Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is a beautiful dog with a bright, intelligent, playful, and mischevious personality. As long as you are willing to devote the proper amount of time to this high-energy breed, you will be rewarded with a friendly companion who is guaranteed to make you smile.

Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky Original image by user Andrew Zaragoza on Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0.
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Interestingly, Huskies do not bark like most dogs. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are quiet dogs. Huskies are actually quite vocal and have their own howl that they're happy to use frequently. Breaking them of this habit, as well as any bad habit may be quite difficult, as Huskies can be quite stubborn. Huskies are known for their friendliness and are happy with people and other dogs. They are wonderful pets for active, social families and individuals who enjoy having an adventurous companion to play with, walk with, and participate in dog sports like agility and flyball. While they love outdoor activities, they also enjoy snuggling up with their favorite human when the day is over. Before bringing a Husky into your home, keep in mind that they will require a firm, steady hand for training, a tolerance for dog hair on your clothing, and a sense of humor to enjoy all or your Huskies entertaining personality quirks.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Siberian Husky breed is also commonly known by the names Chukcha,Chuksha,Husky,Icee,Sibe.

Popularity: Very popular

Life expectancy: 12 - 14 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC), Working Dogs (KC), Spitz and Primitive Types Dogs (FCI)

Size: Medium

Male Female
Height 21 - 24 in 20 - 22 in
Weight 44 - 60 lbs 33 - 49 lbs

Coat:

Colors: Black & White, Sable, White, Brown, Cream, Silver, Red, Gray, Black and Tan, Black

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: High

Good with children: Definitely

Good with other pets: Definitely

Intelligence / Trainability: Average

Exercise needs: Very high

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Average

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Very sensitive

Good for novice owners: No

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Moderate

Barking: Very frequent

General health: Good

Cost to keep: High

History

The Siberian Husky, like the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute, are descended from sled dogs. Though it is not certain, it is thought the name "Husky" was once actually "Esky" referring to the Eskimos and their dogs.

As sled dogs, Siberian Huskies were vital to the survival of the tribes of people who owned, bred, and used them for transportation and exploration. They were an integral part of the cold-climate culture. Huskies gained widespread recognition and popularity in 1908 and after when dogs from the Anadyr River regions were imported for use as sled dogs during the gold rush and for sled dog races. They were smaller and much faster than the popular dogs being used at the time. They began to dominate the grueling races that were popular during the era and Leonhard Seppala was the most prolific breeder of Siberian Huskies at the time (1909 to the mid-1920s). In 1925, Gunner Kaasen
was involved in a group effort of several sled dog teams to transport diphtheria serum from
Nenana to Nome, Alaska (more than 600 miles). Today's popular Iditarod Sled Dog Race commemorates this famous journey.

In 1930, the Siberian Husky was recognized by the American Kennel Club, and nine years later was recognized in Canada.

Appearance

Siberian Huskies appear quick, light, and graceful on their feet. They are always ready for a bit of action.
Typical characteristics are:


  • Well-balanced, proudly carried head with brown or blue eyes, a keen, intelligent, and friendly expression, and medium-sized, erect ears.

  • Well-balanced and athletic body.

  • A furry, fox-brush tail carried over the back.

  • A medium-length double coat.

  • Colors: All common colors from black to pure white.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Huskies are intelligent dogs, quick to learn, but they are not considered easy to train. They will challenge their owners' authority and benefit from a firm, kind, and consistent hand. It is important to establish yourself as the leader of the pack. They do not respond well to harsh training methods and training will be most successful if you establish clear boundaries. Huskies are not generally a good fit for novice dog owners.

Leash training is important, as Huskies love to run and allowing them off leash in an unfenced area is not recommended.

As with all intelligent breeds, Huskies require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with plenty of exercise and a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

Activity

Huskies are very high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and a large time commitment. 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise, twice a day will keep your dog happy and healthy. Dogs that do not have adequate physical and mental stimulation will engage in destructive behaviors, and bored Huskies are especially prone to digging.

Huskies are susceptible to certain bone disorders like hip dysplasia. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.

Independence

Huskies are highly social dogs who love to be near their "pack". They do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. Isolation can create negative and destructive behaviors.

Protective

Huskies are not protective at all. They don't bark, are friendly with strangers, and are likely to happily greet an intruder.

Living Conditions

Because of their need for exercise, Huskies generally do not make good apartment dogs. In addition, though they do not bark, Huskies do howl, which is likely to annoy any close neighbors. They do best in a home with a yard to run and play. However, Huskies are prone to digging, so you may want to give your dog an "approved" place to dig. Finally, because they are diggers, they can escape their yard by digging under the fence. If you plan on leaving your dog unattended in the yard, the fence will need to be buried to prevent this. They are also jumpers, so your yard fence will need to be at least six feet high.

Huskies originated in cold climates and will need air-conditioned shelter when living in warmer climates.

Children and Other Pets

Huskies are friendly, tolerant dogs and do well with children. They are large, playful dogs, so caution should be taken around small children (under the age of 6) as they could easily knock over a child while playing.


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Some Huskies have a strong prey drive and will chase cats and other small, furry animals. Proper socialization from an early age is important for multi-pet households.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Siberian Husky is between 12 - 14 years. Like all breeds, the Siberian Husky is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Siberian Husky is prone to these diseases:
  • Cataracts (hereditary)
  • Corneal Dystrophy (hereditary)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (hereditary) : Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a group of inherited degenerative eye disorders, which lead to loss of vision. PRA affects both eyes simultaneously and is not painful More info»

Grooming

Huskies have a medium-length double coat that sheds a lot. You should be prepared for a fair amount of dog hair around your house and on your clothes, especially in the spring and fall. Huskies living in colder climates tend to shed slightly less.

In spite of their heavy shedding, Huskies are fairly easy to groom. Weekly (more during heavy shedding months) brushing will help to remove excess hair. They are relatively clean dogs, often cleaning themselves like cats, and do not have a "doggy" smell. When they need the occasional bath, use a pH balanced shampoo designed for dogs.

Teeth brushing two or three times per week (daily is best) helps prevent tartar build up and teeth problems.

Nail trimming is an important part of grooming if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. Once or twice a month should suffice. Trimming a dog's nails too close can cause bleeding and pain, so it is important to trim carefully or seek the help of a vet or groomer.

Your dog's ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad smell and the outer ear should be cleaned with a cotton ball and an ear cleaner designed specifically for dogs. Additionally, any time they get wet, ears should be checked and cleaned.

All puppies and dogs should be groomed regularly (preferably weekly) and have their paws, ears, and mouth handled and examined frequently so that they become comfortable with the process. This way, you will quickly become aware of any problems that arise and your dog will be easy to handle for the vet, groomer, and any treatments that are required throughout its lifetime.

Feeding

For their size and activity level, Huskies eat a relatively small amount. 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Huskies are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).