The Siberian Husky
Siberians are wonderful and beautiful.
But they are not for everyone.
So before deciding that a Siberian is the right breed for your home, please do your research.
Here is some info:
The Siberian husky is a purebred dog of the working group, recognized officially by the AKC in 1930.
The Siberian husky was originated by the Chuckchi people of northeast Asia.
The Siberian husky’s original function was to pull a light load at a moderate speed over great distances.
The Siberian husky is not to be mistaken for the Alaskan Malamute or a large heavy draft dog that can haul a tremendous amount of weight.
Siberian husky sled dogs are a balance of both speed and power while possessing endurance.
The breed exists today because of the Siberians that were imported to Alaska for use as sled dogs in the early 1900s.
Siberians in America have become not only sled dogs but also show dogs and pets.
Siberian huskies are supposed to be a medium sized dog, not a large dog.
Whenever I have one of my adult Siberians out in public with me, particularly one of my girls (which tend to be smaller than boys), I cannot tell you how many times folks ask me, “Is he still a puppy?”
Or when folks visit my kennel, lots of times they tell me how surprised (or disappointed) they are to see how small my dogs are.
On several occasions I have had to explain to folks that that my Siberians are the correct size. As a matter of fact, many of my Siberians are at the top of the standard for height!
The only disqualification for the Siberian husky (in the AKC breed standard) is for height i.e. a Siberian taller than a certain height is disqualified. The medium size of the Siberian husky is ideal for his function as a sled dog.
Click here to learn the AKC breed standard for the Siberian husky.
Siberians resemble their wild wolf ancestors and they have retained many of their wild instincts however the Siberian husky is a dog and not a wolf or a wolf-mix.
One of the oldest breeds, the Siberian husky has been living in domestication for many generations.
The term “husky” is a general label for northern breed types and the term alone does not refer to the purebred Siberian husky.
In the sled dog world, “husky” generally refers to the Alaskan husky, a mixed breed that has a wide variety of types i.e. there is no breed standard.
Siberian huskies can come in lots of colors and they can have lots of color patterns from pure white to almost all black.
Click here to see the many colors and color patterns Siberian huskies can have.
Siberians seldom bark. When they do, they have good reason.
Instead of barking, a Siberian will often howl or “whoo.” Some are quite the talkers!
Howling is very contagious among many dogs and lots of things can trigger the Siberian to howl; music, machinery or any interesting, odd, or exciting noise.
Siberian huskies are pack oriented. They look for and recognize hierarchy in their pack.
Siberians require strong leadership.
Here are some of the behaviors that a Siberian looks for in a leader.
Siberians are very food motivated.
High value treats are a great way to train a Siberian.
Because of their pack orientation a Siberian husky makes a wonderful family dog or companion for any size family of all ages.
However because of their pack orientation a Siberian husky does not possess the temperament of a guard dog.
Siberians are NOT supposed to be overly possessive or have an aggressive temperament towards people regardless of lack of training.
They are supposed to be outgoing or friendly with strangers.
Siberian huskies are extremely intuitive, clever, and problem solving.
An owner would be wise to not underestimate the intelligence of the Siberian husky!
Siberians are an independent breed. They are known to act on their own initiative instead of relying on or waiting for a command.
They are notorious for remembering routines or assuming commands.
This independent and intelligent nature makes the Siberian trickier to train than most other breeds.
Siberians are typically not an “aim to please” dog and they often need the lesson to be worth it or not worth it for them so that they want to cooperate for a reward or so they chose to behave out of respect.
Siberians mature slowly.
It is typical for them to remain immature until they are around four years old. By six years old they are usually well seasoned dogs.
Siberian huskies are very easy to communicate with once you understand some basic doggie body language and gain his respect.
A Siberian husky can learn the meaning of many words, phrases, or signals. They can learn to do (or not do) many behaviors or carry out many tasks or commands.
One of the best things you can do for your new puppy or dog is to enroll in puppy classes or basic obedience classes through your local obedience kennel club.
Behaviors and traits that Siberians possess that any potential Siberian husky owner should know before considering living with one:
Siberians love to dig and they are quite skilled at it.
Siberians have a strong prey drive.
They will chase, kill, and even eat small critters, including cats.
A Siberian can be trained to live safely with cats or other small critters at a young age, before breed characteristics like prey drive kick in.
Otherwise you should strongly consider another breed.
Siberians prefer to have company.
Your Siberian husky would like it best if he or she can accompany you whenever and wherever possible, even at night while you sleep.
You may want to strongly consider owning two or more dogs.
A Siberian has two coats:
A top coat that protects against dirt and weather
A soft, dense undercoat that insulates the dog
Siberian huskies shed or “blow their coat” about twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. It will come out in masses of clumps or tuffs:
Siberian huskies do not have the “doggie odor” that some breeds have. Their coats may absorb smells though.
Siberians stay remarkably clean…
…Well, what I mean is, when they get muddy or messy, dirt or mess wipes or washes off easily. This is because dirt, moisture, or mess does not penetrate below the top coat.
Siberians do a good job of bathing themselves by licking off any dirt or moisture.
A Siberian should never be unrestrained with no supervision.
Siberians like to roam and they tend to wander off. Untrained Siberian huskies are known to not come when called or resist being caught.
An untrained or unsupervised Siberian should be confined in a fenced in yard, tethered, or kept on a leash.
Because Siberians are very intelligent and problem solving, a fence or tether needs to be very secure.
Siberians can dig, tunnel, jump, climb, and chew well. They can slip harnesses or improperly fitted collars. They can figure out gate latches or door handles.
They tend to focus intense escape efforts on the gate or door that is normally used to enter and exit the yard, so make sure that is very secure.
We use an electric wire to keep our Siberians away from our fence. The wire simply shocks them if they touch it, with no warning given. We bought our electric wire at Agway or Tractor Supply. All you will find at a pet store are those invisible fences for dogs which most Siberians are insensitive to or too smart for.
Do not rely solely on an electric wire to contain your Siberian. Use an electric wire as a deterrent only, with some sort of physical barrier or restraint to contain the dog.
A Siberian husky may be safely unrestrained if he is trained and supervised.
You can train recall on your own. Here are some Tips on Training Recall
Or better yet enroll your puppy in puppy/obedience classes offered by a professional dog trainer in your area (which we highly recommend for Siberians anyways!)
Contrary to popular belief, we do not feel a fenced in yard is necessary for pet homes. They are rather convenient though, especially for homes with more than one dog.
Contrary to popular belief, a Siberian can be taught to walk politely on leash.
Too often I hear the excuse, “He pulls because he was bred to be a sled dog.” Really, the dog is simply not trained.
ALL dogs naturally pull on a leash, regardless if they were bred to pull. The dog is rewarded for the behavior when the owner keeps moving forward, or in the direction the dog is trying to go, and so the dog has learned to pull on the leash because the owner has taught the dog that it works.
Siberians can learn the difference between the gear used for going for a walk and the gear used for pulling in harness, if you bother to teach them.
Siberian huskies are active dogs.
They are happy when given a task to do. Otherwise they like to invent their own ways to entertain themselves.
Siberians have a lot of energy, endurance, and stamina. They become bored easily. While they do calm down and mature, for the majority of your Siberian’s life he will possess the energy of a puppy!
If you cannot relieve the dog’s energy with regular walks, hikes, or other stimulating activities, the Siberian may express his boredom in very annoying ways.
Popular recreational mushing activities you can do with your Siberian, besides dog sledding, include:
Bikejoring, where 1 or 2 dogs pull your bike or scooter while you ride it
Skijoring, where 1 or 2 dogs pull you on cross country skies via a harness attached to your waist
Canicross, where your dog pulls you via a harness attached to your waist while you run with him
Usually by one year of age all the growth plates are closed. That is when we put our pups in harness and train them up with the rest of the team.
Our dogs wear a properly fitted working harness when we mush. We do not find that gear at a pet store. The street harnesses a pet store sells are suitable for simply walking a dog, they are not appropriate for working a dog in any type of mushing activity like the ones listed above.
We buy our harnesses and other mushing gear from Kryska Siberians.
Obedience is a very stimulating and rewarding sport. Most puppy obedience classes or basic obedience classes are stepping stones into fun sports like rally, agility, or competitive obedience.
Of course, a simple regular walk or jog down the road in a regular collar or street harness from your local pet store works well too!
Siberians may be bred to run 20-90 miles in one day but they need to be conditioned to do that. A Siberian husky can equally be conditioned to a regular active pet home that understands the breed.
If your lifestyle is sedentary, you should consider another breed.
Siberian huskies are extremely addicting.
You may end up with more than one, especially if you get into mushing.
We started out with one Siberian.
Then when I wanted to get into dog sledding I bought a couple more and told my husband that I planned to keep about ten Siberians max. Two years later we had five Siberians. Three years later we had nine. Five years later we had about twenty!
Our homepage says, “Dedicated to the Siberian husky sled dog.” It should say, “Addicted to the Siberian husky sled dog.”
…Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
If you are certain that the Siberian husky is the right breed for you and you are looking for a puppy please read our page Looking For A Puppy which can help you find a reputable breeder in your area.
If we have nothing available for you, we would be happy to refer you to a reputable breeder in your area.
There are many unwanted Siberian huskies in need of a good home. If you are interested in rescuing a Siberian please check out the Siberian Husky Rescue to find a rescue organization in your area:
For more information about Siberian huskies, check out these links below:
These links are from the Siberian Husky Club of America site:
These links are from the Patriot Siberian Husky Rescue site:
The Siberian Husky Rescue Site also has pages with information about Siberian huskies available for you to view.
A page about the history of the breed from the Siberian Husky Club of America site:
I am happy to answer questions. I love to talk about my dogs, the sport, and the breed.
You may contact me at Rachel@kennedysleddogs.com