Sharon is a Siberian husky breeder,
How did you get started in Siberians?
In the spring of 1992 my husband and I had started looking for a dog for our 1st son to grow up with. We were not particular on breed or even purebred really we just wanted a great dog. After looking around for a couple months and not finding any that "caught our eye" I had heard of a neighbor who had a dog he was desperately trying to get rid of, to the point he was considering euthanizing her so I went and got her. I figured even if she was not what I wanted I would find her a good home. She turned out to be a Full AKC Purebred Siberian Husky. She was beautiful and very affectionate, we loved her immediately. We did find out he had been letting her run loose on his farm as a farm dog which if you know a Siberian Husky is NOT a good thing. She had been running loose and chasing/killing livestock which was why he was willing to euthanize her to get rid of her. He had been told by her breeder (who I am guessing was just trying to get rid of her) that she would make a great farm dog. Well after we adopted her 5 weeks later she turned up pregnant. She had 6 puppies, 3 looked like Siberians and 3 looked like mixes. We placed them in pet homes and started doing allot of research and took in some sled racing events and at one we took a ride in a sled and that was it we were hooked! We started getting help with training our girl Kiana and quickly found it takes more then one so expanded to our 1st male Kash and ended up letting them have a litter to keep another two to add to our sled team and the rest as they say is history!
How many Siberians do you have?
Currently I have 16 but I have had up to 21 as we have grown to 3 sled teams. One team for me, my husband, and any one of my 4 kids to use. We do allot of recreational sledding.
How do you choose buyers?
Anyone passing the puppy application can adopt one of our puppies. Each potential purchaser is required to fill out the puppy application and provide references and answer a lot of questions. It is not a perfect system but it for the most part it has worked well. There are some people who do not know the breed at all and just like them for the look they have seen in movies so these buyers I try to weed out and only place my pups with good loving homes that knows the breed well and what to expect because Siberian Huskies can be very difficult and hard to handle or they can be easy as pie it really depends on the individual dog and bloodlines.
What do you look for in a puppy when your keeping one and when do you look for it?
We start evaluating puppies at 4 weeks to see how it interacts with it's litter-mates and mother, but prefer to judge them more at 10-12 weeks and again at 4-6 months. We find at that age they resemble their adult proportions more and you can get a much better overall idea of the dog for its position in the pack and on the sled team. Some people have told us that happens at 8 weeks, but that has not been our experience. We have evaluated litters at 8 weeks before and didn't think much of a certain puppy, adopted them out and then kicked ourselves when we saw it a few months later. Of course if you can hold onto a litter until 6-8 months you can really see how each pup is growing up, but not everyone can do that.
Which two dogs that you've had comes closest to your ideal Siberian?
It's hard to name just two as that changes as the years pass, I have many favorites and miss the departed ones dearly. Being my ideal Siberians for many different reasons, not just show, sled or breeding potential (some were not very good in some of those areas at all) so I will say my first two.
Frosty (Lyko's Inspiration)
Beautiful dog, Superb Temperament, NOT good on sled.
Kiana (Kiani II)
Our first girl, For introducing us to this wonderful yet challenging breed. She was great on sled and had a delightful temperament but was a challenge to.
What are your goals?
To produce great Siberians with sound minds and bodies and superior temperaments as well as supreme health, to be great family pets that excel in sledding and working as they were meant to.
How important should temperament be in a breeding program?
It is the most important element along with supreme health. There are many animal rights groups trying to take the right to own dogs away from us and it is our job to make sure they don’t. The first step is to make sure any dog we produce has a supreme temperament and it represents the breed well. People remember the one bad dog they hear about but quickly forget the ten good.
Is phenotype more important than pedigree?
No , they are equally important because without good phenotype the dog should not be bred however that dog is made up of generations of good, great or bad dogs and will pass those genes to offspring so it is crucial to know your pedigrees as well so you can determine the best way to breed or even if the dog should be bred.
What advice you would you give to somebody just getting started in the breed?
Take the time to research this breed. Be sure this is the breed of dog you can live with. KNOW THEIR FAULTS!! Go to as many, dog shows and/or races to look at different types. Don’t buy on impulse but when you buy, buy the best female you can possibly afford. It costs the same amount of money to feed a good dog as a poor one. It is a lot more difficult to breed up than it is to start with a better quality dog.
What do you feel are the major problems in the breed?
1. Its popularity. This attracts those who are solely interested in making a profit off the dogs without regard for the quality, health or temperament, I get calls at least twice a year from people who purchased a pup only to find it is aggressive (at 12 weeks or less) and the breeder won't take it back so they would like to trade it for one of mine (like I should pay for their mistake) or people who list aggressiveness as a negative on the puppy application. This is terrible as Siberians are not an aggressive breed, A well bred Siberian Husky loves their pack and they adore children and being with the family.
2. More specific to the dog itself, temperament and health are my major concerns, I have seen more Siberians with ill temperaments in recent years and many more with health problems that could be easily avoided if bred properly.
How do you feel about Siberian standard?
The Siberian standard is well written and has served us well for many years but I do feel that the Illustrated Standard does a great job of helping to fill in the areas that are difficult to visualize with words alone.
I would imagine that they need a lot of exercise?
The Siberian Husky is a working breed like no other! A Siberian Husky is easily adaptable and could be happy to walk a few miles a day. However in all fairness, the Siberian Husky only truly wants to work. The Siberian Husky has a very strong instinct and literally has 'run', 'pull' and 'work' ingrained on its brain!!
The best way to keep a Siberian Husky happy, fit and healthy is by allowing it to run. This can only be done by working it in harness. It is irresponsible and unfair on the breed to allow it to run free and off the lead as their instinct will tell it to run, hunt and inevitably not come back.
The easiest way (and a lot of fun too) to exercise a pet Husky is to use a scooter (http://www.pawtrekker.com). This is a safer way than attaching it to a bike as a scooter is fitted with a Brush bow which stops the lines getting tangled in the wheels and stops the dog being run over.
Do you have examples of what might make the animal unsuitable as a pet for some people?
Huskies love people, they are not a one-man dog - any human will do - which can be seen as a lack of loyalty.
Huskies are not guard dog, they love people and therefore will not guard your home or property.
Strong desire to run. If he gets free he will run so far he will be lost, if not hit by a car or train, or shot by a farmer. Never let a husky off lead.
Cannot be relied on to return to you on command. He will decide whether or not to return for himself, knowing that you cannot catch him.
Very independent and strong willed.
Requires a substantial amount of exercise to keep him fit and happy, but this must be done ON a lead.
Very destructive, especially when young and/or if left alone for a long time.
Huskies are pack animals and need company, human but preferably canine, a husky is miserable without it.
Huskies are great escape artists, they need a safely enclosed garden. Six foot high fencing USUALLY enough, although huskies can climb and have been known to escape from a 7ft high fenced enclosure. Huskies will dig their way to freedom if there is no way over. Do not leave dustbins etc. near the fence or he may use them to get over the top. Keep the garden gate locked, otherwise there is a risk that visitors, window cleaners etc. may leave them open.
If you like a nice garden huskies are not for you!! Huskies love to dig for no reason and destroy plants, trees and shrubs.
Huskies blow coat in excessive amounts twice a year.
Huskies are a natural breed with strong pack instincts and body language, this needs to be understood.
A husky needs to know who is boss otherwise he will make himself the boss!!
Sadly, many people fail to take these factors into consideration when taking on a husky and soon realize that the cute, cuddly bundle of fur that they have taken on is not what they had imagined it would be! Unfortunately, more and more huskies are ending up in rescue centers and welfare organizations due to this.