Other names: Husky, Chukcha, Chuksha, Sibe
In Europe, the Siberian Husky is often employed in sled-dog competitions, but it is more commonly chosen as a companion dog. This very beautiful and gentle dog is the ideal companion to all those who like primitive breeds, as it remains the closest breed related to the wolf. He is absolutely harmless and essentially friendly towards everyone (hence not a suitable candidate for a watchdog). Having said this, he is very independent, and a born predator. You must therefore become very familiar with the breed’s particularities before making a choice.
Key facts about the Husky
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Origins and history
He has very ancient, nordic roots- Siberian, to be precise (hence the name). It is the indigenous Chukchie people who have created the breed, as they were in need of animals capable of hauling sleds, hunting, and keeping their children entertained. Legend has it that the Siberian Husky is born out of a union between a wolf and the moon. This is allegedly why the dog resembles a wolf, has a crescent-shaped tail, and howls when there’s a full moon… But the selective breeding of this dog has actually started in the United States, and was initiated by Eva ‘Short’ Seeley, who can be considered the ‘mother’ of this breed as well as the Alaskan Malamute. The American Kennel Club was the first to officially recognise the breed in 1930- the breed’s own first club saw the light of day eight years later. In the UK, it has been recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club in the 1970s.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 1 : Nordic Sledge Dogs
Physical characteristics of the Husky
Female : Between 20 and 22 in
Male : Between 21 and 24 in
Female : Between 33 and 51 lb
Male : Between 44 and 62 lb
The Siberian Husky can be white, black, or all of the possible shades in between those two colours, except merle.
Type of coat
The hair is medium-long.
The topcoat is straight and lies slightly flat without ever being hard to the touch. The undercoat is soft and dense.
They can be blue, brown, china or parti-coloured.
The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog, proportionately built with a slender and elegant appearance. The skull is slightly round; the muzzle, of medium size, tapers down towards the nose. The eyes are almond-shaped, slightly oblique. The ears are small, triangular, worn upright, set high and close to one another- they are slightly round at the tip, evenly covered in hair, even on the inside. The limbs are straight and muscular. The tail is sickle-shaped: it should not touch the back nor curl over to the side.
Good to know
The icy blue eyes which have earned this dog a certain claim to fame are not ‘obligatory’ and do not raise the value of a specimen. It is not the result of eye deterioration either, as some sources insist.
The blue-eyed Siberian Husky is simply sought-after by the breed’s enthusiasts in particular.
This dog is very affectionate with members of his social group, who are the apple of his eye. Since the Siberian Husky is the ultimate pack dog, he needs to feel surrounded in order to be at peace.
The Siberian Husky pup is playful but becomes less so as he gets older. In fact, he usually tends to do his activities on his own (as long as knows he is surrounded), rather than to play with members of his social group (human or canine).
Even though he is very active, the Siberian Husky can be gentle and calm at home, especially if all his needs have been met.
The Siberian Husky is intelligent- he quickly catches on to the orders he receives but does not follow them blindly if the directions do not seem coherent to him. He needs to fully grasp the logic of things before cooperating- in this sense, he is particularly sharp.
Very much the predator, this Siberian dog’s primitive side has kept his strong hunting instinct intact. It is therefore tricky to walk your Husky in total freedom, as he will only return to his master once he has decided to do so himself.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Very cheerful and chirpy with everyone, the notion of aggressivity is alien to the Husky. It is only when he feels that his family may be in danger that he can reveal his suspicious and vicious side, towards a potential intruder for instance.
He is very affectionate with his master, but like any respectable primitive dog, he is also very independent. Warning: the Siberian Husky is independent but not at all a lone wolf!
Behaviour of the Husky
He was originally a sled, and thereby pack dog. He needs to feel part of a group and have a substantial social life (including either dogs or humans). He is not cut out for loneliness in the least, and does not do well during his owners’ absences or when isolated.
Easy to train / obedience
The Siberian Husky clearly isn’t a master of obedience. He needs to be disciplined from a young age- this beautiful nordic dog needs to start being trained while still a pup.
His independent nature makes him question his master’s commands all the time. It is of utmost necessity that a relationship based on mutual respect and trust is established in order to obtain this primitive dog’s full cooperation.
It would be futile to want to turn him into a ‘circus dog’, since he is generally not keen on carrying a wide variety of tasks out. The very basics of dog training (heel, hailing, static position) will have to consolidate over and over again throughout his whole life- with Huskies nothing is ever completely mastered.
Just as in the case of his primitive cousins, the Siberian Husky sooner has a tendency to ‘do the wolf’- that is to say, he howls rather than barks. He may not be a barker, but remains ‘talkative’ in his own way, especially when he’s bored or feels lonely.
Tendency to run away
This is one of the dog’s biggest vices: he is very prone to running away. The Siberian Husky doesn’t really have a strong notion of territory: he feels right at home everywhere, and sees no limits. It is therefore very importantly to secure the perimeter as best as possible with a tall and resistant fence.
A bored Husky can cause much damage, especially if confined in a narrow space (flat, room in a house, etc.).
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog is quite frugal- it doesn’t take much to satisfy his appetites, hence not a particularly greedy eater.
Virtually never suspicious or wary towards strangers, and certainly not aggressive, the Siberian Husky is not a good watchdog, not least because he is not naturally possessive, and usually friendly with everyone.
Choosing a primitive breed as your first dog is precarious, and can quickly turn a simple adoption into a mission. The Siberian Husky better be taken in by experienced, available, and physically active owners.
Last but not least, this breed should never be chosen for its physical qualities only!
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Husky in a flat
His ideal environment is the garden, if it is secured by a proper fence. Otherwise, he must reside inside the home. Living in a flat is not a viable option for this primitive dog that needs a lot of space and freedom to feel fully content.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Highly qualified and popular in sled-dog competitions, the Siberian Husky is enduring, fast, and very efficient.
He needs daily exercise to remain fully content, both in physical and mental terms. Short walks around the block will not be enough, he needs long and stimulating walks to be satisfied.
Of course, all canine traction sports will be met with much enthusiasm by this sled dog (cani-cross, bikejoring, dog hiking, etc.).
His incredible sense of smell will also be satisfied with any trailing-related activities.
Husky and cats
His very pronounced predatory instinct renders cohabitation with pet animals very delicate.
Husky and dogs
Rather reserved towards his fellow canines, this pack dog generally gets along well with his peers, especially if the Husky pup has been properly socialised. Do note that he can defend himself when attacked, and cause damage in that context.
Husky and children
The Siberian Husky can be a very good companion to slightly grown children, but is rather indifferent towards the very little ones.
Husky and the elderly
This dog’s huge need for exercise is not compatible with a potentially sedentary lifestyle, usually led by retired people or the elderly.
The price of a Siberian Husky varies depending on its origins and age. You have to count an average of £600 for dogs subscribed to the Kennel Club.
With regards to the monthly budget required to meet the needs of a dog of this size, you have to estimate an average of £40 per month.
This primitive dog’s abundant coat does require regular brushes. Bathing or grooming is not necessary unless the dog is very dirty.
A simple trimming of certain areas of the coat is authorised for show dogs.
Moulting seasons are very significant and can last for several weeks. Aside from that, the dog does not experience much hair loss.
Nutrition of the Husky
For this rustic and primitive dog, it is preferable to opt for traditional nutrition (B.A.R.F or homemade food) which is rich in protein and lipids, so as to optimally adapt to this active dog’s huge energetic requirements.
Alternatively, premium-quality kibbles can be suitable, but a veterinary supervision is recommended to ensure that the dog is not being undernourished.
Health of the Husky
Life expectancy is estimated at 13 years.
Strong / robust
The Siberian Husky is a primitive, very robust dog, since it has not been modified much by Man.
Contrary to popular belief, he does not suffer that much in the heat. In fact, during the summer, he sheds his undercoat. His coat generally adapts to various climates very well.
The Siberian Husky is a dog that can live in - 40° temperatures, which doesn’t necessarily means he prefers to!
Tendency to put on weight
If he does not get sufficient amounts of exercise, the Siberian Husky can indeed quickly become prone to obesity.
Frequently asked questions
Can you leave a Husky alone?
A Siberian Husky should not be left alone. If you leave your Husky dog for too long, it will result in separation anxiety and destructive behaviour. Huskies are very social and need to be surrounded by humans or other dogs. You can leave your Husky for a few hours, but make sure it isn't any longer than 6 hours.
How many times a day should you walk a Husky?
Huskies are very active dogs and love nothing more than to go on long walks, hiking, or running. They could go on all day if they wanted to. Indeed, they are often used as sled dogs because of their desire to run long distances. Make sure you walk your Husky at least twice a day 30 to 45 minutes.
What kind of breed is a Husky?
The Siberian Husky is a Nordic and primitive dog breed. They have striking eyes, a beautiful coat colour and a unique personality. Actually, because the Husky has a lot of positive traits, this breed is often mixed with other breeds.