ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Siberian Husky is a fairly strong, compact working dog most commonly known as a sled dog. They are quick and light on their feet and always graceful in their actions. Popular for their lupine looks especially their intense eyes they are in general charming with a mischievous and playful nature.

A friend to everyone, including potential intruders they are not the first choice of breed if you want a guard dog. Their independence and intelligence can also make them not the best choice for first time dog owners.

They are however an ideal family dog that requires specific but easily achievable care. The most important element of this care for a Siberian Husky being use of its energy and not allowing it to become bored.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Breed Group Working dog
Height 1ft 8 inches to 1ft 11 inches at the shoulder
Weight 35 to 60lbs
Life Span 12 to 15 years

The Siberian Husky despite being essentially a working dog makes an excellent family pet. Characterised as loving, playful, intelligent and easy going they are fairly easy to care for and fulfil. Despite being an athletic dog they surprisingly do not require large amounts of food, just a quality one, and only need around sixty minutes exercise a day.

Any potential Siberian Husky owner however needs to be aware that they do need to be given some kind of work to do. Otherwise they can become bored and quite destructive, or develop a career as an escape artist.

The Siberian Husky is best known for its intense wolf like looks, howling when they experience joy and the pulling of sleds.

Main Highlights
  • Many Siberian Huskys end up in rescue due to various circumstances. If you can it could be very worthwhile and rewarding seeing if you can adopt one of these rather than going to a breeder.
  • Siberian Huskys should never be allowed off leash unless they are in a very secure area. This breed will run away and has a huge prey drive.
  • A secure garden is an absolute must have for a Siberian Husky. They are the Houdini’s of the dog world. Due to their intelligence they will figure out ways of escape such as using every day garden items to climb.
  • Siberian Huskys are prolific shedders especially during spring and fall. Grooming however is minimal most of the year as they only require a brush weekly.
  • Siberian Huskys very rarely bark making them a relatively quiet dog. They do however howl to express their joy which some neighbours may find annoying.
  • Siberian Huskys need sixty minutes exercise a day except in very warm weather when they should be exercised less and gently.
  • The personality and character of the Siberian Husky makes them an ideal family pet. They are a friend to everyone and love to play / work. They are however just as happy to relax and chill out.
  • In general Siberian Huskys are healthy dogs but like most other breeds are more susceptible to some health issues than others.
Breed History

Although the Siberian Husky’s origins are relatively unknown, DNA testing has shown it to be one of the oldest dog breeds on the planet. They are believed to have originated among the Chukchi tribe who were Siberian nomads and used as fast transportation as well as being a family pet. They were often even encouraged to sleep in with the children of the tribe as warmth providers.

In 1908 the Siberian Husky was imported into Alaska and used as a sled dog during the gold rush. It wasn’t until 1925 however that their popularity grew when they were used to transport much needed medicine during an outbreak of diphtheria.

Records indicate that the last Siberian Huskys to be imported into Alaska were in 1930 when the Soviet government of the time closed the borders and ended the importation. Despite this the breed continued to thrive and has been used in Arctic expeditions, as a search and rescue dog, and to this day a competitor in a 408 mile sled race called the All – Alaska Sweepstake.

Nowadays the Siberian Husky can be found as a family pet all across the world although sadly many end up in rescue centres. This is probably due to their inherent need to work and the resulting consequences of their not being put to work. Siberian Huskys unworked will become destructive and develop excellent escape techniques. This is easily avoided though by simply giving your husky something to do.

Places like rural Alaska, Canada and Greenland still use sled dogs on a regular basis. However they are more oft used for recreational purposes and are raced in events such as the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. The Siberian Husky has also become a popular show dog breed after being acknowledged by the kennel club in 1930. On a pound to pound to pound basis the Siberian Husky can pull more than other led dogs such as the malamute, but this is over shorter distances.

In some places such as Britain the opportunity to work a sled dog such as a Siberian Husky is limited mainly due to the weather. Wheeled rigs are frequently used there rather than sleds which of course require snow or ice.

Size

The Siberian Husky is a medium sized dog breed which weighs between 35 to 60lbs. They are usually between 1ft 8 inches and 1ft 11 inches at the shoulder. If you plan on showing your Siberian Husky on a professional level you will need to check the Kennel Club’s breed standards as they can be pretty specific.

Personality and Character

Siberian Huskys are a breed that will befriend everyone and do not tend to have favourite people. This makes them an excellent family pet who will spend time interacting with everyone. Honest in everything they do (body language) and say they can always be taken at face value, however they do rarely say (bark) anything. You are much more likely to hear a Siberian Husky howl rather than bark which they do when they are experiencing joy. Perhaps this isn’t the breed to have in an apartment or where there are neighbours who may be annoyed by this howling.

Siberian Huskys are also robust and athletic and enjoy being given a job to do. When not working they enjoy companionship of humans or other dogs. They are not however as strong as most people imagine. Remember sled pulling is a team effort and not a solo event, so whilst the Siberian Husky is strong they do not have super human strength.

Potential problems with a Siberian Husky include:

  • A strong desire to run – If the Siberian Husky gets free they are likely to run and run until they are completely lost.
  • Bad recall – Siberian Huskys are well aware that they can outrun humans and often do not respond to being recalled.
  • Obedience training intolerance – Siberian Huskys are very independent and strong willed. They will often behave impeccably in training classes only to revert to unwanted behaviour at home.
  • Houdini’s of the dog world – Siberian Huskys are excellent escape artists and need extremely safe gardens to contain them. They have even been known to use bins, walls etcetera as steps to exit a garden.
  • Garden wreckers – A bored Siberian Husky left in the garden will soon destroy all in its path.

Youthful, intelligent, mischievous, playful, forgiving, easy going, loving, friendly, independent, strong willed, keen, efficient, charming, gentle and high energy but relaxed are all also words that can describe the Siberian Husky. They are also quite the show offs who love to display their talents making sled racing and shows the ideal playground for them.

Health and Potential Problems

Siberian Huskys are in general an all round healthy breed but still more prone to certain health issues than others. For example the Siberian Husky can be sensitive to some pharmaceutical drugs, particularly anaesthetics, sedatives and tranquilisers. This is due to them having relatively low metabolic rates and a lack of body fat.

Other conditions Siberian huskys are prone to include:

  • Cataracts – opacity on the lens of the eye that can impair vision. Sometimes the cataract can be removed improving the vision dramatically. This condition is most often found in older dogs.
  • Corneal Dystrophy – This affects the cornea or outer transparent portion of the eyeball. It shows itself as opacity on the eye which is caused by a collection of lipids. Most common in young adult dogs, mainly females, it is not treatable but luckily does not impair vision.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – A degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before a dog shows any signs of blindness but unfortunately it is unavoidable. Dogs can compensate very well though for the loss of their sight by using other senses.
  • Hip Dysplasia – Dogs of all ages are subject to hip dysplasia, the symptoms are as follows: strange gait when walking, resistance to movement, stiffness, showing of pain and limping. Treatments vary depending on the dog and include various surgeries depending on the dog’s age, body size and severity. Non-surgical treatment includes weight management, exercise, warmth, good sleeping areas, physio, massage, oral supplements, anti-inflammatory drugs and injections.
  • Ectopy – Ectopic urethras (EU) are the most common cause of urinary incontinence young dogs. Treatment is usually surgical with a 50-75% chance of success.
  • Zinc Responsive Dermatitis – This is a skin condition that is caused by zinc deficiency in a dog’s diet. Symptoms include scaling, crusting, alopecia and pressure point erythema. Severe cases can lead to anorexia, lethargy, retarded growth and more. Treatment is usually a daily oral since and retinoid supplement but in more serious cases intravenous injections may be used. As this condition is usually hereditary it is suggested that dogs with this condition do not breed.
Care Features

Exercise is the first big part of a Siberian Huskys needs as they require 30 to 60 minutes walking per day, every day. The only exception to this is if the weather is incredibly warm; then they should be exercised gently for much shorter durations. The second part is work, which Siberian Huskys were born to do and would be incredibly unhappy without. This is not to say they need to be pulling a sled every day or rescuing people from the snow, work can be as simple as following a scent trail to find treats or an agility work out on a regular basis.

Siberian Huskys are not a dog that should be allowed off leash unless they are in a highly secure area. They have a huge prey drive and anything non-canine will be seen as prey to them. They are also guaranteed to respond to any other dog that challenges them. Add these to the Siberian Huskys desire to run and renowned bad recall skills and you can see the need to keep this breed on leash.

It is also advisable that before you get a Siberian Husky you ensure that your garden is extremely secure and there is nowhere and no way for your dog to escape. Siberian Huskys are extremely clever when it comes to escape and as already covered, once they have escaped they will run and run.

Feeding Schedule

The Siberian Husky requires a relatively low amount of food for its size. On a daily basis they should be fed 1 ½ to 2 cups of a high quality dry food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Siberian Huskys’ coat is of medium length but thick due to them having a double layer. The top coat is straight whilst the undercoat is soft and dense. They are prolific shedders especially in spring and fall.

Siberian Huskys come in a variety of colours with various markings. These range from black to pure white with coloured markings that include red and copper. The eyes of a Siberian Husky are blue, brown or a combination of both.

From a grooming point of view although they are prolific shedders they are reasonably easy to care for. By brushing the Siberian Husky once a week during low shedding periods you will avoid matting. This should be increased to daily brushing during spring and fall. The need for a bath is rare as Siberian Huskys are a dog breed that does not smell.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Siberian Huskys in general are fantastic with children but should be supervised with the very young. They are not suitable for families / homes with animals that are non-canine. The Siberian Husky has a very strong prey drive and will attack livestock and cats etcetera. In rare circumstances it is possible to raise a puppy with other animals but it is a risk probably not worth taking. It also needs to be taken into consideration that this breed will respond to challenges from other dogs every time.

The Siberian Husky is a beautiful family friendly dog that has increased in popularity over the years. Part of this increase can easily be attributed to their intense lupine looks, but mainly it is due to people’s realisation that they are much more than just sled dogs.

They do not have huge care requirements, but do have specific ones that are easily fulfilled. Being from the working dog group they are robust and active and love to work but can also be relaxed, easy going and laid back when their energy has been used.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Kathy Peters

    My daughter recently got a Husky and she’s regretting it. She loves her 7 month dog (Lucy) but she’s a handful. I can’t really run with her because my daughter goes to school and is quite busy herself. Lucy gets her walk multiple times a day just to keep her active, has her Kong toys, plushies. But she seemed intent on letting us be with her at all times. When my daughter finally sits around after school, Lucy kept her busy jumping about.
    I need advice on what else to do. We don’t want to give her up.

  • Betsy Johnson

    Has anyone heard of a mini Siberian Husky breed? My nephew who lives in Seattle has been searching for one. Do any dog lovers here know of reputable dog breeders in that area? Thanks!

    • Yes, Mini Siberian Huskies are a thing nowadays because you get the majestic look of a Siberian Husky in a much smaller package. These are primarily bred in Canada and Alaska, and since your nephew lives in Seattle, it is highly likely there are contacts there that can lead you to a reputable breeder.

  • Sandra Underwood

    My neighbor shaved their Siberian Husky and now the dog looks ridiculous. I’ve told them that they shouldn’t have done that because like all animals, the fur has protective functions. The breed has no pigmentation on their skin so under intense heat, the skin will be exposed. Am I right to feel distressed?

  • You are correct, Sandra. Shaving a Siberian Husky’s coat is a big no-no. It is forbidden actually, because it ruins the coat matrix of the Husky which allows it to regulate its temperature. It also ruins the coat itself. You can remind your neighbor not to expose the dog from extreme temperatures until the coat grows back some significant length.

  • Siberian Huskies are filled with child-like energy as they were bred to become eager hardworking dogs. They also have an affinity with children that’s why Lucy can get a little bit clingy. Good job on walking it several times a day. However, it would be better to create more exciting games and play to keep it not just physically active, but mentally active as well.

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