Siberian Husky
Able to Withstand Very Cold
and Harsh Conditions

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The Siberian Husky is a medium to large working dog. It comes from north east Siberia and was bred by the natives there the Chukchi people.

The Siberian Husky is admired for its looks, athleticism and power. But sometimes the looks attract people who are not the best owners for this difficult to train and very active dog. Unfortunately its popularity has led to a lot of puppy mills and bad breeders breeding them with no care or skill. This has led to a lot of ill bred Huskies out there with a lot of negative traits. Make sure this is the right dog for you and that you take the time to find a good breeder.

Here is the Siberian Husky at a Glance
Name Siberian Husky
Other Names Chukcha, Chuksha
Nicknames Husky, Sibe
Origin Russia (Siberia)
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 25 to 60 pounds
Average height 18 to 24 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Double, thick, soft
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, white, red, brown
Popularity Quite popular – Ranked 12th by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – One of the more intelligent dogs
Tolerance to heat Average – not best suited to very warm climates
Tolerance to cold Excellent – coat makes it well suited to extreme cold
Shedding High – will shed a lot meaning there will be hair on clothing and furnishing
Drooling Average – some drool but not excessive
Obesity Moderate – not especially prone to being overweight
Grooming/brushing Moderate to high – daily brushing needed during seasonal shedding at least
Barking Low – while it is not a big barker the Husky does howl and that can be just as much of an issue for if not more for some neighbors!
Exercise needs Very high – needs active owners
Trainability Difficult – this is not an easy dog to train as it will challenge your dominance
Friendliness Very friendly with socialization
Good first dog No, needs an owner who knows what they are doing and can maintain leader role
Good family pet Excellent – makes a great family dog when raised well
Good with children Excellent with socialization – will play and be affectionate
Good with other dogs Excellent – early socialization is a key factor though
Good with other pets Very good – some can see smaller animals as prey to chase
Good with strangers Excellent – well raised it is very approachable
Good apartment dog No – needs room and a yard
Handles alone time well No – is still a pack animal and needs people or companions around
Health issues Some including hip dysplasia and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year including health insurance
Food expenses $275 a year including treats
Miscellaneous expenses $240 a year including training, license and toys
Average annual expense $1000
Cost to purchase $800
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 83 Maimings: 27 Child victims: 51 Deaths: 26
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The Siberian Husky's Beginnings

The Siberian Husky is one of three dogs who come from the original sled dog the Qimmiq. This dog was once common across the entire Northern Hemisphere including Siberia. The term husky is thought to come from the term Esky, the name given to Eskimos and their dogs. Tribes of people used Siberian Huskies to survive and thrive in some quite harsh conditions.

Duties for the Siberian Husky included pulling sleds, acting as a watchdog and herding reindeer. It was a great working dog for the conditions there, a hardy pack dog that enjoyed the work they were given and could work long hours. As well as being vital working dogs they also were a family dog and often slept with the children of the tribe to offer them warmth and comfort.

During the gold rush in 1908 dogs were brought in to Alaska. Not only did they act as working dogs, they also were used to compete in distance dog sled racing. They were used in the first All Alaskan Sweepstakes race, a 408 mile dogsled event. Siberian Huskies were used in competition from 1909 to the 1920s by Leonhard Seppala the most well known breeder of Siberian Huskies at the time.

New Lease on Life

In 1925 they became very popular amongst more than just dog sled racers. In Nome, Alaska there was an epidemic of diphtheria. A famous delivery of diphtheria serum was successfully completed by a group of husky teams that was 600 miles long from Nenana to Nome. It is loosely told in a film called Balto. Balto was the lead Siberian Husky dog of Gunnar Kaasen's team and he has a statue erected of him in Central Park, New York with a plaque that ends in words that some up the Huskies, Endurance, Fidelity and Intelligence.

The exportation of dogs from Siberia stopped in 1930 when the borders were closed. That year saw them recognized by the American Kennel Club. In 1933 Rear Admiral Richard E Byrd used 50 Siberian Huskies on his expedition attempting to travel around the coast of Antarctica. It was more proof of their strength, endurance and speed.

The Unites States Army used them as part of their Arctic Search and Rescue Unit and they were also used in World War II. In 1960 Project Iceworm, an under ice defense and space research facility also involved an unofficial mascot called Mukluk, a Siberian Husky.

There are other teams that have it as their mascot still today including the Washington Huskies, the St Cloud State Huskies, the Connecticut Huskies and the North-eastern Huskies. Today it is the 12th most popular dog according to the American Kennel Club.

The Dog You See Today

The Siberian Husky has a double coat, the undercoat is dense and shorter and the topcoat is a little longer, straight and soft. It offers the dog great protection from the harsh cold conditions it is used to. It can keep it protected even in temperatures as low as -50 to -60 degrees Celsius. It does shed a lot and then sheds profusely when it does its seasonal shedding.

Common colors are black and white, white, grey and white, red and white or agouti. There are often interesting masks, facial markings and patterns. It is a medium to large dog and has a strong, compact but powerful body. Its muzzle is the same length as the skull and its nose can be black, tan, liver or flesh colored. It has oval or almond shaped eyes that can be brown, amber or blue. It is not uncommon to have a dog with one blue eye and one brown. It has triangle shaped erect ears that sit high on the head.

It has a tail that has a sickle curve when it is excited and otherwise carried low. It can curl its tail over its face for warmth. Feet that are large, good for walking on snow and between the toes is hair for warmth.

The Inner Siberian Husky

Temperament

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It has a charming side and can be mischievous. It also likes to show off! It is a great family dog when it gets enough exercise and is trained well. It is a gentle dog, loving too and can also be very playful. It has a lot of energy and needs very committed owners who are active too. It is also a very social dog which comes from its history of pack and tribe living. Its love of everyone even strangers means it is not the best of watchdogs. It also does not bark much but does howl.

It is intelligent and needs a firm owner as its pack leader. It will likely test you now and then. When it tests you it is important not to let them win. Be consistent and clear about the rules. You are the one in control of its food, toys and treats.

If it gets bored or is left alone for long periods it is likely to let loose the howl and become destructive. Do not underestimate how destructive the Siberian Husky can be – it will even chew cement walls!

Living with a Siberian Husky

Training needs

Training is very important when you own a Siberian Husky. As well as ensuring it receives early obedience training it should have early socialization as well to improve how it gets on with different situations, locations and people. It may be a good idea to spend time and money on advanced obedience training with it too. Use positive training methods and give them a short session every day making sure you are always the leader and that you are confident about it.

Training this dog is not easy and for that reason this is certainly not the best dog for a first time owner. It is an intelligent dog but there are various issues you are going to have to deal with.

First of all it can be independent and will test your dominance so needs firmness, consistency and patience.

Secondly if you take it to classes you may find it learns and behaves great there, but when you get home it reverts back to being stubborn.

Thirdly it will need quite strict leash training as it has a tendency to run off and chase whatever it wants, as it has a strong prey drive.

Lastly as well as being hard to train with obedience it is also hard to house train.

How active is this dog?

This is not a dog for apartment owners. It has too much energy and with its medium to large size this is not a good mix. It also howls which would get very annoying very quickly for the neighbors. It would do best with access to a medium to large yard to play in. Since it likes to dig it may be a good idea to have a section in the yard where it is allowed to. The fencing needs to be effective as it is known to be good at escaping.

It needs two good long and vigorous walks a day at 60 minutes at least. It can join owners who like to jog or hike. It would also be good to give it regular time at a dog park off leash. Take care when exercising it not to do it in super hot weather as it can overheat.

Caring for the Siberian Husky

Grooming needs

The Siberian Husky has moderate to high grooming needs. It sheds and that is especially heavy twice a year when they have what is called a blow out. At that point clumps of hair can be found around the home. It prefers to live in cooler climates and those kept there rather than warm climates will have less shedding. It will need daily brushing to keep up with the loose hair. It will leave enough hair around the home to be noticeable the rest of the year too and more vacuuming will be needed. Brushing will also help remove and burs or debris.

Bath time may be fun! Avoid doing it too often as it has natural oils in its skin that this would damage. Use a suitable dog shampoo only. Its teeth should be brushed at least twice a week and its nails should be clipped if it does not wear them down naturally. Also check the ears once a week for signs of infection and then give it a clean by wiping with a damp cloth, or with a cotton ball and ear cleaner.

Feeding time

Using a high quality dry dog food is best as it is far more nutrient rich and has less pointless fillers. A Siberian Husky will need 1 1/2 to 2 cups or even more a day and it should eat in two meals. How much it eats will depend on its size, health, level of activity and of course its metabolism. In general though despite their level of activity these dogs are known to eat small amounts which traces back to their beginnings where they needed to eat low amounts and pull sleds over long distances.

How are Siberian Huskies with other pets and children?

It is very good with children though with its energy and size it is a good idea to still supervise it around small children. Make sure the kids are taught how to approach, play and touch dogs safely and kindly. It can get on with other dogs well too though socialization really helps with that.

While it can get on with other pets socialization is still key here as it does have very strong prey instincts. It still has them from when it was living with the Chukchi and food was rare. Therefore it may chase small animals like squirrels and birds.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It is a fairly healthy dog and does not have a huge long list of issues but it can have eye problems, seizures and hip dysplasia though this last one is rare. It is a good idea to only use breeders who can show you it has been screened by the OFA for the hips and the AVCO for its eyes. Checking parental health clearances is also a good move.

Biting Statistics

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When looking at statistics for dog attacks on people over the last 34 years the Siberian Husky can be found to be involved in a total of 83 attacks that did bodily harm. This means the victims required medical attention. Of those 27 were maimings, so the victims were left disfigured, with permanent scarring or had loss of limb. 51 were known to be child victims and 26 of those attacks lead to the victim dieing. That means there are almost 3 attacks a year and 1 death every 18 months caused by a Siberian Husky. This puts it in the top 10%.

The fact is any dog of any breed can become aggressive and snap or attack as a result. Dogs can be startled for example or drawn in to aggression if they see other dogs acting that way. It is important that a dog is given what it needs in terms of food, exercise, stimulation, a safe and loving home, good training and good socialization.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Siberian Husky can range in cost depending on where you get it from. If you are willing to buy from a backyard breeder, on places like craigslist, you can find it for less, $100 up, but there will be no medical tests done, no knowledge of its parents or its health. You can get one for less too if you opt to rescue one, these can be $50 to $200, this time you will have tests done and some medical needs taken care of, but it is likely to be an adult dog. A Siberian Husky from a breeder that is more reputable is going to start at prices around $800.

There are several initial costs to be paid. Medical ones if they have not already been taken care of will include blood tests, a vet check up, micro chipping and shots which come to about $70. Eventual spaying or neutering will be $220. Non medical initial costs like a collar and leash $35 and a crate for $125.

Ongoing annual costs include food and treats for $275, a license for $20, training for $120, medical needs including health insurance for $485 and then other miscellaneous costs for $65. Keep in mind that that training figure is very much just a starting amount, since it is recommended that Siberian Husky owners get advanced obedience training this would cost more.

Total annual costs are going to start at $1000.

Names

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  • Male Siberian Husky Names
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  • Top Siberian Husky Mixes

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