Last March 2017, the American Kennel Club released their list of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Making the big leap from the 25th place to 12th was the Siberian husky. This beautiful dog breed comes with a thick coat that varies in color and marking. Perhaps one of its most striking features is the Siberian husky’s blue, amber, or parti-colored eyes. It does not come as a surprise that many people are captivated by these dogs’ wolfish good looks.
From their early origins to their trademark blue eyes, here are 10 interesting Siberian husky facts that will make you love this hardworking breed even more.
10 Siberian Husky Facts You May Not Have Known
1. Huskies were bred to run long distances
These days, Siberian huskies are often used as sled dogs. They can thank their early ancestors for their incredible endurance. Some three millennia ago, the Chukchi people of Siberia were seeking to expand their hunting grounds. To help them travel the distance, they opted to breed the perfect sled dog. The result was a high-endurance canine with the ability to survive the region’s harsh temperatures. While the Siberian husky’s lineage continues to be a subject of dispute, it is believed that their closest relative was the original Chukchi dogs.
2. The first Siberian husky was brought to Alaska in the 1900s
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Here’s one of the most interesting Siberian husky facts: In 1908, the first Siberian huskies were brought to Nome, Alaska, by Russian fur trader William Goosak. They made their official American debut the following year during the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race in 1909. There was a widespread rumor that the breed made exceptional sled dogs, something they proved true by winning race after race for the next decade.
3. The story “Balto” was based on a real-life hero Siberian husky
In January 1925, a deadly diphtheria epidemic swept through Nome’s young people. The only serum that could stop the outbreak was located in Anchorage, Alaska, approximately 537 miles away from the city. When the engine of the only aircraft that could deliver the medicine wouldn’t start, officials decided to transport the serum using multiple dog sled teams. More than 20 mushers took part in what was called the Great Race of Mercy. The incredible mission ran from January 27 to February 1. Due to the extreme weather conditions, several Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies passed away.
When they finally reached their destination, all the dogs were hailed as heroes. Two Siberian huskies, Balto and Togo, stood out. Togo was the lead dog in musher Leonhard Seppala‘s team, which endured the longest and most hazardous run. The last team on the leg belonged to Norwegian musher Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog, Balto. They were able to reach Nome with the serum still intact. If Balto’s name sounds familiar, then you might have seen the animated movie of the same name that was loosely based on the dog’s life. Today, a statue of Balto in Central Park was built in honor of the hero dog, and the title of “Best Sled Dog of All Time” was given to Togo.
4. The Husky’s double coat keeps the dogs warm
This is probably one of the most known Siberian husky facts. To survive the harsh winter months in the North, the Siberian husky relies on their thick double coat. This double coat is medium in length and is effective when it comes to keeping them warm in the cold months and cool during the summer. Their undercoat is soft and dense enough to support the outer coat. Huskies tend to shed twice a year particularly during the change of seasons. Minimal brushing and bathing are required to keep the husky’s coat healthy.
5. Sorry, your Husky won’t be a great guard dog
Though their happy temperament makes them great family dogs, they’re actually terrible at guarding. They might not be the best breed if you’re looking for a dog to guard your property. Huskies are lovers not fighters, and when confronted by a stranger, they’ll probably be more eager to lick their feet than bark at them!
6. Siberian huskies have incredible metabolism
Perhaps one of the most interesting Siberian husky facts is that they can sprint long distances on very little food. This fact has baffled scientists for years. When humans attempt to do this, they use up their body’s stored glycogen and fat until they get fatigued. Siberian huskies, on the other hand, don’t need to tap into their energy stores, allowing them to run up to 100 miles a day.
7. They put the “H” in Harry Houdini
Like the legendary magician and escape artist, Siberian huskies are quick to find ways to escape so they can explore what lies ahead of the premises. Whether this means digging under fences, slipping out of their leashes, or foiling their holding devices, a Siberian husky will always try to outsmart their owners. That said, owning a dog of this breed means never leaving them unsupervised.
8. Huskies hardly bark
If you’ve seen Siberian husky videos online, then you’ve probably noticed that these dogs tend to howl rather than bark. Some will even attempt to communicate with their owners by making strange howling noses. They usually do this whenever they want attention.
9. They’re not directly related to wolves
Siberian huskies are one of the dog breeds that have nearly the same physical features as the wolf. Despite this, there is no physical evidence that they directly descended from them. Instead, domesticated dog breeds and wolves come from a separate ancestor, one that has long been extinct.
10. A majority of Siberian huskies are born with blue eyes
There aren’t that many dogs that are born with piercing blue eyes. The Siberian husky shares this unique trait with Weimaraner and the Australian shepherd, thanks to the merle gene, a gene that results in loss of pigmentation.