Intelligent, Friendly, Independent, Stubborn
- Height51-60 cm
- Weight35-60 lbs
- Lifespan12-14 years
The Siberian Husky breed was developed several centuries ago by the Chukchis of Northern Siberia. There are some indicators that the breed’s lineage dates back an estimated four thousand years or more. The Chukchis, a nomadic people, often used their dogs for various purposes - as a means of transportation, to keep their children company and to assist in hunting for food.
In 1909, Siberian Huskies were brought to Alaska to compete in the long-distance All-Alaska Sweepstakes races. Dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes would compete in the 408-mile race with a first place prize of $10,000. The Husky team proved themselves to be true contenders, finishing third place overall. Huskies continue to work as sled dogs today but are more commonly known as companion dogs. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930.
Siberian Husky Appearance
The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog. They weigh about 34 to 61 pounds and grow from 20 to 23 inches in height. The Siberian Husky has erect ears and almond-shaped eyes that can be blue, brown or a combination of both. Huskies are always prepared for extreme winter temperatures with their medium-length, thick double coat.
Siberian Husky Temperament
Siberian Huskies are pack animals who enjoy being around people and other dogs, especially ones they are raised with. As a result of their high prey drive, Huskies have a tendency to chase cats, rodents, rabbits and livestock. However, because of their friendly nature, Huskies do not make good guard dogs. These classic northern dogs are intelligent, independent and strong-willed.
Grooming Your Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky coat has two layers. The top coat consists of long, thick guard hairs that provide protection from the elements. The undercoat is made up of soft, short hairs that act as an insulator, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Siberian Huskies require weekly brushing to keep their coat shiny and healthy. Huskies shed year-round but have two heavy shedding periods in the spring and fall. Siberian Huskies also need regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental care.
Training & Exercise for Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies are very independent, so early positive training and socialization is important. As a working breed, Huskies have an innate desire to work. Since they love to run and explore, teaching them basic commands like sit, stay, come and how to walk properly on a leash is a great place to start. Huskies are very active dogs that require plenty of exercise to be happy and healthy. It’s recommended that you keep your Husky on a leash or in a securely fenced area as they are known for being escape artists.
Health Considerations for Siberian Huskies
The Siberian Husky is generally a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. However, purebred Huskies do have a number of canine health problems that prospective owners should be aware of. Some of the common disorders Huskies are prone to include epilepsy, follicular dysplasia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, ocular issues, von Willebrand disease (vWD) and zinc deficiency.
Epilepsy is an inherited condition commonly found in Siberian Huskies between the ages of 3 months and 3 years old. This neurological disorder affects the brain’s electric activity and can cause your Husky to suffer from epileptic seizures, which are brief bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. An epileptic episode can typically last between one and several minutes. It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of seizures to get your Husky medical help as quickly as possible. Some common signs to look for include twitching, tremors, shaking and convulsions. Treatment might involve lifelong anti-seizure medication; however, this will help your Husky maintain a good quality of life. If your Husky is having a seizure, call an emergency vet and make sure they can’t injure themselves.
Follicular dysplasia is a common health issue found in Siberian Huskies between 3 and 4 months of age. This genetic disease is characterized by excessive hair loss due to abnormal growth in the canine hair follicle. Some symptoms to look for in your Husky include scratching, patches of hair loss, red skin, self-injury due to extreme itching and dry, scaly skin. Although there isn’t a sufficient treatment for this condition, your veterinarian may recommend specific shampoos, ointments and creams to help soothe the symptoms.
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is one of the most common canine ailments. It’s a genetic condition that causes an abnormal formation of the hip socket, which can eventually lead to lameness and arthritis of the joints. This hereditary disease can be magnified by factors including excessive growth rate, age, types of exercise and improper weight and nutrition. While mild conditions can be managed with prescription medication and physical therapy, more severe cases could require surgery. To prevent or reduce the severity of hip dysplasia, it’s important to ensure your Siberian Husky gets a proper diet and the right amount of exercise.
Hypothyroidism is an inherited condition that is caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. Due to the thyroid's widespread effects on the body, symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary. Some of the common symptoms to be aware of in your Husky include obesity, lethargy, slow heart rate, excessive hair loss and weakness of the joints. Your Husky should have their thyroid levels tested annually as this condition can develop at any time. If your Husky is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, treatment is fairly simple and effective. With the assistance of medication, your Husky can go on to live a full life.
Unfortunately, Siberian Huskies are subject to a host of eye diseases and disorders including cataracts, corneal dystrophy and progressive retinal atrophy.
A cataract is developed when the lens of the eye clouds, preventing light from reaching the retina. Signs to watch for in your Husky include changes in eye colour, cloudy pupils in one or both eyes, confusion and clumsiness. This condition can be treated with surgery, but if left untreated, can lead to blindness.
Corneal dystrophy is a hereditary disease that can cause opaqueness in the cornea or even hazy vision. If your Husky has this, you may observe small white dots in their cornea. This disease can be difficult to treat as it is progressive and irreversible.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) occurs when the retina of a Husky’s eye starts to deteriorate. Some dogs may experience total blindness, while others remain unaffected but can be carriers of the gene. There is currently no treatment that can cure this disease; however, you can learn to spot the signs early to ensure your Husky continues to live a fulfilling life. Some common signs to look for include night blindness, bumping into objects and inability to follow hand signals/commands.
It’s important to monitor your Husky’s vision to detect these eye conditions early on, especially in the first years of their life. It’s recommended that you have your Husky’s eyes checked by your vet on a regular basis.
von Willebrand Disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder found in dogs and is frequently found in Siberian Huskies. This disease is a clotting disorder that causes excessive bleeding. It happens when there’s a deficiency of the protein von Willebrand factor. When an injury occurs, this protein is needed to help the platelets form blood clots to seal broken blood vessels. Symptoms can include nosebleeds, bloody urine or stool and prolonged or excessive bleeding during or after surgery. Many dogs with a mild-to-moderate vWD diagnosis will require minimal treatment. For those with more severe cases, treatment is available to maintain a good quality of life for your Siberian Husky.
Just like humans, Siberian Huskies need a sufficient amount of zinc to maintain optimal health. When Huskies experience zinc deficiency, this can lead to a skin infection called zinc-responsive dermatitis. This can happen if there’s not enough zinc in your Husky’s diet or they’re not absorbing it properly. Your vet can prescribe a regulated dose of zinc to help alleviate symptoms and ensure your husky is getting all the essential nutrients.
What Makes a Siberian Husky Unique?
The Siberian Husky is one of the few dog breeds that can have two different coloured eyes, referred to as heterochromia or “wall eye.” This rare condition is caused by a lack of pigment melanin in all or part of one eye. Heterochromia in Siberian Huskies is often a hereditary trait that gets passed down through their genetic makeup.
There are three main types of heterochromia: heterochromia iridis, which is when one eye is a completely different colour than the other; sectoral heterochromia, which occurs when the iris is partially blue or without pigment; and central heterochromia, which happens when the blue colouring radiates out from the pupil, mixing with another colour. Most Siberian Huskies with heterochromia don’t have any related health issues — they just have pawesome coloured eyes that make them unique!
During the epidemic of diphtheria, Huskies were brought to Nome, Alaska, to serve as working sled dogs for the transport of antitoxins. The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the lifesaving journey that led the team to Nome. In 1925, a bronze statue of the lead Husky Balto was erected in Central Park in New York.
Siberian Huskies served in the US Army’s Search and Rescue Unit during World War II. These Huskies went where motorized equipment couldn’t go to search for downed pilots and cargo.
Snow nose is a phenomenon when a Husky’s nose temporarily turns pink during the winter months. The medical name for the condition is hypopigmentation. This causes a Husky's nose or parts of it to lighten in colour.
Given their history as sled dogs, Huskies were bred to run for long distances with minimal food. Siberian Huskies can conserve their energy by regulating their metabolism to their activity levels. This allows the Husky to run for hours without burning through their fat reserves and becoming fatigued.
The Siberian Husky is known for being a very talkative breed considering their wide range of vocalization. Huskies love to howl and can be heard from up to ten miles away. Huskies are very good at imitating the sounds of humans and can communicate a range of different emotions.
Why NutriCanine Is Great For Siberian Huskies
Top 10 Facts About Siberian Huskies
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