Seppala Siberian Sleddog

A rare working dog breed, the Seppala Siberian Sleddog is developed for the purpose of pulling a sled in cold country. It is a moderate-sized dog averaging 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg) weight and 22 or 23 inches (56 to 58 cm) height. Colours and markings are considered of little importance; eyes may be brown, blue or any combination of the two colours. Seppalas are active and energetic but very docile and trainable.

Seppala Siberian Sleddog show a primitive canine type, never having been bred or selected for beauty or for the show ring. The breed shares its ancestral base with the Siberian Husky and for half a century shared the same registry with that breed, but was bred always exclusively as a working sled-dog breed in its own right and kept apart from show bloodlines. In the late 1990s, it was recognized by Canadian agricultural authorities as a new “evolving breed” and in 2002 a similar separate breed initiative was started in the USA.

Seppala Siberian Sleddog Appearance

Seppala Siberian Sleddog of today differ markedly from many other Siberian Husky bloodlines in physical appearance, being in general less flashily marked, longer in leg and body length, and lighter in weight and physical build than most Siberian Husky show dog lines. Pure-strain Seppalas have dense, smooth coats of medium length with an undercoat nearly as long as the guard hairs. Their ears are taller, set close together and strongly erect, the "stop" of the head less well-defined than that of Siberian Huskies. The tail is held high in a sickle curve over the back when alert, never "snapped" flat to the back or curling down the flank.

Many Seppala Siberian Sleddog are pure white or buff and white. Others are very dark, black, or charcoal grey with dark faces and white only on the feet and tail tip. There are many varied shades of grey, brownish grey, and blue-grey. “Sable” reds with black-tipped guard hairs and black noses occur, but the liver-nosed “copper” phase seen in other lines of Siberian Huskies is unknown in pure Seppalas. Agouti "wild type" coloration and piebald spotting are common.

Seppalas are known for their extremely smooth and well-coordinated gait and for the consistency and strength with which they pull in harness. Although they appear to the inexperienced eye to be rather small and lightly built for sleddogs, actually they are far more efficient pullers than some larger northern breeds. They are capable racing sleddogs, particularly in middistance events, although perhaps not as speedy as world-class Alaskan huskies or pointer-crossed hybrids.

Like other northern breeds, they shed their coats hugely once or twice a year, cannot safely be allowed to run free off leash, and love to hunt small game. They are generally robust and healthy, living twelve to sixteen years, usually working well in harness up to ten or eleven years of age. Health issues for the breed are those common to all northern breeds, such as allergies, cancer and eye problems. They are highly efficient in their use of food, eating relatively little but requiring very high-quality nutrition that is rich in animal protein, animal fat, and fish oil.

Seppala Siberian Sleddog Temperament

The defining characteristics of the breed are its natural, primitive appearance, its highly developed work ethic, and its affectionate, cooperative, and highly bonded nature.

They tend to be more trainable than other sled dogs and to be more highly bonded to their owners. The Seppala Siberian Sleddog disposition is active, merry, and often quite inquisitive, although sometimes showing great reserve with strangers. A stable and serious temperament, neither nervous nor aggressive, is characteristic. Natural, innate sleddog mentality is a primary characteristic of Seppala dogs. Their nature is highly cooperative. They show great seriousness in their work in harness.

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