The Siberian Husky is a working dog of medium size. It is a graceful dog, capable of moving quickly. Its body is compact and moderate in size. The Husky’s coat is furry, with a tail that is brush-like, and with erect ears. The breed is capable of carrying light loads over long distances when working as a harness dog moving at moderate rates of speed. The Husky is muscular and typically is not overweight. It is a breed with balanced body proportions, capable of speed, endurance and power within a smooth and effortless gait.
The Siberian comes in many different colors, but six are recognized as standard by the AKC:
- Agouti and White
- Black and White
- Gray and White
- Red and White
- Sable and White
It is common for Siberians to have Black, Piebald or Pinto markings on their heads. Their ears are triangular in shape and their eyes are typically almond shaped. They will often use their bushy tails to wrap around their noses to help keep their faces warm. They are intelligent, friendly and extremely active dogs.
Siberians were bred in Northeast Asia by the nomadic Chukchi to be sled dogs. The breed was Siberians have thicker fur due to the cold climates of their origin, which is divided into a coarse top coat with longer hair and softer, dense undercoat which gives them extra insulation against cold weather. The dogs were bred for endurance and gained respect for serving in notable pursuits:
- 1910 – a team of Siberian Huskies won the 400 mile All Alaska Sweepstakes Race, with driver John “Iron Man” Johnson
- 1910s – the breed, most significantly those raced by Leonard Seppala, won most of the racing titles for the remaining decade
- 1925 – Siberian dog teams transported antitoxins in the famous “Great Race of Mercy “ serum run when a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome, Alaska
- World War II – courageous Siberians served in the Army’s Arctic Search & Rescue Unit of the Air Transport Command
- Siberians transported the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions
The characteristic temperament of the Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. Siberians are natural pack animals, and enjoy becoming part of their human family pack. They do well with children because they enjoy playing and running. But, Siberians are not possessive or protective, and do not make good guard dogs. They are simply not suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs. They are intelligent and eager to be companions with their owners and willing to work. They are excellent therapy dogs due to their gentle nature, and equally excellent when tasked with sledding activities.
Size and Exercise
- Males – 21 to 23 ½ inches tall at the withers; weighing 45 to 60 pounds
- Females – 20 to 22 inches tall at the withers; weighing 35 to 50 pounds
Siberians are energetic dogs in the extreme. They love chasing tiny animals, and because they cannot resist doing so, owners should consider only walking with them when they are wearing a collar and leash. Secure areas for running off some of their energy is mandatory. The best options are a yard that is completely fenced or a dog park designed for lots of activity.
Though Siberians are gentle with their family, friendly with visitors and dogs, owners should be warned that their natural predatory instinct will take over when small animals are nearby. Their strong hunting skills need satisfaction and they will swiftly take down cats, squirrels, birds, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Their cunning nature allows them to patiently, yet effectively dominate ANY small animals they believe are fair prey.
Health Issues and Living Conditions
The health issues which most commonly affect the average domestic Siberian Husky include:
- Canine glaucoma
- Corneal dystrophy
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – an inherited disease causing blindness
- Hereditary or juvenile cataracts
- Congenital laryngeal paralysis
- Hip Dysplasia – rare, but possible
Siberians who are sled dogs can develop:
- a) Bronchitis
- b) bronchopulmonary ailments, such as the commonly called “ski asthma”
- c) gastric disease
- d) gastric erosions or ulcerations
The Siberian Husky MUST RUN. For its own safety, it must be kept under control and confined all the time. Exercising must be done while it is in a harness, on a leash or in a large completely enclosed area. Siberians are in danger when not strictly controlled, as their desire to run is so strong that they may unknowingly dash across a street, only to be struck dead by a vehicle. Keeping Siberians restrained and directing their exercise times is proper for their development and safety. They will not sit quietly in a front yard and watch the traffic roll by.
Siberian Huskies have an expected lifespan of 12 up to 14 years.
Siberians shed copiously at least once or twice each year. Their coats are so dense that they need an enormous amount of combing. However, they are also extremely clean, have none of the typical dog odor associated with heavy coats of fur. Their coats do not need to be trimmed or clipped, though some will do a small amount on the fur between their toes. Checking their feet for debris should be done when they are brushed. Their toenails need to be clipped regularly.
Caring for Your Siberian Husky
Siberians are described by breed clubs as easy to keep. They don’t each much food in relationship to their size. They were developed to travel long distances while taking in the least possible amount of food per trip, while traveling quickly yet pulling a light sled load. Still today, they require less food than other dogs of similar size and energy expenditure.
Siberians need to know who their pack leader is. Their owners must be strong leaders, and willing to exercise these very active dogs every day. Siberians need to run on a regular basis. They also must be carefully watched and controlled so that their predatory skills do not result in tragedy for smaller animals.
Caring for Siberian Husky Puppies
In addition to all the normal potty and obedience training, and the first tentative months when puppies are naturally learning how to live with their new family pack, Siberians have particular characteristics that each owner should understand:
- Siberians who do not have enough vigorous exercise every day can quickly start to destroy things. Puppies can tear stuffing out of sofas and chairs, and chew holes in walls when bored.
- These are dogs who must run, and will do well when trained to pull sleds or carts and carry backpacks on hikes.
- Siberians spend a lot of time howling when bored, but they don’t bark much.
- These dogs think digging up yards is great fun. A special place to dig in the dirt is good for them.
- Siberians are cold weather animals. If you live someplace extremely warm, they will need plenty of shade and even air conditioning to stay healthy.
- Siberian puppies play by jumping, bouncing and romping. They will knock over a child and an elderly adult thinking that they are playing.
- Siberians are stubborn and independent. Puppies must be taught who is in charge from the very beginning, and they will constantly test their right to dominate their owners.
- Siberians can shed everywhere, and a lot. Vacuuming will be an important task when they are in shedding mode.
Before You Bring a New Siberian Husky Puppy Home
- Research and read all you can about the breed to be certain it is right for you.
- Interview local breeders near you to find those with the best reputations.
- Visit kennels with litters and examine them for health, friendliness and happy activity.
- Be sure you have a fenced yard or other fenced area where the puppy will be safe to play
(The fence needs to be high as Siberians can climb easily.
Since the puppies and adult dogs spend much time digging, you will need to bury the fence wire underground to keep them from digging their way under the fence to escape the yard.)
- They must not be allowed to run free, and must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Determine where the puppy will eliminate as the toilet are
- Create an outdoor shelter and buy an indoor crate to confine and train your puppy
- Contact your chosen breeder about what food the puppy will need, and stock a supply
- Buy food and water bowls and plenty of chew toys and ropes
- Find an experienced vet and set up a first visit for your puppy.
On Arrival at Your Home
- Create daily routines for your puppy
- Place food and water bowls in the same place each time
- Feed the puppy at the same times every day
- Show the puppy where it will sleep
- Use the crate so the puppy always goes to bed in the same place, at the same time
- Take the puppy outside every 15 minutes to 2 hours to the designated toilet area
- Teach the puppy the words NO and GOOD first
- Add the words COME, STAY, OFF, QUIET, DROP IT, GO LIE DOWN and DON’T TOUCH next
- Plan to crate and housebreak train for the puppy’s first 2 to 3 months
- Handle the puppy often and gently so that it becomes accustomed to your leadership
- Decide which rules the puppy must follow and consistently use NO or GOOD to train behaviors
Siberians need consistency and the must be taught to respect the rules and leadership in their new home. Their determined nature will make this a lifelong work, but they will grow up to become good adult dogs with affection and consistent patterns in their new home.
Siberian Husky Mixes and Types
In 1908, William Goosak, a Russian trading in furs, brought a team of Siberian Huskies to Nome, Alaska. These were the dogs which were developed by the Chukchi people of northeastern Asia. His huskies were smaller than the dogs already there, and Nome residents called them “Siberian Rats”. He entered his team in the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race of 1909 and they placed third. Alaskan dog drivers saw very quickly that these huskies from Siberia were talented and capable sled dogs. Their achievement made news, and more people started to take notice of the smaller, yet speedy dogs. Eventually, the Siberian dogs became popular when notable racers, called mushers, won more races with the smaller sized dogs. Two notable men, musher Leonhard Seppala and business man Harry Wheeler, created kennels to breed more Siberians. Today, all registered Siberians can trace their ancestry to dogs from the Seppala or Wheeler kennels.
American experts state clearly that these dogs are not half-wolf, wild, or cross-bred as many have stated. They are a purebred dog that has been in existence for centuries.
Some believe that “husky” came from “Esky” which was once a nickname for Eskimos and their dogs. Others mention the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute along with the Siberian Husky as being direct descendants of the early sled dogs, but these are different breeds; not mixes or types of Siberians.
Other Names and Nicknames:
American Kennel Club (AKC) – recognized as a Working Group breed in 1930
The Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. is recognized by the AKC as the official breed club.
- American Canine Association Inc. (ACA)
- American Canine Registry (ACR)
- American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)
- Australian National Kennel Club (ANKC)
- Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
- Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
- Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA)
- Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
- Kennel Club of Great Britain (KCGB)
- National Kennel Club (NKC)
- New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC)
- North American Purebred Registry, Inc. (NAPR)
- United Kennel Club (UKC)