Popular Dog Breeds: Siberian Huskies

siberianhusky

 

While they are usually associated with sledding, Siberian Huskies are friendly, active, all-around dogs who are good at lots of things. With their thick coat, they love cold weather and they do need regular brushing. They also need plenty of exercise.

History

Siberian Huskies are a spitz breed that likely originated with the Chukchi tribe, off the eastern Siberian peninsula. The Chukchi people used the dogs as endurance sled dogs. The survival of the tribe depended on the dogs. They needed dogs who could travel great distances at moderate speed, carrying light loads in low temperatures. The dogs needed to spend a minimum of energy. According to research, the tribe maintained the purity of their sled dogs through the 19th century. These dogs were the only ancestors of the breed known today as the Siberian Husky.

Around 1900, Americans in Alaska began hearing about these superior sled dogs. The first team of Siberian Huskies made its appearance in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes Race of 1909, a 408-mile long dogsled race. Shortly after that, a large number of the dogs were imported into Alaska. Many of the dogs also took part in the heroic “serum run” to bring supplies of antitoxin to Nome, Alaska, when it was stricken by diphtheria in 1925. Some of the most famous drivers and their dogs, such as Leonhard Seppala, came to the lower 48 states following the serum run, and the dogs became celebrated. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930. Many Siberian Huskies were later assembled and trained for use on the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions. Siberian Huskies also served bravely in the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit of the Air Transport Command during World War II.

Temperament

Siberians, or Sibes as they are sometimes called, are agreeable, outgoing dogs. They do require regular daily exercise. They were bred to have great endurance and to be able to run for miles so it takes a lot of running and play to tire one of these dogs. You should expect to provide plenty of outdoor activity for a Siberian. They also have strong predatory instincts so while they are friendly dogs, you need to supervise them around any other house pets, especially smaller animals such as cats. If you have rabbits or guinea pigs as pets, you need to make sure they are kept in areas where your Siberian can’t get to them.

Siberians maintain some wolf-like behaviors, like their predatory instincts. They also tend to howl instead of bark. They were bred to run so they can have a tendency to roam if they are not securely confined in a yard. They may also make attempts to escape from the yard. However, they are very affectionate dogs. They are also very good with children. They like to be around people and other dogs.

Appearance

Siberian Huskies are medium-large dogs that stand between 20 and 23 ½ inches tall at the shoulder. They weigh between 35 and 60 pounds. Their coat is thicker than most other breeds of dog. They have a dense undercoat that feels like cashmere and a longer outer coat with straight guard hair to help repel the elements. The outer coat also helps reflect heat in summer. In warmer climates, the undercoat can shed out to keep the dogs cooler.

 

The coat may be all colors from black to pure white. A variety of markings on the head are common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds. Dogs often have white paws and leg markings, white facial markings, or a white tail tip. The most common coats are black and white. Less common are copper-red and white, gray and white, pure white, and the rare “Agouti” coat, though many individuals have blondish or piebald spotting. Striking masks, spectacles, and other facial markings occur in wide variety.

Siberians have a well-furred tail of fox brush shape that is usually carried over the back.

They have an expression that is friendly, interested, and even mischievous. Their eyes are almond shaped, moderately spaced and set a trifle obliquely. Eyes may be brown or blue in color; one of each or parti-colored are acceptable

They are quick and light on their feet, and very graceful dogs.

 

Health

Siberians are known to be relatively “easy keepers.” They have a typical lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Problems that can occur in the breed include eye issues such as juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, canine glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy. The breed can also have problems with congenital laryngeal paralysis. It’s rare to find problems with hip dysplasia, but not unheard of. Hip dysplasia affects about 2 percent of tested Sibes. Dogs that are used for racing can have other problems such as gastric disease, bronchitis, bronchopulmonary ailments, and ulcers. Overall, the breed is very healthy.

Training

Siberians rank as having average working and obedience intelligence, though it should be remembered that these tests usually rate how quickly dogs obey. That doesn’t necessarily reflect how smart a dog is. Spitz-type dogs, such as Sibes, are usually very smart. Some allowance should probably be made for their historic work, which called upon them to make some decisions for themselves. It’s a good idea for anyone with a Siberian to take a puppy or dog to obedience classes from a young age. Since these dogs do like to run and chase things, it’s a good idea for them to learn to answer commands. Learning to come when called is especially important for this breed.

Siberians can make excellent therapy dogs and they enjoy all kinds of activities with their owners. They are active dogs and will probably enjoy learning anything you would like to do.