Monday, September 3, 2012

Breed Profile: Siberian Husky, Work Horse of the North

By Linda Cole

I have always had a love affair with the Siberian Husky. This dog breed is what made living in Alaska possible for the brave souls who chose to live in a harsh, but beautiful, land. One day I was walking my female Husky, Cheyenne. A lady approaching us moved off the sidewalk and said as we walked by that my dog looked mean. It surprised me and I asked her why she said that. “Those eyes look mean.” After she moved on, I looked at Cheyenne. I saw a friendly face with beautiful icy blue eyes filled with playfulness and a dash of mischief. Siberian Huskies were bred to run and it's the one thing they love to do, but they are also gentle and good natured, with the right owner.

Siberian Huskies (Sibes) are native to Siberia where they were used for centuries by the Chukchi Tribe to pull sleds, herd reindeer, and as watch dogs. Because of their quick speed, fur traders brought them from Siberia to Alaska to run in arctic races. It was the 1925 diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska that helped to make the breed popular. Huskies are hard working sled dogs with an amazing endurance to run for an entire day or longer, if necessary, with only short rest periods. They are an intelligent breed and can make smart decisions when needed.

These dogs are strong in body and mind. A medium sized dog with an independent spirit, Sibes are laid back, loving, outgoing, playful, happy dogs who love their family. They are smart, stubborn, strong willed, and very energetic. Training a Husky can be frustrating if you don't use positive reinforcement training. They learn fast and becomes bored quickly with repetition, so training sessions need to be short. You're likely to get a look that says, “Nope, don't wanna do that.” At that point, it's best to move on to something else and go back to what you were trying to teach later.

A Siberian Husky is born to run and requires daily exercise to keep his mind and spirit sharp. No matter how well trained you think your dog is, never let a Husky off leash. This is a dog with a strong prey drive and he won't hesitate to chase after a rabbit, cat or other small animal. Once loose, a Husky will only return when he's ready to, as long as he doesn't get lost.

One would think a dog that loves to run and work would chow down come meal time, but Huskies are very thrifty eaters. They generally require less food than other breeds, which makes a high quality food like CANIDAE even more economical.

If you shudder at the sight of little piles of hair everywhere in your home, a Siberian Husky may not be the right dog for you. Saying they shed is an understatement and until you've shared your home with a Husky, you have no idea the amount of hair you will find in your home and on you.

They have a double coat (a soft undercoat and guard hairs on top) that helps keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Sibes shed year round, and twice a year their hair falls out in globs as they “blow” their coat. A good vacuum is required along with a good sense of humor. Regular grooming is a must to keep the undercoat free of mats. Never shave or clip their coat.

Siberian Huskies don't bark, they howl, and it can be heard up to 10 miles away. Jake, my male, was fond of wooing when he had something to say, and Huskies enjoy talking to you. They can get along with the family cat and other small pets, but you shouldn't leave them unsupervised. Some Sibes, however, are gentle with cats they are raised with or well socialized. Jake allowed his favorite feline to curl up next to him on cold winter days and I trusted him with the cats, but I never trusted my female, Cheyenne, around the cats and made sure they had an escape route if one was needed.

Huskies make great family pets and are good around kids, but they're not watch dogs. Oh, they'll watch a thief carry off your good silver, but a Husky is more likely to lick him to death or hide until he's gone. Huskies are a healthy breed with few genetic problems to worry about. This isn’t a dog for everyone, but once a Husky has owned you, your life will never be the same. There's magic in a Husky's eyes. Ask any Sibe owner if you don't believe me.

Photos courtesy of The Chronicle of Woos 

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. Words never truer spoken. All you say about us is true. We really are fun and loving dogs, nothing to be afraid of. We are great with kids too. Your comments on training are spot on.

    When we meet people who say they want a Siberian Husky, our Mom always tells them to do lots of research so they know what we will need from them.

    Thanks for a great article about our breed AND for featuring our photos.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

    1. Phantom looks so much like Jake. A big Thank You to the OP Pack for the great pictures!

  2. We love the OP Pack! Great post about Siberian Huskies! Our sisfur Sadie was an Alaskan Husky so was like Sibes in many ways but different in others. She went to the Bridge in June and we miss her very much but are glad we get to visit our Sibe friends Phantom, Thunder, Ciara and Lightning for our Husky fix!

  3. I've had my Sibe now for almost 5 years. When I got her, she was eating Purina Puppy Chow (shudders), and I immeadiately switched her to Canidae. We've gone to a couple of other foods over the years, but we're back to Canidae now, and I think that's where we're going to stay. It's a great food, great quality - and such a great price. What I pay for the 30 lb bag of grain free food (and how long is lasts me) is absolutely amazing - I love this food for my pup!


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