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Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is a beautiful dog breed with a thick coat that comes in a multitude of colors and markings. Their blue or multi-colored eyes and striking facial masks only add to the appeal of this breed, which originated in Siberia.

The Siberian Husky has for long captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world, with its wolf-like looks and majestic appearance.

These sled dogs originating from the semi-nomadic Chukchi tribes in Siberia are medium-sized, quite mischievous but can be remarkable pets and companions when trained and socialized properly.

Here is everything you need to know about the Siberian Husky breed.

Highlights

Temperament: Devoted, extroverted, playful

Height at the shoulder: 20-24 inches for males and 19-23 inches for females

Weight: 35-65 lbs. for males, and 30-60 lbs. for females

Life expectancy: 12-14 years

Breed Group: Working dogs

About the breed

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As the name of the breed implies, the Siberian Husky originates from Siberia, in Russia. These snow dogs were used to carry and pull loads through the snowy regions of Siberia over long distances.

Huskies have thick double coats which allow them to live and thrive in sub-freezing temperatures.

They are medium-sized, strong and athletic dogs which learn quickly, but have some difficult to curb and cope with personalities, which is the number one reason so many dogs of this breed end up in rescue shelters every year.

So the Husky is definitely not a dog breed suitable for just any owner, despite the fact that they are gorgeous looking animals.

Due to the increase of the popularity of Siberian Husky, many irresponsible breeders and puppy mill owners have been producing dogs from this breed without really working on breeding them for proper temperaments.

This has led to a surge of ill-bred dogs which carry characteristics that are not really typical for the original Siberian Husky breed.

These smart and independent animals are quite affectionate without pestering their humans for too much attention,

Being pack animals, Huskies can adapt well to homes with more than one dogs or cats. They are generally non-aggressive and are not the best watchdogs. They will welcome everybody happily in your home, intruders included.

Keep in mind, that the Siberian Husky dogs are smart and capable of behaving perfectly at obedience class and then going on to do whatever they want when they come home.

Being one of the most difficult dog breeds to train makes Huskies suitable only for experienced dog owners who have the confidence, the time and the patience to train their pups. They are intelligent animals but are not too eager to please their owners by learning how to obey commands.

The biggest warning for future Husky parents is their uncanny ability to escape, and for their natural curiosity and desire to explore. Dogs from this breed will happily wander away from home whenever given the chance to get away. This can be dangerous for the dog, as it can get lost or injured. This means that if you have a backyard, you should secure its fence safely from bottom to top.

But apart from being free-spirited and independent, Siberian Huskies are truly wonderful dogs, which with the proper care and training can become fun and loving pets and companions for you and for your family.

These sled dogs were used in packs for sled pulling, they have recognizable blue or brown almond-shaped eyes on their wolf-like faces.

They are quite a bit smaller than their close cousins – the Alaskan Malamutes.

The breed is known to be naturally clean and with no or very little dog odor.

These graceful pups are relatively low shedders except for the shedding season when they blow their coat at once. Shedding usually occurs in the spring and in the fall, but if you live in a particularly hot climate the shedding can be prolonged by a few weeks.

Siberian Huskies are not the best breed for apartment living unless you can ensure that you exercise your dog sufficiently on a daily basis, and spend time with it outdoors as long as possible.

When left bored, the Huskies can become destructive at home, and do a lot of damage. Plus, they can be loud howlers when left alone. Outdoors, they love digging, so you will need to give your pup a place to dig and teach it and restrict the digging to there only if you want to save your garden and yard.

These beautiful dogs do not bark excessively, but they do like to howl. As mentioned previously they are not good watchdogs, so don’t expect your snow dog to alert you when a stranger is approaching your home.

The Husky is a non-aggressive and friendly dog which gets along with children well, as well as with other dogs at home. They will chase smaller animals, so introducing a Husky to a home with smaller pets should be done with caution.

Since the dogs were bred to survive on limited amounts of food, even today the Siberian husky does not require too many calories to stay healthy and well.

They thrive on running outdoors, pulling sleds and carrying backpacks when you go hiking or trekking. Wintertime is their absolute favorite season for outdoor activities.

Before adopting or buying a Siberian Husky, it is a good idea to visit the breeders or homes or shelters with dogs from this breed. If possible, you may want to opt to foster a Husky before you make the decision on whether the breed is suitable for you.

Always go to responsible breeders, and stay away from puppies being sold in stores or by puppy mills. Make sure that your pup has the health clearance for both parents proving that it is free of genetic diseases, and also that its parents have sound temperaments. If you can, meet the mother and the father of your future dog to make certain that it has a personality which you will be happy with.

Another way to go is to get an adult dog which has already been trained and socialized properly. You can go to your local dog shelters to check whether there are adult Huskies up for adoption and meet them too.

Whatever the temperament of your Husky, you can be pretty sure that it will require quite a lot of walks and vigorous exercises on a daily basis. So, the breed is best suited for people with active lifestyles, who prefer spending more time outdoors.

Personality

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The Siberian Husky is a pack dog, and as such requires a strong and confident leader. If you have the confidence, firmness, and ability to establish yourself as the pack leader, training your puppy will become much easier.

Earning the Husky’s respect is essential if you want to be able to control your dog at all times.

Even if your husky makes attempts to get into control over you and the other members of the family, you should firmly establish yourself as a leader but without any harsh punishments. Just be clear with the rules you have set for the hierarchy in your home.

In order to establish yourself as the alpha dog, you can teach the Husky to wait for receiving its food, its treats or its toys. Your dog will quickly learn that you are the holder of all valuable possessions at home, and will quickly start respecting this fact.

Because the husky is such a high-energy dog, you may want to crate train it, so that you prevent it from becoming destructive and ruining your home when you are out.

Of course, leave the dog in the crate for only limited hours, and always make sure it has gotten the exercise it needs before leaving it locked up.

The best way to ensure that your Siberian Husky doesn’t get bored is to take it on long walks, hikes, runs, or cycling with you.

These sled dogs enjoy digging so much that it is a good idea to set up a place where the digging will be allowed and teach your dog to limit its digging activities just to there. This is a much better idea than trying to curb the dog’s habit of digging altogether.

Although Siberian Huskies do not bark too much, they do love howling, which can become a problem with your neighbors. This is why, you should always ensure that the dog is properly exercised and properly trained, before leaving it alone at home, especially if you live in an apartment building.

The dogs from this breed love people and are very sociable with all humans and dogs. This makes them useless as watchdogs because they will greet and be friendly with just about anybody.

They are charming pups which do like to be a bit mischievous and will happily show all of their tricks and talents at all times.

When choosing your new Husky puppy, make sure you pick one which is friendly and which will happily approach you and let you handle it. Also, meet the mom and if possible the father to see their temperaments as well.

As with all other dogs, the Siberian Husky needs to be socialized from an early age. Make sure you take it to meet as many different people, places, sights, and sounds from as early as possible. This will ensure that the pup will grow up being friendly, not nervous or fearful, and will be a well-rounded dog.

You should enroll your puppy to puppy kindergarten as soon as it has all the required vaccinations done. Also, take it to stores, parks, and to meet people and friendly dogs.

Because the Siberian Husky is an athletic sled dog, it requires quite a lot of exercise.

It will be happy if you find work for it, such as pulling sleds, carrying backpacks, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Left without the exercise it needs, the Siberian Husky can become an uncontrollable, destructive and very loud dog.

Keep in mind, that Huskies also have a strong natural chasing drive, and will instinctively chase all cats, squirrels and other small and big animals which it sees. This can include livestock and deer as well.

Huskies are known as the Houdini’s of the canine world and can escape through tall fences – from above or below if an unsecured spot or area is available.

Make sure that your yard has a fence which is at least 6-8 feet high and is secured with wire along the ground to prevent digging.

Also, be prepared to deal with quite a bit of stubbornness if you are adopting a Siberian Husky. These pups are pretty manipulative and willful, and unlike other dog breeds are not too eager to please their owners.

You will need to show your dog firmness and consistency when you are setting the rules at home.

Nutrition

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Siberian Huskies originate from the harsh climate and conditions of Siberia, where they were and still are used as sled dogs. This has caused them to be easy keepers, which means that the average husky will not require too much food and calories to stay healthy, active and happy.

The recommended daily amount of food for an adult Siberian Husky is 1.5 – 2 cups of top quality dog food per day. You should divide the food into two meals.

Of course, you should adjust the amount of food if your dog is underweight or overweight, and should feed more active dogs more food. Also, the amount and type of food also depend on the dog’s metabolism, age, and overall health.

Make sure you choose dog food which is appropriate for the age of your Husky.

The better the quality of the dog food you give your pet, the smaller the quantities and the meals can be.

Choose food which has sufficient levels of protein content depending on your pup’s activity level.

Eating appropriate food is essential for the health, wellbeing, as well as for the coat and skin health of your Siberian husky.

You can feed your pup lower protein food during the hot summer months. About 32% of proteins in the dog food are suitable for the winter months, and about 20% of protein content in the summer.

Make sure you monitor the weight and health of your dog and ask the vet or nutritionist whether you need to adjust its diet and the meal sizes for optimal results.

Grooming

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Although Siberian Huskies are hardworking dogs, their thick double coats do need grooming and maintenance. The topcoat of the Husky is straight while the undercoat is dense and soft.

They do not shed too much during the year, but their undercoats will blow twice a year – usually before the summer and before the winter, so you should be prepared for intense shedding and a lot of vacuuming.

Daily brushing of the coat during shedding season and weekly brushing in the rest of the year should be sufficient to keep the beautiful coat of your pup from matting, keeping it shiny and clean, and also keeping the hairs from sticking all-around your furniture and your home.

If you live in a colder climate – your Siberian Husky will most likely shed less than if you live in a warmer area.

The good news for Siberian Husky parents is that the dogs from this breed smell very little and will do their best to clean themselves, just like kitties do.

They need baths only when they absolutely have to, but otherwise they clean and non-smelly canines.

When you bathe the dog, use a top-quality shampoo which will help preserve the natural oils of the coat and skin.

Huskies come in different colors and patterns. They can be white, black or have different markings on the body including red and copper. They have pretty face masks and amazing eyes which can be blue, brown or a combination of both.

You will need to brush your pup’s teeth twice or three times a week to get the tartar and bacteria off, and keep the teeth and gums healthy, and prevent bad breath.

If the pup doesn’t wear its own nails down, they will need to be trimmed at least once or twice every month. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, then it is time for trimming.

Ask a vet or groomer to show you how to trim the nails of your Husky in order to prevent painful bleeding and accidents, because dogs have blood vessels in their nails.

It is a good idea to get your dog used to the regular trimming and brushing from an early age so that the chores will be much easier later on as it matures.

Check your pet’s ears at least once a week for any redness or a bad smell which can be caused by an infection. Clean the inner parts of the ears gently with cotton dampened in dog ear cleaner, and never attempt to stick anything inside the ear canal. If there is a problem there – your vet should handle it.

When you are grooming your dog, make sure you inspect it for any bumps, lumps, rashes, sores or hair loss. The earlier you notice the signs of a potential health problem, the easier the treatment will be.

Check the pup’s eyes, nose, and mouth for any signs of inflammations or for irregular discharge as well.

Overall, being a natural breed, the Husky is very easy to maintain and keeps itself very clean.

Exercise

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Siberian Huskies are hardworking dogs and are very athletic. They are at their happiest when they have a job to do. This means that you should ensure regular exercise – both physical and mental for your Husky if you want it to be happy and in order to avoid boredom and destructive behavior.

They were bred to run and pull sleds and carry small loads, so if you can ensure that your pup gets its daily run and some pulling exercises it will be the happiest dog in the world.

They are excellent running buddies, but will happily go walking, hiking, cycling with you as well.

You can also take part in different dog sports and activities with your Siberian Husky, including agility, rally, obedience, and others.

The busier you keep your Husky, the healthier and the happier it will be.

Even if you live in the city, you can still keep your dog happy by taking it on long walks or joining your local doggie playgroups.

The average exercise time required by the Siberian husky is from 30 to 60 minutes per day. They can come running or jogging with you, but make sure you don’t over-exercise them when the weather is too hot.

Because of their natural instinct to run long distances, as well as for chasing all kinds of animals, you should keep your Husky on a leash, or provide it with a very safely fenced and secured backyard to roam in.

Even a small but properly fenced backyard is good enough to provide the space which the dogs from this breed to spend their excess energy by running around, digging and enjoying time outside.

If you are an active person who enjoys running, cycling, jogging, hiking, then the Siberian Husky could be your best choice for a dog which will join you everywhere you go.
but if you are not ready to provide the dog with the daily walks and exercise it needs, you should be prepared for some rather bothersome behavior. Bored Siberian Huskies can destroy entire homes, and will howl all day making your neighbors very angry too.

Training

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Just like with all other dogs, Siberian Huskies need to be socialized and absolutely require obedience training, if you want to have a well-rounded and well-behaved dog.

If you are going to harness train your Husky, this type of activity requires more knowledge and patience, so it is a good idea to read a specialized book or join a specialized class with your pup.

Remember to always make the training experience a happy and fun one both for you and for the dog if you want good results.

Huskies live and work in packs, so you should establish the rules and set yourself as the leader of the pack from day one. This is the only way you will be able to gain respect and control over this intelligent and free-willed animal.

Also, because they are pack animals, Huskies should not be left alone without dog pals or humans all day long.

Because Siberian Huskies can be quite destructive when they are left alone and are feeling bored, you may want to consider crate training your pup.

Never crate the dog as a form of punishment, and always make sure that it has been walked and exercised properly before leaving it in the crate.

Teaching your dog that the crate is a safe place where it can rest and sleep without being bothered when it is tired is the best way to crate train it.

Also, Siberians are natural runners with a strong drive for chasing all kind of animals, plus they are very curious explorers and escape artists, it is essential that you train your pup to walk and behave itself on a leash.

These dogs are very sociable and can be excellent play buddies for your children, but remember to teach the kids how to communicate with the dog properly, and always keep them supervised when they are playing together.

Explain to the children that they should not approach the dog when it is sleeping, they should never try to take away the dog’s food, or pull its tail, ears and so on.

Even though Siberian Huskies are very social animals, and get along with other dogs well, it is absolutely necessary that you socialize your puppy from day one. Meet it with different people and different friendly dogs, and take to see and hear different sounds and sights. This will prevent it from becoming a nervous or fearful dog later on.

Puppy socialization classes are an excellent way to get your dog used to communicate with other dogs from an early age.

Even though they have strong prey drives, especially for small animals, Siberian Huskies can live in households with other smaller pets, but only if they are properly socialized together.

Training the Siberian Husky requires a confident, firm and consistent approach from your side. These pups are lovable and friendly but can be pretty stubborn too.

If you let the dog know who is in command and what the rules are, they chances are you will end up with a well-behaved dog. But if you let the Husky take a lead role, then serious problems can occur.

Obedience training classes are a good idea for young Siberian Huskies, but keep in mind the ability of these dogs to be able to behave and present themselves perfectly when they are in class, and then quickly to switch back to their own stubborn selves when they come home with you.

A Siberian Husky is definitely not a suitable dog for newbie owners, and for people who do not have the confidence and experience to train them properly.

This is a common mistake which new dog owners make, which is why so many Siberian Huskies end up running away, getting injured or killed or left in shelters.

So, make sure you do your research before you buy or adopt a dog from this breed.

Health

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Siberian Huskies are strong and healthy dogs, but like all other dog breeds are prone to particular genetic and other health conditions.

Make sure that you buy your puppy from a responsible breeder who is able to provide you with certificates for health clearance for the puppy’s parents.

You should request clearances for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease and hypothyroidism by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Also ask for a clearance for thrombopathia by the Auburn University, and tests for the eyesight and eye health by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

Some of the most common hereditary health conditions which can affect Siberian Huskies include:

Cataracts

This is an opacity of the eye lens which leads to a cloudy appearance and causes difficulty seeing. It can lead to partial or complete eyesight loss of one or both eyes.

Cataracts can be surgically removed to improve the vision of the dog. Since it is usually hereditary, ask your breeder for health clearance for the eyes of the parents of your puppy.

Corneal Dystrophy

This is another eye health problem which is common among Siberians. It affects the outer portion of the eye – the cornea. It is an opacity which is caused by the collection of lipids in this part of the eye, and usually affects younger dogs, particularly female ones. Although there is no treatment for corneal dystrophy, it usually does not affect the vision of the dog.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is another hereditary disorder of the eye which can cause blindness in dogs. It causes a loss of photoreceptors in the back of the eye or both eyes.

Unfortunately, the disease is degenerative, and there is no treatment, but it can be detected early on before it affects the eyesight of the dog.

Dogs can cope with partial or complete blindness very well actually, as long as you don’t move the furniture of your home.

Reputable dog breeders do not breed dogs with this genetic condition, so ask your breeder for health clearance issued by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation for the parents of the pup.

Glaucoma

Just like with humans, dogs too can get glaucoma which is a buildup of high pressure inside one or both eyeballs and which can cause serious damage to the optical nerves if left untreated. It can be found early on and treated so you can prevent the partial or complete eyesight loss of your Siberian Husky.

Peptic Ulcer Disease

This is a condition which causes breakage of the inner lining of the stomach of the dog. The condition can cause heartburn and discomfort, vomiting, anorexia, weakness, lethargy and black tarry stools when left untreated.

Hip and elbow dysplasia

These are genetic conditions in which either the thigh bone and hip are misaligned, or the three bones which make up the elbow of the front feet are not aligned properly. They can cause pain, lameness, and will worsen over time as the dog ages and develops arthritis.

Dogs with dysplasia should not be bred, so once again, make sure you choose a dog from a responsible breeder who screens their dogs regularly according to the strict guidelines of the Siberian Husky Club of America.

History

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It is believed that this old dog breed was first developed by the Chukchi nomad tribes in Siberia.

The DNA tests of Siberian Huskies show that this is among the most ancient breeds in human history.

The Chukchi used these sled dogs for fast transportation in the harsh and freezing conditions of Siberia. They considered the Huskies as part of the family and often shared their beds with them.

The Chukchi needed these dogs to expand their hunting grounds in order to survive after the climate changes began. They developed these amazing dogs which were capable of pulling sleds through the vast frozen and snowy region of Siberia, with little need of food, and minimum energy use.

Because the Chukchi tribes have been isolated from the rest of the world for so long, they have been able to develop this pure and natural dog breed.

The Siberian Husky was first imported to Alaska back in 1908 when these dogs were used as sled dogs to assist their owners during the gold rush.

They were also used for the 408-mile All-Alaska Sweepstakes dogsled race, and are active participants in the competition to this day.

Siberian Huskies became particularly popular in the west, after the famous “serum run” from 1925 by musher Leonhard Seppala who used dogs from this breed to rush a lifesaving serum across 658 miles to the town of Nome, Alaska, where a diphtheria epidemic had broken out. The dogs were able to rush the serum for just five and a half days. The lead dog named Balto is still to date one of the top honored dog heroes in the history of humankind.

The data shows that the last Siberian Husky was exported in 1930 before the Iron Wall of the USSR closed for the western world.

The breed was further developed in the USA but has changed slightly from the original Chukchi Sled Dog through the years.

The Siberian Husky Club of America was first founded in 1938, and the breed was recognized officially by the American Kennel Club in 1930, and by the Canadian Kennel Club 9 years later in 1939.

Although mushers do still use Siberian Huskies as sled dogs and for fun and competitions, the breed has become a popular companion dog in the USA and around the world.

More people are choosing to add the beautiful, sociable and playful Siberian Husky to their families as pets and loving companions.

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