The Siberian Husky Arrived in Alaska During the Nome Gold Rush
The Siberian Husky originated in northeastern Siberia and was bred by the Chukchi Eskimos of northeastern Asia to pull heavy loads long distances across rough terrain in difficult conditions. Huskies were also used to herd reindeer and as watchdogs. After arriving in Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush, Huskies began appearing throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Also known as the Chukcha or Chuksha dog, and nicknamed the Husky or Sibe, the Siberian Husky belongs to the Spitz family of dogs. Today's Husky is primarily a pet or show dog.
The Siberian Husky Has a Wild, Wolf-Like Appearance
The handsome husky is a medium-sized dog with a light, compact frame. His body is well proportioned and muscular. His head may have an interesting black-and-white or red-and-white pattern. His triangle-shaped ears open forward, and the almond-shaped eyes add to his alert, astute expression.
The Siberian Husky holds his head high and his straight back ends in a bushy tail. His coat is quite thick, but the fur sits close to his body and comes in a wide range of colors. Male Huskies average 21 to 23.5 inches in height and 45 to 60 pounds. Females are a bit smaller at 20 to 22 inches and 35 to 50 pounds.
Huskies Have Very Varied and Interesting Coloring
The color of a Husky's nose depends on the color of her coat. The nose is black in gray, tan, and black dogs, liver-colored in copper dogs, and flesh-colored in pure white dogs. The eyes can also vary in color from blue, brown, amber, or a combination. Huskies can also have half-blue and half-brown eyes (called parti-eyed), or one blue and one brown eye (bi-eyes).
The Siberian Husky coat comes in all colors ranging from black to pure white, and with or without markings on the head. The face mask and underbody are typically white. Common Husky color combinations are black and white, red and white, gray and white, sable and white, red-orange with black tips, and piebald (irregular patches of two colors). Solid color coats can be brown, silver, wolf-gray, dark gray, and white.
Huskies carry their tails over their backs in a curve. They have good-sized feet that function as show shoes, with hair between their toes to help them stay warm.
The Siberian Husky Is Not a Breed for Casual or First-Time Dog Guardians
Siberian Huskies have an Arctic dog temperament, which is to say they are tough, determined, and self-sufficient.
Unfortunately, many Siberian Huskies end up at shelters because people choose them for their beauty without regard for their challenging temperament. To make matters worse, puppy mills and backyard breeders have created generations of Huskies with exaggerated negative traits, as well as traits that aren't normal for the breed.
That said, Huskies are intelligent and affectionate without being "needy." They aren't typically aggressive, though they can be territorial. A well-trained, well-socialized Husky does well with both children and other dogs.
Huskies Can Be Difficult to Train
Huskies are extremely intelligent, however, this dog isn't as eager to please her humans as other breeds, which makes her more challenging to train. Huskies do best with experienced, knowledgeable owners who insure they are continually socialized and trained throughout their lives.
Some Husky owners have discovered their dogs to be "street angels and house devils," meaning they do well in formal obedience classes, but tend to ignore their training at home.
Siberian Huskies Are Notorious Escape Artists
Siberian Huskies have a well-earned reputation for wandering away from home given the chance, and many of these beautiful dogs have been injured or lost forever as a result. Huskies can jump fences, crawl under them, defeat tie-out chains, slip collars, and perform other Houdini-like behaviors to free themselves from "captivity."
Having a Husky in the family means installing a high fence that is buried several inches below the ground, and constantly checking your yard for ways your dog might escape. It's also important to keep your Husky leashed on walks so he can't wander off or chase after small animals.
Huskies Are High-Energy and Easily Bored
If you're a dedicated runner or biker, a Husky can make a great exercise companion as long as the weather isn't too warm. Huskies require plenty of physical and mental stimulation, and when they don't get it, they are known to be destructive. This is also true of Huskies left alone for long periods.
Because Siberian Huskies are loving, gentle, and playful, they do well in families with active children and adults. These dogs tend to be social and relaxed, so they aren't the best watchdogs. They also don't bark much, but do enjoy howling on occasion.
The Siberian Husky Is a Generally Healthy Breed
Like all breeds, this one is prone to certain health conditions. Huskies tend to develop hip dysplasia, ectopy (an abnormality of the urethra), eye disorders (cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy), and a skin condition known as zinc responsive dermatitis.
Because of their heavy coats, Huskies prefer cool weather. If you live in a warm climate, you'll need to insure your Husky has adequate shade and air conditioning, and take care not to exercise him during the warmest hours of the day.
The average life expectancy of the Siberian Husky is 12 to 15 years.
The Siberian Husky Coat Is Fairly Easy to Maintain
Huskies are double-coated with medium-length hair. The top coat is straight, while the undercoat is soft and dense. Obviously, Huskies have lots of hair, and do lots of shedding, especially during the spring and fall when they blow their coats. If you live in a cooler climate, your Husky will shed less; Huskies in warmer climates tend to shed more than average.
Despite all that hair, Siberian Huskies are clean dogs, don't have much of a "doggy odor," and typically don't require too many baths. To control the amount of hair in your home, brush your Husky at least weekly during low-shedding periods, and daily during shedding season.
A Bronze Statue of a Heroic Siberian Husky Stands in Central Park, N.Y.
In the winter of 1925, a sled dog team led by Siberian Husky Balto and driven by Gunnar Kassen became heroes when they were able to deliver medicine to treat a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska. Today, a statue of Balto stands in Central Park as a tribute.