Team Koyuk

What about Denmark - should serious racing kennels be able to breed?

How come, that most people in Denmark only are focusing on the dog's appearance, when it comes to breeding? In many other countries the breeding criteria are a combination of show results and racing abilities. Shouldn't that be the case in Denmark, too?

By Natasha Epstein and Jørgen Grüner

In most books written about Siberian Huskies and racing, an advice is given over and over. As long as you can buy better dogs than the ones, you have got yourself, don't breed your own dogs - buy a puppy instead.In most books written about Siberian Huskies and racing, an advice is given over and over. As long as you can buy better dogs than the ones, you have got yourself, don't breed your own dogs - buy a puppy instead.In this magazine and at different sled dog seminars it has been discussed, which criteria that are important, when you are going to decide, if your bitch is suitable for breeding. But all these wise words are put aside in Denmark, when you are trying to get your dog approved for breeding. Here it is only the appearance that counts.

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If you own Siberians and have a great passion for races - and by that for the kind of dogs that can make a difference in international races - you are quickly facing big difficulties. We know that we are not the first, and will probably not be the last… In Denmark it is a breeding criteria that your dog has at least a 2nd place from an exhibition. The claims about no hereditary eye diseases and fine hips are of course very reasonable.

To feel absolutely out of place

In Denmark most owners of racing Siberians feels absolutely out of place at an exhibition. The judges know very little about Siberians, and your dog can at one exhibition get a 1st place and on another exhibition the next week get a 2nd place. It seems like a lottery, where the judge's own attitude towards the breed is more important than breeding standards and knowledge about the breed.

When you analyse this situation, you have to admit that exhibitions are more than just a question of getting your dog approved as a worthy representative for the breed.

Exhibitions have developed into a sport, where the appearance of the breed is prioritised. A sport where you fight for the greatest placements to gain honour and the possibility of selling puppies from the most prestigious kennels/show winners.

We truly respect the kennels that work so hard to win at the exhibitions, and know they are training tremendously hard for the appearance in the show ring. It is a pleasure to watch these people show off their dogs.Udstillinger har udviklet sig til en sportsgren, hvor skønhedsidealerne hos racen prioriteres. Udstillingerne er blevet en sport, hvor der er rift om de flotte placeringer med henblik på at kunne vinde ære og ikke mindst kunne sælge hvalpe fra de flotteste og mest præstigefyldte vindere/kenneler.

Breeding criteria

As we see it, the problem isn't the show dogs or their owners. The problem is that if we in Denmark are going to get a great racing dog approved for breeding, we have to show up in this world, which is totally unknown to us. And we have to pay money to get a judge, who almost always doesn't know anything about sled dog racing, to approve that our dog can be used in breeding. It would be the same as demanding that show dogs should win prices at sled dog races in order to get permission to breed. Here you at least didn't have to put up with subjective comments from the judge, because the results would speak for it self….

The background for this problem is that in Denmark it has been decided solely to focus on the appearance of the Siberian Husky. You can not - even if many people try to convince us about the opposite - see in a show ring how well a dog will manage in a sled dog race. Nor is it possible in a show ring to decode the social character of the dog, unless it is extreme. The only thing you can see is the carriage and presentation and then of course delineations, positioning of the ears etc. - all the conditions about the exterior and the metier that is practiced in the show ring. You actually CAN see if the dog is able to "pull a light burden over a long distance in a moderate pace", but it is not taken into consideration in the show ring - even if it is a part of the breeding standard.

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This problem is known to everybody, if you have just been a part of this game for a couple of months. It is constantly discussed at any gathering of Siberian owners. In Norway they actually write in an official home page, that this discussion has been the reason why many people have chosen to leave the breed and race with Alaskan Huskies instead. That way you are escaping from the continuous discussions. A very understandable reaction.

In Germany there has also been the same discussions, and today there are two clubs: one that concentrates about preserving the original qualities and characters of the breed, and one that concentrates on exhibitions.

In Sweden they have chosen to make it cheaper for the breeders, if their dogs have been approved, but actually there are not any demands. Everybody can get a stud book for their puppies. The same is the fact in Norway.

In Germany

Since 1991 there have existed 2 racial clubs, DCNH (the German club for Nordic breeds) and SHC (the German Siberian Husky Club). In 1991 a group of people went from DCNH and founded SHC.

DCNH has just about the same rules as the Danish:

1. Free of hereditary eye diseases.
2. Approved hips
3. Fine placement at an exhibition.

The SHC rules are:

1. Free of hereditary eye diseases.
2. Approved hips
3. First, second or third place at an exhibition. If the dog only gets a 3rd place, it has to have "Performance certifikat" and is only allowed to mate with a dog that has gotten first or second place at an exhibition. 4. Working certificate (AA, AS or "Performance certifikat")

* AA: 100 km. of race participation in all, hereof at least one race in snow. Can be from several years
* AS: 100 km. of race participation in snow in the same season
* Performance certificate: 3 races in the same season or 4 races in all, where the dog's results are within 125% (open races) or 110% (pure breed races) of the average final time for the first 3 teams in the class. Only specially approved races can be reckoned with.

5. The breeder is visited by a breeding guardian, when the litter is between 8 and 12 weeks old, to control that the puppies are chipped, vaccinated, worm treated and with good health. They identify the parent dogs' chips or ear tattoos, and they check the whole kennel.

In Sweden

No breeding rules.
Cheaper stud book payment, if the parents have either accomplished an official polar dog race or have acchieved at least a 3rd place at an official exhibition. Polar dog Championship: 3 first prizes in Polar dog test 3 + at least second place at an exhibition in Norway or Sweden. Show Championship: 3 "cert"s at an exhibition in Sweden + approved Polar dog test 3. Polar dog test 3 (Siberian Husky): The basic time = the average time of the 2-4 first placed. First place: 105% of the basic time. Second place: 110% of the basic time.

In Norway

Rules of the Norwegian Kennel Club, NKK:

1. Known HD status
2. ID-marking

The Siberian Husky Club, NSHK, has since 1996 worked for the approval of a working dog test of the Siberian Husky and that a Siberian shall have a racing approval to be an exhibition champion. This has not been carried through yet, because there hasn't been enough support for the suggestion. Partly because there is not any demands for breeding/registration of puppies. But NSHK's goal is to work for the preservation and development of the Siberian Husky as a sled dog. On their home page it says that it is important to test your dog's working abilities, before you breed with it.

And then what?

It is very interesting to study Germany - not only because SHC has chosen to continue having certain breeding restrictions, but also because the Germans are managing so well at many races. If you look at the first 6 placements at the World Championship this year (2004), Germany took 58% of the pricing! SHC's solution is very interesting. They focus on the racing abilities of the dog - but that isn't enough: the dog still has to be approved at an exhibition. Extreme dogs - which only can achieve a 3rd place - can yet still be a part of the breeding, because their running abilities are essential for the development of the breed, but the dog has to mated to a dog more typical for the breed as goes for the appearance. We think that this is an interesting suggestion for a compromise.

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The models of Sweden and Norway are very liberal and probably the simplest models to choose and they fit perfectly into the spirit of our time. Here the only thing that matters is the confidence between Siberian owner and kennel club, and this solution will probably not get any support in Denmark. Some people will suggest that such free rules will result in that the Siberian Husky develops into an Alaskan Husky. The experiences from Sweden and Norway don't show that, while many Siberian owners continue to work for the special qualities of the breed.

Today the Danish breeding criteria are solely based on the premises of the exhibition world. We can choose to think that is fine. Then you just can't expect the Danes to meddle in the fight for the gold, silver and bronze in the big races. At least not with dogs bred in Denmark. We can also choose to let go of the breeding criteria as in Sweden and Norway, or we can choose to keep some breeding criteria to ensure that the breed is preserving its original qualities. Or we can choose a model like other working dog clubs have chosen where all dogs shall pass different tests to get an approval for breeding.

Or we can recommend to the Danish Siberian Husky Club to develop a Danish model, which take both the show and the racing dogs into consideration. Anyone knows - to be honest - that these are two very different types of dog, but the one sport can be as good as the other. We are all interested in preserving our breed, the Siberian Husky, but what we like about the dog is very complex. We love the dog's spirit and its outstanding ability to function in a group, we love sled dog racing, and the most beautiful dog for us is the dog that loves racing as much as we do. As we see it, nobody has the right to patent the truth about the Siberian Husky.

Comments to the English translation, June 2008: Sadly this article resulted in nothing but another discussion in the Danish Siberian Husky Club. Therefore we - and several other racing kennels - have decided to leave DSHK and join the Swedish Polar Dog Club instead. In Sweden sled dog racing is of high priority, and we often go to Sweden anyway. So last year we went to a Swedish exhibition to get two of our dogs approved. And they both got 1st place!