The Siberian Husky is a very beautiful, special and lovable breed, but it may not be the right breed for everyone.
Siberian Huskies are beautiful dogs. They look like wolves and have thick, soft coats that make them infinitely cuddly. They have piercing eyes, and wonderful masks that give them a roguish and unique look. Siberian Huskies can make very good family pets but they may not be the right breed for everyone as they need special care and lots of exercise. They don’t do well locked up in a back garden with no interaction with humans or fulfilment of their specific needs. Sadly, many Huskies get surrendered to shelters annually due to people not doing their homework on the breed
History of the Siberian Husky
The breed was originally developed by the Chukchi people of north-eastern Asia as an endurance sled dog. In 1909, the first large numbers of these Chukchi dogs were brought to Alaska to compete in the long distance All-Alaska Sweepstakes races, and the Alaskan dog drivers quickly recognised the ability of these Huskies from Siberia.
In the winter of 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic broke out in the isolated town of Nome, Alaska, a relay of dog teams brought life-saving serum from distant Neana. The heroic endeavour earned national prominence for the drivers and their dogs. One of these drivers, Leonhard Seppala, brought his team of Siberian Huskies, descendants of the original imports from Siberia, to the United States on a personal appearance tour. While in New England, he competed in sled dog races and again proved the superiority of Siberian Huskies over the native dogs. The New England drivers and pioneer fanciers acquired foundation stock, earned American Kennel Club recognition for the breed in 1930, and founded the Siberian Husky Club of America in 1938.
The Husky Temperament
The Siberian Husky has a delightful temperament, affectionate but not fawning. This gentle and friendly disposition may be a heritage from the past, since the Chukchi people held their dogs in great esteem, housed them in the family shelters, and encouraged their children to play with them. The Siberian Husky is alert, eager to please, and adaptable. His intelligence has been proven, but his independent spirit may at times challenge you. His versatility makes him an agreeable companion to people of all ages and varying interests. If raised well, the Siberian Husky is wonderful with children. While capable of showing strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky is not usually a one-man dog. He exhibits no fear or suspicion of strangers, and will greet guests cordially. A Siberian Husky is not a watchdog but will act as a deterrent to those ignorant of his true hospitable nature. Huskies are very intelligent and trainable, but they will only obey a command if they see the human is stronger minded than themselves. If the handler does not display leadership, they will not see the point in obeying. Training takes patience, consistency and an understanding of the Arctic dog character. If you are not this dog’s 100% firm, confident, consistent pack leader, he will take advantage, becoming wilful and mischievous. Provided it is not too hot, Huskies make excellent jogging companions. They may be difficult to housebreak. This breed likes to howl and gets bored easily. They do not do well if left alone for a long period of time without a great deal of exercise beforehand. A lonely Husky, or one that does not get enough mental and physical exercise, can be very destructive.
Let the fur fly !
The Siberian Husky is a comparatively easy dog to care for. He is by nature fastidiously clean and is free from body odour and parasites. He is presented in the show ring well groomed but requires no clipping or trimming. At least once a year the Siberian Husky sheds his coat, and it is then, when armed with a comb and basket, that one realises the amazing density and profusion of the typical Siberian Husky coat. Some people feel that this periodic problem is easier to cope with than the constant shedding and renewal of many smooth-coated breeds. Siberian Huskies have been known to do their share of chewing and digging, a pastime that many Huskies have a special proclivity for. If kept busy, however, this pastime can be circumvented, or if you have a designated area, indulged.
Huskies have a very strong desire to run. His heritage has endowed him with the desire to run and his conformation has given him the ability to enjoy it effortlessly. But, one quick lope across a busy street could be the last run that he enjoys. Because of this, we strongly urge that no Siberian Husky ever be allowed unrestrained freedom. Instead, for his own protection, he should be confined or under control at all times. Sufficient exercise for proper development and well-being may be obtained on a leash, in a large enclosure, or best of all, in harness. Many Huskies run away from home and end up in shelters, so make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property.
Huskies can be prone to hip dysplasia, ectopy (displacement of the urethra), and eye issues such as juvenile cataracts. Although not usually recommended for apartments, they can live in apartments if well trained and properly exercised. Because of their heavy coats, these dogs prefer cool climates. One has to use common sense with respect to maintaining them in the heat by providing adequate shade and air conditioning. This breed prefers to live in packs, so it’s a good idea for your Husky to have a canine friend. Their life expectancy is 12 to 15 years.
Breed owner stories – A rescue named Skye
By Michéle Kruger
I was fostering for African Tails in 2012 when I was offered a four-month-old Husky puppy to foster. Skye was found wondering the streets at Century City. She was skin and bones, weighing only 7.3kg, and covered in fleas and ticks. I knew I had to help. When Skye arrived at our home, she had food aggression, was scared, had received no house training or knew what a lead was. Due to her lack of weight gain, I took Skye to the vet weekly, where she was diagnosed with Giardia and an intestinal problem. Life has changed so much for her over the past six months and, yes, I became a “foster failure”, meaning that I decided to keep her. Skye shares a home with two fur sisters (two cats), 14 fish and two young children, with whom she is brilliant. She is truly the most loving, gentle, amazing dog. Skye enjoys walking, playing, digging, chewing and singing. She even has her own special Hound Sleeper bed (plus four couches now) and a huge garden in which she can run to her heart’s content. She loves walks in The
Sanctuary Greenbelt, chasing the birds, digging for moles (she’s even been able to catch one), and mushing on the beautiful Sunrise Beach with her Husky family pack – 20 of them sometimes, which is truly a remarkable experience. Unconditional love, patience and understanding are what a rescue needs, and in return an unbreakable
bond between human and dog is formed, not for a few minutes or a few years, but for eternity.