The Siberian Husky, as the name suggests, originated in Siberia. Local tribes selectively bred their dogs to produce a breed that had great endurance to cover long distances while pulling their sled. These semi-nomadic people lived in cold and harsh conditions. Their dogs made it possible for them to hunt over wider areas, and were directly responsible for their survival. The Husky was not only used as a sled dog, but they also herded reindeer and was an effective watchdog.
These stunning looking and hard working dogs were imported into Alaska during the gold rush, and raced in sled dog races from 1909. From there the breed moved to Canada and the continental United States. They were recognized by the AKC in 1930.
The Siberian Husky is a strong and muscular animal. Standing up to 23 inches (60cm) at the shoulder and weighing 60lbs (27kg), it is also quite compact.
This breed has a medium length coat, with a harsh outer coat and a soft downy undercoat. It comes in a variety of beautiful colors – black and white, red and white, and gray and white are the most common shades. They also have a range of markings on their face – spectacles and masks are quite common. Their eyes can be blue, brown or they may even have one of each.
One of the most striking characteristics of the Husky is their tail. It is covered by thick fur, and when the dog curls up for a sleep, the tail lies across their face and nose and keeps them warm.
With their prick ears and long nose, the Siberian Husky strongly resembles a wolf.
Siberian Huskies are loving and gentle by nature. They are affectionate, but also very independent. Their intelligence and strong mind means that they can be a challenging breed to train, and their owner needs to be quite innovative to keep them focused.
Because they were bred to pull a sled for hours at a time, the Husky has a lot of energy. They need the opportunity to run this off, or they will direct that energy into getting into mischief.
They have a strong predatory instinct, so be cautious if you have other small pets at home. A Husky should be watched closely around smaller animals.
Don’t expect a Husky to be a good watchdog. They will bark if there are strangers about, but then they’ll go and say hello. These dogs are extremely friendly, even with people they don’t know.
These dogs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. The Husky is more of a pack animal than many other breeds. They enjoy companionship from humans as well as other dogs. Being a pack animal, they will respect a pack leader that is firm, fair and consistent. You need to make sure that pack leader is you, or your Husky will take that role upon themselves.
The Husky is a very healthy dog. Responsible breeding practices has seen the incidence of hip dysplasia in the Husky drop by over 50% in the years from 1980 to 1995. This has resulted in the Husky being a breed that is least affected by this disease.
The Husky can suffer from hereditary seizures, and also eye disease, including cataracts, corneal dystrophy and progressive retinal atrophy. Check with your breeder to see if they have tested their breeding stock before mating them. This will reduce the chances of these genetic diseases showing up in their offspring.
These dogs may also develop skin diseases due to zinc deficiency. They respond very well to zinc supplements. Vitiligo is a skin disorder in this breed, which shows up as a loss of pigment in the nose and hair. Vitiligo doesn’t seem to cause problems for the dog, but the pale areas need to be protected from the sun.
Apart from these conditions, there are no significant health issues in the breed.
When a Husky is shedding, their whole undercoat comes out in tufts. This means you will need to brush them very frequently, to avoid your home being covered in drifts of hair. Bathing can be done as required.
Some people feel that the Husky should be clipped in warm weather, but this isn’t necessary. Their coat insulates them from the sun, and if it is clipped, it may never grow back in the same way. Huskies should be provided with plenty of shade and water in hot weather, and should not be shorn.
The Siberian Husky is a breed that has plenty of endurance. They love to run so their owner will need to give them this opportunity. Make sure that they can’t escape; either let them run in a securely fenced area, or run with them on a leash. These dogs are agile,and can jump very high. They need a high fence to keep them confined and safe.
Another Husky habit that may not endear them to their owner is that they enjoy digging. Make sure your fencing extends a short way under the ground to prevent them digging their way under. To avoid them landscaping your garden, give them a sand pit that is just for them to dig in.
This is not a great breed for a novice dog owner. They are independent thinkers and challenging to train.
They are also not well suited to apartment living. They are too active. However, a committed owner who is able to run their dog every day may find that their Husky will be okay indoors all the time. These dogs much prefer a large, fenced-in yard which will allow them to run and play throughout the day.
The Siberian Husky is a great companion if you have enough time and energy to devote to them. They are a good all-rounder, and will enjoy dog sports such as sledding and agility. You’ll enjoy the company of your Siberian Husky for up to 15 years.