The following description of a hunting and retrieving sled dog comes from “Mooney-ow,” a contributor to Hunter-Trader-Trapper in 1917. His piece is called “Somewhere in France.” But he doesn’t write about France:
Just got the May Hunter-Trader-Trapper. It got me thinking of the good old days that have passed and that seem so far, far back in a very dark background. The days I used to roam in the Mackenzie basin–free–nothing or no one to think of, just myself.
Last August I wrote you about the 400 miles trip to the end of steel, when I came out to do my bit, that was some trip, 16 days was good time and my dogs (the only team that made it thru without a change) came thru fat, poor brutes, I had to turn them loose to rustle their own grub. Often now, when I sleep outside, I lie awake looking at the stars (especially Polaris), thinking of my little leader, “Shep.” Talk about dogs, boys, he was right there with bells when there was work to do. For an all-round dog, he could not be licked. He was a cross between a rough-coated retriever [probably wavy-coated] and a Hershel Island husky. He would retrieve anything from a duck to a beaver from water, hunt anything from mink to bear and tree anything from a partridge to a lynx or bear (pg. 86).
It’s always been a common practice for sled dog drivers to let their dogs forage on their own at certain times of the year.
And for European sled dog drivers, it was a common occurrence for them to breed Western dogs with the huskies.
In this particular cross, he got a working retriever and a good varmint dog. Most husky-type dogs will hunt just about anything, but they aren’t typically natural retrievers.
So he got the best of both world– a kind of arctic retriever that could also hunt other quarry.
Herschel Island is the northernmost point in the Yukon. It’s likely that a husky from that area would be very well-adapted to living in very harsh conditions.
And retriever would add a certain amount of biddablity to the cross as well as natural retrieving instinct.