Man has domesticated and kept dogs for thousands of years for various reasons. One of the more popular breeds that has gained recognition and value both as a working dog, show dog and a family pet up to this day is the Siberian Husky. With origins that can be traced back to thousands of years in Eastern Siberia, the Husky is a medium-sized, muscular working dog breed with roots from the Spitz and Malamute family.
As far as purebreds go, the term “husky” is limited to the Siberian Husky and care should be taken in identifying this breed as many people mistakenly call most mixed breed Arctic sled pullers and Malamutes as Huskies. The first Huskies were brought to the United States via Alaska in 1909. The dogs were soon recognized for their ability in long-distance sled pulling and when a team of Siberian Huskies brought in medicine to the isolated diphtheria stricken town of Nome in 1925, the Husky reputation as efficient sled pullers was sealed.
Appearance A typical adult Husky will stand anywhere between 20-23. 5 inches high as measured from the shoulder and would have an average weight of 35-60 pounds (15. 9-27. 2 kg). The Husky’s liquid-resistant double coat is characterized as having a dense downy like first layer and a medium length, very dense and soft top coat. While Siberian Huskies may be found in almost every color, they typically sport colors of black, grey, white, tan or a mixture of these colors.
Huskies have a decidedly wolf-like look but are in no way closer to their wolf ancestors as any other dog breed. Some studies suggest that their wolf-like appearance was most probably caused by hundreds of years of selective in-breeding in Siberia. The Eskimo-like Chukchis of North Eastern Siberia primarily used sleds as their means of transportation and as such are also credited as being the first to breed the Husky as a sled pulling working dog.
Given the pack nature of dogs and the closely-knit ties of the Chukchis’ families, the Siberian Husky has through the ages developed a strong sense of devotion and tenderness to the “human pack” of people and their families. Because of their century-old use as sled pullers and its naturally muscular frame, the husky is also the dog of choice in dogsled racing. Temperament In the journal article Dogs and People: The History and Psychology of a Relationship, the Siberian Husky is placed under Group 3 dogs or Independent dogs.
This dog group includes personable and strong willed dogs like the Afghan Hound, Alaskan Malamute, Chinese Shar-pei, Dalmatian, Irish Setter and Pointer among others. Despite its strong will, the Siberian Husky generally has a mellow temperament and is capable of much affection. The Siberian Husky Club of America notes that the Siberian Husky has also developed an affinity for children. Other commendable and attractive traits of the Husky are its alertness, eagerness to please and adaptability.
The Huskies’ versatility also makes it a suitable companion for people of most ages and interests. Despite its imposing wolf-like appearance, the Husky is not particularly suited as a guard dog as it is bound to greet strangers cordially. This friendly open nature however is only limited to people. Since predatory instincts in the Husky are strong, owners should be forewarned that small animals within the territory of the Husky such as squirrels, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs hamsters and cats are potential victims or “prey” of this instinct.
Health Problems Huskies are known to be a hardy breed but like most medium to large dog breeds, it is genetically predisposed to some health problems. Like most large or medium breeds, degenerative joint disease (DJD) or Osteoarthritis has been known to plague Siberian Huskies especially in their older years. Huskies are also at risk for hip dysplasia. Huskies are also prone to some eye problems like cataracts. The good news is that most cataracts except for the less common aggressive forms generally do not affect the vision of your dog.
Care for a Husky A naturally fastidiously clean breed, the Siberian Husky is generally speaking a comparatively easy dog to care for. A husky sheds its coat at least once a year so many owners feel that this periodic cleaning is much easier to work with than the constant shedding of other breeds. Huskies also need relatively smaller amounts of food than similarly sized dogs of other breeds. Husky owners also need to be reminded that while Huskies love to dig holes and chew stuff but these traits can be curbed with proper training.
Huskies are also best kept in areas where they have space to run. This breed simply adores running. This trait along with the trait of low food intake can be traced back to how the Chukchis’ developed this breed to pull light loads over great distances in cold weather without consuming too much food. Given this trait it is inadvisable to give huskies unrestrained freedom especially in urban environments. For the Huskies’ own protection, the Siberian Husky Club of America suggests that the Husky be confined at all times, kept tethered to a leash or housed in a large enclosure.