1. Key Characteristics
- AKC Group: Working
- Height: 20–23.5 inches
- Weight: 35–60 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12–15 years
Huskies are medium-sized working dogs who have a thick, dense undercoat and a long, coarse top coat. Colors are usually black, brown, white or a mix with varying head markings. The eye color varies but is usually blue.
2. Where They Came From
The Siberian Husky was bred in Northeast Asia on the Siberian peninsula. The Chukchi tribe bred them to be sled dogs and carry small loads over long distances in arctic weather.
The dogs’ endurance and speed reserved energy, and they required little food on long journeys. This unique metabolic ability can be turned on and off based on the physical demands and is said to puzzle the medical world.
The All-Alaska Sweepstakes is a 400-mile dogsled race that started in 1908 in Alaska. In 1910, huskies were imported and entered into the race that averaged 80 hours in total journey time. The Husky team won the race in record time and kept the record until 2008.
The Siberian Husky received more attention in 1925 by running a medical mission — a diphtheria outbreak in Alaska — and the town was closed off from transport to bring in the much-needed medication. The Huskies met the nearest train and returned to deliver the lifesaving medicine to residents.
After word spread of the heroic mission, Huskies were invited to compete in sled races in the New England area. The abilities and temperament of the breed won people over and established firm roots in the United States.
The AKC recognized the breed in 1930. The breed also participated in Antarctic expeditions and served in World War II in the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue unit.
3. How Friendly Are They?
Huskies are friendly, outgoing, lovable and alert.
They do have a strong predatory instinct, however, and should never be left alone with small animals. Even Huskies raised with cats have been known to injure or kill them without provocation years later.
Huskies also like to dig — a lot! Regular exercise is needed to expel energy, and an area designated for digging is key — otherwise, they’ll take it out on your backyard or your furniture.
The good news is that Huskies can be trained and need a strong leader. Be firm and consistent in training; Huskies are also known to be intelligent and stubborn if you let them set the rules.
4. Is This the Right Dog for You?
HIGH: Huskies are very active dogs who need room to play and run. They should be walked daily or have a large area to run around in to play or run off excess energy.
Huskies don’t bark much, but when bored, they have a howl that can be reportedly heard up to 10 miles away. Keep this in mind if you think about skipping playtime!
They are also excellent escape artists and will find a way out of the yard or an open door before you can blink.
HIGH: Siberian huskies have a double coat that needs regular maintenance. They shed regularly and can blow their coats once or twice a year.
Expect to spend an hour or more every week for brushing to reduce shedding. The fur can become matted, so this is not a step to skip.
Brush the fox-shaped tail regularly as well. Check the eyes and nose for any discharge on a regular basis and trim nails as needed.
HIGH: Hip and eye problems are common in Huskies.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the top of the thigh bone does not fit into the pelvic joint socket properly. This disorder can affect males and females, and ranges from mild to severe.
Ask to see the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals registry papers of the mother and father if obtaining the dog from a breeder. The percentage of Huskies with this ailment have been decreasing over the years, but it’s still a possibility.
Eye defects are hereditary and can include juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy or progressive retinal atrophy. Some effects are minor and others can cause loss of vision, so ask to see an eye examination report on the dog.
This Siberian Husky needs a little help learning how to do the snoot challenge:
5. How to Adopt One
Always check your local shelters to see if a Siberian Husky is waiting for you to come take them home.
If you’re going through a breeder, always make sure they’re reputable (i.e., not running a puppy mill) and can provide family medical history and health clearances for the dogs.