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Siberian Huskies can make wonderful companions. They are high-energy, independent thinkers with a knack for escaping and a love of running, so they’re not the breed for everyone. Huskies are strikingly beautiful and exceptionally friendly, but those are only two of the many reasons that Siberian Huskies are amazing dogs and worthy of admiration. Here are some more:

They Were Developed as Working Sled Dogs Over Thousands of Years

The Chukchi people, living in the Siberian peninsula of northeast Asia, developed Siberian Huskies as working sled dogs over thousands of years. The area is home to one of the most hostile and extreme climates in the world—where winds can reach 100 miles per hour and temperatures can drop to 100 degrees below zero. With teams of up to 20 dogs pulling their sleds out onto the ice in their search for food, the Chukchi relied on the dogs for survival. The dogs were central to the people’s life and culture.

Some Believe Siberians Guard the Gates of Heaven

According to Chukchi belief, two Siberians guard the gates of heaven. These guardians turn away anyone who was cruel to a dog during their life on earth.

Siberian Husky head portrait in profile outdoors.
©Anastasiia -

They Were Used During World War II for Search and Rescue

The U.S. Army used Siberian sled dogs for Arctic search and rescue of downed pilots and cargo during World War II. According to K-9 History, search planes and sleds worked together to rescue the crews of downed planes. A recon plane would locate the wreck and determine the safest route to get dog sleds and rescue workers to the site. They’d transport them as close as possible to the site and then the dog sled teams would rescue injured flyers and retrieve cargo.

They Brought Lifesaving Serum to Fight an Epidemic in 1925

The breed gained fame in 1925 after Siberian Husky sled dogs heroically brought lifesaving serum to fight a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. The closest source of the medicine was more than 600 miles away. A dog-team relay involving 20 “mushers” (sled-team drivers) and more than 100 dogs was formed to bring the serum as quickly as possible.

Musher Leonhard Seppala left Nome with 20 Siberians, heading east to meet a team coming from the other direction carrying the package of medicine. Seppala’s team had to go farther than expected. After traveling 170 miles in three days, they finally met the other team.

With the medicine on board, Seppala turned his tired team around, with lead dog “Togo” at the front. They began back toward Nome amid gale-force winds and temperatures of 30 degrees below zero. As they attempted to cross the frozen Norton Sound, darkness and blizzard conditions prevented Seppala from seeing the route ahead. But, Togo navigated the team to a roadhouse on the shore, probably saving the lives of all—and preventing loss of the precious serum. Gunnar Kaasen and his team, led by “Balto,” completed the last leg of the relay.

In 1926, Seppala was invited to tour the U.S. He visited cities across the country, with more than 40 Siberian Huskies, including Togo. In New York City, the explorer Roald Amundsen presented Togo with a medal for his role in the serum relay. Although Togo and the rest of Seppala’s team ran the longest and most hazardous leg,  Balto became the most famous dog of the run. His statue now stands in Central Park.

Siberian Huskies pulling a sled through the snow.
Auldist/Getty Images Plus

An Annual Sled Dog Race Commemorates the Breed

Since 1973, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has been run annually in commemoration of the Serum Run. Mushers and dog teams travel from Anchorage to Nome in nine to 15 days or more. A range of Northern breeds and crossbreeds participate, and every year a number of all-Siberian Husky teams compete.

They Can Be Expert Escape Artists

Siberians are a high-energy and extremely athletic breed. This can make them very challenging to keep as pets. Because they love to run long distances, for their own good, they should never be off-lead in unfenced areas—and they should be microchipped in case they ever are lost.

The Siberian Is Naturally Clean

Siberian Huskies’ dense coats, which protect them against cold weather, don’t require any clipping or trimming. The coat does have a shedding period at least once a year, but the shedding can be kept under control with frequent brushing during that time.

Siberian Husky standing in profile outdoors.
©sir_j -

The Breed’s National Club Offers a Sled Dog Degree Program

The Siberian Husky Club of America’s program is open to all purebred Siberian Huskies. There are three levels of degrees: basic, excellent, and outstanding. The dogs compete in teams in distance and sprint races.

The Breed is Very Friendly

Despite the Siberian Husky’s wolflike appearance, the breed is friendly to people, including total strangers. While their looks may intimidate some people, they don’t tend to make very good guard dogs.

Finally, Those Eyes!

A Siberian can have brown eyes, blue eyes, one of each, or even particolored eyes!

Related article: Why Do Siberian Huskies Have Blue Eyes?
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