Originally a native dog of Siberia, the Siberian Husky was first brought to Alaska in the early 1900s. They were hardy working dogs well adapted to the harsh climate of the region, used by the Chukchi people in Siberia to pull sleds, herd reindeer and perform watchdog functions. The Siberian was uniquely suited for its duties, able to work for hours at a time, exhibiting remarkable enthusiasm and stamina for work.
Due to a diphtheria epidemic in Nome Alaska in 1925, fur traders first brought the Siberian to Nome Alaska because of their great speed, work ethic, and subsequent ability to pull the numerous sleds necessary to transport medications to the city’s ailing population. Also excellent pack animals, Siberian Huskies were used by Admiral Byrd during his storied Antarctic expeditions.
Today, while still used for snow sledding, Siberian Huskies today have become very popular companion pets.
Siberian Huskies are strong, compact, lightweight dogs of the working dog family. The Siberian Husky comes in all colors from black to pure white. Different coat markings are all acceptable, the most well known of which is pie-bald. The face mask and underbelly are most commonly white, with the remaining coat any of the aforementioned colors. The eyes are almond shaped, and are obliquely set. The eye colors can vary and be blue, brown, amber, or any combination, even including eyes which are half blue and half brown. The large feet perform with a snowshoe-like effect, and have hair between the toes for gripping on ice. The ears are tall and erect, with a bushy tail that hangs downward. The Siberian Husky has an extremely thick, wooly undercoat with a soft to course outer coat. This thick hair coat is partly responsible for the reason Siberian Huskies can withstand temperature extremes as low as 75 degrees F.
Height: Males 20-24 inches; Bitches 18-22 inches.
Weight: Dogs 45-65 pounds; Bitches 35-55 pounds.
The Siberian Husky is a very outgoing and social dog. Always a puppy at heart, they are high energy dogs that thrive on play and interaction with people. They are generally very gentle with children and not weary of strangers.
While very intelligent and intuitive, Siberian Huskies can be willful, stubborn, and difficult to train, even housebreak. In order for training to be successful, the owner must show strong unwavering leadership, as well as be consistent and patient. Without the owner showing strong leadership qualities, Siberian Huskies can become mischievous, willful dogs that do not obey commands, and can be quite misbehaved at the vet or groomer.
Siberian Huskies, dogs that still carry a strong pack animal instinct, do no like to be left alone. As such, some can become destructive when left home alone. This fact, combine with the fact that Siberian Huskies tend to get on quite well with other dogs (especially other Huskies), it may be a good idea to have a canine companion for your Siberian Husky.
On a similar note, Siberian Huskies, by their nature hard working dogs require a lot of exercise. Without adequate exercise, they can become ornery and destructive. They are also prone to roaming off, so a fenced in yard and leash on when out of the yard are strongly recommended.
Siberian Huskies are very active indoors, so they are not recommended for apartment living, but preferably a house with at least a medium sized yard. Because of their heavy coats, they are recommended for temperate to cool climates. If kept in a subtropical to tropical climate, one must be very careful to provide adequate shade and air conditioning, and take care avoid overheating.
Daily walks or jogs are ideal for the Siberian Husky, as the breed requires regular exercise. However, excessive exercise should be avoided during hot or very warm times, as Huskies are prone to overheating.
The hair coat should be brushed regularly to promote coat renewal and prevent hair mats. Siberian Huskies are heavy shedders.
The Siberian Husky is prone to hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. For this reason, it is important to request documentation of pre-breeding screening of the bitch and sire before purchasing a puppy.
Life expectancy is 12 – 14 years.
By: Roger L. Welton, DVM
President Maybeck Animal Hospital
Author Canine and Feline 101