Seppala huskies are a medium-sized breed closely related to Siberian huskies. They have a very strong work ethic, and a desire to please their owners. They are friendly, and charm everyone they meet.
They are a rare breed, and perilously close to extinction. However, champions of the breed are working to bring their numbers back up.
- What Is A Seppala Husky?
- How Much Do Seppala Huskies Cost?
- Seppala Huskies VS Siberian Huskies
What Is A Seppala Husky?
The Seppala husky is very similar to the Siberian husky. In fact, the AKC would consider them to be part of the Siberian husky breed. However, Seppala lovers argue that there are key differences between the two, and that the Seppala is a breed all its own.
Canada was the first to recognize this. In 1997, the Seppela Siberian Sleddog, or SSSD, was declared an evolving breed in Canada. The Working Canine Association of Canada, or WCAC, was established as a record-keeping organization for the breed.
Characteristics Of The Seppala
The Seppela husky’s coat is most often white, buff, or buff and white. They can also be black, shades of gray, or sable, which means they have black-tipped guard hairs. Agouti, or wild coloring, is very wolf-like and common for the Seppela.
They are medium-sized and reach 19 to 24 inches tall. They have long legs and athletic bodies with moderate bone structure. Their deep narrow chest provides power for pulling. They have a dense double coat, which protects them from harsh weather conditions.
Their personality is extremely friendly. They get along well with strangers and other dogs. They have a deep love for their owner, and a strong desire to please them.
Seppela Husky History
Siberian dogs were brought to Alaska from 1908 to 1930. They quickly became popular, because they were faster than the larger crossbreeds commonly used at this time. They played a critical role in the Yikon and Nome gold rushes.
From the stock brought to Alaska, Leonhard Seppala established his own line of Siberian sledders. Seppala was a Norwegian native, who came to Alaska to find gold and adventure. The line was established in 1915. Seppala played a crucial role in the 1926 Nome Serum Run. After the race, he brought his dogs on a tour of the Eastern U.S.
The tour ended with a race in Maine. He competed against New England drivers. Seppala’s dogs won, which made the Seppalas instantly popular in the Northeastern states.
He opened a kennel in Maine. The Siberian husky was recognized by the American Kennel Club, or AKC, in 1930. The iron curtain would soon stop the import of dogs from Siberia. Olaf Swenson brought the last group of dogs before the curtain came down. These dogs went to the Poland Spring kennel.
While the kennel was prolific, with as many as 160 dogs at one time, only 8 of its huskies were ever AKC registered.
Seppala transferred much of his key stock and the kennel to Harry R. Wheeler, who lived in Canada. Wheeler received the Seppala Kennels name as well. Wheeler’s line eventually became the foundation for the Canadian Kennel Club “Siberian Huskie” breed in 1939, against the wishes of Wheeler. Wheeler did work with a few well-known breeders to bring new Siberians to New England.
From the breed’s beginning until 1975, Seppela breeders were exclusive. They avoided any breeding to the Seely stock, which became a large part of the Siberian Husky breed. The Seppela could be considered a breed within a breed, rather than a bloodline.
Siberian husky breeders would sometimes include Seppela stock, but Seppala breeders actively avoided the Siberian stock. Siberian husky breeders began to focus more on confirmation and shows. This caused them to focus on cosmetics, rather than performance. Seppelas, on the other hand, were bred for performance, with no real concern given to their outward appearance.
This caused the dogs to become distinctly different over the generations. Today, there are few pure Seppela dogs left.
The tradition of keeping the Seppela husky pure eventually faded, partially due to concerns about the limited genetic stock.
Today, the INTERNATIONAL SEPPALA SIBERIAN SLEDDOG CLUB (ISSSC), founded in 2002, is the most well-recognized breed club for Seppalas.
Unfortunately, there’s some controversy about the club, with detractors claiming that not all of the Seppalas registered are true Seppalas.
Back Into The Spotlight
Seppalas fell out of favor, with Alaskan huskies and Siberian huskies dominating for decades. However, they have experienced a resurgence in recent years.
In 2019, Togo was released by Disney. This movie finally set the record straight about the Nome Serum Run and brought Seppala huskies back into the limelight.
Originally, another dog, Balto, was credited with the run. Balto ran the final leg, bringing the serum into nome. However, Togo had travelled much further, making him the true hero.
How Much Do Seppala Huskies Cost?
Seppala huskies are surprisingly inexpensive, despite their rarity. They typically cost between $600 to $800.
Reputable Seppala breeders include Sepp-Alta Kennels, Poland Spring Seppala Kennels, and Foxstand Kennels.
Seppala Huskies VS Siberian Huskies
Seppala huskies and Siberian huskies share many similarities, but there are a few differences to be aware of.
It should be noted that what makes a dog a Seppala is currently up for debate, with many breeders and owners using the name as a marketing tool.
Not all of this is intentional. Many simply know what a Seppala is because they’ve encountered a dog they believed to be a Seppala, or misunderstand what a Seppala truly is.
They may have been told a particular husky was a Seppala, or simply decided it was based on their understanding of Seppala huskies. This causes them to confuse further about what a Seppala is.
Seppela vs. “Working” Siberian Husky
Some people believe that Seppala huskies are simply “working” Siberian huskies. This does cause some confusion.
Show-quality huskies, also known as “quality” huskies, have been bred for confirmation. Breeders focus heavily on meeting the breed standard, rather than on the husky’s performance.
Working huskies, on the other hand, are bred to pull sleds. They are more energetic and a bit larger than show Siberians. They may be more independent as well.
Agouti coloring is expected in the working line, and rare in the show line. Working huskies typically have a denser coat than show huskies, to protect them in arctic conditions.
The tail is another difference between the two. Working huskies typically have a curved tail, while show huskies sport a straight tail. The curved tail helps the huskies balance when sledding.
Seppalas are, in many respects, closer to the working lines of Siberian huskies than the show lines. However, there are still distinctive differences.
Seppala vs Siberian Huskies
Seppalas differ from Siberian huskies in their height and weight, body structure, and temperament.
Height And Weight
Seppala huskies are slightly larger than Siberians, and they weigh a bit less than a Siberians of the same size.
Male Seppalas reach 21-25 inches tall and weigh 38-65 pounds. A Siberian male will reach 21-24 inches tall, and weigh 45-60 pounds.
Female Seppalas are smaller, growing to 19-23 inches tall, and weighing 30-55 pounds. Female Siberians are 20-22 inches tall and weigh 35 to 50 pounds.
There are a few differences in the body structure as well. Seppala huskies have taller ears, which are closer together. They also have slightly longer bodies than Siberians.
Their tails differ as well. Seppalas have curved, or sickle-shaped tails, while Siberians have straight tails.
Both breeds are very loyal, affectionate, and willing to please their owners. However, Seppalas tend to be better behaved, and easier to train than Siberians, which are known for their stubborn streak.
Seppalas are highly active but very eager to please their owners. Both breeds are often considered fearless. However, the trait is stronger in the Seppala. They are very alert and aware of the danger, but never seem to be scared.
Population And Popularity
Siberian huskies are very popular today. They are considered the 12th most popular dog in the U.S. today, which makes them very common.
Seppala huskies, on the other hand, are very rare. It’s estimated that there are currently only a few hundred pure Seppalas left.
Is My Husky A Seppala?
Many husky owners want to know if their dog is a Seppala. The truth is, your husky likely has some Seppala lineage.
In fact, one of the huskies considered crucial to modern show lines was 68% Seppala. Most purebred Siberian huskies will have a majority of Seppala DNA. However, they must be at least 93% Seppala to be recognized as Seppala.
Is Togo’s bloodline Still Alive?
As long as Seppala huskies exist, Togo’s bloodline can be considered to live on.
Togo’s skeleton is on display at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters Museum, which is in Wasilla, AK.
What Happened To Leonard Seppala?
In 1928, Seppala and his wife Constance moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1946, they moved to Seattle, where they resided until their death.
He visited Alaka in 1961 and was still loved by the Alaskan people. Seppala and his wife were buried together in Nome, Alaska.