• MJ Stoltz

So, you think you want a Husky?


Bringing a dog into your life is exciting!

There’s nothing better than man’s best friend to spend your days with. But, when deciding on a dog it’s important to choose wisely. There’s well over a hundred different breeds of dogs and their temperaments vary greatly. While one breed can make your life better, another can make it significantly more stressful if not the right fit.

When selecting a breed it’s important to do your research. We’re here to help by giving you a summary of each breed!

This week, we'll take a look at the Siberian Husky.

Let’s Start With A Brief History.


Jet.... Photo Credit: Instagram @biolapse

Originating in northeastern Siberia, the modern day Husky comes from the Chukchi people, who were hunter-gatherers and relied on these dogs to help them survive the harsh conditions. They needed a dog that was extremely resilient, able to survive the harsh cold, and able to pull sleds with light loads over great distances. Because of the job they were bred for, Huskies have a very interesting ability - they can speed up and slow down their metabolisms as needed based on their activity levels. This allows them to go great distances without getting tired…. Something important to remember if you’re thinking about adding one to your family.

In the summer months, the Chukchi people would let these dogs roam free. As natural pack animals, these dogs would hunt together for the summer and only return back to the villages when food became scarce in the winter. This is a big reason why Huskies tend to have high prey drives today.


Photo Credit: Cara Wirth in Denver, CO

Many of you have probably heard the story of Balto, or at least seen the children’s movie based on the story. Huskies became popular after the famous “serum run” in 1925, when a diphtheria outbreak inspired a relay of sled teams, mostly ran with huskies, covering 658 miles in only 5 ½ days to get medication to Nome, Alaska.

The breed was then recognized by the AKC in 1930.

After the story of Balto made national headlines, huskies became a sensation. While these dogs are incredible, I want you to read those numbers again…..

658 miles in only 5 ½ days.

Now, this was a relay, so no single dog ran the entire distance. But still, these dogs are insane athletes and if you aren’t ready to take on the challenge, you may want to dig a little deeper into why you want to bring one of these dogs into your home.

The AKC has put the Siberian Husky into the Working Group.

Dogs in this group were bred to assist humans with a task. They are intelligent, strong and thrive when they have a job to do.

Okay, so what do we need to consider when thinking about getting a Husky?

Size: Huskies tend to be a medium-large breed dog. The breed standard ranges from females being 35lbs on the smaller end of the spectrum, and males getting up to 60lbs on the larger side. Based on size, Huskies are a good compromise for people who don’t want a small dog, but don’t want a very large dog.

If you don’t want dog hair getting EVERYWHERE, don’t get a husky.

Huskies have a dense double-coat. The inner layer is a soft undercoat and the outer layer is a guard coat. These dogs shed all year round, but twice a year they blow their coat, and it’ll be coming out in handfuls. They require weekly brushing at a minimum, and they aren’t always the most cooperative (or quietest) during grooming.

Many people think they can solve this issue by shaving their dogs down in the summer. I cannot stress this enough…. DO NOT SHAVE YOUR HUSKY.

Let’s say it louder for the people in the back.

DO NOT SHAVE YOUR HUSKY.

PERIOD.

DON’T.


Aspen, Photo Credit: Kristin Ann in Denver, CO

While many of us want to assume that our dogs must get hot with a big, fluffy coat, the opposite is actually true. Just like how their coat is designed to keep them warm in sub-zero temperatures, it also reflects heat from the sun in warmer weather and helps them regulate their body temperature. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re stuck with the hair all year, so accept it, invest in a high-quality vacuum and embrace it.

Huskies are stunning dogs, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular. They come in a variety of coat and eye colors, and can even have two different colored eyes. These dogs are bred to work in freezing temperatures, and you’ll quickly learn that in a blizzard they’d much prefer to be outside in a snowpile than in your warm cozy home.

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind when considering a husky is that these dogs were bred to run. For long distances. For extended periods of time. And not in beautiful weather. This makes them terrific jogging partners for an active family.

Being natural pack animals, huskies are extremely social and usually get along well with other dogs. Being as social as they are, they generally aren’t good guard dogs. They want to be a part of the pack, and will thrive when they can be an active member of your family. Their gentle demeanor can also make them great family dogs when you have kids.

However, huskies are inherently ridiculously intelligent. But, unlike border collies and poodles, this intelligence isn’t always used for good. When not given adequate physical and mental exercise, these dogs can be super mischievous and have a bad reputation of being the ultimate escape artists. And, despite their intelligence, they aren’t the easiest to train. They have an air about them of doing what they want, when they want, and not much caring how you feel about it.


Photo Credit: Instagram @meghanryanourdoors

Huskies require someone who is able to take a leadership role within the home. When they don’t see you as a leader, they’ll happily try to take on that role themselves. Because of how smart they are, it’s not uncommon for them to outsmart you and learn how to manipulate your behavior. This is a dog breed that is not recommended for first-time dog owners.

They are also notorious for loving the sound of their own voice. If they have a feeling, they're going to tell you all about it. While some people love this and find it endearing, your neighbors may not agree. Because of this, they are probably not a good fit for apartment living.

So…. should you get a husky?

Huskies can be a excellent addition if you:

  • Don’t mind dog hair getting into your morning coffee and all over your clothes

  • Are active and like to spend time outside

  • Are looking for a dog to be the ultimate companion and you plan on spending significant amounts of time with them

  • Need a running partner

  • Have plenty of time to commit to training and making sure they get enough mental stimulation

  • Don’t mind hearing the song of their people ‘

  • Have plenty of experience owning dogs and are up for an adventure

You should probably consider a different breed if:

  • Anyone in your family has an allergy to dog hair or if you can’t stand dog hair on the furniture (even if you don’t allow them on the couch, their fur will still make it up there)

  • Don’t live an active lifestyle and prefer a relaxing night in

  • Work long hours and won’t have much time to dedicate to your dog

  • Want a dog who is mostly calm and doesn’t need much exercise

  • Don’t want to commit to training early on, or don’t have the patience to stick with it

  • Have neighbors who like peace and quiet

  • This will be your first dog

If you’re interested in getting a husky but realize this breed may not fit your needs, here are some other breeds to consider:

  • Alaskan Malamute

  • Samoyed

  • Chinook

  • American Eskimo Dog

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