Back to Basics: A Comparison of the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky and Samoyed

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Welcome to the world of the snow and sled dog! You are entering a class of dogs that differentiate themselves from their counterparts in the Working Group by their function, purpose and incredible beauty. OK, I may be slightly prejudiced. They worked in the harshest climates and conditions for Polar explorers, pulling them to areas never before accessed by man. They were forced to endure blinding blizzards, below-zero temperatures and limited rations of food, many times giving their lives for the cause. Owning these breeds is not for the faint of heart. It takes someone as determined and tough as the dogs themselves.

I will not delve into the history of these breeds as all three originated in the northernmost parts of the world as sled dogs and companions. Samoyeds were also used to herd reindeer. All three breeds still retain the instincts, appearance and abilities that made them such valued animals centuries ago. To preserve these characteristics is of the utmost importance to breeders. Therefore as judges, it is important for us to recognize and reward  the correct attributes for function.

Judging them can many times be confusing. All are “natural breeds” and while there is only one type there can be a wide range of “styles” within the breeds. This is most likely due to the fact that the dogs come from different regions. Within these styles will be ranges in size and differences in head shape and substance. Perhaps you judged these breeds on the East Coast last weekend. Now you are standing in the center of a ring in the Midwest and the dogs look totally different. This is especially common with the Alaskan Malamute.

This article is to be used as a “reference guide” to help you sort them out and reward the proper virtues that, in most instances, relate to function.

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