Breed Group: Working
The free-spirited, independent-minded Siberian Husky seeks out human or canine companionship. They are social with everyone from the youngest children in the family to strangers. Their sociability extends to canines but not to other animals. They are likely to kill cats unless raised with them and they should never be trusted around rabbits, birds, or other small pets. They may even run deer or molest livestock. Siberian Huskies or just Siberians (never Huskies) as they are known by their fanciers are tremendously active both inside and out. Bred to hunt and pull relatively light loads at high speeds, they are very quick and light on their feet with a significant need for exercise. They are ideal for pulling children in a cart or sled, or as a skijoring partner (a sport where a dog is harnessed to a skier). They love to run and play but developed by nomads, they have no sense of home and will not return if they get loose. So, when off their leash they must be securely confined. But monitoring them is important as many are escape artists. This is not a dog to leave at home all day while at work. When bored, Siberian Huskies are legendary for chewing through sheetrock walls or tearing the stuffing out of sofas. If you think leaving them outside is the answer, think again. They have the ability to turn a landscape into a moonscape and to howl nonstop for hours. Even with a strong tendency to bark (actually howl) excessively, at best they make average watchdogs; they are just too friendly. For the same reason, they can not be relied on as a protector.
The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized, heavily muscled dog with great endurance. Males weigh 45 to 60 pounds and stand 21 to 23 1/2 inches tall at the shoulder. Females weight 10 pounds less and are about an inch shorter. They have a heavy coat that protects them against the coldest weather. Their coat sheds moderately throughout the year when they need to be brushed every 2 or 3 days. They lose huge chunks of hair in the spring and fall during seasonal shedding when they need to be brushed daily. Coat colors are gray, black, silver, or red with white markings or solid white. They may also have eyes of different colors, usually one brown, the other blue. They do as poorly in heat as they do well in the cold.
With their natural friendliness, they need only modest socialization. A dedicated pack animal, they will look for leadership. If they find none, they will assume it. But once an owner establishes himself as alpha, a Siberian accepts his position in the pack. Highly intelligent, and independent, they like to rely on their own skills and abilities. This makes formal training difficult. They key is firmness and consistency. They are not a breed that should be considered by a first-time owner.
Genetically speaking, the Siberian Husky is a very healthy dog. Less than 2% of the breed is affected by any of the commonly tested for genetic diseases that afflict so many purebred dog breeds at alarming rates. Dogs of the breed typically live to between 12 and 14 years of age.
The Siberian Husky ranks 25th in popularity. Between 9,000 and 10,000 dogs are registered annually.
The Siberian Husky originated with the Chukchi nomads of northeast Asia. They were bred over hundreds of years to assist in hunting and to pull light loads at high speed over great distances. The breed was unknown in North America until the early 1900’s. During the Alaska Goldrush, cold hardy dogs became vitally important and sled dog racing emerged as a popular sport. Especially popular was the 408-mile All-Alaska sweepstakes. When the first team of Siberian Huskies was entered these smaller more docile dogs received little attention and odds ran 100 to 1 against them. But rumors still persist that as the teams approached the finish line, the driver of the Siberian Huskies was paid off. If they had won, the Bank of Nome would have failed paying off the bets placed against the team. The next year Siberian Husky teams placed first, second, and fourth establishing their unrivaled abilities. But in 1925 they gained their greatest acclaim. It was then Nome was stricken by a diphtheria epidemic and teams of Siberian Huskies raced the needed vaccine 340 miles saving the town. There is still a statue in Nome’s Central Park honoring the dogs that participated to this day. The AKC recognized the breed in 1930. In World War II, many served as search and rescue dogs further gaining the public’s admiration.