ZABALAZ SIBERIAN HUSKIES

Born to run, whatever the distance

A Brief History

 

  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 2000 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 dogs.

  The Chukchi people highly valued their good, fast dogs and often traded amongst 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 Centuary when fur trading and then the Gold Rush at the turn of the 20th Centuary 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 Fox Maule Ramsay who imported the first selected teams of Siberian Huskies into Alaska in 1909.  The second 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 70 of the best dogs there. 

  The results of the 1910 All Alaska Sweepstakes were momentous.  Ramsey's three teams were placed 1st, 2nd and 4th, setting a record not beaten until 2008.

  The Siberian Husky had arrived!  these 70 dogs chosen by 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 Norwegian, Leonhard Seppala, later acknowledged to be the greatest dog driver of all time, who's daring 658 mile leg of the famous Serum relay won him and Siberian Huskies international acclaim, whilst saving the township of Nome from an outbreak of diptheria. 

  Leonhard Seppala was the first to introduce Siberian Huskies into the United States out of Alaska when he came to New England in the 1920's with his team.  His dogs won every race and their beauty, speed and temperament intrigued American racing enthusiasts.  Seppala along with Mrs Elizabeth Ricker, began breeding Siberian Huskies.  More were obtained from Alaska and thus the breed began.

  The Siberian Huskies 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 it's fuzzy origins 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 a team over which he sold to a French Film Company.  It is believed that one of Scott's dogs, a Siberian Husky, returned to Britain around 1912, but it was not until May of 1968 that the first "known pair" of Siberians were imported by Mr & Mrs Proffit, having seen Siberian Huskies whilst on holiday in Europe.  Togli and Killik were imported at 8 weeks old from Norway and carried with them the Alaskan Anadyr and Seppala lines. 

  The foundations of the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain lay in the former Husky Club of Great Britain which encompassed the Eskimo Dog, Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky breeds.  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 clubs name changing to "Eskimo Dog Club of Great Britain".  As the name implies, the Siberian Husky could no longer be included, especially with the growing number 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.

  In spring 1980 the Siberian Husky Club was pleased to announce that the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Dalhousie, KT., GBE., MC., had accepted their invitation to become Honorary Patron.  His acceptance was particularly appreciated as Lord Dalhousie was the nephew of Fox Maule Ramsay - thus continuing the continuity of past associations with the Ramsay name and Siberian history.

  When originally imported from North-East Siberia at the start of the 20th centuary, the Siberian sled dogs quickly earned a reputation for their excellent endurance, staying power, beauty and temperament.  Today, "endurance" of the Siberian Husky takes on a new dimension, namely the survival of the breed in todays highly competetive sled dog sport.  In the early 1970's, as cross-bred dogs became more prevalent in sled dog racing in the United States, many predicted that the Siberian Husky would vanish from the working scene.  But that did not happen, and it is unlikely to happen in europe, despite the introduction of cross-bred racing dogs.  There are simply too many people around the world who prefer the temperament, working style, looks and heritage of their Siberian Huskies.  In keeping with the historic endurance of their breed, these devoted individuals refuse to quit......!  The various breed clubs throughout the world remain active in the promotion of the breed and maintain close contact with each other, sharing information and ideologies. 

  

  Many thanks to Kari Coyne for allowing us to reproduce text from her original article and to Penny Evans for her help