TEN DISTINCT HUSKY BREEDS IN THE 1940s

Excerpts from Dogs In Britain, A Description of All Native Breeds and Most Foreign Breeds in Britain by Clifford LB Hubbard (1948). It described the ten major and distinct branches of the Husky breeds.

THE HUSKY OR ESKIMO GROUP OF DOGS

The Husky or Eskimo group is large and comprehensive, embracing many breeds and sub-breeds, all of which are usually lumped together and described as Huskies rather than by their specific titles. Actually the name Husky is a generic term for sled dogs […] the idea is prevalent that every dog seen by a tourist hauling a sledge in Canada is a Husky, a pure-bred Husky, when at least half the dogs used for haulage purposes in the more southern belts are cross-breds and mongrels far removed from the hardy dogs of the pure Husky race.

[…] the Husky is divided into many distinct types, as follows: the Husky proper (recognised by the American Kennel Club under the name of Eskimo), the Alaskan Malamute, the Toganee, the Mackenzie River Dog, the Timber-Wolf Dog, the West Greenland Husky, the East Greenland Husky, the Baffinland Husky, the Chuchi (recognised by the American Kennel Club as the Siberian Husky), and the Ostiak. All these ten breeds are distinct from each other and are only the main branches of the group, for the lesser varieties have never been imported into Britain and are of little importance.

It will be noticed that the last two of the ten breeds just listed are native to the eastern hemisphere, where there exist many others, so that it must be remembered that sled dogs are not confined to the west only, but are evenly distributed over the entire Arctic belt wherever Eskimo, Indian, Lapp, or Siberian need their assistance in hauling, carrying, hunting and herding.

THE HUSKY PROPER OR ESKIMO (ESQUIMAUX)

The Husky proper is less rare in the North West Territories and has long been officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in the ‘Working Dog’ category, and as a show dog, under the name of Eskimo (sometimes called Esquimaux). Although a few good specimens may be found throughout the Canadian backwoods and islands it is only in the North West Territories that the purebred dogs are found in any numbers. These are mostly used by trappers, explorers, Eskimos and Indians; the Hudson Bay traders, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, lumber-jacks, doctors, priests and others generally use what the Indians call the ‘white’ dogs, or crossbred dogs which are half Husky and half Hound, Great Dane, Newfoundland or any other type that is handy. Dr. S. Hadwen, of the Ontario Research Foundation […] expressed a desire that a total embargo be placed upon the importation of foreign breeds into the North.

The true Husky is not a large dog; the dogs of 27 inches height and even more are cross-bred with wolves or ‘white’ breeds. The head is broad and tapering to a pointed muzzle of medium length, with a slight stop; the eyes are dark and set obliquely giving an untrustworthy expression (full, round and prominent eyes soon suffer in the winds and ice-glares of the Arctic); the ears are small, triangular and erect; the lips are tight to the strong jaws, with strong level teeth. The neck is muscular and arched on to oblique shoulders; the chest is deep and long, well ribbed out; the back is short and straight; the legs are well muscled and substantially boned with almost round feet, which are hard-padded with the toes well arched; the tail is about 13 inches long, set high, carried curled over the back (very tired dogs let their tails droop) and well brushed. The coat is very dense, hard and coarse in texture and of the stand-off type, with a thick soft undercoat. Colours are white, cream or grey, with grey, buff, tan or black markings on the head and body. Many are all white, but some are black with tan or fawn eye-spots, muzzle, throat, feet and tail-tip. In measurements the true Husky is 75-80 pounds in weight, about 25 inches at the shoulder and with a girth of about 30 inches; bitches are considerably smaller, being from 60-6 5 pounds in weight, 22-2 3 inches in height and about 27 inches in girth.

THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE

The Alaskan Malamute is mostly found on the Seward Peninsula, the best specimens being in the vicinity of the Nootak river. It is named after the Malamute Eskimo tribe which has bred its dogs for centuries, especially suited to the mountainous terrain of Alaska. Unfortunately through the admixture of dogs owned by white traders the race is rapidly losing its identity and good qualities so that to-day only on rare occasions may the true Malamute be found.

The famous All-Alaska Dog Derby or All-Alaska Sweepstakes is a sled race run for 420 miles in five days in thirty-mile ‘hops’, but the dogs which are teamed for the race are seldom pure Malamutes, many being brought from the Hudson Bay regions and even further east. The Eskimos wisely breed their dogs for stamina and work and do not like the tucked-up racy dogs, as these cannot stand hard work for very long.

The Malamute is recognised by the American Kennel Club and fostered by the Alaskan Malamute Club. Its head is similar to that of the true Husky except that the ears are placed wider apart (about 7 inches rather than the Husky 5-6 inches) and are, therefore, not set so high, nor are they quite so well formed. The general description is the same as for the Husky, but the back is fairly long showing the influence of alien blood, whilst the tail is seldom well curled over the back. The coat is often as long as the Husky’s but not of stand-off type, usually lying flatter to the body, and coloured black with white or fawn self markings.

THE TOGANEE AND MACKENZIE RIVER DOGS

The Toganee and Mackenzie River Dogs are more closely related to the true Husky, and as the terrain where they are used is similar to that where the Husky proper is found they are sometimes interbred. Like the Husky they are used in teams of 4-6 only, at least when used in their own districts. In build they both resemble the Husky, with the same head formation, short back and couplings; the main differences are that the Toganee is often a little higher on the leg and is usually tricolour (black-tan-and-white), while the Mackenzie River Dog is a shade longer in coat which is not quite so hard.

THE TIMBER-WOLF DOG

The Timber-Wolf Dog is not confined to one district but is spread throughout the areas from Alaska to north of Hudson Bay; the Yukon basin appears to be its adopted home to the largest extent. It is, as its name applies, a first-cross between the true Husky and the timber-wolf of the North American backwoods; gaunt, ferocious, the largest of its type and the most wolfish of all sled dogs. Owing to its size and strength it is capable of being a good leader or ‘king’ dog for a team, but otherwise it is not the best type for general use, as is the Husky itself which can be used in summer for pack carrying. Its heavy build handicaps it on very long journeys though for short heavy loads the breed is frequently in demand.

In general shape it is nearer the timber-wolf than the Husky; longer in back and coat (the coat does not stand stiffly out); longer couplings and greater angulation of the hindlegs; a more loping gait which is not the best for long journeys; the head usually having non-erect ears, scarcely any stop and a slightly longer muzzle. Colour is grey, or grey or sable with white throat, chest, belly, feet and tail-tip; rarely pure white. In height it stands about 27-28 inches, and in weight ranges from 85 to 100 pounds (outstanding specimens equal the height of an Irish Wolfhound and weigh as much as eight stone). The tail usually hangs low and is heavy in brush.

THE BAFFINLAND HUSKY

The Baffinland Husky is a type which is only different from the true Husky in having a black coat with white self markings (white on the face, throat, chest, belly, feet and tail-tip), and being a trifle larger in size generally. A few of this breed show traces of crossing with Labrador sled dogs which are rather long in back and some, such as those used by Lieut.-Commander Donald B. MacMillan, are white with black markings; all agree in having both black and white on the body either in the form of markings or ground colour. At one time they were mixed with the West Greenland Husky, but caused that breed more harm than good. In height the Baffinland Husky is about 26 inches, with a girth of approximately 3o inches, and a weight of from 75-85 pounds.

THE WEST GREENLAND HUSKY AND EAST GREENLAND HUSKY

The West Greenland Husky and the East Greenland Husky are the only good types found in Greenland. The West Greenland dog is the larger and shows much effect from the crossing with the Baffinland and other dogs which have the timber-wolf strain in them. The dogs of Smith Sound, for example, are probably fifty per cent Baffinland Husky, and show the tell-tale grey in every instance. In 1864 some fourteen teams arrived on the West Greenland coast from Baffinland, and the host of dogs which remained eventually caused an epidemic of piblockto from which all but three dogs perished. The entry of foreign breeds of dogs into Greenland was forbidden by law as a result of this disaster, and to-day the Smith Sound area is replenished with stock from the south of Greenland - the issue of some dogs taken north by Freuchen and Rasmussen in 1910.

In height the West Greenland Husky is about 26 inches, and it weighs about 8o pounds.. Its colour is black-and-white or grey-and-white, and the coat is rather softer than that of the true Canadian Husky.

The East Greenland Husky is probably the oldest and least diluted type extant. It came to the east coast of Greenland with the Eskimo when he travelled from Asia (the long way round - across the Bering Straits) some twenty thousand years ago (according to Dr. Arne Høygaard of the Oslo Fysiologisk Institut). As yet no trace of timber-wolf blood or even any mixed Husky is evident, and the type is remarkably uniform. It is smaller than the west coast dog, being about 24 inches in height, with a girth of 29 inches and weighing about 65 pounds. It further differs from the West Greenland and all other sled dogs of the western hemisphere in being red or red-and-white in colour (this shows its close relationship with the Siberian types which are mostly red). It is often distinguished from the dog of the west coast by its native synonym, Angmagssalik Husky.

[…] The dogs are protected by law and the interests of specialist clubs in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The first published work on the Huskies of Greenland appeared in 1784.

THE OSTIAK OR WEST SIBERIAN HUSKY

The Ostiak breed is Asiatic, and like most of its near relations is used not only for sled hauling but also in hunting elk, bear and wolf. Nansen and Johansen used a good many Ostiak dogs (Nansen took about thirty with him) and though they are comparatively small they are quite hardy and make good pullers. It is sometimes called the West Siberian Husky. Its height is about 23 inches, and its weight from 45-55 pounds. In colour it varies considerably but is commonly fawn or sable with black markings.

THE CHUCHI OR SIBERIAN HUSKY

The Chuchi, or Siberian Husky as it is officially recognised by the American Kennel Club, is native to north-eastern Siberia and is rather like the Ostiak and East Greenland dogs. It is well known in Alaska […] The breed has a specialist club in America which has drawn up a standard for the breed.

The Chuchi was first imported into Alaska in 1909 and importations into the United States then followed in 1911. To-day the breed has a considerable following in America and is frequently exhibited. It takes its name from the Siberian native tribe of Chuchi which lives in the area drained by the River Kolyma. Its description is roughly that of the Ostiak, that is, in height, weight and colour. Chuchi height is recognised as between the minimum of 21 inches and the maximum 23.5 inches (bitches 20-22 inches) and weight not permitted to exceed 6o pounds. Like all Siberian types (and the East Greenland dog) the eye is set far less obliquely than in the North American Huskies. Other desiderata are a soft coat, freedom of action, good ‘snowshoe’ feet, and high-set ears. The colours are sable, light tan, grey, and black with white points.

THE HUSKY BREEDS IN BRITAIN IN 1948

Not many Huskies have been imported into Britain; those that have been especially brought in have seldom graced the show bench, usually spending their lives in zoological gardens. Exceptions have been those imported about the end of the last century by the two foreign breed collectors Messrs. W. K. Taunton and H. C. Brooke. Taunton’s best dog was “Sir John Franklin” which won many awards during 1879-81, and sired several litters out of “Zoe”, a bitch bred from some Huskies then owned by the London Zoological Society. “Sir John Franklin” was 22 inches in height, and Brooke’s dog “Arctic King” was described as being 22 inches; thus in both cases the dogs were on the small side though they were otherwise typical. A much better dog was Brooke’s “Farthest North “, which was about 25-26 inches in height, of the West Greenland breed and well marked. This dog’s skin was in the British Museum (Natural History).

Since the days of Taunton and Brooke, Huskies have only arrived on rare occasions, for there is as yet no demand for the race as companions; this is probably due to the great number of stories propagated about the alleged ferocity of the race. However, in later years Huskies will probably be imported in greater numbers for they have much that would appeal to the British public. The last Husky to be exhibited with any constancy was “Angugssuak” one acquired by the London Zoological Society and exhibited by Dr. Vevers at Cruft’s Show in 1938 and 1939.

HISTORICAL PHOTOS INDEX

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