Siberian Huskies are adept sled dogs, bred for their ability to pull heavy loads across long distances and in inclement weather. They are an active, resilient, and energetic breed, first bred by the Chukchi of Northeastern Asia. The Siberian Husky is a member of the “spitz” family, which also includes other Husky variations, as well as the Shiba Inu, Akita Inu, Chow Chow, and other Asian breeds. Siberian Huskies did not arrive to Alaska, where they are most commonly associated for their performance in the annual Iditarod race, until the 1800s. Although originally sent to Alaska as sled dogs, the Alaskan natives quickly transformed the Husky into a family pet.
Aesthetically, a show-quality Siberian Husky stands approximately 21 – 23.5 inches tall and weighs 45 – 60 lbs for males, while females are slightly shorter, standing 20 – 22 inches tall and weighing 35 – 50 lbs. The Siberian Husky has a thick double coat which can withstand temperatures as slow as -50o F, and any color variations between black and white, as well as brown or red are permissible. The most recognizable characteristics of a Husky are his ears and eyes: ears are triangular and pointed, giving a wolf-like appearance, while eyes can be blue, brown, one of each, or “parti-colored,” where half the eye is brown and the other half is blue.
Siberian Huskies are good family dogs, and are classified by the ASPCA as “good with children.” As can be expected, they have special exercise needs, as they have an inherent desire to run. Siberian Huskies also have a strong pack instinct, and do well with other dogs and large groups of people. Without proper socialization and exercise, Huskies can become bored, which may lead to destructive tendencies. A large yard with an extremely secure fence is recommended, as these dogs have been known to dig under, chew through, and jump over fences. Huskies do well when they have a job to perform, so incorporating daily obedience practice or Agility drills is recommended.
The life expectancy of Siberian Husky is 12-14 years, which is slightly above average among purebreds. Huskies are prone to relatively few health problems, many of which are genetic. These include seizures, ocular disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, and progressive retinal atrophy, as well as laryngeal paralysis. Unlike most purebred dogs, Huskies have an extremely low risk for hip dysplasia, likely as a result of centuries of selective breeding for resilient athleticism.
Arguably the most famous Siberian Husky is Balto, who helped inspire the Iditarod race by carrying a diphtheria serum 91 miles to Nome, Alaska. Huskies are well respected for their athleticism and versatility, as indicated by the number of colleges which utilize the Husky as their mascot. Overall, Siberian Huskies are great companion animals for those who understand the breed and their exercise requirements. They love to work, and make for a great hiking partner, willing to carry your gear or accompany you for a long run!