I can't tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, "Function doesn't matter my dog is just a pet". I know I've been in those exact same shoes, and when we purchased our first Siberian there would have been no way I could have known I would have ended up where I am in the dog world today. Now, looking back, I wish I would have known half of what I do today when we were ready to buy. I'm not talking about the basic Siberian 'know how' when it comes to energy levels, containment, etc...but how the structural soundness of my dog would affect his daily life.
Now, I do not regret for a moment bringing that first Siberian into our lives. Never for a moment will I regret or forget that day. Now knowing just how much his breeder had failed him in their indiscriminate breeding that created a Siberian's heart and working drive in a body that fails him infuriates me. The excitement in his eyes when the harnesses come out, and the pain in my heart to have to tell him 'not this time buddy' as we take the team out for a run. His body, however much his heart desires, fails painfully just a couple miles down the trail. He's the dog that has so much heart he tries to push himself further than his body can bare.
As a responsible pet parent it is our job to know their limitations and not push them past those limitations. Whether it's playing in the yard, chasing squirrels and rabbits in the garden, or those long walks or jogs you enjoy with your companion. After all we want to see years of enjoyment with our pets. Sound structure is important be it 'just a pet', a show dog, or a working sled dog. After all part of a healthy life, is an active life. So what do you do if your pal has a structural issue that limits them? Simple- you love them, you spoil them rotten, you participate in life with them...keeping in mind their limitations and play within those boundaries set by his body.
Let us start with the overall general appearance of the breed. Since, in the case of our breed, the Siberian Husky is the product in large of natural selection and function for which this breed was designed. The littlest details (like the shape of the eye, the set of the ears, the design of the foot, etc) made this breed successful in their extremes, but also shape how we recognize this breed apart from any other. The Siberian Husky is an athlete, light on their feet, agile, and graceful...even if it's just used to jump from floor to the couch or bed. Function has shaped our breed type. The Silhouette of the Siberian Husky is striking and easily recognizable.
I think a good place to start any discussion on structure is with balance. Balance is the fundamental foundation of the total dog. Without balance you have a lack of efficiency, without efficiency you will have a dog that tires easier even in the most basic tasks. Be it on a hike in the woods, chasing their pals at the dog park, or performing in harness. A dog who lacks balance will tire faster than a dog who is balanced. A dog who's rear angulation is greater than its front angulation will have a wide movement in the rear and poor tracking gait. Swinging the rear wide is wasted movement, wasted movement is wasted energy. Eventually we would likely see arthritis develop in the hips and a general breaking down in the rear over time. In turn, if you have a dog who's front is better angulated than it's rear you have a dog who's not putting efficient energy to the ground to propel them forward. Basically any offset of balance results in a less efficient use of energy.
Proportions of the Siberian Husky also play a large part in how we recognize the breed and how the individual dog may perform in harness. We wouldn't expect our Siberians to look like a corgi, nor be square. They should be slightly longer than they are tall, the key word there is slightly. When talking with working breeders around 15% is the offset height x length they were discussing. This is not a hard set number, keep in mind it is an opinion only but a potential decent starting point of consideration. The silhouette of the Siberian is a pleasing form- A Siberian who's body is too long will have a very 'flashy' movement, almost appearing to 'fly' while in a fast gait...however these dogs often develop weak top lines. A weak top line in later years will be seen in a sway back, which often is accompanied with arthritis of the spine. A Siberian who's body is too square will compensate by crabbing or sidewinding as they gait. Again we see an inefficient gait, which leads to lacking endurance- As a pet parent we may see this shortening our long hikes or runs with our companion.
Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.