NOTES ON THE SIBERIAN HUSKY

The Siberian Husky is, and should always be regarded as, a moderate, working breed. When we use the word "moderate" we mean there is neither too much nor too little ie unexaggerated. Please do not confuse "moderate" with "less".

Any fault which would affect its performance and stamina as a working sled dog should be heavily penalised.

Click here to view the Breed Standard for the Siberian Husky.

Outlined below are some points to which we feel particular attention should be paid when looking for the correct type of Siberian Husky. At all times we should be looking for a balanced, moderate animal. Extremes of type such as heavy bodied, short legged dogs or those having a greyhoundish appearance are incorrect.

The flashy picture of the show Siberian, coat in full bloom, standing with its very upright head carriage is all very well but not if the dog cannot deliver the goods in movement.

The initial impression should convey the picture of a moderate, athletic dog who looks like he could do the job ie carry a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. Any point on the dog which immediately draws the eye can be, and often is, an exaggeration eg excessive neck length.

Type: As with any breed, if it immediately gives you the impression that it looks like some other breed, its wrong. And, if it doesn't give you the impression it can adequately perform the work this breed was designed for, it also lacks type.

Substance: Bone should be substantial but never coarse. Many people would be amazed at how little dog there can be under a good coat (even on the legs). They should not look as if a stiff breeze can lift them off their feet nor should they be heavy.

Head: Heads are of a distinctive shape. Old breed standards once referred to the head as being fox-like. While this analogy is good and refers to the skull being much wider than the muzzle, it does not mean that the muzzle should come to a fine point. Many fine muzzles lack strength of underjaw. Lips should be tight fitting - loose lips allow freezing air to enter the mouth.

Eye Colour: The standard allows for two brown, two blue, bi- (one eye brown and one blue) or parti-coloured (the individual eye is part blue and part brown) eyes. None of these is to be more favoured than any other. Brown eyes can vary through many shades - red (or copper) dogs for instance usually have an amber coloured eye. No particular variety is any more rare or valuable than any other.

Wither Height: This is a little known point. This does not refer to the dog's height, measured from the top of the withers (top of the shoulder blades), down to the ground. What we are referring to here is the height of the muscle, between the shoulder blades, which covers the spine. This muscle should be above the level of the shoulder blades. If it is not, the dog will, after a short period of time, move "downhill" or to use an equine term, it "falls on the forehand". Such a dog will tire very quickly and be totally useless on a team.

Ribcage: The ribcage should be oval in shape - not round, and there should not be a flatness to the topline (if you think you can put a coffee cup on it, its wrong!). Few breeds can have a round or barrel ribcage, and certainly not running breeds. An oval rib cage allows good elbow clearance for freedom of movement and it has been our personal experience that dogs with a round ribcage lack stamina. Soft back ligaments are often found in dogs with round ribcages.

Chest Depth: The Siberian's depth of chest is noted in the standard as reaching to the elbows ... in fact this is the visual depth. The chest itself will be slightly above the elbows with the coat taking the depth to the elbows.

Forechest: While it is rare to find a Siberian with too much forechest, it is not rare to find dogs lacking forechest. Too often you will find dogs whose point of shoulder extends forward, in front of the prosternum, giving the chest a sunken-in look. Looking face on, many of these dogs are also extremely base-narrow ie the gap between the front legs is very narrow, giving restriction to heart and lung room.

Angulations: Lack of angulation will give you restricted ground coverage. It is not uncommon to find dogs lacking the properly angled shoulder and upper arm (possibly also with a short upper arm) which also have a short, steep croup. Such dogs can be very balanced in their movement (being incorrect at both ends) but will be badly restricted in length of stride. Any animal which has a restricted gait will be a liability on a team.

Excessive angulation, even on short legged dogs, can look very flash and give you a wide expansive gait but such angulation is far less stable than the correct moderate angulation. A dog which is required to pull needs very firm joints.

Leg Length: Sled dogs require good clearance to get through the snow. Short legged dogs will experience more difficulty and expend more energy trying to move through heavy snow.

Croup and Tail Set: The Siberian standard calls for a moderately angled pelvis, with the set on of the tail just below the level of the topline. Common faults are flat croups and high set tails. Flat croups will have an effect on drive and reach-through from behind. A steeply angled croup will restrict drive.

Tail Carriage: The standard reads that the tail is "usually carried over the back in a graceful sickle curve when the dog is at attention". Note the word "usually". However, they should not be expected to carry the tail high up at all times - so long as it shows lift in movement. It is common for a dog settled into its stride to trail the tail straight out behind. It is also correct for the tail to hang relaxed while the dog is in stance.