Siberian huskies are said to look more like wolves than any other breed. Huskies are neither wolves nor wolf hybrids, nor are they any closer genetically to wolves than any other other breed of domesticated dog. Looking at one, though, feels like peering into the blue eyes of the wild, storied wolf. Beautiful, intelligent and gentle, Siberian huskies are easy to care for if you have the right motivation.
Siberian huskies are individuals, but within the breed a plethora of qualities are expected, physical and temperamental -- the Siberian husky standard. Huskies are playful and intelligent. They are members of the AKC working group and have amazing stamina and athleticism. They were bred to be sled dogs in Eastern Siberia; thus the name and the thick, dense coat. They love to be with other dogs. After the movie "Snow Dogs" released, shelters across America were flooded with huskies, the products of dogs indiscriminately bred to meet the sudden high demand. The result of this is that some huskies are well-bred, with good temperaments and health, while many others are not.
Temperament Pros and Cons
Siberian huskies have a lot going for them in terms of personality. They are cheerful, energetic and carefree dogs with big personalities. Intelligent, alert and quiet, Siberian huskies are known to be good with kids. Their eagerness to learn, matched with their high intelligence and desire to please, make them easily trainable. But they're not suited for everything. Siberian huskies are not good watchdogs: They'll allow anyone to enter your house without so much as a whimper. In fact, they'll welcome a stranger. Huskies are notorious escape artists. They are prone to digging under or leaping over fences and running away. They don't really intend to leave home; their noses just take them into unfamiliar territory, and they become lost. Though easy to train, many don't catch on quickly to the whole housebreaking thing. They also get bored easily, and when they do, they howl and get into all kinds of shenanigans.
Health Pros and Cons
Siberian huskies are built to pull heavy sleds over long distances in extreme climates. They are strong and, if well-bred by attentive and responsible breeders, they typically between 12 and 15 years. As far as purebreds go, they have relatively few hereditary problems. Those they do have tend to be of their eyes and hips. Their beautiful blue or brown eyes can fall victim to juvenile cataracts, deficiencies affecting the cornea and a cell degeneration disease called progressive retinal atrophy. They are among the breeds for which hip dysplasia is a common problem. They also may carry genes that cause gastric and urinary problems. Most of these issues can be predetermined by medical testing, however, so a good breeder will have bred many of these genes out of their breeding line.
Other Pros and Cons
Siberian huskies have a gorgeous, thick, medium-length coats and dense shorter undercoats that are easy to care for. They shed twice a year, and should be brushed regularly. Otherwise, grooming is not a problem with Siberian huskies.
If you're considering getting one, note that these dogs were bred to withstand temperatures of 58 degrees to 75 degrees below zero Fahrenheit; so if you live in the tropics, consider another breed. As highly energetic dogs, they need a fenced-in backyard with room to run and play. They are also happiest when with a pack -- other dogs with whom they can play. If you have a lot of time and energy to invest in raising a Siberian husky, this just may be the breed for you.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.