Siberian Husky Breed Guide

Siberian Huskies are medium-sized dogs with dense, thick, cashmere-like undercoats and coarse, straight, and medium-long outer coats. These dogs come in all colors from pure white to black, and there may be markings on the head. They have triangular ears, medium-sized heads, almond-shaped eyes, and bushy tails. Siberian Huskies measure 20 to 23.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 35 to 60 pounds.

Physical and mental stimulation is important for these adventurous, intelligent, and mischievous dogs.

Easygoing and friendly, Siberian Huskies make good family companions, although they do best in cold climates due to their thick coats. They require minimal grooming, but they do need daily exercise in the form of walks or short runs. As pack dogs, Siberian Huskies crave the companionship and security of family.

The Siberian Husky's popularity in the United States increased following the breed's starring role in the Disney movie Eight Below, which told the true story of Japan's 1957 expedition to the South Pole.

Agreeable and outgoing, Siberian Huskies make good family companions. They are devoted to their humans, but they require a lot of attention and affection. If left alone for long periods or otherwise neglected, these dogs tend to become restless and destructive. If a family member cannot be home with the breed most of the time, a canine companion is beneficial.

While they get along well with other dogs, the predatory instinct in this breed is very strong. Siberian Huskies should not be left unsupervised around cats or other small animals. When outdoors on walks, it's important to keep these dogs on a tight leash for the protection of neighborhood cats. Keeping the breed on a leash or inside a securely fenced yard will also prevent the potentially dangerous roaming that these dogs enjoy.

Physical and mental stimulation is important for these adventurous, intelligent, and mischievous dogs. Although the breed enjoys cuddling on the couch or playing a gentle game of fetch inside, Siberian Huskies need regular jogs on a leash or vigorous play sessions in the back yard to remain healthy and happy. Adequate stimulation will help control nuisance howling, digging, and chewing, too.

Siberian Huskies are generally healthy as a breed, but this is not a guarantee that any individual dog will be free of genetic illness or other health problems. Purchasing or adopting a Siberian Husky from a reputable source helps ensure a long and healthy life.

These dogs are known to be affected by hip dysplasia and a variety of eye disorders, including cataracts, glaucoma, corneal opacities, distichiasis, and progressive retinal atrophy. Juvenile cataracts usually develop in the first two years of life. Siberian Huskies used for racing are also prone to bronchial and gastric problems.

Siberian Huskies can live a long and active life of up to 12 years, provided they receive routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, proper nutrition, and daily exercise.

Willful and stubborn, the Siberian Husky is not the easiest of breeds to train, but training is definitely possible. Firmness, consistency, and patience make the process easier and more tolerable, but it would be wrong to expect quick or complete obedience from these dogs. A sense of humor goes a long way toward improving the training experience.

Although they aren't big barkers, Siberian Huskies are known to howl. This is especially true if they hear a siren or become bored. They are also talented escape artists and have a very strong wanderlust. Neutering is beneficial, and microchipping the breed is essential. Because they like to dig and are adept at finding even the least obvious escape routes, it's important to check fences and other barriers daily for damage, holes, and other means of escape.

Digging can be a huge problem if training to minimize it is not started early in life. Even the best training won't eliminate the problem completely, though. These dogs don't dig to be annoying; they dig to bury treasure, uncover bugs, or create shelter. These needs are instinctual and if flawless landscaping is important, adopting or purchasing one of these dogs may not be a good idea.

Siberian Huskies need only occasional brushing and grooming, except during spring and fall shedding seasons. During these times, daily brushing with a metal comb or coat rake is necessary to control loose hair and keep it off furniture and clothing. A little shedding throughout the year is normal. Trimming the hair from between the footpads as needed is beneficial.

These dogs very rarely need baths. This breed is very clean and has little to no odor. If the Siberian Husky decides to roll around in something harmful, sticky, or stinky, a gentle bath with a canine shampoo will clean the coat without causing skin irritation. A thorough rinsing is always important.

The nails need clipping every one to two weeks to prevent snags and breaks, and the teeth should be brushed daily to keep cavities, bad breath, and gum disease at bay. Additionally, weekly ear checks to look for excess wax accumulation or signs of infection are important. If redness, odor, discharge, or other concerning signs are present in or around the ears, a prompt appointment with a veterinarian is necessary.

Bred in Northeast Asia, the Siberian Husky's primary duty was as a sled dog. The breed is believed to have been developed by the Chukchi, a people that relied on these dogs for survival. Siberian Huskies worked for long hours in extreme cold, pulling sleds and herding reindeer.

Americans in Alaska started importing the dogs in the early 1900s, primarily for use in sledding competitions. In 1908, the breed was used for the All-Alaskan Sweepstakes, a 408-mile dogsled race. The dogs became even more popular when a team of Siberian Huskies successfully transported lifesaving medicine to Nome, Alaska during a serious diphtheria epidemic.

Around this time, the first Siberian Huskies made their way to Canada and the rest of the United States. During World War II, the breed served on search and rescue teams in the U.S. Army. This caused an additional boost in the breed's popularity, and these dogs have been cherished as racing dogs, show dogs, and family pets ever since.

The Siberian Husky was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930.