With their luxurious coat and ice blue eyes, the Siberian Husky is a stunning dog with a cool demeanor that belies their playful personality. Originally bred as a sled dog, Siberian Huskies were born to run, and enjoy a high energy lifestyle but once home, are loyal and affectionate to their human pack. However, the breed can also be stubborn and have an independent streak, so needs positive training to bring out their best. But if your dream dog is a wolf-like husky, then the time and effort will be worth it.
We take a look at the Siberian Husky to understand just what makes this head-turning dog tick.
Dog Breed Group: Working
Height: Males: 20-24 inches; Females: 19-23 inches
Weight: Males: 45-60 pounds; Females: 35-50 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Short History of the Siberian Husky
With its athletic, compact body and thick double coat, the Siberian Husky embodies what it was bred for – pulling sleds in the sub-zero temperatures of north eastern Siberia.
The ancestors of the husky were bred by the nomadic Chukchi people several thousand years ago and used as companion animals as well as sled dogs capable of endurance journeys as part of a disciplined pack. Widely considered one of the oldest dog breeds, they are genetically part of the Spitz family, which also includes other wolf-like breeds such as the Samoyed and the Alaskan Malamute.
As a sled dog, the Siberian Husky excelled and were bred to survive on smaller food rations while being able to conserve their energy for long trips across the frozen Siberian plains.
By the early 20th century, the reputation of the Siberian Husky reached Alaska, where they became coveted as an elite canine athlete with superior sled-pulling abilities. The first Siberian Huskies were imported to the States at the turn of the century to be used as sled dogs during the American Gold Rush. The breed quickly became favorites for sled racing, where their popularity grew.
Their reputation was cemented following a lifesaving mission to transport serum to diphtheria hit Alaskan town, Nome. In 1925, a team of Siberian Huskies were used to relay the serum over 658 miles in just under six days, with lead dog Balto becoming one of the most honored dogs in the US, with a statue in Central Park. The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska was created to commemorate the pack’s epic journey.
The last Siberian Husky was exported from Siberia around 1930, when the Soviet government closed its borders, but the breed continued to thrive, and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in the same year. The Siberian Club of America was formed in 1938 and today, the Siberian Husky remains in the top 20 of most popular dog breeds in the US.
If you are considering welcoming a Siberian Husky into your life, here are some quick facts about the breed and their pet care needs to whet your appetite:
- The eyes have it: Siberians can have pale blue or brown eyes – or one of each color!
- They are not hypoallergenic: while no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic, the Siberian Husky, with their thick double coat, is not the best choice if you or a loved one have pet allergies as they shed a lot.
- They are escape artists: With a reputation for scaling fences and slipping their collar, the Sib Husky loves to wander. To keep them safe and where you want them, this means you will need an enclosed yard with a high fence.
- And they love to dig: A breed trait is a love of digging, so if you want to protect your flowers or vegetable patch, it’s a good idea to train them to dig in one space in your garden as training them to stop could well be mission impossible.
- They can survive extreme cold: originating in the frozen wilds of Siberia, this breed has a super thick, double coat, with a weather-repellent outer and soft, insulating under coat.
- Family life: as a natural pack dog, they are affectionate and love the company of their human family.
How Big Does a Siberian Husky Grow?
The Siberian Husky has distinct, ‘wolf-like’ looks, with bewitching ice-blue eyes that makes this breed stand out. They are, however, not exceptionally large dogs, averaging at around 15-17 inches for an adult male. They have an athletic body and are known to be strong, both physically and in will!
Siberian Husky Appearance
As you would expect from a dog bred to thrive in extreme cold, the husky has a dense, double coat to ensure effective thermal insulation and protection against the elements. However, this luxurious fur means the Siberian Husky doesn’t cope so well in warmer climates.
As a medium-sized dog, the Siberian Husky has a compact body with powerful hind legs and moves with surprising grace as well as athleticism. Keeping with his genetic make-up, the husky also has a sickle-shaped brush tail and large, erect ears. While most Siberian Huskies have the trade-mark blue eyes, some can have brown eyes or even one of each color. And the whole visage is often enhanced by stunning color patterns to create a distinct mask-like face.
When it comes to coat colors, you get plenty of choice as they can be most colors, from pure white to black. Many also feature coat color combinations, markings and coat patterns, including the colors red, gray and copper.
Handsome, athletic, loving, cheeky and intelligent, you get a lot of dog for your dollar with a Siberian Husky. And while they may look more like a wild wolf, these gorgeous-looking dogs have an affectionate temperament and make good pets for an active family or as companion dogs. But they do need a confident handler to keep him in check.
Siberian Huskies are sociable animals with a high energy drive and generally get along well with other dogs. And they are great with kids, as they are pretty tolerant although, as with any dog, they should never be left unsupervised with young children. However, they are known to be stubborn and strong-willed so consistent training and socialization from an early age is essential.
You will get a lot of affection from the Siberian Husky dog breed, as they love human company and will even make strangers welcome, so they are not the best guard dogs if that’s what you are looking for. But as part of your family pack, the Siberian Husky will bring you years of fun, love, entertainment and affection. You just need to bear in mind their breeding as a sled dog, which means they will have a strong prey drive, so they can chase smaller animals. And talking of chasing, the Arctic husky should never be let of the leash in open spaces as they will do what they love to do – run.
Do Siberian Huskies Bark a Lot?
The husky breed is not known for barking, meaning they are not suitable as a house guard dog. However, this doesn’t mean they are mute as they do love to howl, which is a throw-back to their wolf ancestors. A howl is easier for other dogs to detect at a distance and so, as a pack sled dog, their howl is the most effective form of communication.
How Do you Keep Them Entertained?
Intelligent with bundles of energy and a stamina to give most dogs a run for their money, the Siberian husky breed needs to be kept active and entertained if you’re to prevent boredom. Top of your husky entertainment list should be exercise, to burn off some of that energy as well as plenty of playtime, including games of fetch and tug. Training sessions are also a good idea, so you can tap into the husky intelligence, and give them plenty of opportunity to socialize with other dogs as well as quality time with their humans. Giving them toys, especially puzzle toys, when they are on their own, or you are out at work, can also help to stimulate your pet and stave off boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior if left unchecked.
Do Siberian Huskies Like Water?
While Siberian Huskies like water, they are not natural swimmers and will not automatically know what to do, unlike other dogs. If you do want your husky to swim, you will need to teach them or always use a dog swim vest. However, the breed does like to play with water, especially in hot weather when they are looking to cool down.
Do Siberian Huskies Like to Cuddle?
Siberian Huskies are generally known to love spending time being petted by their humans. They are a naturally affectionate and social breed so while they are not natural coach potatoes, they do like to spend downtime in the company of their human pack and more likely see a cuddle as a way to share body warmth! However, not all dogs like to be forced into a cuddle situation, so go with the individual personality and preferences of your pet.
Are Siberian Huskies Easy to Potty Train?
The Siberian Husky is a fast learner, so potty training a Siberian Husky puppy should be pretty straightforward. The trick is to get your husky puppy into a consistent routine that taps into his desire to learn. However, Siberian Husky puppies do need a motivation, so a tasty treat will help to make the process that little bit easier!
When taking on any pet, knowing the care they need means you can be the best human you can for your new canine friend. And with the Siberian Husky there are some key things you need to know so you can tailor your pet care to ensure he is happy and healthy. From effective socialization, exercise and training to nutrition, grooming and general pet care, you will also need to know about any health problems Siberian Husky dogs may be prone to. We answer the most common questions when it comes to caring for the Siberian Husky.
Are Siberian Huskies Easy to Train?
With its intelligence, energy and strong will, Siberian Husky puppies need consistent socialization and solid obedience training as early as possible, so they learn the skills and manners they need. Effective training that’s enjoyable will also focus their energy and attention onto something positive, as well as give them the quality time with their human they love.
While their curiosity and intelligence make the Siberian Husky dog breed a great candidate for training, you do need to take into account that they are sled dogs, so a pack animal that needs a clear leader. Establishing yourself as the ‘alpha’ will create a healthy learning dynamic for your husky. But he can be prone to stubbornness so keep the training positive and consistent, with rewards for good behavior.
How Much Exercise Does a Siberian Husky Need?
Born to run as sled dogs, the Siberian Husky is a working breed that needs plenty of exercise to keep them physically and mentally in tip-top condition. They will typically need at least 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, as well as enough stimulation and playtime at home to stop them getting bored.
With a husky, the best approach is to mix outdoor exercise, playtime and training – obedience, agility and other dog sports are good options – to give your canine friend a job to do and a variety of ways to keep active. But it’s essential that all exercise is conducted in an enclosed yard, run or park, or on the leash as the husky has a tendency to run.
What Food do Siberian Huskies Eat?
To maintain your Siberian Husky’s healthy condition, you need to feed them a high-quality dog food that has a sufficient protein to also sustain their energy and activity levels. A natural dog food diet designed for huskies and with minimal processing is ideal, while many huskies thrive on a raw food diet. However, it’s essential to monitor the dog food you give your husky, depending on the time of year and how active they are to prevent over-feeding.
How Much Should You Feed a Siberian Husky?
A unique feature of the Siberian Husky is that as a survival mechanism for its time on the plains, it was bred to need less dog food than a similar sized breed. And this trait has followed through to today’s Husky Sibe, who doesn’t need a high calorie diet. The amount you feed your Siberian Husky will depend on its age, health and size but as a guide, Siberians need 1.5 to 2 cups of quality dog food a day, split across two meals.
Do Siberian Huskies Shed a Lot?
Siberian Huskies are generally known as low ‘continual’ shedders, depending on where you live, as they will shed more all year round if you live in warmer climes. However, with their double coat and long fur, these huskies will ‘blow’ their coat twice a year, in the spring and fall. During the blow, you can expect heavy shedding for around three weeks so you should groom them daily during this time to minimize the impact on your home and furniture!
How do you Groom a Siberian Husky?
As a working dog and a ‘natural’ dog breed, the grooming routine for a Siberian Husky is not too laborious as they only require bathing a couple of times a year. But with all that fur, it’s wise to groom them at least weekly to keep their coat and skin in good condition and help prevent any matting. During the twice-yearly coat ‘blow’ you should up the grooming to daily, using a shedding comb to help ‘rake’ out the loosening fur.
When grooming a husky, it’s also important to pay attention to their nails, eyes and ears as well as dental health. Their nails need trimming monthly, ears checked and cleaned weekly, and their teeth brushed two to three times a week to prevent tartar build-up.
Are Siberian Huskies Healthy?
Bred to be a working dog, the Siberian Husky is a relatively healthy animal, but they can still be prone to some health issues, including certain genetic conditions. For this reason, it’s essential you buy your new Siberian Husky pup from a reputable breeder and ask for details of any health screenings they have had. Seeing their parent dogs and asking about their health, including what any of their relatives/grandparents died from is also a good way to ascertain the overall health of your new pet.
The health conditions that can affect the Siberian Husky dog breed include:
- Hip dysplasia: This is where the hip socket doesn’t form the way it should, meaning the joint and socket don’t fit together properly, causing discomfort, lameness and eventually arthritis.
- Progressive retinal atrophy: A degenerative eye disorder that eventually leads to blindness in Siberian Huskies.
- Cataracts: Another eye condition huskies are prone to are cataracts, which causes a clouding of the eye lens, reducing a dog’s ability to see clearly.
- Corneal Dystrophy: This condition affects the cornea of the eye, with a build-up of lipids creating an opaque film on the cornea. The condition affects more female dogs than male huskies.
- Degenerative Myelopathy: This is a genetic neurological condition that affects huskies more than many other dog breeds. Similar to ALS in humans, it causes weakness and eventual paralysis and while some treatments can help, there is no cure.
- Thyroid Problems: Huskies are also prone to hypothyroidism, where the body doesn’t make enough of the hormone, thyroid. Symptoms include dry skin, hair loss and weight gain.
- Dental disease: Siberian dogs are susceptible to gum disease, caused by a build-up of tartar on their teeth, so a regular dental hygiene routine is essential.
- Infections: Siberians can be vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections such as parvo and distemper, so it’s vital that you maintain their vaccine program from an early age.
- Obesity: For such a high energy animal, if a husky’s exercise routine is not sufficient for the food they are fed, they are prone to pack on the weight, especially as they get older. A balanced, portion-controlled diet appropriate for their activity level and life stage is key to preventing obesity.
How Long do Siberian Huskies Live?
Robust and built for survival as sled dogs, the Siberian Husky has a decent life span for a medium to large sized dog. An active Siberian in good health can live well into their teens, typically between 12 and 15 years.
How to Find a Good Breeder
If you think a Siberian Husky is a good fit for you and your family and you have the time and space to welcome one into your home, you should only buy a new pup from reputable breeders.
A respected breeder will have their puppies’ best interests at heart and will test their breeding dogs to ensure they are free of any generic diseases which could be passed on to their pups. Breeders should also carefully pick their breeding animals so that any puppies will have the right temperaments for re-housing into a domestic home.
To find a good breeder, your first port of call should be the Siberian Husky Club of America which holds a directory of recognized breeders on their website.
Adopt a Dog From a Rescue Center or Shelter!
With the growing popularity of the Siberian Husky, it’s possible for the breed to be found in a rescue center as some owners discover this unique breed is not right for their home or lifestyle. And if you are able to offer a rescue husky a home, it’s a wonderful way to make a difference.
The Siberian Husky Club of America has acknowledged a rise in rescue cases in recent years and offers guidance for anyone wanting to adopt a Siberian Husky, including signposting to list of recognized rescue centers.
What is the Average Price for a Siberian Husky?
Currently ranked 16th in the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds, the Siberian Husky is a sought-after pet, and this is reflected in how much they cost. Purebred Siberian Husky puppies can set you back between $1000 and $2,000 while one of the Siberian Husky mixed breeds can cost from $600 upwards, depending on the type of cross breed.
Q: Are Huskies aggressive?
A: Siberian Huskies are not known to be aggressive, in-fact they are friendly and welcoming, even to strangers. However, they are energetic, strong and at times, willful, with a strong instinct to run, which means they do need a confident handler and an active home life to keep them happy.
Q: What is the difference between a Siberian Husky and an Alaskan Husky?
A: The core difference between a Siberian Husky and its Alaskan counterpart is that the Siberian is a registered pure breed whereas the Alaskan Husky is an unregistered hybrid.
The Alaskan Husky is bred predominately to be a working sled dog or for longer distance sled racing, while the Siberian is also a show breed. Due to the long races an Alaskan Husky competes in, the animal is also noticeably leaner than the Siberian and also taller, with a more pronounced tuck up in their body shape.
Q: Is a Siberian Husky a good family dog?
A: Friendly, affectionate and playful topping the list of its traits, the Siberian Husky can make an excellent family dog, as they are tolerant of children and enjoy their company. However, the breed’s energy, strength and speed also need to be taken into account, so they may not be suited to less active families or families with very small children. And due to their prey drive, a cat-less home would be best.
Q: Can Huskies be indoor dogs?
A: If supplied with enough outdoor exercise and playtime opportunities, a Siberian Husky can live perfectly well as an indoor pet, although a house with a garden rather than an apartment is the best environment. These dogs are not couch potatoes and need time with their humans and enough stimulation to help burn off all their energy otherwise they can get destructive. And they do howl, so you will need to take your neighbors into account.
As a cold climate breed, they can also overheat if kept indoors all day, and so will need easy access to an enclosed outdoor space to chill out and relax.
Q: Are Huskies hard to train?
A: This breed is highly intelligent, but they do come with a stubborn streak, which can make training them a little challenging at times, especially if they decide to challenge your pack leader status. The key to a happy and well-trained adult husky is to start early and keep it fun, positive and consistent. And with a little time and effort, as well as plenty of playtime, you should have a husky that’s a loyal and loving member of the family, even if on occasion, they keep you on your toes!