There's lots to love about your handsome Siberian husky. He might boast bright blue eyes, or one brown and one blue orb. There's his thick, odor-free coat. Then there's that distinctive facial mask, covering most -- if not all -- of his muzzle and extending between his eyes. Over time, that masking will change, but this happens so slowly you'll need to compare adult and puppy pictures to see the difference.
Siberian Husky Breed Standard
The American Kennel Club's breed standard for the Siberian husky doesn't include a facial mask. Instead, the standard states that "A variety of markings on the head is common, including many striking patterns not found in other breeds." Among those "striking patterns" is the facial mask. The breed standard permits any coat color, which also affects mask shades. While masks aren't necessarily white or very light-colored, they are always lighter than the dog's primary coat hue.
Puppies generally possess the most distinct facial masking. Most husky puppies are born with darker coats than they'll have at maturity. If they're born without a mask, however, it won't develop in adulthood. Any masks or other white markings are the result of pigment restriction. Virtually all Siberian huskies inherit the graying gene, so expect your puppy's mask to change.
As Siberian huskies age, their masks change, but much depends on the individual dog. If your husky once had dark patches surrounding his eyes, those areas could fade into the same color as the rest of his mask by the time he's middle-aged. The same holds true for dark striping within the mask. Those marks also will fade as time goes by, although not as dramatically as the dark eye circles. If your younger husky has distinctive light "eyebrows" above his dark-circled eyes, those might also fade into the overall mask as he ages.
Not all Siberian huskies are born masked. Solid coloration, also known as monochrome, is perfectly acceptable for a husky, However, a white, black or other hued dog won't have a facial mask. That doesn't mean his face won't change with age. While gray isn't noticeable on a white dog, it's clearly apparent on darker canines. As he heads into middle-age, you might notice gray hairs appearing around the muzzle, eyes and temples. An elderly solid husky might appear to have a mask, but it's really just graying out.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.