Wolf-like appearance, mesmerizing blue eyes, dense cuddly fur, and the joyful demeanor of the Siberian Huskies are sure to cause love at first sight in almost all pet lovers. But apart from their alluring appeal, there is much to know about these arctic creatures before you bring one home.
For instance, you need to be well informed about the Husky temperament and what it feels like to own one. After all, you aren’t willing to bring any dog that will become a threat to your loved ones no matter their level of beauty. Now, if you came here looking for information about Huskies, you made just the right move. Keep reading.
So, what’s it like to own a Siberian Husky? Well, huskies are great dogs to those that understand their needs. They are interesting and are always ready to welcome fun. However, at times these intelligent and athletic dogs can have a mind of their own, making it a little challenging for the first-time dog owners.
What Is A Siberian Husky?
Before we can proceed to know more about these dogs, we need to first get the basic information about them. A Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog breed. Average males have a height of 23-24 inches while the adult females stand between 21-22 inches high. Because of their larger sizes, fully-grown males weigh about 45-60 pounds while the females attain up to 50 pounds of body weight.
These dogs have a double coat; a straight outer coat and a soft and dense undercoat. The thick coat is an implication that they are bred to thrive better in colder areas than in warmer regions. Amazingly, even with a double layer of fur, Siberian Huskies don’t need too much brushing like some of the dogs packing a comparable amount of fur. In fact, for these pooches, occasional grooming should do the trick when they aren’t shedding much. But when they begin to ‘blow’ more, be ready to get used to doing the job several times a day.
The dogs come in a multitude of colors. They can either be solid or a combination of two or more colors. Even though the majority of them have blue eyes, some have brown eyes or a combination of the two colors. The Siberian Husky dogs also have a sickle-shaped tail and erect ears. The legs are up to 60% of their total height. The back legs are very powerful and can produce a powerful jump even from a sitting position.
History of Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies are associated with the Chukchi people, a community of the Siberian nomads in Northeastern Asia. These dogs were originally bred for pulling sleds and to serve as family companion dogs. This was after climatic change forced the semi-nomadic people to move in search of new hunting grounds.
The Chukchi people wanted a dog that would haul small loads on frozen surfaces and in the sub-zero temperatures but with fewer food requirements. These dogs began to gather fame through their back to back wins of the sled races that were conducted in the early 1900s. However, Siberian Huskies got the attention of the world when Nome, a city in Alaska was struck by the deadly diphtheria epidemic.
A team of these dogs was sent to transport life-saving antitoxins in the famous “serum run”. They were expected to cover a 658-mile stretch, a distance they managed in just five and a half days. To honor these dogs for their legendary act, a statue of Balto, the leading dog in the serum run was erected and remains at the Central Park in the Newyork City to date.
The Personality of Siberian Huskies
Although these dogs have a wolfish appearance, don’t be too fast to judge them– they have a larger than life personality. They were bred originally to serve as companion dogs. Therefore, the Siberian Husky is one breed of a dog that will form a close bond with all the members of the pack and not just the trainer or the feeder. In fact, if you are looking for a gentle, playful, happy, and friendly canine, Siberian Husky canines have all these traits loaded in their genes.
They don’t portray a stand-offish behavior around unfamiliar faces. Actually, they are more likely to run from strangers than attack them. Hence, if you want a watchdog that will be ready to put their life on the line when there is a threat, you will have to consider the German Shepherds or other brave breeds since Huskies don’t have the boldness to face a threatening enemy.
From their historic “serum run”, we can tell that these dogs were bred to be quick and light on their feet. Thus, if you are a marathoner in need of a canine that will become your regular running partner, then the Siberian Huskies are very good at it. However, combining their incredible running ability with a high level of curiosity, these dogs will more often try to find their way out to explore the surroundings. That’s why you need to ensure that your fencing is up to par before you adopt one.
What You Need To Know About Siberian Husky
Before you can adopt a Siberian Husky, it’s good to know some of the things you should expect from these dogs. This way, it will be easier for you to tell if they make a perfect match for your home. Also, having this information beforehand will prepare you to handle them most effectively.
Siberian Huskies Are Decent Shedders
As aforementioned, Huskies have 2 coats of fur. The double-layer keeps them warm during the cold seasons by acting as an insulator. However, the two layers of fur make them great shedders, especially during the spring when they are preparing for the hot summer. Hence, if you fall in the category of the meticulous housekeepers, the Siberian Huskies is a type of dog that will leave a ton of their fur spread on your nice carpets.
However, you can also reduce the amount of mess by brushing them several times a day during their shedding periods to help remove the loose fur. But apart from that, these dogs are generally clean and do not produce the doggy odor that is common in other dog breeds.
Huskies Are Very Energetic
Huskies were bred to transport small amounts of loads. Also, they have proved to be great runners over many years. That means that they pack a good amount of energy. Thus, before you introduce one to your home, ensure that you are ready to provide the right amount of exercise. A 40-minute daily exercise is a great way to help them burn excess energy. They love running, jogging, swimming, and sledding.
But beware that due to their heavy coat, Huskies are very vulnerable to heatstrokes. Hence, avoid walking or running with him when the temperatures are high. If it’s in the summer, the best time to schedule the exercise is in the morning when temperatures are still low and favorable.
Also, try hard not to skip daily training unless advised by the vet. Failing to give your Husky enough amount of exercise is simply attracting trouble. These dogs are likely to become destructive or have a mind of escaping.
Huskies Want Your Attention
As great family dogs, Huskies yearn to have the best interaction with all the members of the pack. They aren’t so choosy and are always ready to welcome attention from any 2-legged member of the pack. When you come back home, these canines will want to welcome you back greet you with their wagging tails. They will even go after you to see if you can at least offer a spot for them on your laps. Huskies will then want to follow you wherever they can, just to feel the love. Hence, before you can opt to adopt a Husky, ensure that you will be available for them. They demand much of your time than some dog breeds.
Huskies Aren’t Good At Barking
Some fantastic guard dogs such as the German shepherds and the Fox Terriers won’t remain silent when they see an intruder coming onto your property. That’s because the original roles of these dogs required them to make use of barking at some point. The case is different for the Siberian Huskies. Their primary purpose didn’t require barking at any point. That’s why they don’t do much of it. In fact, if you want a dog that would bark to alert you of intruders, a Chihuahua would be better. The friendly temperament of Huskies to everyone would see them try to become friends with thugs rather than raise an alarm or chase them away.
However, it doesn’t mean that these dogs spend their time dumb. Their lack of barking is made up for through howling sounds. These cute pups have a thousand and one sounds and it is always fun to hear them “talking” when they get bored. But don’t let them do much of it; your neighbors may opt to call the cops.
They Have A Very Strong Predatory Drive
Although these dogs will befriend almost anyone that comes in your home, they find it so hard to get along with other pets such as cats, birds, hamsters, and smaller dogs. It’s a behavior that isn’t clear to many about how it came about considering that their primary purpose had nothing to do with hunting. Some experts suggest that these dogs attack other pets as a way of showing them that they are above them in the hierarchy.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that all Huskies are a threat to all other pets. If you start socializing your Husky with other pets at an early stage, it’s possible to get them to interact well with them.
Be Ready To Afford Them Plenty of Space
Huskies are very intelligent creatures. They are also very inquisitive and have a lot of energy. That’s why they love to explore their surroundings. As the owner, you need to provide enough space for them to explore. Having that said, Huskies may not be the perfect dogs for those living in apartments or other smaller spaces.
When you don’t give them this freedom, these dogs can go to the extent of finding it on their own. They can jump to great heights and are willing to dig relentlessly for their freedom. Hence, if you want to keep them put, you need to use a high fence and ensure that the below-ground is perfectly secured.
They Don’t Eat Much
Siberian Huskies were bred to transport small loads over long distances in the most extreme temperatures with minimal need for food. Although that was several centuries ago, the modern Huskies seem to carry this trait in their genes today. A very small amount of food will generate enough amount of energy to keep them active for a very long time. In fact, when you keep them put for long periods, they may even lose the already small appetite they have.
Huskies will need about 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality food daily on average. Like any other dog, this amount needs to be divided into several meals a day to avoid issues of indigestion. Experts recommend that protein needs to account for 20% of their food on days when they are inactive and up to 32% when active. However, it’s important to note that the food requirement will differ widely depending on age, health condition, metabolism, and level of activity. For this reason, we see it better to ask your vet the right amount of food for your furry colleague.
Are Huskies Easy To Train?
Their ability to pull a sled makes them look like intelligent breeds. But are they really among the dogs that excel in training? Well, since these dogs are very smart, they have the potential to do well in training. Nevertheless, their headstrong character may make training these furry colleagues harder than you are probably imagining. But with dedication, diligence, and patience, it’s possible to get positive results.
So, how do you get your Husky trained? Well, the first thing to do when training Huskies is letting them understand that you are the pack leader. Do not do this by punishing or hitting them. Instead, find a better way to let them know that you need their respect. You can do this by delaying them food or other valuables. This way, they will see you as the keeper of all their valuables and will accord you with the respect you deserve.
Provided that you establish yourself as the pack leader, Huskies are always ready to obey you. This will make training to run smoothly. Also, when training these dogs, it’s good to adopt positive re-enforcement methods. According to experts, this method is more effective in training than punishment.
Health Issues In Siberian Huskies
Although Siberian Huskies may not be as vulnerable as most dog breeds to some health issues, they are still under the risk of developing some medical conditions. Of course your Husky may not develop any of the below conditions, but it’s good to have some knowledge on them.
One of the most common conditions in the Siberian Husky dogs is Cataract. Stats suggest that it affects up to 10% of Siberian Huskies. It’s a condition that targets at robbing the Husky’s eyes of their beauty. It involves the clouding of the dog’s lens. At an early stage, Cataracts don’t have much impact on the dog’s vision. However, as the opacity intensifies, it begins to block light from reaching the retina, a condition that attracts more serious conditions such as blindness.
What Causes Cataracts in Huskies?
So, what brings about Cataracts in dogs? Well, in most Siberian Huskies, this condition is inherited from the parents although the dog may also develop it later. Where inherited, Cataract can be present at birth. However, it may be hard to detect it at the puppy stage considering that it doesn’t have any impact on their vision yet.
In cases where Cataract is developed, it comes as a secondary disease to another condition. Some of the conditions that increase the chances of your dog developing this condition include old age, eye trauma, glaucoma, diabetes mellitus, inflammation in the eye, hypocalcemia, and many others. All these conditions increase the susceptibility by causing variations in either the water balance or the proteins in the lens of their eyes.
Although Cataracts will manifest through a cloudy disk in your dog’s lens, this condition can also be hard to differentiate from nuclear sclerosis, a less severe condition that is very common in dogs. Accurate identification of Cataracts may take the prowess of your veterinarian. The vet will use a bright light and magnifying lens to screen for the condition and other eye problems that are more likely in Huskies.
Prevention and Treatment
Although there isn’t much to do to prevent the passing along of Cataracts from parents to offsprings, it’s good to obtain as much information as possible about a Husky puppy’s parents from the breeder before you buy. If possible, meet the parents. However, where your Husky doesn’t have this condition at birth, you can minimize the chances of developing it by treating the diseases that cause it as soon as they show up.
In terms of treatment, it’s unfortunate that no medicine can reverse Cataracts. The only effective way to go here is surgery to extract the cloudy lens. Unfortunately, although this method is quite costly, it doesn’t guarantee success always. Also, your vet has to confirm whether your Husky qualifies to be a surgical candidate.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
The next condition that is likely to occur in Siberian Huskies will also affect their cute eyes. However, unlike the Cataracts that affect the lens, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), also known as Progressive Rod and Cone Degeneration (PRCD) will attack the retina. The retina is a light-sensitive layer that packs thousands of photoreceptors. It is responsible for sharper visual images. The PRA attacks the rod cells in the retina causing them to die. The death of these cells then activates the death of cone cells.
Types of PRA in Dogs
There are 2 forms of PRA– an early-onset and a late-onset. The early-onset form is also known as retinal dysplasia. It is a condition that is inherited from parents and can be diagnosed at the puppy stage. In this case, the retinal cells are abnormal at birth and can bring blindness at an early stage.
The late-onset affects adult dogs between 3-9 years. Although the retinal cells here develop normally, they begin to deteriorate with time resulting in gradual loss of sight.
Signs of PRA In Dogs
Since PRA affects the internal part of the eye, its not possible to tell that a dog is suffering from the condition by examining their eyes. However, since the disorder leads to gradual deterioration of the retinal cells, it’s likely to cause eye problems with time. Your dog may experience night blindness, which simply means poor vision in lowly-lit environments.
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), you will need to seek the attention of a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will use a special testing instrument known as an ophthalmoscope. Sometimes the vet may refer you to a vet ophthalmologist to ascertain the condition through more advanced testing like electroretinogram (ERG).
Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for PRA. But there is still some good news about it- it is not painful like some conditions. Although it will eventually cause blindness, PRA does not bring about vision loss instantly. Instead, the process is gradual and will give your dog enough time to adjust to the changes. For instance, the dog will begin to lose sight at night. Then after some months to about 2 years, it begins to develop sight issues under very bright light conditions before becoming entirely blind.
Hypothyroidism is a very common medical problem in dogs. It is a condition in which the thyroid gland secretes less thyroid hormone than the body needs. Although relatively small and majorly overlooked, the thyroid gland plays a major role in determining your dog’s well-being. How it functions affects the overall state of other important body organs such as the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. Overproduction or underproduction of this hormone affects a dog’s metabolism, the process responsible for turning food to energy.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
There are a few things that will cause a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones in your dog. Some include old age, tumors, shrinking thyroid, attack of the gland by the canine’s immune system, and other many causes.
Signs of Hypothyroidism
Although it’s not easy to detect this condition in dogs, looking out for one or more of these signs will help you detect the condition easily. The common symptoms of hypothyroidism include cold intolerance, weight gain, thinning hair, itching, slower heart rate, and many more.
If your Siberian Husky is experiencing any of the above symptoms, you need to visit a vet as soon as possible. The vet will check the dog’s medical record and perform a physical test to ascertain the condition. The vet may perform several lab tests to determine the severity of the condition to know the right treatment.
Hypothyroidism Prevention and Treatment
Although hypothyroidism is a very common condition in dogs, experts don’t know exactly how it can be avoided. Luckily, unlike some conditions, hypothyroidism isn’t very life-threatening. But don’t underrate it; when left untreated, hypothyroidism will have a large impact on the dog’s quality of life.
Once your furry friend is diagnosed with this condition, he might have to live on oral drugs for the remaining part of their life. The drug helps introduce manmade L-Thyroxine into the body to help boost the level of thyroid hormones to normal levels.
Other Common Issues Medical Issues In Huskies
Although the above issues are the most common diseases in Siberian Huskies, we still have a long list of other illnesses that Huskies can develop. They include hip dysplasia, high blood pressure, Uveodermatologic Syndrome, diabetes, Corneal Dystrophy, Epilepsy, follicular dysplasia, Laryngeal Paralysis, Heart Disease, Zinc Deficiency, and others.
Things To Do Before Bringing A Husky Home
Before you adopt a Siberian Husky, you need to make several necessary preparations to make life comfortable for both of you right from the start. For instance, you will need to buy the following;
- Food and water dishes.
- A leash
- All the necessary grooming tools.
- Safe chew toys.
- An ID tag.
- Many others as you see necessary.