year- old Siberian Husky who had been taken from a bad situation and wound up in a local shelter. ‘You’ve shown a lot of interest in him, which is good,’ the shelter worker told me during the final adoption arrange- ments. ‘But I’ve got to warn you, Siberian Huskies need a lot of exercise. And adoles- cent males can be very destructive if they don’t get enough exercise.’ “I assured her we were up for the challenge, and my husband and I brought home our beautiful, energetic puppy that afternoon. “His first day, Wolfie ate the doctoral dissertation notes I’d left on my desk. A few days later, he put a hole, several feet wide, in my kitchen floor. Th is boy clear- ly needed a release for some of that ener- gy or we’d all be in trouble. We started visiting the local dog park every morn- ing. Th ere I met a nice couple with two Siberians. I asked for advice, and they invited me to join the local breed club. I’d never been to a dog club meeting, but I decided to give it a try. “My initiation was a five-mile hike, at a nature preserve with 20 people and their dogs. Some of the dogs were carrying little backpacks. Th rough the club, I learned about a program with the Siberian Husky “...being out on the trail with your best friends, enjoying the grandeur and solitude of nature, nurtures the human body and soul and IS WHAT THE SIBERIAN HUSKY WAS DESIGNED TO DO.”
Photo © Aaron Zieschang
saving lives of many residents. But the working heritage of the Siberian goes back much farther than just their North Ameri- can roots: remains of sled dogs in harnesses have been found in eastern Russia that have been dated at 8,000 years old. It is from that region of the planet that the Siberians who participated in the Gold Rush, the Nome Serum Run and who dominated sled dog racing for decades hailed. Today, Siberian Huskies compete in sled dog races all over the world. Th ey compete in sprint races, mid-distance rac- es, as well as long distance races, includ- ing the Iditarod. However, many people just run their dogs for pleasure. According to Susan Lavin, whose dogs are competi- tive in both the show ring and in sled dog races, being out on the trail with your best friends, enjoying the grandeur and soli- tude of nature, nurtures the human body and soul and is what the Siberian Husky was designed to do. It’s easy to see their instincts in action, as well as their pure joy, when they’re running together in front of a sled. Typically, a sled dog team consists of four or more dogs pulling a sled on snow, or 1-2 dogs pulling a cross country skier (skijoring). Most races o ff er both sledding and skijoring events. For those people who have smaller numbers of Siberians, or who don’t live in an area that gets a lot of snow, dryland mushing is a dog-powered sport to consid- er. Th ere are numerous dryland events that
anyone can do, such as canicross (running or walking with a dog in harness), biking, scootering, or carting. Th e experience of working with your dog as a team is the same, regardless of whether you are on a snow or dirt trail. While you don’t have to run your dog in harness, you’ll be delight- ed to watch your furry friend’s pure glee if you do. For help getting started, contact mushing clubs in your area. • www.sleddogcentral.com/clubs_usa.htm • www.mushing.com/resources/clublist. php?name=®ionid=0&page=1 An easier and less equipment-intensive way to get out and play with your dog in nature is pack-hiking. One of the great things about pack hiking is that it’s an activity you can share with your dog at almost any life stage. You can tailor it to your interests, experience, and energy level. Virtually anyone or any breed can do it, and Siberian Huskies generally excel at it. Sheila Go ff e, head of the Legislative Department at AKC, tells the story of how she got interested in Siberian Hus- kies, pack hiking and eventually many other aspects of life and competition in the world of dog sports. “In the early 1990s, if you’d told me I’d be out in the woods backpacking with my dogs, I never would have believed it. Sure, I liked hiking, and I loved dogs, but I lived in New York City and putting a backpack on some poor dog seemed distinctly ‘uncool.’
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Club of America (SHCA), where you can earn a title on your dog—Working Pack Dog—based on miles traveled and weight carried on backwoods hiking trips. “ Th at night, Wolfie looked happier than I’d ever seen him—and he was calm. I had discovered a way to tire him out, while get- ting exercise and making new friends. A whole new world had opened up.” Hiking with your dog is generally best done with at least one other human, and nor- mal hiking and wilderness safety rules apply. But adding a dog adds a new dimension of fun—you start to see the world through your dog’s acute senses. Often, they smell and hear wildlife that you otherwise would have missed. Hiking with your best friend is enjoy- able without packing, but when your dog carries some of his water or other supplies, he becomes an equal member of the team. To learn more about the SHCA Working Pack Dog title, visit shca.org/shcahp6e.htm. Th ere are ways to let your dog do all the work, too. If hiking isn’t your thing, per- haps barn hunt will suit your lifestyle better. When Siberian Huskies first arrived in Alas- ka in the early 1900s, they were dismissively referred to as “Siberian rats” because of their small size as compared to the larger Ameri- can sled dogs of the era. Th e little Siberian dogs quickly gained respect by dominating sled dog racing over the next several decades. Around one hundred years later, Siberian Huskies just might receive the nickname “Siberian ratters” based on their proficiency in the new canine sport of barn hunt. In 2013, “Revs” (CH Solocha Rev’d Up At Kasiq BN RAE AX OAJ AJP CA RATN CGC TDI) became the first Sibe- rian Husky to earn a barn hunt title. And in 2014, Revs beat the terriers at their own game by winning Fastest Open Dog on the way to completing his Open title. Several more Siberian Huskies have earned place- ments and titles in this fast-growing new event. Barn hunt titles are recognized on American Kennel Club pedigrees. According to the Barn Hunt Associa- tion, LLC, “ Th e purpose of barn hunt is to demonstrate a dog’s vermin hunting ability in finding and marking rats in a ‘barn-like’ setting, using straw/hay bales to introduce climbing and tunneling obstacles in the dog’s path.” Th e rats used in competition and
Photo © Sheila Goffe
Photo © Sheila Goffe
Photo © Sheila Goffe
Pack hiking. Photo © Sheila Goffe
226 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2014
Revs competing in Barn Hunt. Photo © Dean Lake Photography
Cricket & her UCP friends. Photo © Katie Fleming
training are humanely handled and safely confined in aerated PVC tubes. To find out more about competing in Barn Hunts, check out their website: www.barnhunt.com/ “Siberians are an amazingly versatile breed,” said Revs’ owner, Patty Van Sicklen, who also competes in conformation, obedi- ence, agility, coursing ability and rally obe- dience with Revs, as well as doing therapy dog work with him. “I took Revs to a barn hunt practice where he had to search out hidden rat containers and not be distracted by decoy tubes containing rat litter or all the sounds and smells of a real working barn.” “We did three good practice runs, then I brushed the straw from his fur, washed his paws, wiped him down with disinfectant, and drove to Ronald McDonald House for pet therapy. Th e dog that had been intent- ly digging between hay bales less than an hour before stood calmly among a group of children, giving kisses and gentle high fives,” Van Sicklen said. Speaking of therapy work, Siberian Hus- kies are wonderful at that, too. Many Siberi- an owners share their dogs on a regular basis in schools, nursing homes and other facili- ties where a dog’s special touch is needed. Mondays are special for three-year old Cricket, whose registered name is Hilltop’s Summer Song at Northgate, BN, CGCA, TT, RN, THD. From the time she and her owner, Katie Fleming, back out of the drive- way, she knows it is time to visit her friends at United Cerebral Palsy of South Carolina and her tail wags continuously. Katie and Cricket are active in rally and obedience, but according to Katie, it’s the therapy work they do that lights Cricket up the most.
Th e Development Coordinator with UCP of SC requested therapy visits through the local Th erapy Dogs International group in 2013. Cricket began her journey with UCP in Columbia, SC in August of that year with just a quick in-and-out to say “hi” to the UCP clients and sta ff . Cricket interacts with people having di ff ering levels of ability. Some are able to communicate verbally, some are not. Some can reach out to touch her furry coat; others can be helped to do so. Some are ambulatory and others are confined to wheelchairs. During the first month, the sta ff liaison would ask them to describe Cricket. Simple words like “soft” or “nice” came easily for some, while others simply looked on. As the friendships grew and the regulars learned that she is a Siberian, they learned about what her job would be—pulling a sled. Words became longer and more complex— “brave, adorable, precious, incredible.” Th ey learned that her coat is huge and fuzzy and sometimes sheds a lot. Th ey heard the story of her broken leg that healed crookedly. Cricket’s friends look forward to her vis- its. Every week Nate is waiting and ready to help Cricket perform tricks, giving her hand signals and commands. Bill and Alecia treat Cricket to their versions of songs—every- thing from the Wizard of Oz to Sunday hymns. Cricket listens to each and nods her fuzzy head in appreciation. Danny has taught Cricket to climb up on the wheels of his wheelchair for a kiss. During a visit one Monday, the UCP cli- ents were working on an art project. Many did well just to hold the crayons to the
paper, and struggled to make their hands do the bidding of their brains. As Cricket and Katie were ready to leave, Danny’s arm, usually sti ff , shot up into the air. Th inking that he wanted to say goodbye to Cricket, they walked back toward his table. He thrust his paper up proudly. In bold purple marker he had written “Cricket is Boss.” An enormous smile covered his face, and Katie says an overpowering sense of humility hit her heart. Cricket has a number of obedience and rally titles to her credit, but according to Katie, no accom- plishment compares to the honor of receiv- ing Danny’s note. Whether it’s sharing your Siberian through therapy dog programs, hiking, sledding, dryland mushing, coursing apti- tude, tracking, barn hunting, rally, obedi- ence, agility, conformation or just having the most beautiful walking partner, life with a Siberian Husky will never be dull. And if you decide to add a Siberian to your life, networking with other Siberian owners will put you on the fast track to furry fun! With contributions from Patty Van Sicklen, Susan Lavin, TC Wait, Sheila Goffe and Katie Fleming. BIO Sandy Weaver Carman has had Sibe- rian Huskies for over 35 years and has bred numerous Champions, obedience titled dogs, agility titled dogs and Work- ing Pack titled dogs, in addition to breed- ing several talented therapy dogs. She is the current Education Coordinator for the Siberian Husky Club of America and promotes the growth of dog sports through dog club seminars.
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Questions & Answers: SIBERIAN HUSKY
ANN MARIAH COOK
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in Cal- ifornia. I am a retired Director of Software Engineering. I have had Siberian Huskies over 40 years, showing them all that time. I have been judging ten years. I have served the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc., in
I split my time between a residence in northern New Hampshire and a horse train- ing camp in South Carolina. We own and compete Event horses and I am a profession- al writer. I’m going on my 38th year in dogs, I started showing right away and also racing sled dogs right away. I attained my initial judging approval in 1994. DAWN EISELE
many elected and appointed capacities, including as Presi- dent, Treasurer, Show Chairman, DWAA-winning Newsletter Editor and SHCA’s Delegate to the American Kennel Club. Cur- rently, I am SHCA Judges’ Education Chairman. I am approved by the AKC to judge a number of breeds and has judged and educated fanciers and judges in the US and other countries, including having judged the SHCA National Specialty. SANDY WEAVER CARMAN
I have been in the sport of purebred dogs for 36 years. I have served a variety of capaci- ties within our National Club and local Spe- cialty Clubs. I am an active Steward Club member and currently the President of my local All-Breed Kennel Club. Today I serve
as the Public Education Chair for my national breed club, The Siberian Husky Club of American. I live in East Islip, NY, which is on the south shore of Long Island. We have been in Siberians 36 years. We are also owned by a Schipperke and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. We have been in the sport of showing for 35 years and in addition to conformation have dabbled in obedience and more recently agility. We par- ticipated in mid-distance sledding for over 20 years with our Siberians and thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of our breed. The Siberian is still a natural breed and in terms of history not all that far from their original beginnings. I have been judging the last 4 ½ years. MARIE FALCONER
I live in the Atlanta, Georgia area, a hot- bed of dog sports. This is my 37th year in purebred dogs. I started out with a bad example of my lifelong-favorite breed, a Siberian Husky. After making nearly every mistake in the book with him, I quickly had
a 7-month-old brat on my hands. I asked my veterinarian to put me in touch with people who lived successfully with the breed, because I was failing miserably. She directed me to members of the Greater Washington (DC) Siberian Husky Club and the dog sports bug big, hard! Through the years, I’ve finished Championships, bred Champions, run my dogs in agility, obedience, rally, canine musical freestyle (danc- ing) and now barn hunt. I’ve put working titles on them and several of them have excelled as therapy dogs. I was granted regular status for Siberians in 2013 and will be applying for more Working breeds this year.
I have been breeding and exhibiting Sibe- rians Huskies for 38 years; in which I have handled and finished over 340 dogs. I had the pleasure of owning and showing the Nation’s Top Siberian of all time, BIS BISS Ch Seeonees Point Blank CGC, aka “Rocky”.
Together we have broken many Siberian records—and still holding. I continue to have progeny being shown out of him and his granddaughter was #1 Siberian female in 2014. I enjoy judging and have been to several countries to officiate their
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movement in dogs. I always love Siberian Huskies and got my first one in 1984 and I entered my first dog show in 1985. My sister-in-law (Nanette Wright) was involved in showing Japa- nese Chins and she got me interested in becoming involved in dog shows. I was approved to judge Siberian Huskies in 2010 and I have not applied for any other breeds. I greatly enjoyed judging the breed and have judged quite a few spe- cialty shows including Specialties in Italy and Australia. 1. Although bred as powerful sled dogs, the Siberian is very popular as a companion. Which traits lend themselves to this? DB: Actually, many of the Siberian’s treasured personal- ity traits can prove challenging in a pet. The Siberian, by his very nature as a long distance endurance sled dog, is intelligent and independent and loves to run. A Siberian that will countermand a musher’s command if he knows it to be dangerous, is the same dog in the yard that decides to ignore his owner’s request to come inside. And, his desire to run is expected as a sled dog, but means he cannot be trusted not to run when off lead. What we prize and expect in a sled dog, we must deal with at home. So, the Siberian, just as every other breed, is most successful with an owner who understands his true nature and can meet the challenge it brings. How- ever, as a team dog, Siberians are usually agreeable with other animals and their dense double coats usually keep them free from “doggy” odor. SC: Siberians are a pack breed. Human beings count as pack members and they love to spend time with their people. There is a popular misconception that Siberians aren’t trainable, but that springs from a misunderstanding of the purpose of the breed. Siberian Huskies were bred to work well ahead of and running away from, their human—the person on the sled runners behind the harnessed team. The most valuable dogs, from a survival standpoint, were the leaders who could think for them- selves. If the Chukchi hunter told his dogs to cross rotten ice, the smart leader ignored that order and kept the team and sled on viable footing. The most valuable dogs were the ones that were bred, so smarts and independent decision-making became part of the breed. Fast-forward to today and Siberians still think independently and also still value teamwork. Harness that desire for teamwork, add a dash of fun and they love to learn and play games with their people. They make great running partners and love to pull their people on skateboards, skis, sleds or any other contraption you care to harness them to, in addition to being great at the “normal” dog sports like obedience, rally and agility. AC: I have to confess that most people are initially attracted to Siberians because they are both luxuriously pretty and also have the cachet of owning a dog that looks like a wild animal. Having admitted that, their personalities can clinch the deal for the right person. Siberians are brave, independent, athletic, inventive and they have
national show. I have been judging for 9 years. I am licensed for Non-Sporting and Herding groups and have most of the Working group with a few other breeds. I live in Ludlow, MA and work in medicine. KATHLEEN KANZLER I live in the northeast corner of New York state. I enjoy watching my dogs and horses and reading suspense thrillers and spy nov- els. I love “Antiques Roadshow” and visiting with my friends and family. I have had more than 60 years in purebred dogs; 56 years of breeding, sledding and exhibiting Siberians. I have been judg- ing since the early 70s. JAN SIGLER
I live in a suburb of Kansas City. I was a high school history and language teacher. Hobbies include travel and movies. I started showing my first dog, a pet quality German Shepherd in 1960. While he never got a point, he was my Junior Showmanship
dog. I began showing Siberian Huskies in 1967 for a family friend and continued until I started judging in 2000. I judge the Working and Non-Sporting Groups.
I live in Union Grove, Wisconsin. I am a retired Speech Pathologist but recently began working part time at an adult care facility. I have had Siberian Huskies since 1978. I began showing in 1979 and judging in 1995. SHERI WRIGHT
I live in Michigan. I’ve had dogs almost my entire life. I also had horses growing up so I had a good background of learning about and taking care of animals. When I was a teenager I learned a lot about structure of horses and movement. It gave me a good
background when I got involved in the dog world and I could easily translate what I had learned in horses to structure and
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