Siberian Husky
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Chewy EditorialBehavior / Breed Lists

Siberian Husky Dog Breed: Facts, Temperament and Care Info

If you’re looking for a playful, friendly companion, then a Siberian Husky might be just the doggo for you. These pups were bred to pull loaded sleds over hundreds of miles, so it makes sense that they’re energetic and can run all day. That means plenty of active exercise on your part—long walks, hikes or jogs—and play dates at the dog park, since Siberians generally get along with other canines. And because families are part of their pack, they’re loyal and will shower their people, big and small, with love and kisses.

Siberian Husky Facts

This is a medium-sized dog, with a high of 60 pounds being the average Siberian Husky size. With the proper care, a Siberian Husky’s life span can reach up to 14 years.

  • Breed Group: Working
  • Height: Males, 21-23.5 inches; females, 20-22 inches
  • Weight: Males, 45-60 pounds; females, 35-50 pounds
  • Life Span: 12-14 years
  • Coat: Double-coated, with a topcoat of short, smooth fur and a dense undercoat
  • Color: Solid white or black, or a combination of white and agouti, black, black and tan, brown, gray, red or sable

Siberian Husky Characteristics

Siberian Husky

Illustration: Chewy

Siberian Husky History: An (Unsurprisingly)  Snowy Start

The Siberian Husky origin story goes back to northeastern Siberia, where the Chukchis, a tribe of indigenous people, developed these dogs to pull sleds over long distances, as well as act as family pets. Contrary to popular myth, Siberians aren’t part wolf but are purebred dogs; the Chukchis were careful to select the dogs who were the best workers and friendliest companions.

These dogs were brought to Alaska in the early 1900s to take part in sledding races, a competition Siberians always won. But the breed really captured the public’s imagination in the 1920s when a relay of sleds pulled by Siberian Huskies brought life-saving diphtheria injections to Nome, Alaska, traveling over 600 miles in five days. A Siberian named Balto was one of those dogs, and there’s a statue honoring him in New York City, and even a Disney movie about his life.

Siberians have been admired ever since, and now rank 14 in the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds. Purebred Siberian Husky puppies, which are awesomely cute, can range anywhere from $600-$1,500 and above when working with a responsible and well-vetted Siberian Husky breeder. You can also consider adopting one from a Siberian Husky rescue, or by keeping an eye out for the breed at your local shelter.

What Does a Siberian Husky Look Like?

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Illustration: Chewy

Siberian Husky Temperament

The Siberian Husky is a friendly, outgoing dog who tends to like anyone and everyone they meet. This makes them great fun, but not a great watchdog—why would he protect your home from a potential playmate? Another important thing to note in the typical Siberian Husky temperament is that these dogs tend to be very interested in prey, which could include smaller animals in your home, such as cats. If you have a multi-species household, the Siberian Husky may not be the best choice for your family.

One other thing to bear in mind with Siberian Huskies is that they love to run—so much. They will leap, climb or dig to get past fences and sprint freely. So the Siberian Husky is not a dog who will be satisfied with just a short walk each day and some couch time with you. You best keep this entertaining and affectionate pup busy!

Keeping Siberian Husky Dogs Healthy: 2 Issues to Watch Out For

Thankfully, Siberian Husky health issues tend to be relatively few and far between. However, the Siberian Husky Club of America Inc., requires the following testing to comply with their Guidelines for Ethical Breeding Practices:

  • Annual eye examination by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist at a minimum age of 12 months with results registered with the Siberian Husky Ophthalmic Registry (SHOR) or Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) through Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
  • Hip dysplasia evaluation through OFA, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) or PennHip

Before purchasing a Siberian Husky, be sure to ask for the results of these tests. If a breeder is hesitant to provide them, find someone new to work with If you choose to adopt, be sure to get as much medical history as the rescue organization is able to provide.

Additionally, pet parents should watch out for the following two common Siberian Husky health issues in particular.

Eye Problems

Siberian Huskies are genetically predisposed to developing cataracts, which can develop in puppies as young as 3 months of age. Other, less common problems include corneal dystrophy—a haziness to the outer, normally clear layer of the eye—and progressive retinal atrophy—a degenerative condition that leads to loss of vision.

Learn more about cataracts in dogs here.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is relatively common in the Siberian Husky. One or both hips can be involved, and over time potentially debilitating arthritis will develop.

Learn more about canine hip dysplasia here.

Caring for Your Siberian Husky Dog

Like all dogs, Siberian Huskies require daily care, but this breed needs special attention paid to several of their distinctive characteristics.

Grooming

Siberian Huskies have a thick double coat, which leads to some important factors to note about Siberian Husky grooming. The first being that Siberian Husky shedding can be a problem. They tend to shed constantly, in addition to heavily shedding their undercoat once or twice a year. A tool like the ConairPro Dog Undercoat Rake is ideal for removing this shedded hair.

If that thick double coat has you curious about how cold can a Siberian Husky stand, understand that those Siberian Huskies who are already acclimated to very cold temps can stay outside (with proper shelter) under almost all conditions. However, companion Huskies should always be brought indoors when temperatures fall below freezing.

Siberian Huskies need their nails trimmed as needed, and pet parents should brush their teeth daily using something like the Virbac C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Dog Kit. Most Siberian Huskies only need to be washed a few times a year or when they get especially dirty.

Nutrition

Most companion Siberian Huskies do well on high-quality, life-stage-appropriate dog foods. Starting young dogs off on a large-breed puppy food like Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food or Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food may help reduce the chances that a dog will later develop hip dysplasia.

Once they reach adulthood (around 12-14 months of age), Siberian Huskies can be switched to an adult diet. Foods, like Royal Canin Large Joint Care Dry Dog Food, that are formulated to promote healthy joints are often a helpful choice, although the best dog food for a Siberian Husky can vary and is decision usually best made in consultation with your veterinarian.

Canine athletes require a Siberian Husky diet that contains more protein and fat than foods deemed appropriate for less active companion dogs. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if a high-performance food like Dr. Tim's Highly Athletic Momentum Formula Dry Dog Food or Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 Adult Dry Dog Food is right for your individual dog.

Exercise

Siberian Huskies want to be active and require a lot of exercise to thrive. Pet parents should also be especially sure to keep them on-leash and securely fenced areas due to the breed’s strong desire to run.

Jogging, long walks and/or regular trips to the dog park are enough for most Siberian Huskies, but some individuals do better with even more mental and physical activity. Agility, flyball, rally, obedience, carting and weight-pulling are options for Siberian Huskies who need a “job” to be happy and healthy.

Training Your Siberian Husky

With that previously mentioned love of running, it’s critical to teach your Siberian Husky to come when called. Do this is by standing close to your dog, calling them and then giving them yummy treats, such as Stella & Chewy's Lamb Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats, when they come to you. Repeat this over and over, gradually moving farther away before calling your dog. Build up to training in the yard and then off your property (with the dog on a long line to prevent escapes). Practice until your dog doesn’t even stop to think before turning to run back to you.

Use positive reinforcement training for all your basic obedience training, and practice leash walking indoors. Even after basic training, it’s best to walk your Siberian Husky in a 2 Hounds Design Freedom No Pull Dog Harness, with the leash clipped to the harness’s front clip. This will lend you more control if your strong dog unexpectedly lunges after prey. To help channel the prey drive typical of the Siberian Husky temperament, play with your dog using a flirt pole, like the Outward Hound Tail Teaser or Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole, at least once a day.

Siberians Huskies make for delightful, charming pets who love to spend time with you—especially if it involves running on a trail or city sidewalks, or playing ball in the backyard (as long as it’s fenced, that is!).

Read more:

By: Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM; Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CDBC; Linda Rodgers

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