All You Need to Know About the Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky was originally from northeastern Siberia and was bred by the Chukchi Eskimos of northeastern Asia. They were used as working dogs to herd reindeers and as watchdogs. They were also used to pull heavy loads across long distances in difficult terrains. They later arrived in Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush and spread through the United States.
Huskies belong to the spitz family of dogs and are now kept as pets or show dogs. They are commonly known as Chukcha or Chuksha dog and nicknamed the Husky or Sibe.
The Siberian husky is a mid-sized dog. The male stands at a height of between 20 and 24 inches (51 and 61 cm) tall at the withers and weighing between 35 and 65 pounds (16 and 29 kg). Females are smaller, growing to between 19 to 23 inches (48 to 58 cm) tall at the withers and weighing between 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg).
It has a double coat of fur composing a dense undercoat and a long outer coat made up of straight guard hairs. These help to keep them warm during harsh winters as well as reflect heat during summer. Siberian huskies are able to withstand temperatures as low as −50 to −60 °C (−58 to −76 °F).
They are heavy shedders, requiring weekly brushing, making them less suitable for individuals prone to allergies. Typically, the undercoat is absent during shedding seasons.
They also come in various colors and patterns. They have white paws and legs, facial markings and a tail tip. The most common coats are black and white while copper-red and white, grey and white, pure white, and “agouti” coat are rare.
They have almond-shaped eyes that are moderately spaced and come in brown, blue or black; one of each or Particoloured. Gray dogs have a black nose while tan in black dogs, liver in copper-colored dogs, and maybe light tan in white dogs. Siberian Huskies can exhibit a “snow nose” or “winter nose”, a condition called hypopigmentation.
Their tails are heavily furred. They usually curl up their tails over their noses while asleep to keep warm.
They are friendly, gentle, alert and outgoing. They also get along with other dogs without any form of aggression.
Their intelligence, tractability, and eager disposition make them excellent working dogs.
They also do not bark but howl and have a tendency to digging under, chewing through, or even jumping over fences. A 6 ft (1.83 m) fence is recommended for this breed as a pet, although some have been known to overcome fences as high as 8 ft (2.44 m).
They also get along with children.
They have high energy, especially when confined indoors. They require regular exercise at least daily otherwise they can turn destructive.
They have prey drive and it’s not strange to find them chasing after wild cats, birds, and squirrels, but with training can be trusted with other small animals.
They need frequent companionship from their owners and other dogs due to their need to feel like they are in a pack.
Huskies like to feel like they are part of a pack and therefore thrive when involved in family activities.
Due to their need for regular exercise, when housed primarily indoors they can turn destructive. A dog door that allows them to come in out at will is most preferable.
If one does decide to put them in a kennel, it should be chain link with a concrete 6 to 7 ft wide and 10 to 15 ft long. It should be at least 6 ft high with a chain-link across the top of the kennel.
It should be built in a shaded location and have an insulated doghouse with a door for shelter from the elements. Because the Siberian is an arctic dog, it can remain outside in very cold weather. However, it should be provided with shelter from the elements in the form of a good sturdy house. The house should have a flat roof, as Siberians love to lay on top of their houses and observe the world.
While outside, he should have a large fenced (at least 6ft tall) yard. The wire should be buried in the ground to discourage digging it out. It’s also a good idea to place a sandbox in a shaded part of the yard and encourage digging there. They should also not be allowed to roam around the neighborhood unsupervised.
Siberian huskies are intelligent and energetic but can be very stubborn to train. Training should commence while the puppy as they are more impressionable. Owners should work to establish themselves as the alpha or leader as it will be easier to follow commands when they know you are in charge.
Training should be consistent and regular. The owners should be firm to enforce commands otherwise if flexible huskies can run the show.
It’s also a worthwhile idea to enroll them in a puppy kindergarten as soon as they have had all there vaccinations. Thereafter obedience training can commence.
As mentioned above this breed is a heavy shedder. They require weekly brushing especially during the shedding season in spring and fall. The undercoat should not be manually removed. Regular grooming helps in keeping them clean and comfortable. It is important to never shave, as the coat provides natural insulation both against summer heat and winter cold, and it protects the Husky’s skin from sunburn.
Never clip your huskies whiskers – they are sensory devices that your dog needs. Whiskers vibrate as a warning to the dog when they come into contact with something solid.
Their nails should also be trimmed at least every few weeks. Pet owners should also remember to keep the ears clean and dry to avoid any fungal or bacterial infections.
Siberian Huskies are generally healthy dogs. However pure breed huskies are predisposed to certain health conditions such as:
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Corneal dystrophy
- Uveodermatologic Syndrome
- Zinc deficiency
- Follicular dysplasia