The Siberian Husky has pulled sleds for hundreds of years in the freezing climate of Siberia. Huskies are also frequently used in Alaska for sledding, and also sled races, and have great endurance and speed. They are friendly, so they don’t make good guard dogs. An adventurous nature makes them love to roam around and explore, and they enjoy running.
Male adults reach a height of 21 to 24 inches, and females a height of 20 to 22 inches. Males weigh 45 to 60 pounds at maturity, and females 35 to 50 pounds.
Siberian Huskies, along with Samoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes, are all descended from the Eskimo sled dog. It is believed that they were bred by a tribe of Siberian nomads called the Chukchi. The Chukchi would use dogs for transport and also have them sleep with their children for a warm and soft bed at night. In the summer they would often release them for weeks at a time into the wild, where they would hunt and feed on small animals. They would also castrate all but the best dogs, and only well tempered dogs were used for breeding since they were in such close proximity to children.
Huskies have an impressive history, and played a big part in the exploration of the North Pole. In 1925 the Alaskan town of Nome was overtaken by an epidemic of Diptheria. In those days there were no aircraft or snowmobiles to help take the antitoxin to the dying population. So a team of sledders and their dogs took part in ‘The Great Race of Mercy’ to save them. Balto, the lead dog of the final stretch of this run, was a Siberian Husky. He has a statue erected in his honor in New York’s Central Park, and a movie was made about him.
The wolf-like appearance of the Siberian Husky may make them look scary, but in actual fact they are friendly, not aggressive with strangers, and make good family dogs. They can, however, be a bit too intense for some families, as they act like puppies even as adults and tend to go a bit wild when they get outside. A lot of training and exercise is needed in order to keep them well behaved, so a real commitment is necessary. They do have an instinct for hunting, so may chase after small cats or squirrels.
Huskies also like to dig, so you may need to get a fence that is sunk into the ground to prevent them from tunneling underneath and escaping. They can be taught to just dig in one particular spot though, so that the rest of your yard remains intact.
The Siberian Husky has almond shaped eyes which are brown or blue. They have muzzles which are tapered to the tip, and a nose that varies in color depending on the dog. Their coats have varying shades, including gray, silver, red, and black and white. A thick two-layered coat keeps them warm in freezing climates and can also reflect heat. A Husky is powerful, and can pull loads and run for miles.
It is possible for a Siberian Husky to do well in an apartment, but only if they have room to get around, some cool ventilation during hot weather, a lot of exercise and sympathetic neighbors. They do tend to howl or bark if they get bored, and with the potential for noise to travel in an apartment, they might not be the best choice of dog for that situation. Huskies can adapt well to hot weather, but it’s best to get a puppy from a local breeder who has raised him in a similar climate. Just make sure they have some shade, fresh water and air conditioning, and they should be fine.
Huskies are generally not very reserved with strangers, so they don’t make good guard dogs. They play well with children and are pack animals, so they also get on well with other dogs. A hunting instinct is inbred in this breed though, so they may chase cats and smaller animals. However they tend to be fine with other pets if they are raised with them from a young age. They are friendly with everyone, and affectionate with their families.
Siberian Huskies clean themselves and don’t need very many baths – often only a few a year. They should be brushed weekly to help keep down shedding and to keep their coat in good condition. They shed all year around, and more during shedding seasons. Their ears should be checked and cleaned weekly, and their nails trimmed regularly.
This breed is known as being difficult to train, so are not the best choice for people who haven’t owned a dog before. They need a lot of patience, consistency and firmness. Early socialization and obedience training will help them to get a good start. If you want them to pull a sled or anything else like that, you will need to commit many hours to training them. A very secure fenced in area and leash is necessary at all times because Siberian Huskies are known for being escape artists and running off. This can lead to their getting hurt or lost, so it’s important to check for ways of escape.
Siberian Huskies have a lot of energy and need a good amount of exercise. They love to run and get outdoors, so it’s important to give them an opportunity to run around, but also to keep them in a securely fenced yard. Exercise is a vital part of keeping them well behaved, as they tend to get destructive when they are bored or lacking in activity. Don’t let them off the leash when you’re walking them, as they will most likely run away. 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise is needed.
A good quality source of protein should be the first ingredient on the label of your dog food. Whole meats and meat meals are best. Fresh water should be available at all times.
When you first bring your puppy home, give him what your breeder was feeding him, and gradually transition him over to whatever you plan to feed him. Start off by feeding multiple small meals a day, and reduce the frequency of meal times till he eats twice daily by 6 months old. Puppies usually need more food and protein than adult Huskies do.
Siberian Huskies are adventurous and curious, and may get bored with the same food day after day. If this happens, it may help to not leave the food out for too long, or you can add other ingredients such as raw mince or fish to spice it up a bit. It is not usually recommended that you completely change their diet. But if you do plan to change their food it should be done gradually, over the course of a few weeks, so that they don’t get an upset stomach.
Recommended daily feeding amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of high quality dry food daily, divided into two meals.
Huskies are known for not needing to eat that much relative to their size. It is thought that this dates back to when the Chukchis bred these dogs and trained them to pull loads for long distances with very small amounts of food. They won’t eat just for the sake of eating. Instead they usually are very good about stopping if they are full, and only eating more if they have had a lot of exercise. During hot weather they usually eat less than during cold weather. However you will still need to watch that they don’t start overeating and gaining weight, because it is difficult for them to lose weight once it is gained.
Common Health Concerns
Siberian Huskies are generally very healthy dogs. They do suffer from some eye conditions, including juvenile cataracts, Corneal Dystrophy, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Cataracts give a cloudy appearance to the eye, and make it difficult to see. Corneal Dystrophy causes opacity in the eye but does not seem to affect the vision. Progressive Retinal Atrophy will result in gradually deterioration of the retina, giving rise to night blindness. Eventually this will progress to daytime blindness as well, but dogs can live a normal life even with this loss of vision.
Siberian Huskies are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Siberian Huskies in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Siberian Husky rescue.