Get to Know the Siberian Husky: Hero, Explorer, and Friend

This ancient, hardworking breed helped explore the north and south poles -- and even saved Nome, Alaska, from a diphtheria epidemic in 1925.


The Siberian Husky is one of mankind’s most ancient, valuable and hardworking partners. The breed has helped explore both poles, going where horses and machines couldn’t reach. They’ve slept under the snow and run for endless miles in sub-zero temperatures. But they also don’t mind sleeping in a bed and melting people’s hearts.

DNA studies have shown that Siberian Huskies are one of the most ancient of all current breeds. They were developed in Northeast Asia by the nomadic Chukchi people to pull sleds over great distances.

More cool facts about the Siberian Husky

  • The Siberian Husky (Sibe to his friends) is a type of spitz dog ideally suited for cold weather. His small furred ears retain heat, he can sleep with his nose buried in his bushy tail, and his thick double coat repels moisture with the outer guard hairs, while he retains heat with his dense wooly undercoat.
  • Tales of mixing huskies with wolves for better sled dogs are almost certainly false. Wolves are very bad at following directions! Of course, Siberian Huskies aren’t exactly famous for obeying commands either, but give them the incentive of a run through the snow and they can be amazingly obedient! Give them time on their paws, however, and they can be amazingly inventive — and not usually in a good way! They’re a breed of surprises …

  • During the Alaskan Gold Rush, dog sled racing was hugely popular and dominated by large draft dogs. When a team of Chukchi huskies from Siberia competed in a major race one year, they were ignored because they were so small compared to the others. But the next year they won all the top spots. The breed then became a favorite for sled racing.
  • In 1925, Nome, Alaska, was gripped by a diphtheria epidemic. Relays of sled dogs were the only way to get serum to Nome. Many thought it couldn’t be done, but the dogs traveled 360 miles in six days to deliver the serum in time. The present day Iditarod commemorates this Great Race of Mercy, as it was called.

  • Balto led the final relay into Nome and received most of the glory. But the lesser known Togo was the true hero, according to many. Whereas Balto led his team for 53 miles, Togo led for 260 miles.
  • New York City’s Central Park is home to a statue of the Balto, with a plaque reading: “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dog that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice across treacherous waters through arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance. Fidelity. Intelligence.”
  • Balto, Togo and their respective teams and mushers toured the United States following their feat, popularizing the breed in the lower states. Balto had been neutered early in life, but Togo is behind most present-day Sibes.

  • In 1930, the last Siberian Huskies were exported from Russia, as that country closed its borders to trade.
  • Admiral Byrd brought about 50 Siberian Huskies on his trip to Antarctica in 1933.
  • During World War II, Siberian Huskies served as search and rescue dogs.
  • It’s not uncommon for Sibes to have blue eyes.
  • The Siberian Husky is in the AKC Working group.
  • Although the names are similar, don’t confuse Siberian Huskies with Alaskan Huskies. The latter are made up of crosses of various breeds, and are the most popular dogs in current sled dog races.
  • And don’t expect to see a Siberian Husky trot onto the field as the mascot of the Washington State University Huskies — their mascot is actually an Alaskan Malamute!

  • Sibes starred in the movies Eight Below and Snow Dogs.
  • Celebrity owners include Michael J. Fox, Tom Green, Kate Jackson and Connie Stevens.
  • A Sibe named Champion Innisfree’s Sierra Cinnar won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1980. He did so after an accident that would have ended the dreams of most show dogs: another dog had bitten off the end third of one ear!
  • A Sibe named Charlie at one time held the world record as strongest dog. He was able to move a 3,142-pound sledge.
  • One of the few dog Beanie Babies is a Siberian Husky named Nanook.
  • Sibes love cold weather, love to pull and love to run!

Do you own a Siberian Husky? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

Read more breed profiles:

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

5 thoughts on “Get to Know the Siberian Husky: Hero, Explorer, and Friend”

  1. Very good infos about Siberian Husky. I had a female Husky, Wild Look of Lucky Nose a.k.a. Nosy, she was my soul mate, my best friend, my Emotional Supporting Dog, my family… I will always cherish the memory of my sweet little Nosy.

  2. I bought Oliver when he was 4 weeks old, against the rules they let me bring him home at just 5 weeks old, my life changed completely. I have 3 kids , the younger is 9years old, introvert girl, smart but reserved and submerged into the electronics world addicted to it. Oliver brought a new opportunity to our lives for me the chance to correct my mistakes,and bond with my girl, she loves him so much and we play daily with him , heck in my 45 yrs Of age , with a strong personality, it was hard to make me smile, and Oliver is a master at making us all laugh , smart and trained by me since 4 weeks old he can sing , obey commands and even begs for food and ice cream like a pro. It is a lot of work to deal with his shedding and provide him with toys and walks to burn his energy, but it is all so worth it , Oliver weights an amazing 84 ponds full of muscle , has the most beautiful eyes, at white and blue can take your breath away when he jumps to say Hi to every person that comes through our door.

  3. Pingback: Siberian Husky – Comforts 4 Pets

  4. As a pure sibe musher in the ISDRA, I can attest as well as Iditarod musher Karen Ramstead, that the pure bred Sibes can mush through the strongest blizzards while the Alaskan husky will sometimes want to pull over.

  5. I have just recently adopted my third Sib. She is a wonder and true to the bred. Independent, endless energy, but a loving companion. She is 7 months old at this time and still involved in training 24/7. She gets antsy when bored, and has a bad day when unable to channel her energy. I love this breed and I have had many different breeds, from hunting to herding.
    Sibs are a challenge. Many are attracted to their looks but have no idea of what they are in store for. For the average owner Sibs can be frustrating No wonder so many Sibs end up in a rescue.

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