|The Siberian Husky is one of the most popular dog breeds in North America. Though individual dogs have personalities all their own, Siberian Huskies are generally alert, friendly, and outgoing. Many are silly, mischievous clowns. They're gentle, affectionate pets and wonderful companions for children.|
Siberian Huskies are an Arctic Breed...a Northern Breed. Their thick double coat, a coarse outer coat plus a wooly undercoat, insulates and protects them from even the harshest weather. They can tolerate temperatures of minus 50 to minus 75 degrees below zero.
Huskies enjoy cold weather and they love snow! They're strong, adventurous, agile and full of energy. Dog sledding provides a great outlet for that abundant energy. For their owners, the "mushers", dog sledding is a way to enjoy the companionship of their dogs and the fun of traveling the trails together.
For snow enthusiasts who don't have a whole team of Huskies, Skijoring is a fast-growing winter sport that lets them enjoy outdoor adventure with only one or two dogs. It's basically cross county skiing with a tow line attached to a dog's harness. Sledding and pulling activities like this are what this breed was designed for.
The AKC breed standard describes the Siberian Husky as "a medium-sized working dog, quick and light on his feet and free and graceful in action. His moderately compact and well furred body, erect ears and brush tail suggest his Northern heritage. His characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless. He performs his original function in harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances."
Dogs in The Working Group were bred to perform tasks. The Siberian Husky has been used to pull sleds for centuries. The breed originated in Russia, in the frigid environment of Northeastern Siberia. The survival of the Chukchi people depended on the hearty dogs to pull heavy loads across frozen terrain. Passing fur traders eventually took the Arctic dogs to other parts of the world. In 1909, the breed was introduced to Alaska and teams of Siberian Huskies soon captured most of the sled dog racing titles there.
|In the winter of 1925 Siberian Huskies gained worldwide recognition when a diphtheria epidemic struck in Nome, Alaska There was life saving serum in Anchorage that could be taken north by train on the Alaska Railroad, but only as far as the town of Nenana. In a valiant endeavor, mushers and their dog sled teams rushed the serum to victims in the remote town of Nome, traveling over 650 miles through howling blizzards in bitter temperatures far below zero. Without the heroic efforts of the mushers and their amazing Siberian Huskies who braved the grueling conditions of that Alaskan winter together, many sick children would have died.|
One of the team drivers, Leonhard Seppala, later took his Siberian Huskies to New England. There he competed in sled dog races and proved his team's superiority over native dogs. New England sled drivers and dog fanciers became Siberian Husky owners and breeders. They earned AKC recognition for the breed in 1930 and founded the Siberian Husky Club of America in 1938
|There are beautiful Siberian Huskies in many colors and color combinations. Most are either black and white, gray and white or red and white. All colors are allowed by the AKC. Many have blue eyes, but Siberians can also have brown eyes. It's also fairly common for one eye to be blue and the other brown. Some have a mixture of colors in both eyes. They might even have green eyes. Red Siberians usually have a liver colored nose. A gray or black Husky should have a black or mostly black nose. Any color Husky can have a "snow nose," a black or liver colored nose with a pale red or pink area in the middle. This is perfectly acceptable and very common.|
Male Siberians are usually 21" to 24" tall at the withers and weigh 45 to 60 lbs. An average female is about 20" to 22" tall and weighs 35 to 50 pounds.
Though Huskies thrive in cold weather, they also adapt well to living in other climates and weather conditions. With proper care and a home with people they love, Siberian Huskies can be happy and healthy living in Florida as well as in Alaska. Since they are naturally suited to cooler temperatures, they'll be more comfortable in air conditioning. Like all dogs, they'll need shade and extra water in hot summer weather. Some owners keep a child's wading pool in their back yard for their Huskies to cool off in the summertime.
Siberians are clean, odorless dogs. Their gorgeous coats need no trimming, shaping or thinning. Twice a year, they'll shed or "blow" their undercoats and hair will fall out in clumps. Frequent brushing is essential during these intense shedding periods, which can last three weeks or more. For the rest of the year, once a week brushings are needed to remove dead hair and maintain a shiny coat. Baths are recommended once or twice a year.
Their average lifespan of a Siberian Husky is 10 to 14 years. They are remarkably healthy dogs with few genetic issues. The breed is at risk for three inherited eye defects that can occur in any eye color. Hereditary, or juvenile cataracts (different from non-hereditary cataracts affecting elderly dogs) are the most common, followed by followed by corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy. For more information, see the links below.
Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joint in which the head of the femur does not fit properly into the pelvic socket. This condition, while not present at birth, develops during the first two years of the dog's life. It is often progressive, causing inflammation, pain, and arthritis in one or both hips. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and can be aggravated by strenuous exercise. Though they are at at risk for hip dysplasia, the Siberian Husky ranks relatively low when compared to other susceptable breeds, due to the efforts of responsble breeders who follow guidelines established by The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Siberian Husky Club of America.
Feeding a Husky
Siberian Huskies require less food per pound than most other same-size breeds. Their diet must be high in protein and fat. Premium brands of dog food can provide optimal nourishment with smaller amounts of food. Follow a feeding schedule and use a formula that fits your dog's lifestyle. Active working Siberians need a performance formula. For the average Siberian that goes for walks or even occasional hikes, a maintenance formula is better. Ask a knowlegible breeder or your veterinarian for feeding advice.
Siberian Huskies bond easily with their humans and when they do, they do not want to be separated from them. They long for their companions and, if left alone, some Huskies will try to move and destroy any obstacle in the way of a possible escape route. A crate can provide a familiar place to rest and wait. Crates help to relieve separation anxiety by offering the security and comfort of a den.
They can be independent, strong willed, even stubborn. Without adequate exercise a Siberian Husky will find other means to escape boredom...literally "Escape". They are often described as "escape artists" or "Houdinis". Huskies are curious - always waiting for an opportunity to explore. These traits, coupled with their inherited desire to run, an independent spirit, speed and agility, mean Husky owners must always keep their dogs security in mind - Huskies should NEVER be allowed to run free outdoors. They must always be on a leash or within a fenced area. If you want to leave a Siberian Husky safely unattended in a fenced yard, play area or kennel, the fence must be a strong chain link type. Fencing should be at least 6 foot high, and unless it's on concrete, the fence should also extend underground about 1 to 2 feet. A Husky will jump over a fence, climb a fence or dig a hole and crawl under a fence.
What's he digging for?
Huskies dig holes under fences to escape but they also dig because digging is fun. Siberian Huskies have a natural tendency to dig. They dig holes, they might even dig craters. It's the nature of the breed to dig holes to lie in. They've also been known to dig up plants and bushes, so when fencing in an area for Huskies to run and play, Husky owners might want to fence them out of flower beds, away from gardens and prized shrubs. Digging can be a very difficult problem to solve. Some owners overcome the problem of the nuisance digging by providing a spot in the yard - a sand box type area - where their dog is allowed and encouraged to dig.
Siberian Huskies have a very strong prey drive ... they are fast ... they are cunning! Many Huskies will efficiently kill small animals they encounter ... cats included. They can live peacefully with cats, but this is not usually the case, and it's only possible if they are introduced from the time they're puppies. If you're a cat owner, and you want a Siberian Husky, buy a young pup. If you're thinking about adopting from a shelter or Husky Rescue, don't take the chance unless you know a dog's history and it was raised with cats, or it's in foster care and doing well in a home with cats.
Is the Siberian Husky the Right Dog for You?
Try this Online Profiler. It analyzes you and your environment, then provides recommendations about how compatible a Siberian Husky might be in your household.
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Siberian Huskies Around the World
Your Active Pet.Com has Outdoor Gear for Your Siberian Husky!
Their selection includes belts, ropes and harnsesses for racing or recreation and tough, durable
Endurance Racing Booties. They offer a basic Skijoring Package with everything you need to start skijoring.
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This content was written by Sandy Moyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bettina Thomas-Smith for details.