The Standard For Siberian Huskies

Approved by the American Kennel Club, October 8, 1990
Effective November 28, 1990

General Appearance

The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog, quick and light on his feet and free and graceful in action. His moderately compact and well-furred body, erect ears and brush tail suggest his Northern heritage. His characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He performs his original function in harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. His body proportions and form reflect this basic balance of power, speed and endurance. The males of the Siberian Husky breed are masculine but never coarse; the bitches are feminine but without weakness of structure. In proper condition, with muscle firm and well developed, the Siberian Husky does not carry excess weight.

Size, Proportion, Substance

Height: Dogs, 21 to 23 1/2 inches at the withers. Bitches, 20 to 22 inches at the withers.
Weight: Dogs, 45 to 60 pounds. Bitches, 35 to 50 pounds. Weight is in proportion to height. The measurements mentioned above represent the extreme height and weight limits with no preference given to either extreme. Any appearance of excessive bone or weight should be penalized. In profile, the length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the rear point of the croup is slightly longer than the height of the body from the ground to the top of the withers.

Disqualification: Dogs over 23 1/2 inches and bitches over 22 inches.

Head

Expression: Is keen, but friendly; interested and even mischievous.

Eyes: Almond shaped, moderately spaced and set a trifle obliquely. Eyes may be brown or blue in color; one of each or parti-colored are acceptable. Faults: Eyes set too obliquely; set too close together.

Ears: Of medium size, triangular in shape, close fitting and set high on the head. They are thick, well furred, slightly arched at the back, and strongly erect, with slightly rounded tips pointing straight up. Faults: Ears too large in proportion to the head; too wide-set; not strongly erect.

Skull: Of medium size and in proportion to the body; slightly rounded on top and tapering from the widest point to the eyes. Faults: Head clumsy or heavy; head too finely chiseled.

Stop: The stop is well-defined and the bridge of the nose is straight from the stop to the tip. Fault: Insufficient stop.

Muzzle: Of medium length; that is, the distance from the tip of the nose to the stop is equal to the distance from the stop to the occiput. The muzzle is of medium width, tapering gradually to the nose, with the tip neither pointed nor square. Faults: Muzzle either too snipy or too coarse; muzzle too short or too long.

Nose: Black in gray, tan or black dogs; liver in copper dogs; may be flesh-colored in pure white dogs. The pink-streaked “snow nose” is acceptable.

Lips: Are well pigmented and close fitting.

Teeth: Closing in a scissors bite. Fault: any bite other than scissors.

Neck, Topline, Body

Neck: Medium in length, arched and carried proudly erect when dog is standing. When moving at a trot, the neck is extended so that the head is carried slightly forward. Faults: Neck too short and thick; neck too long.

Chest: Deep and strong, but not too broad, with the deepest point being just behind and level with the elbows. The ribs are well-sprung from the spine but flattened on the sides to allow for freedom of action. Faults: Chest too broad; “barrel ribs;” ribs too flat or weak.

Back: The back is straight and strong, with a level topline from withers to croup. It is of medium length, neither cobby nor slack from excessive length. The loin is taut and lean, narrower than the rib cage, and with a slight tuck-up. The croup slopes away from the spine at an angle, but never so steeply as to restrict the rearward thrust of the hind legs. Faults: Weak or slack back; roached back; sloping topline.

Tail

The well-furred tail of fox-brush shape is set on just below the level of the topline, and is usually carried over the back in a graceful sickle curve when the dog is at attention. When carried up, the tail does not curl to either side of the body, nor does it snap flat against the back. A trailing tail is normal for the dog when in repose. Hair on the tail is of medium length and approximately the same length on top, sides and bottom, giving the appearance of a round brush. Faults: A snapped or tightly curled tail; highly plumed tail; tail set too low or too high.

Forequarters

Shoulders: The shoulder blade is well laid back. The upper arm angles slightly backward from point of shoulder to elbow, and is never perpendicular to the ground. The muscles and ligaments holding the shoulder to the rib cage are firm and well-developed. Faults: Straight shoulders; loose shoulders.

Forelegs: When standing and viewed from the front, the legs are moderately spaced, parallel and straight, with the elbows close to the body and turned neither in nor out. Viewed from the side, pasterns are slightly slanted, with the pastern joint strong, but flexible. Bone is substantial but never heavy. Length of the leg from elbow to ground is slightly more than the distance from the elbow to the top of withers. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed. Faults: Weak pasterns; too heavy bone; too narrow or too wide in the front; out at the elbows.

Feet: Oval in shape but not long. The paws are medium in size, compact and well-furred between the toes and pads. The pads are tough and thickly cushioned. The paws neither turn in nor out when the dog is in natural stance. Faults: Soft or splayed toes; paws too large and clumsy; paws too small and delicate; toeing in or out.

Hindquarters

When standing and viewed from the rear, the hind legs are moderately spaced and parallel. The upper thighs are well-muscled and powerful, the stifles well bent, the hock joint well defined and set low to the ground. Dewclaws, if any, are to be removed. Faults: Straight stifles, cowhocks, too narrow or too wide in the rear.

Coat

The coat of the Siberian Husky is double and medium in length, giving a well-furred appearance, but is never so long as to obscure the clean-cut outline of the dog. The undercoat is soft and dense and of sufficient length to support the outer coat. The guard hairs of the outer coat are straight and somewhat smooth-lying, never harsh nor standing straight off from the body. It should be noted that the absence of the undercoat during the shedding season is normal Trimming of whiskers and fur between the toes and around the feet to present a neater appearance is permissible. Trimming the fur on any other part of the dog is not to be condoned and should be severely penalized. Faults: Long, rough, or shaggy coat; texture too harsh or too silky; trimming of the coat, except as permitted above.

Color

All colors from black to pure white are allowed. A variety of markings on the head is common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds.

Gait

The Siberian Husky’s characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He is quick and light on his feet, and when in the show ring should be gaited on a loose lead at a moderately fast trot, exhibiting good reach in the forequarters and good drive in the hindquarters. When viewed from the front to rear while moving at a walk the Siberian Husky does not single-track, but as the speed increases the legs gradually angle inward until the pads are falling on a line directly under the longitudinal center of the body. As the pad marks converge, the forelegs and hind legs are carried straight forward, with neither elbows nor stifles turned in or out. Each hind leg moves in the path of the foreleg on the same side. While the dog is gaiting, the topline remains firm and level. Faults: Short, prancing or choppy gait, lumbering or rolling gait; crossing or crabbing.

Temperament

The characteristic temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. He does not display the possessive qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs. Some measure of reserve and dignity may be expected in the mature dog. His intelligence, tractability, and eager disposition make him an agreeable companion and willing worker.

Summary

The most important breed characteristics of the Siberian Husky are medium size, moderate bone, well balanced proportions, ease and freedom of movement, proper coat, pleasing head and ears, correct tail, and good disposition. Any appearance of excessive bone or weight, constricted or clumsy gait, or long, rough coat should be penalized. The Siberian Husky never appears so heavy or coarse as to suggest a freighting animal; nor is he so light and fragile as to suggest a sprint-racing animal. In both sexes the Siberian Husky gives the appearance of being capable of great endurance. In addition to the faults already noted, the obvious structural faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Siberian Husky as in any other breed, even though they are not specifically mentioned herein.

Disqualification

Dogs over 23 1/2 inches and bitches over 22 inches.

(Source)

Statement on Coat Colors

SHCA’s Policy Statement on Merle and Brindle Siberian Huskies
The Board of Directors of the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. recognizes that the Breed Standard for Siberian Huskies states “All colors from black to pure white are allowed.  A variety of markings on the head is common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds.”  However it is our strong belief that “merle” markings (and the genetic health issues that are associated with the merle gene) and “brindle” markings are not genetically possible in the purebred Siberian Husky gene pool.  Therefore, it is our belief that a Siberian Husky exhibiting merle or brindle patterning is the result of impure breeding.  As such, the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc strongly discourages anyone from purchasing or breeding a merle or a brindle Siberian Husky.
 (September 1, 2018)
 


(For more information, see article, below.)   

The Board of Directors of the Siberian Husky Club of America has approved the following descriptions of those colors and shades most frequently encountered within the breed. While slight deviations from these descriptions will be normal, recognizing that no two Siberian Huskies will be exactly the same color in every respect, it is desired by the Board that fanciers will attempt to adopt these guidelines when describing or registering their Siberians. It is the hope of the Board that greater uniformity of descriptions will result from adherence to these guidelines.

BLACK AND WHITE

Shades

Jet Black
Guard coat is solid black, the individual guard hair is monochrome (not banded) black from root to tip. Single white guard hairs appear occasionally. The undercoat is black or more frequently dark grey. The jet black coat is frequently accompanied by great depth of black pigment on pads and roof of mouth.

Black
Guard hairs are banded with some amount of white near roots. Single white guard hairs appear more frequently. Undercoat may be lighter than is seen in the jet black coat while some buff-colored hairs may be found in the lower stifle and in the vicinity of the ears. The dog gives the impression of having a black and white coat but without the depth of pigmentation found in the jet black and white coat.

Dilute Black
Guard hairs are banded with the whitish cast extending substantially from the root and tipped with black. Undercoat has a whitish cast. Dog appears to be black on head and along spine while shorter guard coat along flanks produces a silver effect.

GRAY AND WHITE

Shades

Silver Gray
Guard hair is banded with various tones of white and minimal black tipping. The undercoat is of a whitish cast. The effect produced is a silver shade of gray on head, back, and flanks, with only minimal darkening along spine.

Gray
The guard hair is banded with cream and/or buff tones near the root with black tipping. The light undercoat is toned to give the dog a yellowish-gray cast.

Wolf Gray
The guard hair is banded with buff tones near the root with black tipping. The cream tones of the undercoat combine to give the dog a brownish-gray cast.

RED AND WHITE

Always associated with liver points (nose, lips, and eye rims) and complete absence of black hairs. Light, medium, and dark may be specified, determined by the amount of solid color banding on guard.

SABLE AND WHITE

The guard hair is banded with a reddish cast near the root with black tipping. Undercoat is reddish-copper. Always accompanied by black points; this color gives the dog a reddish cast and is not to be confused with wolf gray.

AGOUTI AND WHITE

The guard hair is banded with black near the root and at the tip with a yellow or beige band at the center of the hair. Undercoat is very dark. Defined as the “wild color,” it is most frequently seen in wild rodents.

SOLID WHITE

The guard hair appears to be either monochrome (not banded) or banded with pale cream tinges at the root of an otherwise white hair. An occasional black guard hair may appear. The undercoat is solid white. This coat color results from either an extreme piebald factor or an extreme dilution factor and may, as a result, be accompanied by either black or liver points.


SHCA’s Policy Statement on Merle Siberian Huskies

Merle patterning occurs in many breeds naturally, such as in Collies, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattles Dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, etc., and in others it has been introduced, such as in the Chihuahua so why the concern now over merle Siberians? With the advent of the internet, widespread dissemination of information, both correct and incorrect is now possible. It has come to the SHCA’s attention that there are several websites that are advertising merle Siberian Huskies. Some of these dogs may be listed as merles while others are incorrectly listed as piebalds, but their photos show them clearly as merles. To help protect our breed from a serious health concern associated with the merle gene and to protect the unknowing public who may want to purchase a “rare colored” Siberian the SHCA has adopted a policy statement about merle Siberian Huskies.

What exactly is merle? Merle refers to the pattern in the coat not the color – it is a pattern gene, as is the piebald gene, NOT a color gene. The effect of the merle gene is to alter the base coat color causing lighter patches resulting in a speckled or mottled appearance (or pattern) to the base coat color. It may also affect the dark pigment of the eyes, paw pads and nose and it may occur with any color. The merle gene is NOT a dilution gene (which dilutes the entire base coat color as is the case of fawn or blue Dobermans).

How is the merle gene inherited?  Merle is dominant to non-merle (i.e. solid base coat). Dominant genes, signified by a capital letters, mask the effect of recessive genes, signified by lowercase letters. Merle is signified by a capital M and non-merle by a lowercase m. A merle dog only needs one merle gene (because it is dominant) to exhibit the merle pattern. “Genetically” it would be written as Mm. A non-merle dog would carry no merle genes and thus would “genetically” be mm. The major problems occur when two merle, Mm, dogs are bred together.

The merle gene can produce some very striking patterns so why does the Siberian Husky Club of America not want the merle gene introduced into our breed? First, from the vast photographic history of the breed there is no evidence that merle purebred Siberian Huskies existed or exist. Since the merle gene is dominant it could not have been “hidden” for all these years. By understanding these facts it is obvious that merle Siberians could only be produced by impure breeding, whether intentional or not. Second the genes that are involved in determining pigmentation and coloring also have significant effects on the development of eyesight and hearing. Dogs with just one merle gene do not seem to have major problems in this regard – but there is some evidence that even these dogs may be affected but just to a lesser degree that may be difficult to determine without specialized testing – but when two merle dogs are bred together there is a 25% chance that they will produce a double merle dog (“lethal white” or “double dilutes” are misnomers) – a dog that has two copies of the merle gene. The health consequences of double merle puppies vary from mild to severe and will not be apparent until the puppies are two weeks of age or older. Some puppies may be born deaf, some born blind and some born deaf and blind. Vision problems cover a wide variety of problems up to and including total blindness, small eyes or missing eyes altogether. Other eye conditions seen include eccentric pupils (also known as “dropped” pupil), underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the iris so it is not able to function properly (often these dogs will squint in bright sunlight), and irregularly shaped (“starburst”) pupils. Other eye disorders are also possible. These health concerns may necessitate the need to euthanize a 2 week old or older, puppy.  The severity of these health issues CANNOT be predicted ahead of time!

So why not make merle a disqualification? Making changes to the breed standard is a lengthy and complicated process and making changes to the standard to make merle a disqualification would only prevent these dogs from being shown in the breed ring – they could still be registered and still compete in companion and performance events and most importantly they would still be able to be used for breeding (the white German Shepherd is an example of this – but please note there are no health issues associated with the white Shepherds).

So why not test for impure breeding? AKC DNA programs can only confirm the parents, and possibly grandparents, of an individual dog.  If it is found that the sire or dam could not have been one of the parents of the particular offspring that is all that can be determined – it CANNOT determine what breed the true sire or dam might have been. This is especially true if the cross happened back in the 3rd or 4th generation.  At least one DNA breed test lab’s (HealthGene) own disclosure statement states that the canine breed ID test is “not designed for use as a purebred or paternity verification test” and “it is not an established legal tool.” So at this time DNA testing is not sensitive enough to be used to verify impure breeding and to determine what breed might have been used for the breeding.

Due to the above concerns of impure breeding and the potential for serious health concerns when breeding merle dogs the SHCA has adopted the following policy statement:

SHCA’s Policy Statement on Merle and Brindle Siberian Huskies
The Board of Directors of the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. recognizes that the Breed Standard for Siberian Huskies states “All colors from black to pure white are allowed.  A variety of markings on the head is common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds.”  However it is our strong belief that “merle” markings (and the genetic health issues that are associated with the merle gene) and “brindle” markings are not genetically possible in the purebred Siberian Husky gene pool.  Therefore, it is our belief that a Siberian Husky exhibiting merle or brindle patterning is the result of impure breeding.  As such, the Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc strongly discourages anyone from purchasing or breeding a merle or a brindle Siberian Husky.
 

Policy Statement Adopted by the SHCA Board of Directors, 09/01/2018.

(Source)