With a working class background, the Siberian Husky is classed as a medium size dog whose appearance resembles that of a wolf. However, it really belongs to a class of dogs called a Spitz. The head of the Siberian is in proportion to the strong, muscular yet compact body, traits needed for pulling its weight with wagons and dog sleds.
The eyes of the Siberian Husky are almond-shaped and set a medium space apart. These peepers are quite compelling especially when both of them are an icy blue. They can have eyes brown in color as well. This dog breed may also have one brown eye and one blue. This condition is called Heterochromia. The eyes may also be both blue and brown at the same time (half and half in each eye) which is a condition called partial Heterochromia.
The tail of the Siberian resembles that of a fox, slightly bushy with a slight curve that hangs over the back without touching. The ears of this dog breed stand erect, showing off its medium triangular shape. And due to its background as a sled dog in extremely cold temperatures, the Siberian Husky has quite large feet which work as a natural snow shoe, keeping a good handle on icy surfaces.
The coat of the Siberian is quite thick with a velvety top coat and a dense, wool-like undercoat, perfect for temperatures in the negative numbers. This breed comes in a variety of colors and patterns although many of them have white tips on the tail in addition to white legs, paws and facial areas. Some of the most beautiful colorations have been the black and white Siberians or even the rusty red and white combinations. Of course, you are also likely to see gray and white, totally blond and blending of several of the listed colors as well. It should be noted that some Siberian Husky puppies will start with gorgeous mask and body coloring that ends up changing to a slightly duller color representation in adulthood.
Viewed as an Eskimo sled dog, the Siberian Husky actually got its start in Siberia, a place in Asia known for its extremely low temperatures. The Chukchi tribe in Siberia used these Huskies for herding animals like deer as well as pulling sleds. Because these dogs are powerful and built for extreme cold temperatures, they enjoyed working and being useful.
The Siberian Husky found its way to Alaska in the early 20th century with fur traders using them in races. However, it was an outbreak of the disease diphtheria which put the spotlight on these dogs. Because of the harsh cold conditions, the Siberians were used to transport the valuable medicine in Alaska. Admiral Peary used Huskies for his Antarctic expeditions to pull sleds full of equipment.
The Siberians were put into employment during World War II rescue missions in the Arctic areas. These days, in addition to being worked in a variety of sled races like the Iditarod in Alaska, these dogs are also making wonderful pets for families.
The Siberian Husky is a happy dog that easily becomes attached to his human family. They are very energetic and have a sense of fun as demonstrated by their impish play. These dogs are sociable animals and can be quite placid and laid back. While smart and amenable to training, they do tend to have a mind of their own. If they are given a command to obey, they may or may not respond positively, depending on whether they feel the command is valid. This is their willfulness peeking through their persona.
Being active or working is in the nature of the Siberian Husky so a home with a large yard is a plus as it will encourage exercise and play. And if the home is smaller, like an apartment, owners must make a conscious commitment to provide exercise opportunities every day. Otherwise, the Husky can become destructive in its boredom. Training is an excellent way to reign in some of that exuberance and must be started as a puppy in order for it to matter in terms of socialization, getting along with other pets and even housebreaking.
These dogs are rather independent and because they are also laid back, they don't know a stranger which makes them a poor choice as a watchdog. The Siberian does not really bark, instead choosing to communicate via a sound similar to that of a wolf, sort of like a howling sound.
Siberian Huskies generally have few health issues to worry about. However in some dogs, there is a threat of hip dysplasia which likely feels like arthritis pain in the cartilage and joints. Other Huskies have a few eye problems such as cataracts and corneal dystrophy which may present a clouded area within the corneal area.
A skin condition called dermatitis is not uncommon but can easily be treated with zinc. Occasional bronchitis, asthma and gastric issues also crop up as well but is treated successfully by medications.
Because of their laid back temperament, the Siberian is a relatively easy dog. They enjoy cleanliness, meaning they do not like to smell good and they do not like the typical nuisances like fleas and ticks. Sometimes, they will clean their body by licking themselves as they do not like being dirty. Because they are so fastidious, giving the husky a bath is likely a twice a year chore.
Climate dictates how much the Siberian Husky will shed. Warmer weather kicks off almost year round shedding whereas clearly delineated climate seasons will see the Siberian experience coat shedding, usually just twice a year. Brushing this dog's coat once or twice a week will keep it looking sleek and fresh and help with the shedding too. The pads of the Siberian Husky's feet should be checked for debris as it could hinder their movement, especially in those dogs who continue to work. Nail trimming is important but diligence is required to avoid cutting into the quick.
As the Siberian Husky would be its happiest working, it is safe to say that they need a lot of physical activities. Owners should take them for walks or even go hiking. They want to pull their weight whether it is a cart, backpack or a dog sled. In fact, if living in a cold climate, owners should investigate sled pulling and mushing opportunities. Huskies do not do as well in warmer climates and therefore should participate in moderate activities during the heat of the day to avoid overheating.
The Siberian Husky is very smart and highly trainable but they love to push boundaries. They try to assert themselves as the leader of the pack and owners must dissuade them of this notion right away or training will not work well. Owners must establish dominance as the alpha leader so the Husky knows what to expect and will respect owner authority.
Siberians are intuitive and can discern different situations. Therefore, they may behave perfectly during an obedience class because that atmosphere is established for learning yet they may not obey their master at home. This leads back to the alpha dominant position. Owners should start obedience training as a puppy and establish boundaries at home and be consistent with them. Allow one exception and the Siberian Husky will take full advantage and continue to push the issue.
Socializing the Husky early on will definitely be a plus for owners. The dog breed will integrate well with other animals and respond favorably with humans. If the owner can keep the Siberian Husky engaged with plenty of activities, this dog will prove to be an excellent pet.