Siberian Husky Breed Guide
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Siberian Husky Breed Information & History
The lineage of the Siberian Husky breed dates as far back as the Chukchi—a native tribe present in the midlands of Russia before the 15th century—and they were first encountered by the Russians in the 1700s. In that era, once the Russians waged war against the Chukchi, they adopted the dog as their own. These dogs were used for fast transportation, kept as family pets, and were by all accounts working animals.
In the early 20th century, Siberian Huskies were imported to Alaska for the sole purpose of being used as sled dogs during the gold rush. Intelligent, hardworking, and athletically built, the breed fit the purpose perfectly. They were also active sled dogs in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes—a dog sled race that covers over 400 miles—in which they are still used today.
Once the Soviet Union rose to power and trade sanctions were instated, the last Siberian Huskies were imported by the U.S. in 1930. Afterward, the breed thrived in the states but lost a few of its workaholic, winter-resistant traits along the way.
The AKC recognized the Siberian Husky breed in the same year the Soviet Union cut off trade with the U.S.: 1930.
Siberian Husky Temperament & Personality
Siberian Huskies—being that they’re work dogs—have peculiar personalities and temperaments. While most Siberian Husky personalities are overtly affectionate, playful, and curious, they can also have mischievous and independent personality traits. The one certainty is that this breed is startlingly intelligent. They are constantly aware of their environment and keen to everything, particularly their owner. This is another consistency; the need to be led. These pack dogs will regard their owner as a leader and do everything they can to gain his/her affection, trust, and counsel. But they’ll also test the relationship too, which is why it’s important to assert yourself as the alpha of the household immediately.
Siberian Huskies are horrible dogs for first-time owners. Their intense energy and lust for the outdoors require an immense amount of exercise and time to mitigate. The blend of curious wanderer, fierce competitor, and stunning intellectual means they’re difficult to train. Not only that, but their travel-oriented personalities make them prone to running away. There are tons of tragic stories in which a Siberian Husky escaped home and never returned. The lust to travel is in their blood. Owners need to be fully attentive to every beat to ensure their dog’s safety.
But they’re also huge lovers—to the extent that they make horrible watch dogs, as they don’t bark and will gladly welcome a stranger into the home. To that—instead of barking, they howl; another Siberian Husky behavior that will need to be trained, as it can be disruptive to your neighbors.
Early socialization, patience, consistency, and stimulation are all important ingredients in developing a well-trained Husky with a good temperament. As with all dog breeds, their personalities will mirror that of their parents, so make sure you have an understanding of their parent’s temperament and personality before purchasing a puppy. Between males and females, the male is dominant, easier to train, and often has a more extroverted personality. The female, instead, can often be jealous, a bit more temperamental, and have introverted tendencies.
Training a Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are impressively difficult to train. The problem is they’re too smart for it. Early-socialization and obedience classes are vital to a well-trained Siberian Husky, but the issue is they can often distinguish the difference between class and home. While they adapt to obedience training at an impressive speed—thus behaving well in classes—they will ignore everything they learned at home, because they know the two are different.
Being that they’re pack dogs, they require a strong alpha to keep them in line; the owner. If this relationship is not branded with iron from the get-go, they will be prone to misbehave. Positive reinforcement for good Siberian Husky behavior is key during training, but this is one of the few breeds where a dominant hand must always be held—this especially due to their willingness to run away. On that note—when first training your Husky—never leave them off their leash in open, unfenced areas.
Once you’ve established yourself as the pack leader and your Siberian Husky begins responding to you, do everything possible to stimulate both their intellect and body. You can’t simply run these dogs as their minds need challenging. A tireless or bored Siberian Husky means a destroyed couch, holes in the carpet, and a restless, anxiety-ridden companion.
Exercise Requirements for Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies require an hour or more of exercise per day. These dogs love the outdoors, meaning they’re happy to go on hikes, walks, or do anything that involves nature. It’s imperative that this breed meets its standard of exercise—especially in the puppy ages—as they’re a working dog that has a seemingly endless reservoir of energy.
Be creative when exercising a Siberian Husky. Use the time of activity to train them, introduce games, and stimulate their intellects. Good owners find a way of working their athletic bodies and forcing them to think in the same instance, thus challenging a Siberian Husky the way they desire to be challenged.
Overtime, a Siberian Husky’s energy and need for exercise will wane. Although there are differences in the activity-level from dog to go, it’s generally expected that—at least initially—this breed will require quite a bit of exercise.
Siberian Husky Life Span & Longevity
A Siberian Husky life span typically ranges anywhere from 12-15 years.
Is the Siberian Husky a Popular Breed?
Siberian Huskies are 12th in the AKC’s most popular list of 155 registered dog breeds. Many Siberian Husky characteristics like their enthusiasm for life, playfulness, intelligence, hyper-activity, and patience with children make them fantastic pets for the—big enough—household. Not to mention they’re generally healthy, easy-to-come-by, and breathtakingly gorgeous. For the owner or family with the proper amount of time to devote to their dog, a Siberian Husky is a perfect choice.
Feeding Requirements for Siberian Huskies
The recommended amount for a Siberian Husky is 1.5-2 cups of high-quality dry food per day, broken into two even meals. Oddly enough, one of the least difficult aspects of a Siberian Husky is their satiable appetite. These were dogs bred to carry weight across long distances, in cold conditions, with little food. That trait passed on through generations.
As with all dogs, the food intake of your Siberian Husky will be different than that of another. Weight, exercise, age, and metabolism all contribute to the amount of food necessary for a balanced diet. It is important for the owner to take all these factors into consideration and administer the correct amount of food at the age and weight given.
Grooming a Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies—due to their ancestry—have beautiful thick double coats meant to endure harsh winters. Point being expect an alarming amount of shedding. They’re seasonal shedders, meaning they’ll shed more in the summer and spring. This too means that Siberian Huskies living in hotter climates will tend to shed more. If you’re someone that can’t stand shedding, this is not your dog.
If you create a routine of brushing your Husky’s coat once a week—and once a day during shedding seasons—then the problem can be mitigated. Generally clean animals, this breed will actually clean itself if given the time. They do not require routine baths; bathe when needed, but use a high-quality shampoo that will preserve the oils and color of their coat.
For optimal Siberian Husky health, brush their teeth 2-3 times a week to avoid tartar and bacteria buildups. These dogs enjoy the mud and dirt, so be sure to probe their coats for parasites, infection, inflammation, and redness. It is important to search your Husky for these because they may lead to ear, nose, and eye problems. Usually, their nails will wear with their excessive activity, but if they begin to ‘click’ on the ground then trim them. Siberian Huskies are active dogs that love to play, you don’t want them scratching up the house—let alone people.
Are Siberian Huskies Good with Children?
The affably-natured Siberian Husky makes a great fit for children. Their levelheadedness and playful tendencies make them both tolerant and excited with the little ones. Often times with well-tempered, friendly dogs, the threat faced in pairing them with children is their exuberant playfulness leading to an accident. In other words, a dog doesn’t understand its size compared to a child and will play too hard.
This is rarely the case with Siberian Huskies, as they’re intelligent enough to distinguish the differences between adults and children, and are usually gentle and patient with them. As with all dogs, obedience training should be instated when it comes to the children, and the children need to be taught how to properly interact with their pet.
Common Siberian Husky Health Problems
Siberian Huskies are among the most resilient dog breeds in existence. Being dexterous survivalists is in their blood and history. However, they are not immune to developing health issues. It’s important when purchasing a puppy that you first make sure the parents were given health clearances by credible establishments, screened for Hip Dysplasia, and had their eyesight checked. Some possible Siberian Husky health problems are as follows:
Hip Dysplasia: this occurs when there is displacement between the thigh bone and the hip joint. It causes extreme pain when walking and lameness in the leg(s). Often hereditary, this Siberian Husky health issue can be passed on through generations. At the very least, the Siberian Husky will have hip dysplasia but not exhibit symptoms. At the worst, they will need surgery to fix their lamed limbs.
Cataracts: a cataract is an eye problem resulting in the eye clouding, leading to impaired eyesight or complete blindness. This condition can be mitigated by surgery, but usually it occurs in the elderly ages of the canine and goes on without treatment. In turn, the dog’s eyes gloss over with a murky gray color.
Corneal Dystrophy: this eye problem affects the cornea of the eye. Similar to cataracts, it’s an opacity spurred by a buildup of lipids in the cornea. While this affects vision considerably less than cataracts—and is often more commonly seen in females—it remains without treatment. That means the dog’s eyes will experience discoloring.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): this degenerative eye problem first impairs vision, and then leads to complete blindness. When PRA is present, the photoreceptors in the back of the eye cease to continue working and gradually cause the loss of vision. There is no treatment or cure for PRA, but—generally—respectable breeders have their dog’s eyes checked by veterinary ophthalmologists and can provide clearances.