Is a Siberian Husky right for you?
I would like to have a conversation, no not on the phone you are fine right where you are but I do need you to consider the things we are about to discuss fully and honestly with yourself.
There is no doubt that the Siberian Husky is an absolutely stunning dog, and with all the movies about them its very easy to get wrapped in that beauty and decide you want one. However, I am here to discuss if it is feasible for you and your lifestyle. You see I have been living with, training and breeding Siberian Huskies for over 30 years and they are truly my passion and I have come to see especially in recent years that some people can not supply the kind of environment a husky needs, especially when it comes to training, just take a look at rescues they are full of Siberian huskies and husky mixes due to owners and breeders that were irresponsible and we owe so much more to this beautiful breed.
I myself would not allow my dogs to enter the rescue system, all my dogs must be returned to me if you can not keep them or I assist in placing them if you need to rehome and prefer to do it yourself. The reason 90% of these poor dogs end up in rescues is people do not consider many factors when adopting a husky all they see is the beauty and lure of the breed, coupled with irresponsible breeders who do not screen homes nor take them back when the owner does not want the dog anymore. Such people should not be breeding but enough of that lets get onto the traits of a Siberian husky.
Consider the following:
The Siberian Husky is noted as an "easy keeper," requiring a relatively small amount of food for his size. This trait, too, may be traced to the origins of the breed, as the Chukchis' developed their dogs to pull a light load at a fast pace over great distances in low temperatures on the smallest possible intake of food.
Training: His intelligence has been proven, they are an extremely intelligent, energetic, and stubborn breed, and one must be ready for the unexpected. Training Siberian Huskies can be very interesting and extremely challenging. His versatility makes him an agreeable companion to people of all ages and varying interests, but Huskies are very smart, stubborn, and strong willed and you must be equally smart, stubborn, and strong willed. It is extremely easy to get wrapped up in the sheer cuteness of a Siberian Husky Puppy and their antics but do not be fooled by their cuteness. Those antics can turn into behavioral issues if not corrected as a young puppy. Training should be started the moment you adopt your puppy. You should work to establish the rules of the house early, and make sure that the puppy knows that you are in charge. By establishing yourself as the leader of the pack early, your dog will learn to respect you and look to you for guidance and will know where the boundaries for acceptable behavior lie. Being pack leader is extremely important in this breed.
The biggest behavioral issue is mouthing/biting, this breed has a strong prey drive and it is normal for puppies to use their mouths to explore but you will need to stop any and all mouthing and nipping immediately. In truth this is our biggest issue we face today puppies are corrected here and know their limits but once with our adopters, they test their boundaries again and some adopters fail to get the mouthing under control and still have a mouthing nipping dog at 10 months old and is a large reason many Siberians are in rescues today. This hurts on many levels,
The dog does not see you as the alpha of the pack, that hurts his mental health and he does not understand what is wrong but you are not taking the alpha role so he must. Even submissive dogs will take the alpha role if you do not, but this can put allot of pressure and stress on them affecting their long term physical and mental health.
Most family members (such as kids or submissive people) get scared of dogs who mouth/bite and of course they should be but that is your fault as the adult for not correcting the behavior but you have also now harmed the mental state of your child or yourself and significant other as well.
You, If you are not equipped to manage a Siberian husky this will also affect your mental health, as you are responsible for the puppy and the dog he turns into and you are responsible for your families health. If you are not willing and able to provide training and pack hierarchy than all of this will be incredibly stressful for you causing anxiety and affect your mental and physical health as well.
The breeds reputation, Siberians are already on the top 10 most aggressive dogs list this is not due in fact to aggression but their high prey drive (they can and will kill cats and small dogs) if not properly socialized with them from a young age. This stems from them being working dogs bred to pull sleds and often dogs were turned lose to fend for themselves during the summer months, so they needed to hunt to survive. The other part is due to owners not training and effectively establishing a pack hierarchy with the dog at the bottom of the pack, below all family members.
This also hurts my reputation as a breeder, we have devoted our lives to producing only the best dogs with the best temperaments but that is only 75% of it, the rest is up to you as the owner. I can not move in with you and train the dog for you and your family that is your job and you must rise to the occasion.
Ultimately it really hurts the dog and your family as if you do not train, and establish pack hierarchy this usually will end up in you returning the dog and he does not know why his family has abandoned him and it leaves your family feeling very sad and frustrated and even angry.
It is very important to remember that the Siberian Husky is a working breed. Since he is a working dog, give him a job to do. Siberians make wonderful hiking companions, and with a dog backpack, can carry food and water or consider doing mushing, rollerblading, skijoring, scootering, hook him to a sled and let him pull the kids around there are many choices and you can do more than one.
So, are you willing and able to train and establish pack hierarchy? Is your family? Are all family members equally committed?
Its ok if your not, not everyone can be a pack leader but we then would suggest for the well being of your family and the potential puppy that you seek an easier breed.
Temperament and Pack Mentality: This breed is a pack animal they were bred to live in villages with multiple dogs 15+ dogs in average not counting the whole village. They thrive within a pack and are very lonely without one. Your family and other dogs and even cats can be his pack, but your family must take the pack mentality for your husky to be truly healthy. That means pack hierarchy, and in family homes the dog is always at the bottom and to be honest this and training are the biggest issues I face in our adopters. People love the look of the Siberian Husky but fail to see the working athlete and pack member that lies within. Are you and your entire family willing to put the time in training and setting boundaries to become the pack the dog needs?
Siberians are always social and need the company of other dogs and/or people. If you work all day (more than 8 hours) or have room for only one dog . . . please do not adopt a Siberian.
While capable of showing strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky is not usually a one-man dog. He exhibits no fear or suspicion of strangers and will greet guests cordially. This is not the temperament of a watchdog, if he lacks a fierce possessive instinct, he also lacks the aggressive quality, which can sometimes cause trouble for the owner of an ill-trained dog as the Siberian Husky displays friendly interest and gentlemanly decorum. If attacked, however, he is ready and able to defend himself, and can handle the aggressor with dispatch.
Leashing/Fencing: Although the Siberian Husky is one of the world's most strikingly beautiful dog breeds, this breed is rarely a good choice for a first-time dog owner. THIS BREED SHOULD NEVER BE LET OFF LEASH!!! Siberians love to run and unless they are carefully guarded and only allowed to run free in enclosed areas, an off-leash Siberian will soon become a lost Siberian...or worse a dead Siberian as many do end up hit by a car or shot for chasing livestock. Please do not think that if you do the training, that you will be able to trust your Siberian off leash. Siberian Huskies with Champion Obedience titles have bolted out open doors or gates... and then never been seen again.
For confinement, they will need an enclosed fence and should be 6 ft tall. Invisible fences very rarely work for this breed as most Siberians are smart enough to lay near the fence until the battery goes dead or will simply take the warning and keep running which, once out of distance the collar quits working. Invisible fences also do not keep out other dogs, cats etc… and if your dog was not properly socialized with cats or small dogs this can be disastrous for both your neighbors pet and your dog as most townships see that as aggression rather than this breeds nature and will require euthanasia. So please train and socialize your dog so this does not happen, as it greatly effects all Siberian huskies.
Of all the shortcomings to be found in Siberians, the most dangerous is their tremendous desire to RUN. But the very first dash that a puppy makes across the road could be his last run anywhere. A Siberian, for his own protection, should ALWAYS be kept confined or under control, at all times! If you are one of those people who think it is cruel to crate train a dog or keep him confined safely in his own backyard then please do not adopt a Siberian Husky.
Exercise: Siberians need allot of exercise, everyday are you fully capable of providing that exercise? 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, dog parks or best of all, sledding, roller blading, skijoring etc... This dog is an athlete not a couch potato, they are a working dog and were bred to run miles and miles every day and not even break a sweat “so to speak” doing so. They get very destructive if they do not have an out for that energy. They must be stimulated physically and mentally. Be honest with yourself about how much exercise you can give your dog. If you are not willing or able to give your dog a lot of exercise, please consider a breed with lower activity-level needs.
Children: The Siberian Husky has a delightful temperament, affectionate but not fawning. This gentle and friendly disposition may be a heritage from the past, since the Chukchi people held their dogs in great esteem, housed them in the family shelters, and encouraged their children to play with them. Today, it is charming to observe the special appeal that Siberian Huskies and children have for each other. I myself have raised/am raising 6 children and 2 grandchildren with my Siberians.
Most Siberians are good with and for children; a very few are not. A lot depends on the nature of the children. Careless and cruel children do not deserve a pet of any kind. Never buy a pet to teach a child responsibility. You are the adult; you have the responsibility of caring for the dog. This is not to say that the child cannot par take in their care and you can use that to teach them responsibility but at the end of the day you the parent must insure the dog is taken care of and does not become a source of resentment for the child.
Your Home: Siberian Huskies are happiest when they can share in family activities. The best arrangement is one in which the dog can come in and out of the house of its own freewill, through a dog door. If a dog door is not possible, then training the dog to go to an outside door to be let out is also easy to do. Outside, the dog should have a large, fenced yard. The fence should be strong and at least 6 feet tall. It is also a good idea to bury wire in the ground to discourage digging out.
Digging: Siberian Huskies have a natural proclivity for digging holes in backyards. Although they can be trained to dig only in certain areas (a sandbox for example) If you take great pride in your landscaping a Siberians husky may not be right for you.
These dogs have a reputation for destructive behavior if not properly exercised. Much of this reputation is undeserved, and mostly due to irresponsible owners who did not research the breed prior to adopting one but it is fair to warn you that if an extremely clean house (no dog hair) is especially important to you, owning a Siberian is probably not for you. Despite their shedding, Siberians are exceptionally clean. Most do not have the doggy odor typical of many breeds.
Shedding: The Siberian Husky is a comparatively easy dog to care for. He is by nature fastidiously clean and is free from body odor and parasites. At least once a year (usually twice) the Siberian Husky sheds his coat, and it is then, that one realizes the amazing density of the Siberian Husky coat. Some people feel that this periodic problem is easier to cope with than the constant shedding of many other breeds. You tube Siberian Husky blowing coat for an example.
Climate/Environment: Many people often overlook this important consideration. Although you can certainly keep a Siberian if you live in Florida, this is a Nordic breed and very adaptable, but you will need to take extra care and precautions in the summer. As a rule, the colder it is, the happier huskies are. If you live in Minnesota and like the winter, the Siberian is the dog for you! However, if you cannot take the cold yourself, you may want to match up with a less arctic animal.
They are happiest having a big yard to run and play in especially with another dog and children. They do not make good apartment dogs; they need allot of exercise and can be destructive and will agitate neighbors.
We just happen to believe that any dog is better off leashed or in a proper kennel than running loose all over the countryside. Yes, a kennel dog is missing a lot in life: the chance to be hit by a car; the fun of being dirty, full of burrs, and loaded with worms; the opportunity of being attacked by other dogs; the job of being sick on garbage infested with disease; the pleasure of being tormented by mean kids; the thrill of being shot; and finally the great comfort of never knowing where he belongs or how to behave. We don't want to see any Siberian become a TRAMP.
If you have read this far, honestly feel that you qualify on all counts, and are still determined to own a Siberian, then we take great pleasure in welcoming you to the fold. Join the rest of us in the smug complacency of knowing that we own the most beautiful, the smartest, and the most nearly ideal dog in the world . . . the SIBERIAN HUSKY!