The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized sled dog, bred to work in packs. Prized for their loyal, friendly nature, The Sibe is ranked 14th of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club.
One look at the Siberian Husky and you think cold, northern region. Indeed, the Siberian Husky’s ancestors came from Northeastern China, where they were bred by the nomadic Chukchi people to be a companion dog and pull sleds. They were able to keep these breeding lines pure, and they eventually led to the Siberian Huskies we have today, which finally started catching notice when they began winning sled races in the early 1900s.
Sibes truly rose to prominence, though, in 1925, after the famed “serum run.” Leonhard Seppala, a legendary musher, led a team of Siberian Huskies 658 miles to Nome, Alaska in just five and a half days to deliver a lifesaving diphtheria serum. Seppala’s lead dog, Balto, is still a legendary dog to this day.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SIBERIAN HUSKY
Siberian Huskies have many distinctive characteristics; here is some more info about their appearance and temperament.
Siberian Huskies are considered to be medium-sized dogs, reaching 20 to 23.5 inches in height and 30 to 60 pounds in weight. They are compact and powerful, capable of running for a seemingly endless amount of time. Their bodies are well-proportioned and muscular. One defining feature of the Sibe is their smooth, effortless gait. Their eyes can be brown, blue, or even sometimes one of each!
Siberian Huskies are a self-cleaning dog and have no natural odor. They have a thick double-coat that keeps them very warm and comes in a variety of colors, from black to white, often with markings of several potential color variations. Sibes don’t shed a lot for much of the year, but a couple of times each year they will “blow” their coat, shedding their undercoat incessantly. During these times, it’s very important to rake out the old hair with a firm brush or comb. It’s also a good idea to keep a good vacuum cleaner handy because your floors are going to be absolutely covered with fur.
Siberian Huskies are graceful and dignified. They are bred to be pack dogs; as such, they are great with other dogs and people. They are friendly to everyone they meet, including strangers. For that reason, they make poor watchdogs. They don’t really bark, but they are notorious howlers. They generally are not aggressive, and they are great with children and will consider them a part of their pack.
Siberian Huskies are very smart and have a fun sense of humor. However, they can be frustrating at times as well. This is not the right breed for a first-time dog owner. Many of their behaviors are due to centuries of instinct, relating all the way back to their wolf ancestors. They are notorious diggers and will take shoes and dig up corners of carpet if left alone. This, however, is how their ancestors hid things. Crate training is absolutely essential if your Sibe is ever to be left home alone.
They also have a strong predatory instinct, and they will chase smaller critters and even cats. Because of this, your Siberian Husky should never be allowed off-leash in an open area; no matter how well-trained they might be, their chase instincts are just too overwhelming to risk. They have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, and they will do best with an owner who establishes themselves as the leader of the pack. Your Sibe will be much easier to train if they respect you.
CARING FOR A SIBERIAN HUSKY
Siberian Huskies, like any other dog, have specific needs that need to be met in order for them to live a long, happy life. Here is some further information about their nutrition, exercise, training, and health needs.
Siberian Huskies will do best with a high-quality dry dog food. High-quality foods are essential for a variety of reasons, but one, in particular, is that it will help your Sibe maintain a healthy, shiny coat. As with any other breed, your Sibe’s dietary needs will vary based on age, weight, and activity level. Consult with your vet to find the best food for your dog.
The Siberian Husky is a working dog. As such, they are happiest when they have a job to do. Regular exercise is important, like daily walks and training sessions. Engage your Husky mentally as well as physically to strengthen the bond between pet and owner. They don’t require a ton of space but remember that this is a breed that was born to run, and he will do so at any opportunity. Remember to never let your Sibe off-leash. An electric fence can be a good deterrent to an escaping Husky. Siberian Huskies also do really well in rally, agility, and obedience activities. Remember to keep them stimulated to keep them happy.
Every dog will benefit greatly from early training and socialization, and the Siberian Husky is no different. Training them is notoriously difficult, however, particularly when started later in their life. Start them in puppy classes and continue to work with them consistently and diligently throughout their life. Establish yourself as the pack leader and never waver from that position; your Husky will test the leadership hierarchy often, but if they respect you, they will listen.
Crate training is a necessity with a Siberian Husky, as they are a dog that requires company with humans and other dogs, so they should not be left home alone. Many owners will also want to use a harness on their Husky – be sure to introduce that early on. They can also be trained to dig in a certain location, so if you have a large yard and want to allow your Husky to release some constructive energy, you can designate a dig spot for them.
Like any other breed, Huskies are generally healthy but can be susceptible to certain diseases. Be sure to select a breeder who screens for hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia, various eye diseases (such as juvenile cataracts), hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease.