Is a Siberian Husky Right for You?
By Diane Morgan from Siberian Huskies For Dummies
Siberian Huskies are beautiful animals, but before you decide to get one, figure out if the two of you are a good match. Huskies require an enormous amount of attention. They are strong-willed animals, and most of them do better with an experienced dog owner. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Siberian for your first dog; it does mean you should know what to expect. Some people consider Huskies stubborn, but it is more accurate to say that they are determined and persevering — necessary qualities in a good sled dog.
Huskies are adaptable to many situations. They aren’t one-person dogs but enjoy the company of the entire family, particularly children. They like strangers, too. In fact, if you’re looking for a watchdog, get a Chihuahua. Huskies seldom bark at trespassers. They prefer to stand around silently wagging their tails while the thief makes off with the silverware.
Consider the following:
- Children. Most Siberians are good with and for children; a very few aren’t. A lot depends on the nature of the children. Careless and cruel children don’t deserve a pet of any kind. Never buy a pet to teach a child responsibility. You’re the adult; you have the responsibility of caring for the pet.
- Many dogs who are fine for older children aren’t suitable for children under the age of 3, and a young child should never be left alone with a pet, for both their sakes.
- Because many children are allergic to dog hair and dander, prospective Husky owners should get their kids allergy tested before bringing home this shedding breed.
- Our House. Meticulous housekeepers may not be happy owning a Siberian. These dogs shed a lot and have a reputation for destructive behavior. Much of this reputation is undeserved, but it’s fair to warn you that if an extremely clean house is very important to you, owning a Siberian will add stress to your existence.
- Despite their shedding, Siberians are exceptionally clean. They don’t have the doggy odor typical of many breeds. They are clean eaters, as well
- Exercise. Siberians need a lot of exercise — every day. If you want a Husky, you need to be willing to provide your pet with the high level of activity he requires to keep him happy and healthy. These activities can include regular jogging, playing, swimming, or best of all, sledding. One Husky can keep several members of the family in top condition. Be honest with yourself about how much exercise you can give your dog. If you’re not willing or able to give your dog a lot of attention, consider a breed with lower activity-level needs.
A Siberian Husky must be fenced in, or at least exercised vigorously several times a day. Most communities have containment laws, and even where there are none, Siberian Huskies cannot be allowed to roam free. They have a habit of chasing and killing cats, rabbits, and even lambs or calves.
Siberian huskies are friendly, playful, intelligent and easily bored. If you and your partner are away from home for more than eight hours a day, you might do better with a different breed, because huskies can be destructive and overly hyper when they don’t get enough activity. They might also howl if they feel neglected. Because they’re so friendly and rarely bark, they’re not usually good guard dogs.
WHAT DO THEY EAT?
Huskies are known for having sensitive stomachs and should never be fed “people food” or table scraps. Because they are working dogs, their bodies can sustain lots of exercise with very little food intake.
Dog Food: for the dogs in our care, we’ve created the right 50/50 mix of food that is both sensitive to the huskies constitution and healthy in their growing dietary needs. We have a formula that’s taken us a year to find and its Pedro Country Muesli mixed 50/50 with Red Mills Beef Engage. Some people feed their huskies a raw food diet. You can research online what is best and experiment. But, if your husky becomes sick you can cook them a combination of mince/chicken/lamb with 1/2 rice mixture, let it cool down and feed them that for a few days until their digestive system gets back to normal. Then, slowly introduce the kibble again.
Shedding: Blowing Their Coats
Because of their thick fur, Siberian huskies can shed a lot, especially in warm climates and seasons. Twice a year, they spend a week or more shedding very heavily. Plan on vacuuming frequently, brushing your dog
at least daily and sharing your home with clumps of fur.
Brushing: The Siberian husky does need to be brushed, but not as often as you might think. The husky needs to be brushed out weekly. During peak shedding times, spring and fall, you might want to brush the dog five or six times per week to prevent mats and save your vacuum from exploding. Use a pin brush and make sure your get all the way down to the skin.
Invest in a good pet vacuum to help maintain the house!
Shaving: Do not shave your Siberian husky unless it is absolutely medically necessary to do so. Shaving a husky doesn’t make the dog cooler. As a matter of fact, a shaved husky is more susceptible to heat stroke. The double coat of a Siberian husky has been designed by nature to regulate the dog’s temperature, so shaving the fur eliminates the dog’s natural defenses. Furthermore, a husky’s skin is not equipped to deal with sun exposure and your dog could very possibly end up with skin cancer.
Mats happen. There are detangling products on the market specifically aimed at treating fur mats. The products are basically conditioners that help loosen the mat by lubricating the fur. Try working the mat into smaller pieces with your fingers and picking it little by little with a metal comb. If you can’t work the mat out, take your dog to a professional groomer. Mats can cause a dog pain and lead to skin irritation, so they cannot be ignored. Your groomer may have to cut the mat out.
Baths: Another difference between Siberian huskies and many of their fellow double coated dogs is bathing frequency. Despite the overwhelming amount of fur and love of digging, huskies don’t need to be bathed often. Unless your dog has gotten into a dirty, stinky or sticky mess, you only need to bathe your Siberian husky once every four months or so. The breed prefers a clean coat and will groom themselves much like cats.
Escape Artists – Preparing Your Garden
A house with a large, fenced yard is best for this breed, as long as you don’t care about your lawn or garden — these dogs dig.
Before you adopt a Siberian husky, thoroughly escape-proof your yard, because this breed likes to roam and explore. You should have a fence that’s at least six feet high, solidly built, with wire or concrete barriers below the fence to prevent the dog from digging out.
Preventing Escape: Never let a Siberian husky off-leash at the park or during a walk, because she’s likely to run away. This doesn’t mean she’s disloyal or dislikes you; the breed simply enjoys exploring and roaming around.
If you adopt a husky, get her microchipped at the vet, and make sure she always wears a tag with her name, your name and your contact information.
Below are a few videos on training a Husky: