The Siberian Huskys origins can be traced to the ancient Chukchi sled dogs of the Kolyma River Basin in northern Siberia. The breed was developed and encouraged by the Chukchi people, an ancient tribe whose culture was based on the long-distance sled dog.
These origins began some 2,000 years ago and evolved in the harsh conditions and climate of that region. The Chukchis sled dogs were required to travel enormous distances in order to hunt for their survival. They were bred to pull light loads at moderate speeds over incredible distances on relatively little food, and are the smallest of all native sled dogs.
The Chukchi people valued their good, fast dogs highly and often traded amongst each other at the Markovo Fair, held on the Anadyr River. However, such was the isolation and lifestyle of the tribe, that it was not until the late 19th Century when fur trading and then the Gold Rush at the turn of the 20th Century made their influence on the breed that became known as the Siberian Husky.
In 1908 it happened that a Russian fur trader, Goosak, returned to Nome with nine Siberian Chukchi dogs for the purpose of entering the 1909 All Alaska Sweepstakes Race, but it was Fox Maule Ramsay who imported the first selected teams of Siberian Huskies into Alaska in 1909. The second son of the 13th Earl of Dalhousie, he had come from Scotland to supervise the family investments in the gold fields. Fascinated by the excitement of sled dog racing and having seen Goosaks small Chukchi dogs, he chartered a schooner and went to the Markovo Fair, selecting 70 of the best dogs there.
The results of the 1910 All Alaska Sweepstakes were momentous. Ramsays three teams were placed first, second and fourth, setting a record that has never been beaten.
The Siberian Husky had arrived! These 70 dogs chosen by Fox Maule Ramsay formed the foundation of what is known today as the Siberian Husky.
When Ramsay left the Klondike he sold his dogs to a young Swede, Leonhard Seppala, who was later acknowledged to be the greatest dog driver of all time. His daring 658 mile leg of the famous serum relay won him and Siberian Huskies international acclaim, whilst saving the township of Nome from an outbreak of diphtheria.
Leonhard Seppala was the first to introduce Siberian Huskies into the United States out of Alaska when he came to New England in the 1920s with his team. His dogs won every race and their beauty, speed and temperament intrigued American racing enthusiasts. Seppala, along with Mrs. Elizabeth Ricker, began breeding Siberian Huskies. More were obtained from Alaska and thus the breed began.
Sled dog history
The history of the sled dog is long and proud, the people of the North were dependent on their dogs for protection, companionship, hunting, trapping and most of all for transportation. Sled Dogs have enabled explorers such as Byrd, Peary and Amundsen to explore the frozen wastelands of two continents, playing a vital role in bringing civilisation to the snowbound areas of the world. They have helped men in two World Wars and, of course, the Canadian Mountie owes much of his fame to his team of sled dogs.
One of the proudest chapters in sled dog history was written in 1925 when in January of that year a case of diphtheria was discovered in Nome, Alaska but the supply of serum in the city was inadequate to stave off an epidemic. A relay of twenty-two teams forged their way through the rough interior of Alaska and across the Bering Sea ice to bring supplies from Anchorage to the grateful townspeople of Nome. A statue of Balto, who led one of the teams stands to-day in New Yorks Central Park and the Iditarod Trail Race is held during March of each year to commemorate the Nome Serum Run.