Everything You Know About The Siberian Husky Breed

Siberian Husky Smiling at camera

Siberian Huskies are athletic and powerful for medium-sized working dogs. They were originally developed as sled dogs in Siberia and some are still utilized in this way today. Siberian Huskies are a remarkable breed, and their capacity to learn is astonishing.

Siberian Huskies come in many colors ranging from ghostly white to jet black with varied markings that can come in shades of fiery red and copper. Their eyes can be either blue, brown, or a combination of both.

Their faces have the illusion of masks that add to their eyes’ intensity. They have a wild nature and confidence that people fall in love with. Many people are enthralled by the beauty of this breed, purchasing a Husky without first knowing the difficulties they may encounter in owning one, resulting in many dogs ending up in shelters.

This fiercely independent and highly intelligent breed is not for everyone and can prove to be challenging for new or first-time dog owners. Huskies have a reputation of being great escape artists and will need a high-fenced in yard that is also sunk deep into the ground to prevent escapes. They also have a tendency to wander away from home whenever the opportunity presents itself, and far too many have been injured or lost as a result.

Characteristics About The Husky Breed

The average Siberian Husky male stands between 21 and 23.5 inches high while the female averages between 20 to 22 inches high. The male typically weighs between 45 and 60 pounds while the female typically weighs 35 to 50 pounds.

Siberian Huskies typically do not shed very much, although their shedding level will vary depending on the type of climate in which they live. Those living in colder climates will shed less, while those living in warmer climates will shed more.

During high-shedding seasons, they will blow their coat, or drop large amounts of hair at one time. This typically occurs two times per year but may occur more often in warmer climates. When this does happen, Huskies will turn into heavy shedders for about three weeks. Be sure to check out our guide on how to deshedding your husky properly.

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It is not recommended to keep a Siberian Husky in an apartment due to small quarters and howling that may bother neighbors. However, this breed can thrive in an apartment if they are well-trained and get plenty of exercise.

Siberian Huskies are known to be clever escape artists who can easily wander away and disappear. They jump fences, breakthrough chains, slip out of collars, and can find many ways to escape. They will need to be in a yard with a high fence that should also be buried several feet below the ground to prevent the Husky from digging under the fence and getting out. You can also install an invisible fence to keep your husky from escaping. PetSafe makes a wireless containment system that is safe for dogs and cats.

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They are very curious animals and can become injured or lost while exploring something new. Huskies must always be on a leash during walks. An unleashed Husky is likely to chase small animals or run off and get lost.

Siberian Huskies are known for being highly destructive both inside the house and out in the yard if they are not trained properly. If they are left uncrated inside, they may cause extensive damage to furniture, fixtures, floors, and anything else lying around. They enjoy digging and will dig up gardens, lawns, and anything else in your yard. To avoid this, it is recommended that Husky owners provide a special place just for their dog to dig. This will make for a happier Husky and a happier dog owner.

Siberian Huskies love to howl, but rarely bark, and will likely not alert you if an intruder enters your property. This makes them an unsuitable watchdog. Huskies are more likely to befriend a burglar than pose a threat to any intruder.

Siberian Huskies are not recommended for new or timid dog-owners. They need a strong leader who will maintain control in the home. They need obedience training from a young age and can be challenging and stubborn to train.

Siberian Huskies are generally good-natured and affectionate. They get along with most people, are good with children (although young children should not ever be left alone with any dog no matter the breed) and do well in homes with multiple dogs and multiple pets.

Siberian Huskies were originally bred to survive on little food. This has led to the breed typically only needing a low number of calories per day. It is recommended to consult with the dog’s breeder for specific serving size suggestions and to follow their advice.

Owning a Husky

An increasing number of Siberian Huskies are being purchased by people who have not done their research to find out about the dog’s unique temperaments and quirks, resulting in owners who are often left with an unruly pet. Many Huskies become lost, killed, abandoned, or left at shelters due to uninformed buyers.

Before purchasing a Siberian Husky (or any other pet for that matter), take the time to research and learn about the breed. Visit some Siberian Husky breeders or shelter dogs, read books and articles, talk to other owners, and even foster a dog before making a larger commitment and purchasing one.

The increase in popularity of these dogs has led to puppy mills and backyard breeders who do not breed for appropriate temperament. Due to these unsavory breeding practices, many negative traits are showing up in these ill-bred dogs, including some traits that are not typically found in Siberian Huskies.

Never purchase a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, pet store, puppy mill and assume it will be a healthy dog. Look for reputable breeders who tests their dogs to make sure they do not have any genetic diseases that could be passed on to the puppies.

History About The Breed

The Siberian Husky is rumored to be derived from a tribe of Siberian nomads called the Chukchi. DNA tests have confirmed that they are one of the oldest dog breeds around.

The Chukchi used dogs for transportation, but the Huskies would also supposedly be treated by the Chukchi as that of a contemporary family dog. Huskies often slept with the children, transforming into the likes of a warm, comfortable blanket for them.

In 1908 Siberian Huskies were imported to Alaska to be used as sled dogs during the gold rush. They were introduced into the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, a dogsled race that was 408 miles long, and Huskies continue to be an active competitor in this event today.

According to records on the breed, it appears that the last Siberian Husky was exported from Siberia in 1930 when borders were closed by the Soviets. The Siberian Husky was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930 and the Siberian Husky Club of America was established in 1938.

The breed was then recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1939. The breed continued to thrive in North America and, although they have evolved somewhat from their Siberian ancestors, they still retain many of the amazing attributes of that ancient breed.

What Is The Personality Of A Husky Dog?

Siberian husky puppy

Siberian Huskies are notorious pack dogs, and they need an owner who will be like the leader of the pack. Approaching the task of training with this in mind will make it easier and more effective because your dog will be more likely to respect you.  

However, Huskies will test their limits and try to take control once in a while. The key to overcoming this is to remain in control and not to give in to their assertiveness. Make sure to make it known that you are the leader by creating and standing by ground rules with a sense of clarity and consistency.

Never try to assert your leadership through force or violence. No hitting or bullying. One of the most effective strategies to establish yourself as the leader is to make the dog wait for mealtime rather than giving them food at their demand. This will make them see you as the gate-keeper for all the vital resources.

When Siberian Huskies are bored, they can be destructive indoors and out, and therefore need plenty of exercise and stimulation. They have a reputation for destroying a house if they are left alone inside and of tearing up yards when left alone outside. Training is imperative, but it is also highly helpful and will mitigate many headaches if you establish a specific place in the yard that the dog is allowed to dig up.  

Huskies are very social, charming animals. They like to show off through their playful and mischievous nature. Your neighbors will be happy to hear that Siberian Huskies do not bark. However, they do enjoy howling, which can be very frustrating for both you and your neighbors.

An apartment is not an ideal home for a Siberian Husky unless it has been well-trained and is able to get abundant exercise. While it is great that Huskies are friendly and gentle, they are horrible watchdogs. They do not get suspicious of strangers and are likely to befriend a burglar rather than warn you that there is danger. The fact is that they typically love everyone they come into contact with.

Husky Temperament

A Siberian Husky’s temperament will be directly affected by a multitude of factors, including the level and quality of training, heredity, and the length of time spent socializing them. Puppies who have pleasant temperaments will be playful and curious. They will approach people and enjoy being held.

It is a good rule of thumb to choose an even-tempered puppy. Do not go for the puppy who is bullying other puppies or the one who is hiding and shying away from everyone. It is important to try and meet at least one of the pup’s parents.

Typically, the mother is the one who will be available. Meeting the parents will give you peace of mind that they will have temperaments that are similar. If you are able to meet siblings or other relatives, it is even more helpful in getting a glimpse of how the puppy will behave as an adult.

Siberian Huskies will require exposure to a variety of people, sights, sounds, and experiences early on to socialize them properly. Socialization ensures that the puppy will grow to become a well-rounded adult.

There are fantastic kindergarten classes for puppies that are a good starting place. Take the pup on outings to busy parks, stores, and on walks to meet friends and neighbors will go a long way in developing good social skills.

Are Siberian Huskies Healthy Dogs?

Siberian Huskies are overall generally healthy, but as with all dogs, they are prone to certain health conditions. Many Huskies will not get all or any of these diseases, but it is important to be aware of them in order to detect early warning signs and seek treatment when necessary.

When you decided to buy a new puppy, it is imperative to find a good breeder who will be able to provide health clearances for both of the puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of particular conditions.

For instance, in Huskies, expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand disease. Health clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation will certify that the dog’s eyes are normal and healthy. There should be health clearances from Auburn University for thrombophilia.

What Kind of Health Problems Do Huskies Have?

Siberian Huskies often have issues with developing cataracts, which are opacities on the lenses of the eyes that cause seeing to be difficult. The dog’s eyes will have a cloudy appearance if they have cataracts, which typically appear in older dogs and can sometimes be surgically removed.

Siberian Huskies are prone to Corneal Dystrophy, which affects the cornea or outer portion of the eye. This is another type of is an opacity that is caused by a collection of lipids in the cornea. It is typically apparent in younger adult dogs and will generally affect females often than males.

There is no therapy for Corneal Dystrophy, however, unlike with cataracts, this condition does not appear to impact the dog’s ability to see. One of the major health issues Siberian Huskies may face is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a degenerative eye disorder that leads to blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. Luckily, Progressive Retinal Atrophy is able to be detected many years before the dog actually starts to show signs of loss of vision.

Reputable dog breeders will make sure to get their dogs’ eyes checked and certified every year by a registered veterinary ophthalmologist and will not breed dogs who have Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

Exercising a Husky

Siberian Huskies are not meant to be sedentary beings. They will need to be exercised between 30 to 60 minutes per day to keep them from becoming bored and restless. One of the most efficient ways to keep both you and your Husky healthy is to bring them along on hiking and outdoor activities.

They are great jogging partners (but not in excessively hot weather). If you are not the type of person who spends a lot of time outdoors, do not worry! Huskies only really need a small yard to run around in to expend their energy, they do not need a lot of space for their size.

Training a Husky

Huskies will need training and may require more advanced obedience classes than other breeds. Training a Husky puppy can prove to be a challenge because these dogs will be able to tell the difference between classes and home. Here are some natural training dog treats that help get you started.

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For example, some Siberian Huskies are known to behave wonderfully in class, following all instructions and commands, but then they get home and will often revert back to old behaviors. Training takes time, patience, and assertiveness on the part of the trainer and the owner.

Additionally, crate training is an important tool recommended by breeders. It keeps your dog safe, providing them with their own safe haven to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed or tired. A crate should never be used as a punishment. Leash training is also highly recommended because Siberian Huskies should never be left off of a leash unless they are in a fenced-in area.

They love to run and will chase small animals or run off and get lost. Siberian Huskies possess an instinctive drive to catch prey, another reason they should always be on a leash during walks.

How Much Do You Feed A Husky?

Siberian Huskies are known for requiring a relatively small amount of food for their size. This may be traced back to the origins of the breed, as the Chukchi’s developed them to pull a light load at a fast pace over great distances in cold temperatures on the smallest possible food intake.

Dogs are individuals, and they do not all need the same amount of food, just like people. The amount your dog needs to eat will vary depending on their age, size, metabolism, and overall activity level. A highly active dog will need more than a sedentary dog. The quality of food you provide also makes a big difference. The better the dog food, the further it will go toward keeping your Husky healthy, without having to overfeed them.

The average recommended amount of food to give your dog each day is 1 and a half to 2 cups of dry dog food, divided into two meals. Make sure to provide high-quality food and to consult the dog’s breeder for suggestions.

Grooming A Husky

Siberian Husky getting fur coat brushed

It is important to schedule a time for grooming regularly and make sure your vacuum is in excellent working order. This breed has a double coat with medium-length hair. The topcoat is straight while the undercoat is soft and dense. Expect a lot of hair, and a lot of shedding during spring and fall. That said, this is a relatively low-maintenance breed to care for.

Siberian Huskies living in milder temperatures tend to shed less than those living in hotter climates. You can avoid matting and excess hair on your furniture if you commit to brushing your Husky’s coat at least once a week most of the year, and daily during shedding season. Siberian Huskies like to be clean and will clean themselves, similar to the way a cat will clean themselves.

Huskies rarely emit an odor and do not need to be bathed often, unless they get into something filthy in the backyard or jump into dirty puddles. When it is time for a bath, use a top-quality dog shampoo that will retain the dog’s skin and coat’s natural oils.

To get your Siberian Husky acclimated to grooming and examinations, make sure to begin the process while they are still a puppy. Make grooming a positive experience filled with rewards and praise to lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and grooming when they are an adult.

Do not forget to check for rashes, sores, and any other signs of infection such as tenderness, redness, or inflammation that can occur in the mouth, nose, eyes, and feet. Your dog’s eyes should always be clear, with no redness or discharge. A careful weekly examination will help you identify any potential health issues early on.

Check your Husky’s ears each week to see if there is any redness in color or odor, which can be indicative of an infection. To prevent infections make sure to wipe your dog’s ears out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Clean the outer ear only. Never insert anything directly into the ear canal.  

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To prevent painful snags and more serious issues, trim your Husky’s nails one to two times per month unless your dog already wears them down naturally.

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A good rule of thumb is that if you are able to hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, they are too long! Be careful when trimming your dog’s nails.

A dog’s nails have blood vessels in them, and if you trim them too close, you can cause them to bleed. This is not only painful but may cause your dog to not cooperate with you the next time you try to clip their nails. You can always ask a vet or a dog groomer for advice have your dog’s nails clipped by a professional if you have trouble.

Ideally, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth every day to prevent gum disease and bad breath. If you are not able to brush each day, or if your dog is resistant, brushing at least two to three times per week will be sufficient to remove tartar buildup and bacteria.

Are Huskies A Good Family Dog?

Siberian Huskies are fantastic for households with children. Although they are highly tolerant when it comes to the likes of children, they should always be supervised when around youngsters just as any other dog would. It is important to teach kids how to treat the dog and to always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent biting or tail pulling by either the dog or the child.

Teach your child to never approach a dog while they are eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. Huskies usually get along famously with other dogs, however, it is still beneficial to take your puppy to socialization classes to get them acclimated to other dogs and people. Socialization teaches puppies how to behave and greet other dogs and their owners appropriately. Keep in mind the history of this breed.

The harsh conditions in Siberia created a strong prey drive because food could be scarce. Many Huskies today maintain that prey drive toward small animals such as rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and even cats. Some Huskies can thrive in multi-pet households, especially when they are raised with other pets from puppyhood.

Considering the plethora of positive characteristics, the Siberian Husky breed possesses, there is no doubt these are amazing dogs. Siberian Huskies are affectionate with everyone without begging for attention, are not aggressive, and generally, do well in multi-dog and multi-pet homes.

They are good with children and will welcome everyone into their home (unfortunately even intruders). However, they often use their incredible minds to develop unattractive behaviors and are not overly eager to please people. Siberian Huskies are extremely difficult to train so they are often most compatible with confident and experienced dog owners who set consistent rules and boundaries.

Huskies benefit from obedience training, but they have an incredible ability to understand the difference between home and class. They may behave perfectly in class and then completely disregarding commands when they get home. Although they have many qualities that can make them difficult, Siberian Huskies are still a wonderful breed. Fans of this spirited breed embrace their spirited natures. When properly trained and cared for, Siberian Huskies make wonderful pets.

Sarah is not only a pet owner but loves animals of all shapes and sizes.

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