Showsight Presents the Siberian Husky

with donnA beckmA

n, sAndy weAver cAr

mAn, Ann mAriAh co

mArie fAlconer, kAt

ok, dAwn eisele,

hleen kAnzler, jAn s

igler, delbert thAck

er & sheri wright

for work. The alteration in size and attitude may make them more pleasant to keep in an apartment, but then, they are not really Siberian Huskies. DE: I often worry that our emphasis on “moderate” will be viewed as an acceptance of an average specimen. I too often see that. Moderate clearly does not equate to average. We should not accept average—so when our standard calls for that desired proportion and balance or for example, a leg slightly longer from the elbow to the ground than the distance from the elbow to the top of the withers, do not accept anything less and reward and overall average specimen. MF: Too straight in shoulders, which results in a choppy gait and not proper reach and drive. JS: Not really. In the last 15 years, Siberian breeders have worked diligently to get dogs with more leg and less body than we frequently saw in the late 80s and 90s. Today they have better proportions, but occasionally we are seeing dogs that are too refined. We don’t want a Mala- mute, but neither should it look as refined as an Alaskan. The Siberian is a moderate breed. DT: I believe side gait is completely misunderstood, overrat- ed and responsible for our breed losing our sound down and back movement from ages ago. SW: I’ve seen many trends come and go in the breed. Prob- ably the most damaging are straight shoulders and over angulated rears. I quite honestly don’t see too much over exaggeration in either of those areas these days. 6. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? DB: Unfortunately, due to a number of factors—economic, societal, timing—we all know that the Sport of Dogs has lost some of its popularity. I am not sure this has been good for the overall quality of this breed or any other. As longtime breeders retire, mentors disappear, the fancy produces fewer dogs and entries drop, much of our breed knowledge is being lost and I think that is reflected in the quality of the dogs being shown. In the days when it took 25-30 dogs for a 3-point major, many good dogs never finished their championships. Today, when 7-11 dogs are needed for 3 points, some mediocre dogs are becoming champions. Education is the key. I think we need to do everything we can to make sure that today’s and tomor- row’s breeders and judges learn their breeds and work together as a community to understand, recognize and preserve the essence of each breed. SC: I haven’t been judging that long, but what I do see is that there is a difference in size and quality, depending on what part of the country I’m in. When I judged in the Pacific Northwest, I was blown away by the deep quality in the entry. It’s always nice to have too many great dogs to choose from! Dogs that might have won in different competition walked out of the ring without ribbons, or with a low placement.

AC: I think the breed had hit a low point just before I started judging. There have been distinct highs and lows over the years. Before World War II, most Siberian Huskies were working dogs and their owners showed them as a summer past time. In those days, some of the fine points of the Standard were completely overlooked. We had things like curly tails, woolly coats and bad ear sets on winning dogs. In the 70s, some of the dogs were so heavy in bone that they resembled short Malamutes. Proportion was an issue when I was starting to judge. We had a lot of dogs that were short in leg and/or long in body, with straight shoulders and flat croups and while we still have this issue, I think a revival in the number of Siberian teams we have racing in sled dog events and an emphasis on how form follows function in our national club’s breeder and judges education programs have improved the quality of at least some entries in the ring. There is always something to reward these days. I can’t say that was so when I started. DE: It certainly is an interesting, and often times difficult, assessment. I first want to say there are very nice qual- ity specimens of our breed today. However, I think the depth of those quality specimens is not as prevalent as they once were. I attribute that to the same challenges we see throughout the sport of purebred dogs, with fewer long-term breeders and stable gene pools to work within. We are lucky to still have several dedicated and long-term breeders, but they get to be fewer and fewer. MF: Yes, I believe we have achieved the beauty and ele- gance, but have also lost some of the proper balance and movement to just be clean coming and going. The side gait is still most important in the Siberian Husky—correct reach and drive! KK: There were many wonderful dogs in the past, but the current overall consistent quality of type and movement of the Siberian is much higher than in the past. JS: The breed is more uniform today than in the past, but I’m not sure the dogs are always as sound as in the past. Today’s Siberians have better proportions, but folks say we have lost our shoulders. It waxes and wanes. Breeders improve one thing and loose something else. The good news, Siberian breeders by and large are always “working on it.” Occasionally we find dogs that we consider stand- outs, but with smaller entries, it can be harder. The larger the entry, the more likely we are to find something we really like. There have been outstanding dogs throughout the years, but then and now, they are in the minority. Isn’t that true in all breeds? DT: Decades ago the Siberian owners, breeders and handlers were told numerous times that the Siberian was the most sound breed in dogdom. That is not the case any more and consequently, I feel soundness has taken a back seat for other “show” desirable traits. SW: In some ways they’re better and in some ways they are not. I feel that breeders have done a very good job in

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