5 Things to Know About Siberian Huskies

Do you love the outdoors and cold climates? So does the Siberian Husky! Find out if this is the right dog for you.

The Siberian Husky is an active dog. By: pixabay

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Working
  • Height: 20–23.5 inches
  • Weight: 35–60 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

Huskies are medium-sized working dogs who have a thick, dense undercoat and a long, coarse top coat that comes in black, brown, white or a mix with varying head markings. The eye color varies but is usually blue.

2. Where They Came From

The Chukchi tribe bred Siberian Huskies on the Siberian peninsula in Northeast Asia to be sled dogs and carry small loads over long distances in arctic weather.

The dogs’ endurance and speed reserved energy, and they required little food on long journeys. This unique metabolic ability can be turned on and off based on the physical demands; it’s actually said to puzzle the medical world.

The All-Alaska Sweepstakes is a 400-mile dogsled race that started in 1908 in Alaska. In 1910, huskies were imported and entered into the race that averaged 80 hours in total journey time. The Husky team won the race in record time and kept the record until 2008.

The Siberian Husky received more attention in 1925 by running a medical mission — a diphtheria outbreak in Alaska — and the town was closed off from transport to bring in the much-needed medication. The Huskies met the nearest train and returned to deliver the lifesaving medicine to residents.

After word spread of the heroic mission, Huskies were invited to compete in sled races in the New England area. The abilities and temperament of the breed won people over and established firm roots in the United States.

The AKC recognized the breed in 1930. The breed also participated in Antarctic expeditions and served in World War II in the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue unit.

Siberian Huskies are known for their hardiness in cold conditions. By: iStock.com/Iryna Kazlova

3. How Friendly Are They?

Huskies are friendly, outgoing, lovable and alert.

They do have a strong predatory instinct, however, and should never be left alone with small animals. Even Huskies raised with cats have been known to injure or kill them without provocation years later.

Huskies also like to dig — a lot! Give them plenty of exercise to expel energy, and an area designated for digging is key. Otherwise, they’ll take it out on your backyard or your furniture.

The good news? Huskies can be trained and need a strong leader. Be firm and consistent in training; Huskies are also known to be intelligent and stubborn if you let them set the rules.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs

High

HIGH: Huskies are very active dogs who need room to play and run. Walked them daily, or at least have a large fenced area outside where they can burn off excess energy.

Huskies don’t bark much, but when bored, they have a howl that can be reportedly heard up to 10 miles away. Keep this in mind if you think about skipping playtime!

They are also excellent escape artists and will find a way out of the yard or an open door before you can blink.

Grooming Needs

High

HIGH: Siberian Huskies’ double coats need regular maintenance. They shed regularly and can blow their coats once or twice a year.

Expect to spend an hour or more every week brushing them to reduce shedding. The fur is prone to mats, so brushing is not a step to skip. Brush the fox-shaped tail regularly as well. Check the eyes and nose for any discharge on a regular basis and trim nails as needed.

Health Problems

High

HIGH: Hip and eye problems are common in Huskies.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the top of the thigh bone does not fit into the pelvic joint socket properly. This disorder can affect males and females, and ranges from mild to severe.

Ask to see the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals registry papers of the mother and father if you’re getting the dog from a breeder. The percentage of Huskies with this ailment has decreased over the years, but it’s still a possibility.

Eye defects are hereditary and can include juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy or progressive retinal atrophy. Some effects are minor and others can cause loss of vision, so ask to see an eye examination report on the dog.

This Siberian Husky needs a little help learning how to do the snoot challenge:

5. How to Adopt One

Always check your local shelters to see if a Siberian Husky is waiting for you to come take them home.

If you’re going through a breeder, make sure they’re reputable (i.e., not running a puppy mill) and can provide family medical history and health clearances for the dogs.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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