The Siberian Husky is a highly energetic and active dog breed that comes from the extremely harsh and cold Siberian Arctic. They have been bred for working purposes, specifically for pulling heavy loads in long distances in the extreme environmental conditions. With the help of the Siberian Huskies, the tribe known as Chukchi were able to survive and continue traveling into unknown lands. Later on, the dogs were sent towards Canada and Alaska for sledding purposes, and soon enough they became famous and favorable family pets as well as show dogs around the world!
Dog breed: Siberian Husky
Breed Group: Spitz and primitive type – Nordic Sledge Dogs (Working)
Utility: Nordic Sledge Dog
Breed Color: Variety of colors and markings – black, pure white with markings that include red and copper or gray color variations spread on their bodies and faces.
History and Origin of the Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky has been around for over 3,000 years. They were bred as sledding dogs by the Indian tribe, known as Chukchi, living in the Siberian Arctic. They needed these dogs to provide valuable help with their daily activities in their harsh living conditions. The primary reasons why the Siberian people started breeding these dogs were basically to guard, work and help in keeping their people warm – three attributes the dog has fulfilled excellently, while at the same time spreading love and positive energy within their communities. They are great with people, children, and other animals!
They have initially been brought to the North American lands by fur traders, around the year 1909. Today, the dog has become a favorite pet and family member among many owners worldwide!
Spitz and Primitive Group Characteristics
The Spitz type of dogs is the first dog types of the Arctic and the northern parts of the globe. Their behaviors are primarily inherited from their wild ancestors – being the wolves. They are characterized by their independent thinking, unruly behavior, seeming half-wild in general. These inherited traits make these dogs harder to be trained in good behaviors and manners. Becoming a successful leader with these dogs requires strong-mindedness from the owner is holding the pack leader position!
Siberian Husky Allergies
For the most part, they are a strong and healthy breed and the allergies that affect them are allergies that are pretty common within the rest of the dog world. Nevertheless, you should keep an eye out for any conditions that may need your dog‘s vet care!
Allergic reactions and the symptoms of allergies can sometimes develop over time or they can be an immediate response to a change in your dog’s environment!
Common allergies within the Siberian Huskies, include:
Usually, food allergies cause itchy skin and scratchy-ears – similar as other allergies – and your dog may also turn to bite and licking their paws, rubbing their faces in the carpet, coughing, diarrhea, flatulence, sneezing, gagging, seizures, ear inflammation, and other discomforting reactions.
The most ordinary food allergens found among dogs are soy products, corn, wheat, chicken, beef, pork, fish, milk, eggs, whey, additives, preservatives, sugar, artificial flavorings – products that are usually found in commercial foods. Therefore, you should consult with your vet and go after identifying allergen ingredients –this may take weeks to find out – and then change your dog’s diet accordingly.
The most likely foods to cause allergic reactions in dogs include Beef, Pork, Chicken, Rabbit, Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Wheat, Soy, Corn, Dairy.
However, if you notice your dog having allergic reactions to one of the above-mentioned foods, consider very likely the rising of allergic reactions towards the rest of the listed ingredients!
In dogs, fleas can cause allergic reactions through their saliva, not their ticking. If you cannot detect any fleas on your dog, it is advisable to take your dog to the vet and perform the tick-allergy test which enables determining whether your dog has any fleas! If positive, routine removal of remaining fleas must be done, and then your vet may also prescribe necessary remedies like capsules, sprays or shampoos.
Flea allergy, food allergy, parasitic allergy cause similar symptoms. Check for fleas or other parasites‘ presence as their salivas may be what causes the allergic reaction in your dog. Flea shampoos, soaps, and other dedicated medications have proven helpful in eliminating such skin allergies in dogs! Always remain alert towards your pet dog’s health and behavior!
May occur after your dog has come in contact with certain allergens, such as flea collars, specific plants, grass, wood, and dog shampoo among others. It is important to consult your vet and undertake the right actions towards finding out the specific allergens causing such reactions in your dog and subsequently avoid contact with these factors!
Some dogs are genetically programmed to develop bacterial allergies and the dogs that do, usually get hair loss and skin infections in the affected areas. A common bacteria that cause such allergies in dogs is Staphylococcus.
*Note: Skin allergies may be the result of one or the other allergens mentioned above, and allergy reaction symptoms include skin rashes and patches of missing hair among others.
They are working dogs of medium-size, quick and free when in action. With wolf-like compact looks, their eyes are almond-shaped and their eye colors are mostly blue, brown or one eye may be blue, the other may be brown. Their ears are erect and of medium size, whereas their tails are furry and brushy, usually carried over the back in a curve. Their walk is smooth and light.
Their body is proportional and in balance, capable of endurance. Their muscles are firm and properly developed and they usually are lean – rarely do they get overweight! Their skulls are well defined and medium-sized and proportional to the rest of the body. Their jaw is well fitted and they provide a scissor bite, while their muzzles are also of medium-length and width.
They have a thick coat, which comes in many color variations, while the most usual are: white, gray and black combinations or the brown and white combination. Their face is very appealing – looks like a colored mask!
Height, Weight and Life Span
Their weight is in proportion to their height. The measurements mentioned below represent the extreme height and weight limits with no preference given to either extreme. Any appearance of excessive bone or weight should be penalized!
Female Weight: 16-23 kg
Male Weight: 20-28 kg
Male Height: 53-60 cm
Female Height: 50-56 cm
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
PERSONALITY, TEMPERAMENT, AND CHARACTER
They are independent thinkers and are also easily bored! These dogs will test your limits until the pack order has been set and you have confirmed to be the pack leader! Otherwise, they will try to take the role and will surely make a mess!
Another very important thing is that they should get enough exercise and have a special spot in your yard where they can dig. These dogs are known to be escape artists and if not properly trained or channeled, they will dig holes all around your yard, trying to escape!
It is important to set rules and boundaries and to give them enough time to wear out!
When these basic, elementary things are provided, they will be loving pets, and will make your time all the merrier!
If you live in an apartment, their howling habit may become a bit of a turnoff as your neighbors may start having a problem with that! They do not bark, but they love to howl! Generally, they are not fit for living in apartments but if you do exercise them sufficiently, they will get along!
Early socialization is very important in order to get them familiar with people, animals, and different sounds, gestures, and situations! They are not suspicious, therefore, not preferable for watching or guarding purposes. They are not the appropriate dogs to fulfill this role as they are friendly with almost everyone and will not react differently to burglars or strangers!
They get along with children, strangers, and other dogs, whereas other animals, especially animals of smaller sizes, tend to look more like food than friends to them. The genetics play a huge part in this aspect, as they were bred in harsh conditions and preying on smaller animals for food was a thing they have been known to do. Nevertheless, if raised in multi-animal houses from puppyhood, they will be great friends to all other animals!
They are more at peace in places of colder weathers but they do well in hotter climates too! In general, they are friendly, full of energy and willingness to work!
Siberian Husky Health Problems
In general, they are healthy. However, they are prone to certain diseases, like Cataract, Corneal Dystrophy, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Elbow and hip dysplasia
Occurs when these joints do not grow properly, subsequently, making it very difficult and painful for the dog to walk or even move. You should immediately contact your vet, as soon as these difficulties may be noticed in your dog. Your vet can provide the necessary treatment – which may be surgical, therapeutic, or through specific exercises.
Is one common problem that affects the eyes of dogs, which refers to the disruption of the fibers or capsule of the lens that may result with a reduced or loss of vision and transparency. They may cause an icy appearance in the dogs’ eye.
The forms and causes of cataract are various and can have the onset at any age and any dog breed. The cataract may be congenital (present at birth), developing (early onset), or late onset (senile).
Some cataract diseases are also inherited, therefore these dogs should be carefully examined before breeding in order to avoid the disease completely!
For the most part, diabetes is known to cause the disruption of lens fibers which results with the cataract onset, and usually, it affects both dog’s eyes. Removing the lens surgically is usually a successful treatment, even for diabetic dogs. Other damages to the lens may also result in the cataract formation.
Another condition that usually gets confused for cataract is nuclear sclerosis, which is a slight graying of the lens and it is usually understood as a normal change in older dogs – over 6 years of age. The dog loses transparency because of the compression in lens fibers, yet, vision is merely unaffected, therefore, surgery is not a recommendation!
Corneal dystrophy and corneal degeneration are both diseases of the cornea, where white minerals (usually calcium or cholesterol) deposit. Density, size, and shape vary, but the affected area is easily noticed. It can either be an inherited disease in some dog breeds, or the onset may begin at any time for other breeds, although it rarely causes blindness.
Most of the times, it affects both eyes (although it may vary, either one or both eyes) and it usually happens to dogs that have higher levels of either cholesterol or calcium. The disease may lead to other problems, like corneal ulcers, corneal scarring, ocular infections, and vascularization. High-risk cases may also cause visual impairment in dogs.
It can be treated with diet changes and management, TCA treatment, or through superficial keratectomy (surgery). Even after the surgery, scar tissue may remain present instead of the deposits. Always keep in mind that surgical procedures can cause complications like potential anesthetic risks, so consult your vet thoroughly!
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
The disease is known to have a genetic inheritance and may occur in multiple forms, which vary in the age when the onset begins and on its rate of progression. Some dogs develop the disease earlier than others, while other breeds do not experience PRA until in the later years of life.
The retinas of affected dogs get an arrested development or degeneration of photoreceptors – the rods and the cones. Rods allow visibility during night-time, while cones allow seeing certain colors. If the onset begins while the puppy is two months old, it may progress faster and cause the dog to become blind at approximately one year old. Some other dogs may be affected when 1 year old up to eight years of age and these dogs have a slower progression of the disease. But, it does worsen over time!
Firstly, the rods get affected, which cause the dog to experience night blindness. Later on, it progresses to daytime blindness.
Meanwhile, treatment for PRA is not yet possible. The good news is that dogs are exceptionally adaptable to progressive blindness, and PRA may not even be noticed, as the dogs can perform almost normally within their environments. Although, if their surroundings change, then the difficulties in affected dogs can be noticed!
*Note: Late onset of any disease is devastating in regards to breeding, as most dogs breed before experiencing symptoms of their genetic diseases!
1 or 2 hours of heavy exercise are required for these type of dog, whereas minimally they need to get exercised around 30 to 60 minutes a day in order to avoid boredom, thus, destructive behavior!
You should be careful and keep your dog away from exercises during hot weathers, as they are not as tolerant to heat. An average backyard is a great space for them to spend the energy, but be mindful and secure your backyard properly! They are known to jump or dig holes under fences in order to escape the territory.
Being sled dogs, Siberian Huskies must not be left without work. Working is the means to their happiness! Taking them with you when jogging, hiking or other outdoor sports will keep them calm and happy!
Pay extra attention to obedience training with them because they are known for being stubborn and having their own minds. Being also highly intelligent makes them the perfect destructive dogs if not properly trained!
If you are a new and inexperienced owner, it is advised to take your Husky in obedience training classes, as this is a quality these dogs should not be left without. They will surely wreak havoc, if otherwise. Also, it is recommended to get focused on assertive energy and learning to keep an alpha position towards them, at all times. Affection should be given when due!
Crate training is the best option for owners that may have to leave them alone at home or apartments. Except for avoiding destruction, it will also give your dog the “perfect, little spot” for when they need to retreat or relax when feeling tired.
Leash training is another training aspect you should really focus on, as it is not advisable to take your Siberian Husky off leash in areas that are not secured. Also, they are very curious dogs and may get carried away chasing after different “prey” or simply when they need a good run!
Paying attention to these training methods will get you the perfect companion!
Training Siberian Huskies
Although they are intelligent dogs, training them is quite a challenge. They have a mind of their own and will ignore any command that does not seem to fill a purpose. They are not particularly aggressive, but they do hold themselves as pack leaders if not resisted by a strong human pack leader who will affirm their position in the pack. Therefore, obedience training should begin at their early days and continue well towards adulthood!
They tend to get easily bored – so consider your energy and behavior well before committing to training them!
Feeding Siberian Huskies
Usually, you should feed them 1.5 or 2 cups of good-quality dry food that you should split into two meals.
When the Chukchis decided to create this breed of dogs, they wanted to get a dog that could pull light loads at fast paces in great distances where the temperatures are very low and they wanted these dogs to be able to do all this on small amounts of food intake. Therefore, they are known for being light and easy eaters for their size!
However, you should feed your dog depending on their size, metabolism, age, activity level and built. High-activity dogs require more food compared to coach-potato, lazy dogs!
Additionally – never underestimate the importance of the quality of dry dog food you feed your dog. Good-quality food will nourish your dog essentially without having to eat a lot!
Their grooming is often as they do have a thick double-coat with medium-long hair. Their coat is soft and dense with straight hair. You should get ready for a lot of shedding during spring and autumn/fall as these are the worst shedding-times. Dogs change their coats in accordance with the changing seasons! If you live in places where the weather is colder, they will shed less.
It is highly recommended that you brush your dog’s coat often in order to avoid excessive shedding as well as coat matting. You should commit to brushing at least once a week.
They resemble cats in the way they take time to clean themselves; therefore they tend to emit a lot less odor. This quality in them allows you to bathe your dog rarely unless they commit to troublesome playtimes. Choose dog shampoos wisely, and of good quality because you may run the risk of draining your dog’s natural skin oils and cause health problems to your companion. Good quality shampoos keep their natural oils intact!
Their teeth need to get brushed two to three times a week, at the least – in order to remove tartar and other bacteria. If you can commit to daily teeth brushing, you will prevent a lot of teeth problems and gum diseases, as well as bad breath odor!
Their nails should also get regular trimming – once or twice a month depending on their growing pace. Also, dogs tend to wear them out naturally, but it is recommended to check from time to time in case trimming is needed. It is best to start trimming your dog’s nails at an early age so that they get familiar with the procedures and do not cause problems when the time comes. If you are inexperienced in trimming dog’s nails, ask for help from your vet and ask for a good pair of pointers to prevent hurting or causing your dog to bleed!
Their ears require regular checking for possible infections. Infection symptoms include redness and bad odor. It is a good idea to clean your dog’s outer ears with a dampened cotton ball from time to time. Always, when grooming your dog, be mindful towards any noticeable rashes, sores, redness, tenderness, inflammation of mouth, nose, skin, eyes, and feet. Also, check their eyes for redness or discharge!
- They are not usually good at living in apartments, although if trained properly, may do well in apartments too.
- Even though they are well-known howlers, they are not alert watchdogs and may not even bark if strangers appear on your property.
- Generally, they are low-shedding dogs, although twice a year they do shed while changing their coats. It is more noticed in Huskies that live in warmer climates, where they shed a lot for around three-weeks straight!
- They are quite destructive, considering they get easily bored. They may destroy inside the house as well as outside in the yard if left uncrated or without a place where they can do these things without causing any harm!
- They are well-known escape artists that do a great job of digging holes in yards and disappearing. They can also jump fences,
- chains, and find ways to escape.
- Before adopting them, make sure you have a long fence and also bury it quite deep underground in order to make it impossible for the dog to neither jump nor dig out holes on the ground!
- Strong, assertive and experienced owners are a must for training them as they need an owner who can carry out the alpha role, capable of obedience training as they are quite a stubborn breed to train!
- They do not require high levels of calories in order to survive, as they have been bred to survive on very little food in the tough Arctic conditions. Consult with your breeder and determine the amount of food to serve per day to them!
- They have extremely curious natures and may get carried away; either get injured or lost during times of new explorations.
- Not recommended to take them out for walks without a leash, as they may run away or go after other small animals.
- They do well with most people, children, and animals as they are generally affectionate dogs.
- Before adopting them, be sure that you will be capable of taking good care of this beautiful breed because they mean a lot of trouble for new and inexperienced owners. They can turn out as highly disobedient dogs that may either run away or get injured.
- Always buy a puppy from noted breeders who test for possible inherited genetic diseases!
Famous Siberian Huskies
There are many famous Huskies who have performed good deeds during the years, and below are mentioned a few of the famous ones!
4.1 Balto, the most famous of Siberian Huskies gained his reputation in the story “Great Race of Mercy” which occurred in 1925, the time when Diphtheria broke out in Nome, Alaska. Balto, as a sled dog led the team and the way to deliver the specific lifesaving package of serum in town, from 1127 km away. The story made Balto a hero overnight and his statue made its way into New York’s Central Park a year later. There is also a movie under Balto’s name, depicting the whole story!
Togo: Was the lead Siberian Husky during 1925 with the purpose of the serum delivery race towards Nome. People admire Togo for being the real hero of the journey as he led the longest and the most dangerous parts, comparing to Balto!
Fritz: Was also part of the team of dogs that led the way for the serum delivery to Nome, Alaska in 1925. He was Togo’s half-brother and co-leader of the team on this journey!
Charlie Is famous for being the strongest Siberian Husky of all times, capable of pulling a 1406 kg sledge in the year 1963!
Droopy: Is known as one of the bravest Siberian Huskies and his story has become known when told by his rescuer Mick Pawley. On the Pourquoi Pas Island, while Mick, Droopy and other dogs were sledding towards Horseshoe island, the dogs fell in a pit. In order to save the dogs, Mick went 46 meters down where he found Droopy climbing the narrow walls at the end of the rope. The dog was saved and became famous for his bravery and fighting spirit!
Mukluk: Was part of the construction of an under the ice facility for defense and space research project undertaken by the US Army in 1960. He was the only dog accompanying the team and has been named as the one who brought luck to the project and continues to symbolize the event!
Steve: Is a hero Siberian Husky, known for traveling over 129 km, all alone, covering tough glaciers and finally covering the last 48 km, towards the last two fjords/creeks!
FACTS ABOUT HUSKY & STORIES
SIBERIAN HUSKY JUNEAU – A TIRELESS PROTECTOR
A cross-country skier, Leonard Somers, found himself in a tough, almost hopeless accident in the Colorado slope. He had gone skiing with his nephew, but they separated as it was beginning to get dark. While he was enjoying his skiing trip together with his five-year-old Siberian Husky Juneau, he accidentally fell and punctured his neck on a dead tree. Unable to move, the falling snow could easily cover him. But, his hearty companion did not leave him for a split second. Juneau kept digging the snow away and laid on his owner’s body in order to keep him warm, all the while deeply focused on finding help!
After more than 45 minutes, the dog heard a group of skiers in the distance and ran to get them to help his owner! Fortunately, he led the group of skiers towards Leonard and they rescued him by calling the mountain rescue team.
If it wasn’t for the dog, Leonard would not be alive today. He got severely injured by the accident, where he punctured the vertebrae and is left paralyzed, in a wheelchair.
Still suffering from his unpleasant condition, Leonard was unsure whether he wanted to continue his life! But, Juneau continues to help him through the recovery process and by maintaining hopeful that he’ll walk again!
PETA, the animal rights group, presented Juneau with a Heroic Dog Award, where they added: “Dogs are more than best friends to us. Juneau demonstrated that dogs are an essential part of our families and our big-time protectors”
THE STORY OF TOGO – HEROIC SIBERIAN HUSKY
Togo’s heroic spirit had been prominent since his early age, although his weight and general health were lagging a bit behind. He developed a throat swelling condition that required care and nursing, yet the condition did not stop the very lively young Togo. Because of his mischievous behavior, Leonard decided to give the dog away, but to no avail as young Togo escaped from his new owners and found the way back to his old master.
At only eight months old, he jumped the house fence and went after Leonard and the mining team, on his mission to occupy the lead sled dog position!
After witnessing Togo’s act, Leonard decided to train the dog for a few years to fulfill his leading dog qualities. After 7 years of being a lead dog, a deadly Diphtheria epidemic got spread in town. The serum that could potentially stop the outbreak was to be found in Seattle, Washington, which was 4480 km far. The town officials decided that sled dogs were going to help in delivering the serum to town. Togo and Leonard were going to wait for the serum in Shaktoolik in January of 1925. The temperatures were very low, around -34 °C and a cold wind was blowing all around, at -65 °C.
After traveling and climbing mountains of 1500 m altitude, the team reached the serum which then was delivered by Leonard to another heroic Siberian Husky, known as Balto.
It is known that Togo had led the most dangerous and the longest drive ever, while Balto did the last 85 km of the returning journey!
The serum reached town and Balto together with Togo became the most famous dogs on the run, while Togo was considered Balto’s backup dog as Balto was the one who had the serum when arriving in the hometown!