Part One: Is a Siberian Husky the right breed for you?

Jan 2, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Pets

by Dorothy Wills-Raftery

Dorothy is a fellow pet blogger whose blog is named FiveSibes™ : Siberian Husky K9 News and Reviews. We found each other through a site called Blogpaws and I asked her to share something with us–this is part one of a two part post about Siberian Huskies.

With holiday songs with lyrics of “dashing through the snow” still echoing in our ears, did you know that in some areas, the dashing is done not by reindeer, but by Siberian Huskies? And, believe it or not, the cold white, fluffy stuff is optional for these snow dogs!

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Dorothy Wills-Raftery and Gibson

The Siberian Husky is a strikingly beautiful dog, with a variety of coat colors and eyes ranging from blue to amber brown, and can be parti- or bi-eyed, and they seem to pierce your very soul. Siberian Huskies (not to be confused with Alaskan Huskies) were recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breed in 1930. Typically a medium-sized dog, they have a dense undercoat beneath a silky soft layer that keeps them warm in the winter, and are virtually odor-free. The “wooly Siberian” is even fluffier, with a longer top coat causing it to require some extra grooming care (it can be a risk to these wooly coated Huskies to be exposed to the cold and snow as they are not “waterproof” like a traditional Siberian Husky). While humans may feel hot when looking at all that fur on a Siberian Husky, it does keep them cool in the summer and protects their skin from sunburn and parasites, so unless it’s for medical reasons, they should never be shaved. They “blow” (shed) their undercoats twice a year… and, yes, all the rumors are true—you could create a whole other Husky from the amount of fur they shed!

The Siberian Husky breed dates back some 3,000 years to the Chukchi people of Siberia. Author Joanne Sundell, a Husky parent herself, conducted much research on the breed for her Watch Eyes trilogy of Arctic Storm, Artic Shadow, and Arctic Will. The traits that most stand out about Huskies are that they are “fast, strong, enduring, and gentle,” notes Joanne. “The Chukchi were careful to breed the specific traits into their dogs that would help them survive. These dogs work, work, work!”

“The Siberian husky breed is a stubborn one too. They are hard to train.” Joanne notes. “They’re bred to behave and be gentle. When being fed, the dogs on a team don’t all rush to the food and fight. This gentleness keeps them from fighting with one another and getting the hitches all snarled.” She also notes that the Siberian Husky is a hunter (and they do have a very strong small prey drive). “Mostly,” notes Joanne, “the Siberian husky is born and bred to run!” So hold on to those leashes, folks!

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Karen Hill Ojibwa

When people think of a Siberian Husky, thoughts naturally turn to mushing with sleds or running across snowy fields. But Huskies also adapt well to other climates and love to do many non-snow activities. Rancy Reyes of Urban Mushing™, home of Southern California working snow dogs, hails from Costa Mesa. She first became interested in the breed in 1990 and is the proud parent to four Siberian Huskies. She also spends a lot of time with fellow California dog parents who are part of the Urban Mushing group who get together to have fun doing dog-powered activities with their working breed dogs, such as hiking, bikejoring, and dogsledding, scootering, canicross, and carting, to name just a few.

“What’s urban mushing?” you may ask. Rancy explains, “A dog (or dogs) runs and pulls in front of you (mushing style, similar to how they do it on a dogsled team) WITHOUT the snow. The human usually rides a wheeled vehicle, the most popular of which is a two-wheeled scooter. The dog wears a harness designed for pulling, usually an x-back harness, such as what they use on a sled dogs, and the dog is attached to the harness to the scooter via a six-to-seven foot line, which has a built-in bungee for shock absorption. The line is the only link between the human and the dog, and since they are running in front of you, they learn to respond to your voice commands.”

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FiveSibes Gibson wooly Husky

While a Siberian Husky’s nature can be stubborn, and thereby a challenge to train, they are highly intelligent and also very comical. They are silly and will make you laugh with their antics, two of Rancy’s favorite traits. “I just love the fact that a Husky has a mind of its own and does not blindly do what you tell it do. And while that by itself is a challenge, it also turns into a much more rewarding bond when I am able to convince them to comply with my requests.” Adds Reyes, “Each of my four Huskies have their own distinct characteristics, but they all provide me with endless hours of comedy relief with their antics and keeps me on my toes with their zest for life and boundless energy. There is never a dull moment when you live with Huskies!”

According to Margit Maxwell, a dog trainer specializing in Siberian Huskies and Malamutes at The Divine Dog Project in Calgary, Canada, these “dogs do train differently than other dog breeds. When it comes to most northern breed dogs, one-size-fits-all training really fails these beautiful, but independent thinking dogs.” Margit explains why. “Huskies are fiercely independent thinking dog breeds. Their hardwired breed characteristics make them think and act very differently from other companion or sporting dog breeds. While other working dogs breeds instinctively look to their human handlers for instruction and input, this breed is used to thinking for themselves,” which can result in training challenges. And since Huskies are quick learners, they can also bore very easily. Margit offers up some training tips:

• Make it fun, but not repetitious.
• Break up the lessons into small manageable chunks, no more than about five minutes in length.
• Change to different activities to teach and practice the same skill.
• Early obedience training and teaching appropriate social skills are a must.
• To avoid pulling, so is early and complete socialization, desensitization to the trigger (new people and dogs).
• Perform obedience training to help slow them down. Practice greeting and walking skills daily.
• Meet their physical breed-specific exercise requirements, their emotional requirements of belonging, and supply them with daily adventures.
• Off-leash recall for Siberian Huskies should never be fully trusted unless you are in a fully fenced and secure area. Want a dog to be off-leash? Best to choose a different breed.

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FiveSibes Pack

Siberian Huskies are pack dogs by nature and love being part of a family. While a strong dog, they are sweet and gentle in nature and are much more a lover of a dog, so being a watchdog is not really in their nature. But if kisses, affection, and howls of love are what you are looking for, you’ve come to the right breed! However, be forewarned, if you don’t exercise this high-energy dog, you may find some couches unstuffed, wall molding chewed, and maybe even a missing shoe or two! Daily exercise is a must for this energetic breed.

To be continued…please join us next issue for Part 2 about the incredible Siberian Husky, when we discuss sledding, therapy dog work, rescues, and more.

Check out more pet stories and articles in our Pet Perspective section, including a column from Fresno Bully Rescue every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to an animal rescue.

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an author, photojournalist, and host of “The Sibe Vibe” on Dog Works Radio. She has been writing and published in a variety of publications since she was a teen, and spent her career as an award-winning photojournalist and editor in the educational arena for 14 years. In 2010, she began writing about Siberian Huskies, and was named “Best in Print” author for 2015 by American Pet Magazine, and awarded Hudson Valley Magazine’s “Best Author 2015.” She shares her life with five full-blooded Siberian Huskies who are the inspiration for her globally top-ranked Siberian Husky website, the FiveSibes™ blog.

35 Comments

  1. Wonderful information about the Siberian Husky. Beautiful dogs too!

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  2. They are beautiful dogs, but I know they’re not the right breed for us… but man the puppies are super cute! 🙂 Great post!

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  3. I love Five SIbes! A Husky would be miserable here in the south. It is just too dang hot.

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    • Thank you, M.K.! We so appreciate that love! I do know Huskies who are tropical residents, and while it’s not the optimal climate for them, they can adjust, but spend a lot of time indoors in the a/c and out in swimming pools to keep cool! My Sibes are all about the snow!

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    • And that’s good, Tenacious – for when folks know a certain breed is not a good fit and move on until they find one that is, that makes for happy pups and happy parents together forever!

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  4. I think Huskies are gorgeous animals, but I don’t think I have the energy to be a good match for one. One of my closest friends from college had one and his dog was a delight.

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    • Yes, you are so right, Beth, they sure are gorgeous! And they can be real silly characters, too. Hours of fun!

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  5. Huskies are such beautiful dogs. I stick to a bit smaller though!

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  6. Great article. can’t wait to read the next. Koda is our husky mix, and I always here people tell us they love Huskys and want to own one. I always caution them, they are a hard bred to handle sometimes-even tho Koda is just a mix she still have a TON of husky in her, and we try to explain the importance of doing your research before adopting a pup!

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    • Thank you, Jessica! Part Two comes out tomorrow here in Kings River Life’s January 9th issue! That’s great that you educate folks on the breed; so important for potential Husky families to know about their traits and needs first. Is that Koda in your profile photo? Beautiful girl!

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  7. Bread information is so important to helping inform decisions about bringing a new fuzzy one in to a family. Thanks for sharing this – I’ll share with my followers as well!

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    • Thank you for sharing, MattieDog! I appreciate that very much!

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  8. I might be biased, but I do think huskies are pretty amazing 😉 Great article Dorothy!

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    • Thanks so much! And it’s okay, I’m biased, too! 😉

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  9. I have 3 sibes!!! They are incredible members of the family, but these three characters would rather be inside than out. I have raised the laziest pack of huskies ever!!! Loved the article!

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    • Thank you! Secret be told…I have two lazies, too! They love to snuggle up! My other three love the snow! My one wooly boy, Gibson, loved the snow so much, he’d roll upside down and let it accumulate on his tummy! It was his bliss!

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  10. Chewbacca is our 8-year-old red Sibe rescue – he adopted us – not the other way around – he has trained us very well and goes out to the dog park almost every day – Chewie is the perfect dog for North Dakota where we live and enjoys the snow – the colder it is the better he likes it – we have been out at the park for hours when is it 25 below zero and a twenty-mile-an-hour wind blowing – Chewie is our second Sibe – our first one – Gizmo – is waiting for us far north of the Rainbow Bridge where he plays with the Norther Lights

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    • Hi, Tom! They do train us well, don’t they?! 😉

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  11. I’ve had 6 SH all at once. for 4 years we lived in portugal witch gets extremly hot in the summer. They did very well and adapted nicely. Then we moved back to sweden with its cold and harsh winters. But we also have moderate hot summers and again they adapted very well. I have never done any of the usual activities normaly done with a sh. Instead i focused on creating a deep and strong bond with each one of them from the start. that created so much love that i have never had any of the typical sh problems such as a need for activity,hunt,and disobidiance. So many people turn to me for guidance and advice now that i have become samosomething of a sh whisperer 😀 so it can be done. My pack is living proof. Ps we also have cats and the al love eachother 🙂

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    • I love hearing stories like yours! They are amazingly adaptable and so social and loving!

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  12. We have enjoyed huskies for 30 years. Presently we have 8 year old Cheyenne and her 10 week old sister Phoenix. They are such fun together. Best move we made to bring a puppy home. A lot of work? Yes. A lot of love and energy makes it worth it.

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    • So agree! They are so much fun, real characters, and very loving!

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  13. Thank you, Ms. W-R, for the delightful, factual, honest article about Siberian Huskies! I have had Huskies my entire life, starting with Mina the Evil Lassie, in WI when I was in grade school. We had them in LA as well, although they hung our a LOT in front of our window A.C. unit. They went outside at nighttime instead! They are extremely adaptable, and as long as you take sensible precautuons, they can thrive just about in any climate. My husband and I are in CT now, and we have 2 rescue/adoption dogs. They are loving our 20°F temps today!

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    • Thank you, Macy! I appreciate that! While they can adapt, 20 is dream weather for a Sibe, especially if there’s snow, too!

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  14. So glad I found You! I have big Bleu (115lb) & Pynk(80lb) both back yard breeder products – Bleu I got at 5 weeks, he so mal & husky- do not lineage- Pynk we took from a couple who Thought they wanted a Bleu… So WE love them both… I wouldn’t know what to do without them… I ‘d like to meet some other folks for activity… So thank u for your article!! By the way I tell folks who Think they want one to please READ!!!

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    • Thank you very much, Susie! I appreciate your sharing this information to potential Husky families!

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  15. looking to purchase a female or male husky that is white in color
    if you know of any puppies for adoption please get back to me 1-403 708 4149 snowdogs@airenet.com shirley koyczan snow dogs
    My facebook page.

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  16. Siberian Husky is a great dog breed, but I agree that this breed is not for everyone. Huskies are for people who live and breathe adventure and exercise. Loved your post about how you pointed out the simple things about huskies. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thank you! I totally agree about them being a great breed! I am so glad you enjoyed my article!

      Reply

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