With their wolf-like looks, engaging personalities, and almost human-like vocalizations the Siberian Husky has grown in popularity as a family pet.
But this stunning dog needs a dedicated and energetic partner. Siberian Huskies can be challenging for a first-time owner due to their high exercise requirements and independent nature.
So, what do you need to know about the Siberian Husky dog breed before you commit to sharing your life with one?
Breed history is an excellent place to start. It can tell us a lot about the type of dog we’re inviting into our home as well as energy levels, compatibility with children and other animals, and likely behaviors.
Siberian Husky dog breed history
The Siberian Husky (the Husky or Sibe) is one of the oldest known dog breeds. Developed over thousands of years to fit the complex functions expected of them, the Husky is a testament to selective breeding.
Living among tribes of Siberian reindeer herders called the Chukchi, the dogs were expected to perform multiple roles in temperatures as low as minus fifty degrees Celsius and as high as thirty-five degrees Celsius.
Adaptability was essential to both the Huskies and the Chukchi’s survival. The dogs were expected to hunt and catch their own food when necessary, be sociable with both people and other dogs, and survive on the minimum amount of food.
Not only that, but they had to have the stamina and agility to act as sled dogs and pull light loads all day through challenging terrain. They were both work dogs and family members. During the harsh winters, the dogs shared beds with the Chukchi children to keep them warm and were gentle playmates too.
But perhaps the most defining characteristic of this dog breed is their independence. The lead sled dog was expected to take direction from a sled driver unless it looked like the driver was leading them into danger. It was up to them to decide if the route was safe or not.
The Huskies’ unique ability to analyze, problem-solve and make decisions is what made them so suited to the roles for which they developed.
Siberian Husky development
The modern Siberian Husky owes its development to several historical events. In eighteenth-century Russia invaded Siberia. While the Chukchi people couldn’t defend themselves against the advanced weaponry of the Russians, they could outrun them.
The Chukchi tribes were used to the harsh conditions, the challenging terrain and had a successful means of transport in their sled dogs, the Russians didn’t and suffered terrible losses.
After the conflict, the Chukchi people lived undisturbed for many years until Alaskan Traders discovered them. The importation of the Siberian Husky into Alaska in 1908 ensured its survival after the communist overthrow of the Russian monarchy all but wiped it out.
Traders entered Siberian Huskies into the All Alaska Sweepstakes, a four hundred and eight-mile dog sled race. But it was Leonhard Seppala a native Norwegian, living in Nome, Alaska who proved their worth, winning the race three years in a row.
But it was the unfortunate outbreak of diphtheria that brought the Siberian Husky as a dog breed to the public’s attention. Nome ran out of antitoxin, and the only way to get more was to collect it from Anchorage. Seppala provided teams of sled dogs to cover the six-hundred and seventy-four miles in what became known as the Great Race of Mercy.
The epic journey was successful, and the diphtheria outbreak contained, catapulting Siberian Huskies into the public eye.
Siberian Husky appearance
Graceful, agile with an almost effortless gait, the Husky is an athletic, medium-sized dog. Ranging from 20 to 22 inches in height for a female and 21 to 23.5 inches in height for a male. The Siberian Husky is both compact and powerful.
Their weight varies from around 35 to 60 pounds the Siberian Huskies are surprisingly lightweight for a dog with such stamina.
Their distinctive medium-length coat comes in all colors from black to pure white and markings on the head and face are a trademark of the Siberian husky breed.
Coat colors include;
- Pure White
In addition to the varied range of coat colors, Siberian huskies also have a variety of eye colors. They range from light amber through to deepest brown to palest blue, and it’s not uncommon for a Siberian husky to have an eye of each color.
Almond-shaped with a keen expression, the Siberian Husky’s eyes are set in a medium-sized head with erect ears and a tapering medium-length muzzle.
Their thick, sickle shape tail is characteristic of the dog breed and is carried over the back when the dog is alert and often trails when the dog is relaxed.
The Siberian Husky’s wolf-like appearance has made them a popular choice as a pet, but unfortunately, many new owners are unprepared for the additional needs of this high-energy and independent dog breed.
Siberian Husky dog breed temperament
The Siberian Husky is a challenging dog for a first-time owner. While they have lots of endearing characteristics, they are also hard work. They are a high-energy and independent dog breed that brings with it unique challenges.
Siberian Huskies are highly intelligent, but this doesn’t mean they are easy to train. They have a ‘take or leave it’ attitude to obeying commands and can’t be trusted to do what you ask. As such, it’s unwise to have your Husky off-leash unless it’s in an extremely secure area. The Siberian Husky’s high prey drive combined with their selective hearing means that un-tethered dogs often get lost or injured.
Having said that, Siberian Huskies are perfect running, biking, or sledding partners. So, if you’re active and enjoy exercise, you can’t go wrong with a Husky
Siberian Huskies thrive in the company of their family. They are notoriously destructive if bored or left alone for long periods of time. But while they are known for being pack-dogs, Siberian Huskies can be choosy about their canine friends.
It’s not an understatement to say that Huskies are the most accomplished escape artists of the canine world. Almost cat-like in their ability to climb, they are also proficient diggers. As resourceful problem solvers, they can outsmart inattentive owners.
If you like an independent, affectionate and cheeky dog, the Husky dog breed provides an exciting challenge. They undoubtedly aren’t the easiest dog to live with if you don’t meet their needs. But their joyful, exuberant outlook on life is a delight.
Is a Husky a good pet?
If you can provide plenty of exercise and healthy outlets for all their energy the Siberian husky makes an excellent pet. Gentle, friendly, and playful they get along with children particularly well, bonding closely with them.
While they are very tolerant of children, supervise all interactions. Siberian huskies can be boisterous, so children need to be dog-savvy or slightly older to enjoy this breed fully.
Husky pros and cons
Never underestimate a Siberian Husky. While there are pros and cons to sharing your life with any dog, the Husky is not a moderate breed.
Be prepared to be charmed, frustrated, amused, and desperate, sometimes all in the same day!
- Friendly; Gentle and good with children
- Playful; The Siberian Husky has a great sense of fun and will keep you entertained with its cheeky antics
- Affectionate; Siberian Huskies are affectionate with their family and welcoming to visitors
- Free-spirited; Although the Husky likes company they are not clingy
- Adaptable; Rarely stressed out, Huskies enjoy new environments
- Intelligent; Huskies are problem solvers, sometimes this will work in your favor, and sometimes it will work in your dog’s favor
- Low odor; Siberian Huskies have very little odor and don’t suffer from the distinctive ‘doggy smell’ that some other breeds do
- Economical; Despite their size, Huskies need less dog food than similar sized dogs
- Escape artists; Huskies climb and dig and will do both to escape a garden or yard
- Independent; If you want a dog that’s eager to please with unfailing obedience don’t get a Husky. Their reputation for stubbornness is unfair; it’s just that if they don’t agree with what you’re asking them to do, they won’t do it!
- Not to be trusted around small animals, livestock, or wildlife
- The desire to run. So never let a Husky off lead in an unsecured area
- Extreme Shedding; The Husky has a thick double coat. The shedding season occurs throughout the year and is extremely heavy when the coat is ‘blown’ twice a year.
- Noise; Huskies can be talkative. While they don’t often bark they do howl and vocalize.
- Stamina; They never seem to get enough exercise it’s almost impossible to tire out a Siberian Huskies physically. Mental stimulation is essential for this breed.
The Siberian Husky dog breed is a wonderful dog in the right home. They do need more physical and mental exercise than many other dog breeds, after all, they were bred as sled dogs, but their personality outshines any issues if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Siberian Husky exercise
The Siberian Husky has an enormous amount of stamina. As such, they need at least two hours of exercise a day. Unless you have access to a very secure area, activity needs to be on a leash. Siberian Huskies will not think twice or even look back to see where you are if they see something they want to chase.
If two hours a day seems like a stretch, rethink getting this breed. An under-exercised Siberian Husky will find ways of getting rid of pent-up energy which often leads to destructive behavior.
However, if you want a running, biking, or sledding partner, this sled dog excels. They will run as long and as hard as you do and still be up for a game or two at the end of the day.
Siberian Huskies are an extremely intelligent breed and get bored quickly. Providing mental stimulation in the way of games, training, or interactive toys is vital.
These dogs are gifted problem solvers, which is why in part, they are such good escape artists. Offering constructive ways to exercise their brains will minimize your dog’s need to find their own entertainment and help prevent destructive behaviors.
Can husky dogs live in hot Weather?
Siberian Huskies are found all over the world, both in hot and cold climates. Their thick double coat protects them from both high and low temperatures, but warm weather precautions are advisable as with any dog to keep them happy and healthy.
- Walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler.
- Always provide a shady area that your dog can escape to
- Make sure there’s a continuous supply of freshwater
- Moderate off-leash exercise in hot weather and substitute mental activity
Huskies are very adaptable, but they need time to adjust to extreme changes in weather. It can take a few weeks for a dog to adapt to a sudden shift in temperature; for example, moving from a cold country to a hot one.
Siberian Husky grooming
The Husky’s coat is one of the outstanding features of the breed. It’s thick, dense, and double; with a soft, downy undercoat and a slightly rough longer topcoat. The double nature of the Sibes fur provides insulation from both hot and cold weather and should never be cut or shaved.
A Siberian Husky’s coat comes in a variety of colors from snowy white to almost black. While Huskies need regular grooming, it’s easy to keep their coat in good shape. Regular brushing a couple of times a week will help keep them looking their best by removing loose hair and debris, and they only need a bath once or twice a year.
Don’t take the Husky’s ability to shed hair lightly. It’s excessive. They blow their coats twice a year, usually in spring and autumn but shed continually throughout the year.
Siberian Husky life span and health conditions
The Husky has a few known health problems although it is generally a robust dog. Life expectancy is between 12 -15 years, and the Husky remains active throughout maintaining a high energy level.
The most common health problems that affect the Siberian Husky are;
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Corneal dystrophy
- Hereditary cataracts
- Hip Dysplasia
If you select an American Kennel Club Assured Breeder, it’s mandatory for them to test stud dogs for
- BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme
- BVA/KC/ISDS Gonioscopy
- Eye Testing
Obviously, if your dog is a mixed breed or not from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, there is no guarantee that they won’t be affected by any of the above conditions.
Siberian Husky highlights
If you’re dedicated, laid-back with a good sense of humor and a laissez-faire attitude to a neat house and garden you might be ready to invite a Siberian Husky into your life.
The Siberian Husky has a huge personality, and while they are challenging for novice owners, they are a joy in the right home. Cheeky, affectionate, and friendly the Husky will keep you entertained with their antics and provide you with a companion that’s always up for an adventure and talks back!
However, as part of the American Kennel Club working breed group, they won’t be content to lounge around on the sofa and are best suited to active households or in a working environment like a search and rescue unit.