Chukcha, Chuksha, Keshia (nick Siberian, Husky)
Siberians have a dense double-layer coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns, usually with white feet and legs, facial markings, and tail tip. The most common colors are black and white, grey and white, copper-red and white, and pure white, though many individuals have brown, reddish, or biscuit shadings and some are piebald spotted. Striking masks, spectacles, and other facial markings occur in wide variety. They have a wolf-like appearance, albeit smaller and with less shaggy fur.
The dogs eyes are brown, hazel, or blue. Light blue eye colour is characteristic but not completely dominant. The breed may have one eye brown or hazel and the other blue, or may have blue and another colour mixed in the iris of one or both eyes; this latter trait, heterochromia, is sometimes called "bi-eyed, or parti-eyed" by Siberian enthusiasts. This is one of the few breeds for which different-colored eyes are allowed in the show ring. The Siberian Husky is one of the few dog breeds where blue eyes are common. Most dogs have brown eyes.
Ears & tail
Its ears are triangular, well-furred, medium-sized, and erect; its fox-like brush tail is carried in a sickle curve over the back.
The Siberian Husky's coat consists of two layers, a dense, cashmere-like undercoat and a longer coarser topcoat consisting of straight guard hairs. Siberians usually shed their undercoat once or twice a year, producing prodigious quantities of fur; the process is commonly referred to as blowing their coat. Dogs that live primarily indoors often shed year round, so the shedding is less profuse—but constant. Therefore, an owner might have a Siberian that sheds lightly all year, or a Siberian that blows its complete coat twice a year. A strong steel comb helps in removing the dense handfuls of hair that come loose while the dog is blowing its coat. Otherwise, grooming is minimal; bathing is normally unnecessary as the coat sheds dirt. Also, it is not uncommon for a dog of this breed to groom itself carefully in much the same way one might expect of cats. Well and healthy Siberians have little odor. Their ears are amazingly soft and they have a very good hearing.
Siberians are normally rather healthy dogs, living typically from eleven to fifteen years of age. Health issues in the breed are eye troubles (cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal dystrophy among others), allergies, and cancer in older animals. Hip dysplasia occurs but is not a major concern in the breed. This breed needs a high-quality diet with high levels of protein and fat, particularly when used for dogsledding. That said, Siberian Huskies are fuel-efficient dogs, consuming less food than other dogs of similar size and activity level. The diet must be adjusted to their level of work and exercise; obesity can be a problem for underexercised, overfed pets.
Popular as family pets and as show dogs due to their striking appearance and gentle temperament, Siberians have certain drawbacks. Huskies can be extremely affectionate, curious, and welcoming to people, which means they rarely hurt humans, making them poor guard dogs. Properly socialized Siberians are often quite gentle with children, although no dog, including Siberians, should be left unsupervised with small children. Normally quite tractable, affectionate, and docile with people, they nonetheless have a strong hunting drive and are known to kill (and even eat) cats, rabbits, chickens, squirrels, and other small animals. They have even been known to savage sheep on occasion, which is one of the many reasons why they are believed to be closely related to the wolf. If the Husky is raised with a small animal such as a cat, it is less likely to hurt that animal. However, their prey drive can eventually develop.
Siberian Huskies should be kept in secure fenced enclosures at least six feet in height as they will not always come to call and will often disappear on long hunting trips. Thus, they cannot be allowed to run loose. They should be kept leashed. Siberians are also accomplished escape artists, so enclosures should be checked frequently for any potential escape routes. The dogs are good diggers, able to tunnel under fences with shallow foundations. Huskies are trainable to a certain degree, but require patience. They are independent in nature and not given to blind obedience to every command.
The Siberian Husky is widely believed to have originated exclusively with the Coastal Chukchi tribes of the east-Siberian peninsula. There is evidence, however, that Siberian dogs were also imported from the Koryak and Kamchadal tribes. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog. Dogs from the Anadyr River and surrounding regions were imported into Alaska from 1908 (and for the next two decades) during the gold rush for use as sleddogs, especially in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes (AAS), a 408 mile (657 km) distance dogsled race from Nome to Candle and back. Smaller, faster and more enduring than the 100 to 120 pound (45 to 54 kg) freighting dogs then in general use, they immediately dominated the Nome Sweepstakes.
Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian fisherman turned gold miner, became involved with Siberian dogs when he was asked by his employer to train a group of females and pups for the 1914 AAS. After a poor start his first year, Seppala dominated the races thereafter. In 1925 he was a key figure in the 1925 serum run to Nome which delivered diphtheria serum from Nenana by dogsled after the city was stricken by an epidemic. The Iditarod trail race commemorates this famous delivery. The following year two groups of Seppala’s dogs toured the USA, starting a mania for sleddogs and dogsled racing, particularly in the New England states.
In 1930 the last Siberians were exported as the Soviet government closed the borders of Siberia to external trade. The same year saw recognition of the Siberian Husky by the American Kennel Club. Nine years later the breed was first registered in Canada. Today’s Siberian Huskies registered in North America are largely the descendants of the 1930 Siberia imports and of Leonhard Seppala’s dogs.
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