Siberian Husky – Sled Dog Breed Information & Care

Siberian Husky

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 is the use of its energy and not allowing it to become bored.

Breed Characteristics

Siberian Husky Characteristic
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. Characterized as loving, playful, intelligent, and easy-going they are fairly easy to care for and fulfill. Despite being an athletic dog they surprisingly do not require large amounts of food, just a quality one, and only need around sixty minutes of 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 to see 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 everyday 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 dogs. They do however howl to express their joy which some neighbors may find annoying.
  • Siberian Huskys need sixty minutes of exercise a day except in very warm weather when they should be exercised less and gently.
  • The personality and character of the Siberian Husky make 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 centers. 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 with 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 favorite 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 neighbors 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 the 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 superhuman 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 behavior 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 by making sled racing and showing the ideal playground for them.

Health and Potential Problems

Siberian Huskys are in general an all-around 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 anesthetics, sedatives, and tranquilizers. This is due to them having relatively low metabolic rates and a lack of body fat.

Other conditions Siberian huskies 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 in 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 in 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 Husky needs as they require 30 to 60 minutes of 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 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 Husky’s 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 high-quality dry food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Siberian Husky’s 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 colors with various markings. These range from black to pure white with colored 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.

Conclusion

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 realization 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.