A Little Bit About Siberian Husky History

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Siberian Husky sled dogs - dog sledding team of Siberian Huskies
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The Siberian Husky is an active, intelligent working dog belonging to the Spitz (Northern Breeds) genetic family of dogs. All Spitz dogs have similar appearance however their size varies greatly. They have double coats and most have a recognizable tail that curves over the back.  Spitz dogs are well suited to live in harsh northern climates and can be classified as sled dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, companion dogs and Asian dogs.

Where did Siberian Huskies come from?

So where did Siberian Huskies come from? Well, they originated from a place in Northeast Asia and as you can probably guess by their name, that place was the Siberian Arctic, where dogs have been essential to the survival of humans for almost 10 thousand years. Siberian Huskies were actually bred by the Chukchi people. They were used to pull their sleds, and this allowed them to travel to the best hunting spots (which were often too far to get there and back in one day) in the same day.

How did Siberian Huskies get from Siberia to Alaska and the Canadian Arctic?

Many dogs were imported to Alaska from Eastern Siberia and the surrounding regions during the gold rush to use as sled dogs. In 1908, when polar exploration was becoming popular a Russian fur trader named William Goosak came to Alaska to enter the All Alaska Sweepstakes race, with a team of little Chukchi dogs he had bought at a local fair on the Siberian peninsula. The Chukchi dogs were small in size and big in power and endurance. They had a reputation as excellent sled dogs with incredible endurance skills so he thought they would do well in the 408 mile race. Other dog sledders watched as Goosak and his dog teams excelled in the sledding world. One man, Leonhard Seppala was very impressed with these little Chukchi dogs so he also imported some. Seppala started breeding his dogs and built a formidable team. He competed in races from 1909 to the 1920’s and did exceptionally well, winning multiple championships and building the reputation of the little Chukchi dogs. Impressed with the performance of Goosak’s dogs, another dog sledder named Fox Maule Ramsey decided to purchase 70 of the little Siberian Chukchi dogs from Siberia and bring them to North America by freighter across the Bering Sea. With those dogs, Ramsey entered 3 teams in the 1910 race and placed first, second and fourth. The popularity of the little Chukchi dogs skyrocketed in Alaska.

Team of Siberian Huskies - sled dogs at work
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The Creation of the Modern Siberian Husky

Almost all modern Siberian Huskies descended from a group of Siberian Chukchi sled dog imports. These dogs were owned by Leonhard Seppala. The most notable was Seppala’s lead dog called Togo. In 1925, a small group of dog sledders successfully transported desperately needed diphtheria serum across 965 km of treacherous arctic terrain, from Nenana, Alaska to Nome, Alaska. What was said to be the longest (422km) and most dangerous portion of the journey was carried out by Leonhard Seppala, his team of little Chukchi’s and his now famous incredible lead dog Togo. Exportation from Siberia of more Chukchi dogs continued until it was halted in 1930 by the Russian army.

Antarctica - Siberian Huskies were used extensively as sled dogs during the British Antarctic Survey from 1945 to 1994
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In 1930, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Chukchi sled dogs as “Siberian Huskies”. In 1938, The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed however they named the dogs “Arctic Huskies”, eventually changing the name to Siberian Husky in 1941. During the British Antarctic Survey (1945-1994) Siberian Huskies were used extensively as sled dogs and enabled the success of the mission.

Siberian Huskies at play
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The modern Siberian Husky dog is friendly and gentle. They are good with children and can make a good family pet if their behavioural needs are properly met. Siberian Huskies are a highly active breed. They will often howl rather than bark. They are known as great escape artists, often digging, chewing or jumping their way out of backyards, especially if they are bored. Siberian Huskies have a high prey drive and this means they are not often good around small animals, especially fast moving ones. Generally, these dogs do not show any aggression towards humans so they do not make very good guard dogs. Their typical life span is 12 to 14 years.

Siberian Husky Puppy
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Today, Siberian Huskies are a popular breed. They are still used frequently for dog sledding but also now kept as family pets. Aside from pulling sleds, Siberian Huskies excel at many dog sports including agility, rally obedience, skijoring, bikejoring and carting. If you decide to own a Siberian Husky, you need to keep the dog active and involved in structured sports and will hopefully live in a cooler climate as they do not do well in hot climates.

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A Little Bit About Rottweiler History

Rottweilers have been a huge part of my life for over 20 years now. I was a rottweiler breeder for many years and also work with many other rottweiler owners to help them with behaviour issues or training. My Rotts were well balanced happy healthy family dogs that were also used for work. I used them for SAR (Search and Rescue) work, skijoring, sledding, carrying, demo dogs for canine first aid seminars and took them into schools and community centres for my dog safety seminars.

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Rottweilers are excellent family dogs and used for protection of property or for personal protection. They are extremely versatile, loving, compassionate, gentle and occasionally fierce when guarding their family. Personally I believe that the versatility of rottweilers is what makes them my very favourite breed. That versatility stems for it’s origins. Something many people don’t know or appreciate is the fact that rottweilers are excellent herding dogs. Although they are categorized with other working dogs, their first purpose was herding cattle and other large livestock. Many of my rottweilers were able to herd very well. I tested mine on cattle (Texas long-horns to be exact) to see if I could bring the drive out in them. For many it was a success however I did have some that were primarily “couch potatoes”.

During the rise of  the Roman Empire it is believed that large Roman armies travelled across the Alps into southwest Germany in their quest to conquer Europe. The Romans brought their food on the hoof (no refrigeration) via herds of cattle on their journey. They also brought their drover dogs with them to help them move the herd and keep guard over it. Drover dogs were used by shepherds as guard dogs and were also used by the army. They are believed to be from Asian Mastiff type dogs and are considered to be one of the oldest breeds in the world.  

How the Rottweiler Got it’s Name

Rottweil was founded by the Romans in AD 73 as Arae Flaviae. Owing to the Roman settlement, Rottweil is considered to be the oldest town in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. For the next two thousand years, the Roman drover dogs were used for herding and driving cattle for trade. By the 1900’s, Rottweil had become famous as a major cattle-herding region. The drover dogs continued to work as a cattle herding dog. They also began to interbreed with the local dogs.

They became famous for their strength and eagerness to work and are still known to be an extremely reliable working dogs today. These dogs often worked for butchers. They would drive the butcher’s cattle to market while also protecting them from predators, and once cattle was slaughtered, the drover dogs would haul the carts full of meat from town to town for the butchers. The dogs also protected their master and the money earned by carrying money bags tied around their necks for safety.

The Romans eventually lost control of the region around 260 AD and eventually the town of Arae Flavaie became known as “Rote Will”, translating to “Red Tile” which stemmed from  the use of red tiles used to build the Roman bath houses. After the German takeover, the region continued to flourish because of the excellent farmland, and the town of Rote Will soon became known as Rottweil, for it’s Roman villas with red rooves. The term “Rottweil” means “Red Villa”. The Drover dogs became known as the “Rottweiler Metzerhund” which means Rottweil’s Butcher Dog. The Rottweiler was a dog in high demand.

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During World War I, the demand for Rottweilers spiked. This extremely versatile breed was now being used by police as service dogs. Their strong guarding traits coupled with their ability to search, their excellent obedience skills and strong desire to perform for their master meant that Rottweilers had become one of the most valuable breeds.

In the late 19th century, the Rottweiler’s popularity and usefulness began to wain until they were eventually in danger of extinction. There were some early German breeders that understood the importance of the breed and they preserved it. In 1910 the German Police Dog Association officially recognized the Rottweiler the breed importance and popularity was renewed.

The International Rottweiler and Leonburger Club published the first breed standard for the Rottweiler in 1901 and in 1907 the first club devoted solely to the Rottweiler breed started in Heidelberg, Germany. Other clubs were then established. By 1921, several German Rottweiler clubs joined together to form the Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub (ADRK).

Rottweilers are most definitely my favourite of all dog breeds. It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate some of the other working breeds but rotts have my heart forever.

Cheers, Lynn

Searching for a suitable breed

As a dog trainer and behaviourist I have the privilege of working with some pretty extraordinary dogs. One repeated issue I find is that people do not put enough time and effort into learning about the breed of dog they bring into their home and this can lead to many issues. I recommend taking the time to research the breeds thoroughly prior to committing to adopting a dog.

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Whether I am helping a client find the right dog for their family, setting up a customized training program or addressing behavioural issues I tend to look at dogs as one of 2 types. They are either a dog that has been bred specifically to do a job such as hunt, guard or herd or they are dogs that are bred mainly as companion dogs. I also must strongly consider individual qualities such as energy level, drive type and drive level when addressing behaviour issues or setting up training programs.

If you are currently considering adding a new dog to your household, I suggest learning more specifics on how breeds are categorized as that should help guide your choices. The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) is a good place to start when searching for information on individual breeds. The CKC separates dogs into 7 breed categories.

1. The first category is sporting dogs which includes breeds such as Retrievers, Spaniels and Pointers. Dogs in this category were originally bred to find, flush and retrieve game birds and tend to be quite active especially the first 2-3 years.

2. The second category is hounds which include both sight hounds and scent hounds. Some included breeds are Beagles, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Whippets, and Irish Wolfhounds. Hounds tend to be harder to train, as they are often more interested in the scent the are following than their owner.

3. Working dogs are energy efficient and include breeds such as Rottweilers, Huskies and Great Pyrenees. They are bred to do a job such as pulling sleds, guarding livestock, guarding for personal use and also often for military use. These dogs are often very serious about their work and do not get distracted easily from their jobs once trained properly.

4. The fourth breed category is terriers. Included in this group are Bull Terriers, Schnauzers, and Fox Terriers. Terriers are quite feisty and always ready to search out and do battle with vermin such as rats, badgers and weasels. Training terriers can be difficult if you don’t keep them active.

5. The Toy breeds include Havanese, Pekingese and Pugs, Griffons and Yorkshire Terriers. Although many are bred as lap dogs there are some in this group that were bred specifically to remove rodents. The Yorkshire Terrier for example is often kept as a highly pampered pooch however the original purpose (mid 19th century) of this breed was to kill rats in the coal mines in England and these traits live on in the dogs still today.

6. Non-sporting dogs include Dalmatians, Shih Tzus and Poodles. These breeds are a mish mash of breeds that just didn’t fit well into any of the other categories so it is difficult to generalize any of the breeds in this group.

7. The Herding category includes some of the most high energy and intelligent breeds. Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds are included in this group. Although highly trainable and task focused, their extremely high energy can create issues for people that are not prepared to properly engage them in suitable jobs.

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