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Siberian Husky Dog Breed

Country of Origin: Siberia
Height: Males 21–23.5 in (53.5–59.5 cm)/females 20–22 in (51–56 cm)
Weight: Males 45–60 lb (20.5–27 kg)/females 35–50 lb (16–22.5 kg)
Coat: Double coat with medium-length, straight, soft, somewhat smooth-lying outercoat and soft, dense undercoat
Colors: All colors from black to pure white; variety of markings on head are common
Other Names: Arctic Husky
Registries (With Group): AKC (Working); UKC (Northern)

Origin and History

The nomadic Chukchi tribe of extreme Northeast Asia bred dogs of this type since ancient times to pull sledges and hunt reindeer. For centuries, continuing through the 19th century, the Chukchi people were famous for their excellent long-distance sled dogs. The tribe lived in permanent inland settlements and had to travel long distances to hunt the sea mammals that fed both people and dogs. A small sled dog was ideal—one who could exist on little food. Neither sprinters nor freighters, these dogs were endurance animals who could pull light loads of killed game at moderate speeds over long distances. Then known as the Siberian Chukchi, the breed first arrived in the United States in 1909, brought across the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska. The dogs took to life and work there as readily as they did in their homeland.

The breed began to gain popularity as a pet in 1925. In that year, a diphtheria epidemic broke out in Nome, and the nearest serum was more than 600 miles (965.6 km) away. Three teams of Siberian Huskies performed a sled relay, getting the serum to Nome quickly and saving many lives. This was probably the first time most Americans had heard of the breed, and they loved it right away. A statue of Balto, the leader of the team that took the last leg of the relay, sits in New York City’s Central Park. Although it depicts one dog, it is dedicated to all the dogs who took part in that mission of mercy.

The Siberian’s popularity received another boost during World War II, when the United States Army used him for Arctic search and rescue. After the war, interest in the breed grew, as did interest in sled-dog racing.

Personality Profile

The Siberian is fun loving, friendly, gentle, alert, and outgoing. As a puppy, he is playful and mischievous; as he matures, he becomes more dignified and reserved. Still, he is not possessive, territorial, or suspicious of strangers. He was bred to live and work as part of a team, so he does not like to be alone. The Siberian gets along well with children and other dogs, but he is predatory toward smaller animals. He has a tendency to howl rather than bark.

Care Requirements

Exercise

The Siberian was bred to run tirelessly for long distances in front of a sled. Understandably, his need for ample exercise is inborn. He should have a large, escape-proof yard in which to run around, as well as a daily run or jog on a leash.

Grooming

The Siberian’s coat requires only minimal attention, except during shedding season, when he loses his entire undercoat. He should be combed daily during those periods. The Siberian is a naturally clean dog.

Health

The average life span of the Siberian Husky is 10 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include crystalline corneal opacity; epilepsy; hip dysplasia; hypothyroidism; juvenile cataracts; osteochondritis dissecans (OCD); progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); and von Willebrand disease.

Training

This dog was bred to run in front of a sled and make his own decisions. He also loves to chase small animals. Given those facts, no amount of training will make it safe for him to be off lead outside of a fenced area. He is intelligent and friendly, but he can be stubborn and may obey a command only if he sees a point to it. Positive reinforcement, consistency, patience, and an understanding of sled-dog character are all required.

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