This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Dog Breed we are featuring the Siberian Husky. Typically called “Huskies”, they are widely recognized for their wolf-like appearance and very popular, ranking #12 on the AKC Most Popular list.
Life expectancy: 12- 14 years
Color: Huskies come in various shades from sable to gray to black, all with white markings and their typical facial mask. Huskies also have beautiful blue eyes, although many have heterochromia or eyes of different colors. Huskies are a medium-large dog weighing from 35-60lbs.
They possess a dense coat that allows them to survive in the extreme cold temperatures of the north. Huskies will shed heavily twice a year, so be prepared for lots of dog hair. They are most suited to cooler temperatures.
Origins: Huskies were originally developed by the Chukchi, the indigenous peoples of Siberia. They were bred to work — and survive — the harsh conditions of the Arctic region. Their main responsibilities were to herd reindeer and pull sleds. They were brought to the United States via Alaska in the early 1900’s.
Personality: Huskies are friendly and playful, but also strong-willed and independent and need an experienced pet owner to train them and instill proper behaviors. They are natural pack animals so they enjoy being part of the family and typically get along with other dogs.
They are known to be great escape artists, so a yard with a tall fence that extends into the ground (they also dig) is essential to keep them safe and curb their tendency to roam.
Howling is both a sport and an art for Huskies, so be prepared for regular serenading.
Their friendliness makes them less useful as a watchdog.
Health Issues: Common health issues include hip dysplasia and eye problems, such as juvenile cataracts. Siberian Huskies used for racing can often develop gastric and bronchial problems.
Fortunately, the Siberian Husky Club of America requires strict screening procedures for registered Huskies to keep genetic issues under control.
Fitness/energy level: Huskies were born to run. They are very energetic and like most working dogs they do best when they have a job. It doesn’t have to be pulling a sled, but regular daily exercise where they are able to run, run some more, and even running in snow will help make them fulfilled and contented to lie by the fire at night with their pack.
Native foods for the Siberian Husky: Native foods for Huskies are foods found in Siberia and include salmon, elk/caribou, beaver and fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, rosemary and raspberries.
Good foods to feed your Siberian Husky: Based on the Husky’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Huskies would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.
Fun facts about the Siberian Husky:
Huskies gained in popularity in the US when a team of these fearless adventurers brought diphtheria medication to Nome, AK during an outbreak in 1925. Balto, who was the lead dog on the final leg of the journey, remains one of the most honored hero dogs in canine history.
Siberian Huskies were utilized during WWII as search and rescue teams in the Arctic.
In order to help keep their eyes protected in the cold arctic air, Siberian Huskies have a nictitating (blinking) membrane which acts as an extra eyelid.Sources: