Siberian Husky Bloodlines: SEPP-ALTA (Cross-Strain Breedings)

SEPP-ALTA is the Siberian Husky bloodline developed by mid-distance racer Douglas W. Willett. Based for many years in Park City, Utah, the Willett kennel is now located in Seeley Lake, Montana. Sepp-Alta breeding has been so long-continued (over thirty years and well over 100 litters) and varied that it is not easy to generalise about the bloodline. Heat-style mid-distance racing success has been the single-minded focus of Sepp-Alta during three decades; racing performance rather than the preservation or furtherance of specific bloodlines has therefore been the overriding factor in the Willett breeding programme. Although SEPP-ALTA is regarded by its owner and others as a "pure Seppala" kennel, actually over 70% of its total output has consisted of cross-strain racing Siberian Huskies.

The MARKOVO bloodline, used as a rootstock, has always been fundamental to SEPP-ALTA breeding. But onto that rootstock have been grafted one after another different racing Siberian Husky (and sometimes non-racing SH) bloodlines that were part-Seppala or non-Seppala. Full understanding of the Sepp-Alta breeding programme is made more difficult by the existence of a large body of stock registered under the suffix "of Alta" that has, for the most part, never been discussed in the various booklets and articles published by Willett. The relationship of the "Alta" stock to the Sepp-Alta mainstream has been variable. Some of it was half-bred or experimental breeding, sold to others, that never entered the mainstream. Others, like ROCKY OF ALTA, were central to the Sepp-Alta plan for a brief while. In at least one instance, a single litter contained both Sepp-Alta and Alta individuals (the 1982 J-litter).

Strain-crossing of MARKOVO with more or less related RSH bloodlines such as NATOMAH and KODIAK was part of the Sepp-Alta breeding programme from the outset. The first recorded Sepp-Alta litter in the 1986 Willett book "The Seppala Siberian" (the T-litter born 23 October 1976) was sired by a Natomah male out of a Markovo bitch. As is pointed out in the "Sepp-Alta (Pure-strain)" bloodlines discussion, central pillars of the Sepp-Alta bloodline are some four distinctive yet overlapping ancestral combinations: the SURGUT OF MARKOVO x HELEN OF MARKOVO mating (in practice, the progeny UELEN'S BEOWULF OF SEPP-ALTA, UELEN'S BARON OF SEPP-ALTA, and UELEN'S ALI), the ASH OF MARKOVO line (mainly the progeny of the Sepp-Alta 1982 H-litter), the progeny of the mating UELEN'S BARON OF SEPP-ALTA x MOKKA OF MARKOVO, and the progeny of the bitch POWDER OF MARKOVO.

Let us now attempt to list the major strain-crosses that characterise that majority portion of the Sepp-Alta output that is not "pure Seppala" (i.e., descended only from McFaul/Shearer stock). There have been many one-off cross-strainings other than those listed below; we try here to list only those that have proven to be of some lasting significance in the history of the bloodline.

A recurrent characteristic of the various Sepp-Alta strain-crossed lines is their tendency to disappear quickly from the Sepp-Alta mainstream but to endure in the bloodlines of various "satellite kennel" offshoots of Sepp-Alta. Four or five of the cross-strain influences listed above are no longer found in current breeding from the Willett kennel. Only the most recent (the "Oakey outcross") and KODIAK'S LAYLA (as represented by the "Elvira branch") are still prominent in present-day Sepp-Alta pedigrees. Very recently there has also been a tendency for Sepp-Alta lines and Sepp-Lok lines (see the SEPP-LOK bloodline page) to interpenetrate to some extent.

The SEPP-ALTA bloodline and its originator have always shown a marked dual personality -- a "Seppala" side and an "Alta" side. The "Seppala" side has maintained strong, close connections with pure-strain MARKOVO lineage, and has profited from and promoted the abilities of such examples as UELEN'S BEOWULF OF SEPP-ALTA, HERCULES OF SEPP-ALTA, and RACE OF SEPP-ALTA. The "Alta" side has searched restlessly through a wide variety of strain-crosses and outcrosses, some documented in the Willett books and others unmentioned, and has denigrated and belittled the Markovo bloodline and its breeder. That personality split has never been resolved over the thirty years of the bloodline's existence. Perhaps it is what makes Sepp-Alta, Sepp-Alta.

SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Cat of Sepp-Alta - Willett 1991-1997 lead dog (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Sepp-Alta's Griffen at Windy Ridge - Willett 2002-2004 lead dog (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Sepp-Alta's Rosie - Willett 2005 lead dog (Opens in a new window.)
SAMPLE PEDIGREE -- Mitzie of Seppalta/Seppalta's Mitzie - Willett 2005 point dog (Opens in a new window.)