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Where Does A Siberian Husky Come From?

In the last couple of decades, the Siberian Husky has become increasingly popular in the Western World. The reason for this is most likely down to the ever-increasing popularity of social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or something else, the user base for these applications has exploded in a relatively short amount of time. The desire to get ‘likes’ and become increasingly popular means people want to find the best images to share online.

Where does a Siberian Husky come from? The Siberian Husky comes from the northern part of Siberia, known as the Chukotka peninsula where it lived with the Chukchi people for many, many generations. From here, they were imported into Alaska before spreading to other regions of the world.

The Siberian Husky is a very handsome breed of dog and millions of photos have been shared across the world in a relatively short amount of time. People who wouldn’t normally have come across this breed are now seeing beautiful images of it in their timeline. They ask questions, find out what it is and (to cut a long story short) end up with one. They take photos, post them online and the cycle continues.

The Husky has an interesting past though and arguably, doesn’t even belong outside of their native environment. However, as long as you pay attention to their health and special requirements (of which there are many) the breed can adapt to all kinds of climate.

Where Exactly Is Siberia?

Siberia is a huge region of land in Northern Asia that has been part of Russia for over 300 years. It is as big as Australia and account accounts for over 75% of the total of Russia’s landmass (~10% of the whole planet’s landmass) yet is home to only about 36 million people. Due to its enormous size, it is one of the least populated regions on the planet.

Where does a Siberian Husky come from?
Map of Siberia

Siberia is obviously a very large place and the Husky originated in the Chukchi Peninsula, which is at the very far East of Siberia (seen on the below map as the Chukotka Peninsula or known as the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug)

Where does a Siberian Husky come from?
The Chukotka Peninsular

So, this is the area we need to initially concentrate on.

Average Temperatures in the Chukchi Peninsular

As Siberia encompasses such a large area, it is not possible to give an average temperature as such as they will vary vastly between Northern and Southern locations. But that’s okay here as we don’t need to do this. We can just concentrate on the Chukchi Peninsula. The weather in this area is known as a tundra climate, which means it remains cold all year round and is also dry.

If we look at the average temperature in Bilibino, located in the Chukchi peninsula, we can see just how cold it is typically:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
-33°F-34°F-28°F-17°F-1°F6°F9°F5°F1°F-13°F-26°F-33°F
Where does a Siberian Husky come from?

Although there are, of course, several towns in the peninsula, temperatures are very similar. So, you can see from this just how cold it is and bear in mind these are averages. Temperatures as low as -70°F have been recorded! This is most likely vastly different from the temperature where you live. These are the temperatures that the Siberian Husky was bred and developed in and this is the climate that they are ‘used’ to. This doesn’t mean they can’t survive in other climates of course but due to their thick, double coat, they can overheat quite easily.

Who Did The Siberian Husky Live With?

For generations, the Siberian Husky lived with the Chukchi people, who habituated the northern part of Siberia (mentioned above). In fact, for over a millennium, this was the case. The Chukchi were primarily hunters and would need the Huskies to help pull food sources (even parts of whales) on the ice and back into their community. The Chukchi needed a very specific type of dog, one which would be able to handle the extreme environment and be active and strong enough to meet their requirements.

Where Does A Siberian Husky Come From?

The hunters of the community worked their trade along the coast primarily and Seal was their main source of food. The people needed dogs that would be able to tolerate the low temperatures and be able to pull these small-ish loads over long distances (the main body of people lived further in-land) and also quickly.

The Husky was known to be intelligent and docile and worked very well in teams and were well-loved by their people. In fact, so well-loved that they were adopted by families which is a strong argument as to why today, we see the dog as such a gentle breed.

Russian Advances and Disruption

Things changed for the Chukchi people from the 18th Century. Russian Cossacks marched across Siberia as they wanted to harvest the resources. The Chukchi people were no match for the Russians and their modern weapons so they were unable to compete military-wise conventionally. However, the Huskies allowed them to keep clear of the ever-advancing Russian forces. Where the Chukchi could compete was with their ability to survive (and thrive) in the extremely cold conditions. These people were actually able to inflict a lot of casualties on the Russians by luring them into mountain passes then ambushing them just with spears and rocks. It didn’t take long for the Russians to realize that the resources were not worth the effort, and withdrew.

At the end of the 19th Century, trading with Alaska had led to the Husky being imported there. It was actually during this time that the Husky was first known as the ‘Siberian’ Husky. Bad times were approaching though, not just for the dog but for the Russian monarchy, who were displaced and replaced by Communism in the early part of the 19th Century. These communists, who despised anything that suggested wealth, associated those that owned these dogs with just that and many were killed. The Siberian Husky was almost totally lost from Siberia.

Why Is This Important to the Husky?

Why it is interesting to understand the history of this breed is that many of the traits that were designed into the dog during the hundreds and hundreds of years with the Chukchi people, still remain. For instance, the Siberian Husky is an incredibly gentle breed of dog. Generations of living with the Chukchi family is the cause of this. It is also, as you most likely know, an extremely active breed. It could stay out all day and be quite happy running (at quite high speeds too) – in fact, the limiting factor is us. This hunger for exercise and activity is because this was its primary function when living with the Chukchi for all that time, it is still very much with the breed now. The Husky was always kept with other dogs (who needed to help each other pull the loads) or with people, it expects the same to be the case now.

Where Does A Siberian Husky Come From?

The point here is that the traits that you see in the Siberian Husky are part of its very nature. They have been part of the dog for over a thousand years and you will not be able to train these traits out, so you shouldn’t try. Don’t think that it will just get used to being kept inside all day by itself. It will become unhappy very quickly, separation anxiety will occur and nothing good comes from this.

The Siberian Husky has some very special requirements and owners need to make sure they can cater for these requirements from the outset – it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Where Did The Siberian Husky Go After it Left Siberia?

As we mentioned above, the Husky became the Siberian Husky when it was imported into Alaska and its popularity rocketed due to its love of dog-sledding. Apart from being a popular means of transport, sledding has also become a popular sport in Alaska and the Husky was ideal for this. The Siberian Husky took over from the Alaskan sled dog as the Husky (despite being smaller and not as strong) was quicker and seemed to thrive in the sport.

The popularity of the dog continued to increase from this point as word spread about the breed but arguably, the dog has only really become popular in the last few decades as images of the Husky, as we mentioned at the start, were shared throughout the world. They have become a ‘dog to be seen with’ and all too often they are bought without the buyers understanding a thing about their needs, which is a shame but unfortunately inevitable. Fortunately, they are able to adapt to many conditions and can be perfectly happy in far hotter climates than they were originally designed for.

Summary

I hope this article has helped you understand a little more about the origins of the Siberian Husky. Unlike many breeds, their history is known and makes for quite an interesting story. It is also important to understand as it becomes quite apparent why the Husky has the traits that it does once you appreciate its background.

If you’d like to know more about this wonderful breed of dog then please check out my Complete Guide on the Siberian Husky where you’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about them!