Known for its unique, wolflike appearance, the Siberian husky was developed in northeast Asia and lives happily in cooler weather due to its luxurious, thick coat. The husky enjoys an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise. If you are looking for a friendly, outgoing dog with which to share your life, the Siberian husky may be the breed for you.
Siberian huskies were originally bred as sled dogs by the nomadic Chukchi Tribe in Russia's eastern Siberian peninsula. The breed was first brought to North America in 1908, when the dogs participated in a 408-mile dogsled contest called the All-Alaskan Sweepstakes. Soon the breed became known for its endurance, gaining popularity when huskies were used to bring medicine to Nome, Alaska, during a diphtheria epidemic in 1925. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930 as a medium-size working dog. Heroic Siberian huskies served in the U.S. Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit during World War II. Siberian huskies ranked 16th in popularity by registration in the United States as of 2011, according to the AKC.
Like other arctic breeds, the Siberian husky has a dense, dual coat to protect from harsh, subzero weather conditions. Although a husky appears wolflike, there is no wolf hybridization involved in the breed. Siberian huskies have a medium-length, soft coat that sheds twice a year and a sickle-curved, fox-brush tail. The breed comes in several colors, including white, copper, black and gray and has pointed, close-set ears; some dog's coats may have patches of various colors. The average weight of a husky is between 40 and 60 pounds, and they average 20 to 23 inches high. Although smaller than other arctic breeds, the husky is a muscular and strong dog with eye colors ranging from ice-blue to brown. Their eyes also may be bicolor, with each eye a different color, or particolor, with each eye containing two different colors; both are acceptable for show dogs.
As a high-energy breed, Siberian huskies require 40 to 60 minutes of running each day to keep destructive behavior at bay, says the VetInfo website. Huskies need training to teach them to stay, and they require outdoor enclosures with fences high enough to keep them contained. Because of the breed's activity levels and sledding history, huskies have a tendency to want to escape and run, which can lead to dangerous situations for the dogs. Keep your husky occupied during the day with interactive, hollow toys that you can fill with dog food or other treats; the husky has to work to get the food out of these toys, distracting him from more destructive behaviors.
Siberian huskies can suffer from several health conditions, most of which affect their eyes. Glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, pannus and juvenile cataracts can all cause inflammation and blindness in this breed. Corneal dystrophy can cause spots to appear on the corneas of the eyes without affecting the dog's vision. Entropion may occur, in which the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyes, irritating them and leading to medical issues. Degenerative myelopathy also can affect Siberian huskies, affecting the spinal cord and resulting in paralysis of the rear legs.
Siberian huskies can thrive in apartments, but they need more exercise than other breeds. If you have other pets in the home, such as cats, pocket pets or small dogs, the husky may not be the best choice because of its high prey drive, advises the Siberian Husky Club of America. Although huskies appear intimidating, they do not make good guard dogs and are friendly to most people, including strangers. In warmer weather, never leave a Siberian husky outdoors for more than a few minutes at a time, as he can easily overheat because of his thick fur. Brush his coat regularly to control shedding and prevent mats from forming.
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Siberian Husky
- PetPlace.com: Siberian Husky
- VetInfo: Siberian Husky Training Tips
- Siberian Husky Club of America: The Siberian Husky
- American Kennel Club: Top Breeds in Major U.S. Cities
- Rescue Every Dog: Siberian Husky Breed Profile
- Permian Basin Obedience Training Club: The Siberian Husky
- Dog Breed Info Center: Siberian Husky
- Portrait of siberian husky dog image by rgbspace from Fotolia.com