“If you talk to animals they will talk to you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you don’t know you will fear. What one fears one destroys.” – Chief Dan George
“Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.”
- Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Dogs: The Wolf Within.
For photos of all our husky heroes – click here!
The Canadian Inuit Husky is the “original” sled dog. It is whispered to be the closest living relative to the wolf. Taking a close look at their behaviour and survival instincts will confirm the Inuit husky is truly closer to wolf genetics than we may realize. To understand a dog’s behaviour, it helps to have a sense of where all dogs come from which are of wolves and coyotes. The Canadian Inuit husky is a dog that will form a pack when set loose. This pack has every similarity to that of the wolf. First there must be an alpha male and female. Like wolves, the Inuit husky will fight to establish a hierarchy based on strength and intelligence. The alphas will carry this trait with them and will dominate the pack as they see fit. Superior alphas, AKA: “Boss Dogs”, will rarely start a fight, but will be quick to finish one. The alpha female is the sole dog to have puppies and will only breed with the alpha male.
Indigenous to Northern Canada, the Inuit husky continues to be hired for protection, transportation and hunting. This breed is a genetic result of a “survival-of-the-fittest” environment and lives to avoid starvation. The Inuit husky has been known to pull up to 500lbs each under extreme conditions. Many wives of Inuit hunters will usually say that they would rather see their husbands go out by dog team than a skidoo. The reason for this is that the Inuit husky won’t run out of gas or break down. They will always bring you back home no matter the weather conditions or the amount of weight they are pulling. They can sense changing trail conditions, movement in the sea ice and wildlife on the trail which makes them a great dog to have on your team. They are fierce when protecting their pack, therefore using them for protection from polar bears simply by setting them loose to attack the bear in order to protect the camp. The Inuit husky is the true definition of “NO FEAR” and will challenge any intruder no matter the size. When kept in the traditional manner and in extreme conditions, they have been known to sometimes be unpredictable. However, when they are well socialized in an environment such as ours and used in a more recreational manner, they have proven to respond in being very loving and loyal. After the introduction of the snowmobile, the Inuit husky nearly became extinct. Over the years their destiny has allowed them continued coexistence. One of the few people behind this project was Bill Carpenter of Moraine Point, NWT, who has recently “passed the torch” in preserving this breed. Snowy Owl is honoured and delighted to continue in this important endeavour – preserving the bloodline. The female Inuit huskies can get up to 50-70lbs and the males 70-105lbs. The colors and color combinations often range through white, gray, brown, sable, black/white, red/buff, red/white, gray/white and coloured patches on the head with a white body. They have a thick double coat which is completely weather proof and allows them to stay warm and dry. Naturally, this breed eats raw meat such as seal, whale and fish.
The Alaskan Malamute is very similar to the Inuit Husky, also a close relative to the wolf. All dogs, huskies being the closest, are descendants of wolves and coyotes. These breeds did not just appear. Many people wonder why their dogs become territorial with food and toys but if we look at a wolf pack, our dog’s behaviour is very similar. Wolves protect what is theirs; this is normal and instinctive if wolves don’t protect their food and territory they will die. Digging holes in the yard or under the decks, signs of den building and cooling off which wolves also do. Burying their bones and toys to hide them from predators, wolves do this also. When wolves hunt they seek out the weak, the sick, the young and the old as chances of a successful hunt are much higher than trying to take down a healthy prey. The Alaskan Malamute originated from a group of Inuit called “The Mahlemiut” from the western Arctic. This is where they receive their name Malamute. The Malamute was bred to survive the toughest of conditions with grace and power which of course they do very well. They are more domestic than the Inuit husky and they are thought to be an impure version of the Inuit husky. The Malamute is quieter tempered than the Inuit husky and seems to be very popular “stand in” for wolves in movies. Alaskan Malamute’s are also a genetic result of survival-of-the-fittest, they are known to pull up to 300lbs in extreme conditions and they have also been used for protection from wildlife. The Alaskan Malamutes color patterns are black/whites, red/whites. Gray/whites and all white. Most Malamutes will have a coloured mask as well. The Malamute can also have a longer shaggier coat. The males weigh within 80lbs-100lbs and the females 60lbs to 90lbs. They also have a weather proof coat to keep them warm and dry in the harsh winter climates.
The Canadian Indian Husky is indigenous to Northern America. They are the closest living relative to the coyote and were used by the mid and southern First Nations people for transporting camps and servicing trap lines. The Canadian Indian husky was the first breed used for speed racing. Even our Alaskan huskies, bred from our bloodlines, come from this Canadian Indian husky line. The First Nation’s people would hold races in their villages with their Indian huskies, to receive the title of having the fastest dogs. European explorers, who witnessed these races, began breeding their own racing breeds. Soon the Indian husky fell under the radar as they were being mixed with greyhounds and shorthaired pointers. The Siberian husky also fell victim to the cross breeding program which left a lot of people saying “Why fix something when it’s not broken?” We are one of the very few sled dog kennels in the world that still preserves a pure line of Canadian Indian Huskies. Canadian Indian Huskies have long legs and long bodies which make it easy for this breed to run through deep snow at a high speed. The Indian Husky is the all around fastest pure breed for short and long distances. They are the most humble and calm of the husky breeds and they usually tend to be the best leaders since they are so responsive to any command given by the dog sledder. You do not have to teach this breed loyalty, they just come that way naturally! This breed is the least known of the husky breeds but is definitely the best in our professional opinion. We have been running five different breeds since 1983 and find that the Indian Huskies have the best qualities of cooperation without arguing. They are fast, have the best endurance, have a weather proof coat, have tough feet, are extremely responsive, calm, respectful, smart as a whip, powerful, and indigenous to this area which makes it easy for them to adapt to whatever Mother Nature dishes out in the prairies and mountains! The Indian Huskies are very easy to teach and are very family oriented. They seem to be emotionally attached to their owner more so than any other breed we’ve had the pleasure of training. All our dogs are emotionally connected to us…but the Indian Huskies are different. Where we need to teach our other huskies manners in being off leash, we do not have to teach the Indian husky. Ours will heal next to us consistently, maybe getting within 7 feet from you at the most. The Canadian Indian Husky is a bit smaller than the Arctic breeds. The females range in size from 40lbs-60lbs and the males from 50-70 lbs. Their colors range from jet black, black with white, black with reddish tan or reddish cream, reddish tan or cream and greyish brown, which seem to be the most common in our kennel. They also have a double layered coat which is completely weather proof.
The Seppala Siberian Sleddog is an old, traditional sled dog breed that comes down to us from Gold Rush days. They helped bring to life the Siberian Husky breed that is so numerous today, but which has largely become a show dog and pet now. Movies such as Snow Dogs and Eight Below have created a mixed message as to what a sled dog should be and look like; in fact, appearance has little to do with sled dog ability. The Seppala Siberian, smaller than the popular image of the husky, is no bigger than he needs to be — built for their ability to pull, with speed, endurance and personality. Combine those four wonderful attributes and you have the perfect sled dog! Ancestors of today’s Seppalas came from eastern Siberia, the coldest region on earth, and in the 1990s new Russian imports were added to the historic bloodline. So they come equipped with tough feet and a thick, weather-proof coat ideal for our Canadian winters! A fellow by the name of Leonard Seppala bred, ran and raced this breed for years! One of the greatest races in the world, The Iditarod was born because of Leonard and his famous Seppala Siberian sled dogs! Here is the story: In 1925 the city of Nome was threatened by a midwinter diphtheria epidemic. Seppala became the crucial figure in the delivery by dogsled of a supply of antiserum via an otherwise impassable route between Nenana and the stricken city. Seppala set out from Nome, met the driver carrying the serum from Nenana more than halfway, and returned immediately by night across Norton Sound, traveling 340 miles over treacherous sea ice and through blizzard conditions to bring the serum back. The Seppala is a moderate-sized husky averaging 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg) and 22 or 23 inches (56 to 58 cm) height. It’s colours and markings are considered of little importance; eyes may be brown, blue or any combination of the two colours. The breed shares its ancestral base with the Siberian Husky and for half a century shared the same registry with that breed, but was bred always exclusively as a working sleddog breed in its own right and kept apart from show bloodlines.
The Siberian Husky is, hands down the most well known of the sled dog breeds, partly as a result of its promotion by Hollywood. The Siberian husky hails from Siberia and was originally bred in North America for endurance, stamina and speed. This Siberian husky was called the “Seppala” Siberian husky after one of the founders of the breed Leonhard Seppala. Leonhard was born in Norway. He then immigrated to Alaska in 1900 and was importing and breeding Siberian huskies from Russia for racing. Among other things Leonhard is famous for having delivered serum for a diphtheria outbreak to Nome Alaska. When no other method of transportation succeeded, his Siberian huskies did. He accomplished this with a lead dog named “Balto” who is now also famous and even has a movie produced in his honour. Most dog teams that went along with Leonhard didn’t even make it 53 miles when Leonhard did 340 miles in 2 days, making it back with the serum. This trail is still used to this day and racers run what is called the Serum Race to raise money for medical research. Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours has sponsored an avid competitor who was a cancer survivor in this race! All of her huskies were provided with $2,000 worth of booties for their feet. Siberian Huskies are today, unfortunately more recognized for their looks in the dog show ring rather than their performance in harness. We continue to breed Siberian huskies for their performance in back country survival rather than for their looks. As well, some dog sledders who use the Alaskan husky racing breed in particular; claim that their dogs are faster and better behaved than the “pure” breeds. However, the truth of the matter is, racers began to breed gray hound and shorthaired pointer with the Siberian and other pure huskies to create a faster sled dog called “Alaskan husky”, putting them on the winner’s podium at the cost of the original breeds and taking an easy approach rather than an authentic one. Conversely with cross breeding, some important, pure survival instincts are lost in both breeds in this process. Siberian huskies are genetically friendly and well mannered. They are sometimes difficult to teach because of their high intelligence. There is no doubt they are among some of the best original sled dog breeds! The Siberian husky, when well bred, is well mannered, smart and energetic. They respond best when respected and spoken to as one would a valued friend, what dog doesn’t! There is no “faking it” with these huskies, they can see right through any facade as most dogs can! Siberians can come in red/whites, black/whites and gray/whites. The males range from 55-70lbs and the females 50lbs-65lbs. The Siberian huskies generally have blues eyes but can also have brown and be bi-eyed (1 eye of each color.) It is also possible for the Siberian husky to have 1 eye with both blue and brown in the mix. They also have a double layer coat which is completely weather proof.
The Alaskan Husky originated in Alaskan villages hence their name. Villagers and explorers began to mix different breeds such as Greyhounds etc. in order to create a “faster” sled dog. The Alaskan Husky was introduced to the racing world of dog sledding because of their speed and quickly became popular for some. The Alaskan Husky is a cross breed, between an Indian or Siberian husky and Greyhound or Shorthaired Pointer. Now there is even a Euro Hound used in racing, which actually has a higher concentration of Shorthaired Pointer than Husky. The Alaskan Husky can be found in all different sizes, colors and temperaments depending on what the dog is crossed with. The more Greyhound and Shorthaired Pointer in the husky the shorter the fur becomes, the weaker their feet and the leaner their bodies become. They can have blue eyes or one eye blue and the other brown if they have been crossed with a Siberian husky. The Alaskan Husky often has floppy ears, again it depends on what it was crossed with. We like to keep a huskier build in our Alaskan’s in order to keep them humanely fit for the terrain and temperatures. Our Alaskan bloodlines do not have as much Greyhound genetics as others; they actually originate from a Canadian Indian race line (the original racing husky.) Greyhounds and Shorthaired Pointers were not bred to with stand cold temperatures therefore they require more care. This is why we provide booties and dog coats for our Alaskan’s regularly. They are also much more difficult to keep weight on since they tend to be built similar to a Greyhound which is a naturally thin dog. Greyhounds are very fast but they do not have the endurance of the pure bred sled dogs like the Siberian husky, Indian husky, Inuit Husky and Malamute. These “Greyhound Huskies” are terrific for the field in which they are bred, however in touring and back country freighting, the original breeds cannot be beat for obvious reasons! Our “Pure Bred” Huskies are definitely the cream of the crop in every aspect of recreational dog sledding! Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours has never directly bred a Greyhound or Shorthaired Pointer with any of our dogs, yet because of our extensive involvement in international sled dog racing, we still enjoy getting the “Porsche” out of the garage from time to time. Since we cover long distances and mountain terrain, we prefer crossing our Canadian Indian husky with a Siberian husky to attain this additional speed if needed. Alaskan Husky’s are still an excellent sled dog. They have a wonderful disposition and are a pleasure to work with. Snowy Owl Sled Dog Kennel has been involved in several rescues and adoption programs with other kennels. Even though this breed is not our first choice in offering authentic touring programs, we love them just the same. These dogs have more Greyhound and Shorthaired Pointer then our original blood lines. Our reason for adopting and rescuing this breed is that we feel that they deserve a good home where they can have fun doing a great job and learning to relax. In fact we’ve had several great lead dogs come into bloom in this new recreational environment. Since we aren’t competing with anyone on the trail, there is no need to go “really” fast, just a nice cruise-along pace for everyone to enjoy, especially when you’re the driver!