The Siberian Husky has become increasingly popular with people all over the world, particularly in the last decade. However, the Husky is not your average dog and there are some things that all potential owners should be aware of prior to buying that forever-pet. So, here are the top 16 things you really should know beforehand:
1) Huskies Need a Lot of Exercise
The Siberian Husky is not your average pet dog. Its ancestors were working dogs and would help the local people (the native Chukchi) to undertake their work. This involved pulling sleds for most of the day which is what they were bred for and which is what they were/are good at. Some cross-breeding has, of course, occurred since then but their exercise requirements have not changed that much since then! The Husky will stay outside and run about pretty much all day if it was up to them. Unfortunately (for them) – it is not. Us owners have other things to do during the day, like earning enough money to keep them fed for instance!
The Husky, if not properly exercised, will start to show signs of anxiety over time so to ensure this doesn’t happen we need to somehow get rid of some of this energy. If you can’t take them out several times a day then you’ll need to up your game inside. Play with them and spend time with them or how about this for an idea – get them a treadmill! These are actually ideal for this type of dog. There may be a good reason why you can’t get out as much as you used to, perhaps an injury or you’ve moved to a location that just doesn’t make it easy.
Anyway, if you’re not prepared to give your Siberian Husky the exercise it needs then this is probably not the dog for you!
2) The Siberian Husky Does Not Like to be Left Alone
It really doesn’t. If you leave the Husky alone for more than around 30 minutes (this time can vary both up and down) then it will start to suffer from separation anxiety. Of course, this is a bit of a generalization as some dogs shows these signs earlier and others just don’t seem as bothered. But generally, this is not a good breed to have it you have to be out of the house for more than a few hours each day. Arguably, even this is too much.
I know some friends who left their Huskies (they have a couple of sisters) in their conservatory for just a few hours (which was rare). When they came back they noticed their conservatory windows were all steamed up, which they thought was somewhat strange. When they got inside they discovered that their two Huskies had destroyed every plant (of which there were several) in the conservatory – which released the moisture which caused the condensation. After this, they decided to use crates which can really work well if you introduce your dogs to them in the right way. A crate can make
The ideal solution though is just to spend as much time with them as possible!
3) The Husky Should Be Socialized at an Early Age
The Siberian Husky is being used more often these days as a family pet, but is this a good idea? The Husky is a pack animal and needs strong leadership ideally to control its mischievous ways! You need to give yourself every advantage you can if you want your Husky to occupy the same house as children and other animals. Unless the Husky has been socialized at an early age, you’re going to have your work cut out for you, but what exactly do we mean by socialization?
When the Husky is a puppy it should be introduced to as many children and as many other animals (particularly other dogs and cats) as possible. One thing that some people do is to take them to a rescue center (for both cats and dogs) to get as much interaction as possible. You want them to feel comfortable with children and other pets and not perceive them as a threat. By doing this you are giving yourself the best chance that your Husky will react positively with other company when they are older. It is a lot easier to put the work in when they are younger than older!
4) They Will Always Have a Strong Prey-Drive
The Husky’s ancestors used to hunt prey in the wild and this behavior is still very much part of the personality of this somewhat unusual breed. I mentioned above that to give your Husky the best chance of accepting other pets (particularly cats) when older, it should be socialized. The problem is that this inbuilt prey-drive never really leaves this breed, despite what you do at an early age. The Siberian Husky instinctively sees small mammals as prey and will run after and destroy them in a flash. Unfortunately, most cats come under this ‘small mammal’ category.
There are many families who live in complete harmony with their Husky and their cat (or cats). However, there are also stories of them getting along famously for years and years only for one day for the Husky to flip out and destroy the cat. Many people will disagree with me but is that just because those owners have so far been lucky? Personally, I think so. Therefore, my advice would be to not consider having a Siberian Husky and a cat in the same house together.
5) The Husky Wants (and needs) Your Attention
The Husky is a sociable animal and doesn’t need much more in its life than lots and lots of exercise and lots and lots of your time. It thrives on your company and without it, you can expect elevated anxiety levels as well as other related problems. In the morning, if you’re not up at the usual time, you will be woken up. One way or another. During the day you will be reminded that it’s time to go outside and in the evenings expect lots of cuddles on the sofa.
This is actually one area of the Husky’s personality that seems to surprise a lot of people. They don’t realize how affectionate this breed is. I’ve said before that the Siberian Husky shouldn’t be left alone – they miss you. As part of the bonding process you should interact with your Husky as much as possible, not just when they are a puppy but throughout their life. Spending time, interacting and playing will improve the bond and the ties you have and this has other positive knock-on effects also. Establishing a good level of trust will mean your Husky will be slightly easier to train (more on this later) and also will produce an overall more rounded dog, personality wise.
6) The Husky is Stubborn
There are several personality traits that define the Siberian Husky and being stubborn is most definitely one of them. This can be both incredibly frustrating and rather funny if you’re an outsider looking in 🙂 You really need to give yourself an advantage and you can do this by ensuring they have been given some kind of training when young. It doesn’t have to be formal training (however, this may help) but just some kind of training.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. For instance, if you have acquired a rescue dog which was brought up some other way. My advice here is to not just think that it’s too late for training as they’re getting on a bit and you’ll just make the best of the situation. Start training them today. Today will be harder than it would have been if you’d started yesterday but most likely easier than if you leave it until tomorrow. Remember, the Husky is a pack dog and will look towards you as their pack-leader – this works in your advantage as they are more likely to obey your commands.
Persevere with this. It won’t happen overnight and can take months but it absolutely will make a difference to their personality and the control you have over them. The last thing you want is for them to be doing something they shouldn’t (very possible with this dog) and totally ignoring your commands for them to stop!
7) The Siberian Husky Loses a LOT of Fur
You may think you’re prepared for this but you probably won’t be. It comes as quite a surprise to quite literally everyone who has a Husky. You’ll be asking yourself where does all the fur come from exactly? Your routines will need to change to cater for this and you will most likely end up having to vacuum every single day. I’ve actually written a separate article on this (opens in a new window) so do check this out if you’re interested in exactly how much the Siberian Husky sheds.
You see, the Siberian Husky has two coats. It has a dense undercoat and it is this that typically blows twice a year (usually once in the Spring and once in the Fall). The layer of fur on top (called the primary coat) is relatively short and consists of guard hairs. These give the Husky an extra layer of insulation and also serves to protect them from superficial injuries and infections of insect bites.
Will Need to Groom Them – A LOT
Following on from the above, what exactly can you do about it? Well, you can groom them. It sounds obvious because maybe it is but how often should they be groomed? My suggestion is to make it part of your daily routine. It’s not difficult and will actually also help the bonding process between you and your Husky. This not only gets you into a routine but will mean they are more likely to not freak out if you only decide to do it once a month. It has other benefits though of course. When you groom them you can immediately suck that hair up instead of it turning up all over your house.
9) You Can Make Things from the Husky’s Fur
What a great idea this is (I wish I’d thought of it!) Rather than just throw away that fur, why not make something out of it? The undercoat is ideal for a scarf for instance and there’s certainly plenty of it available. You do need to try and avoid the guard hairs from the primary coat working their way into whatever you’re making though as these can be a little scratchy next to your skin!
10) They Have a Preferred Climate
The Siberian Husky was made for the harsh Siberian climates where temperatures can plummet to −50 °C (−76 °F). This is its preferred environment and arguably the one that it was designed for. In fact, due to the thick coats on the Husky, it is possible for it to overheat at temperatures of just 0 °F – which is still pretty nippy, right? Also, how many climates around the world actually see these temperatures? If you live in a temperate climate then maybe for the occasional few days during Winter it will get quite cold but certainly not down to these temperatures.
There is an argument as to whether the Husky should even be considered as a pet in hotter climates. The breed needs a lot of
11) The Husky Should Not Be Let Off the Leash
The Siberian Husky, as I mentioned previously, has a very high prey-drive. Despite correct socialization and proper training, you will not be able to eradicate their natural instincts. These instincts are built into the dog at birth and will be with them at the end, despite everything you might do. There are countless stories from owners who have taken their Husky out for years and years with no problems until that one time when they see a small animal, be it a mouse or something bigger like a cat.
Something switches on in their brain and they will be off. They will not be able to hear your cries for them to stop. They will run after the small mammal (which they see as prey) and they will likely not stop until they have caught and destroyed it. You can just imagine the problems this can cause.
So, despite how much confidence you have in your Husky, don’t become complacent and just assume everything will be okay because you’ve heard a few other owners tell you theirs have never had any problems. It might not happens today or tomorrow but if you keep them off the lead then eventually, one day, it will happen.
12) They Don’t Bark – They Howl
Well, it’s not entirely true I know but they very rarely bark. In fact, the Siberian Husky is actually a very quiet breed of dog, usually. What they tend to do is wait until you go out before they really start howling, much to your neighbor’s displeasure. Actually, what a lot of people have reverted to now to keep an eye on their Huskies whilst they are away is invest in a dog camera. What’s great about these things is that you can actually not only see your dog remotely but listen to them also and if required, you can talk to them!
When a Husky does howl, there’s always a reason. It might be boredom (likely), anxiety (if left alone), frustration or even illness, however, this is less likely, of course. The key is to find out the reason and address it, and this shouldn’t really be that hard. It’s most likely though that they’re just frustrated that you don’t seem to be doing exactly what they want. They are trying to make it as clear as possible but you just don’t seem to understand! It’s usually rtakelated to them wanting to go outside but you’re not complying or they want to play something inside and you’re paying too much attention to something else 🙂
13) They Can Be Fussy Eaters
The Siberian Husky, as I mentioned earlier, can be an extremely stubborn animal. You see this in a lot of different areas but it most definitely includes their dietary habits. They can be an absolute nightmare in this department. Once they decide they don’t like something they will allow you to prepare it and put it in front of them. Then they will stare at it and just stand there, staring at you.
They will wonder how you could be so cruel as to serve them this muck (despite the fact that they ate it perfectly fine yesterday) and will wait for you to correct this obvious mistake of yours. It will then be a battle of wits to see who blinks first. Will you be strong and keep providing the same (healthy) food which they will eventually have to eat or will you succumb to their sad eyes and buy something different for them (and repeat until you find something they decide they like).
I will save you the time here, usually, it will be you.
Will be Their Pack Leader
The Siberian Husky is a pack-dog and socialization plays a big part in its life. A pack dog needs a pack leader and traditionally that would be another dog but these days, it will be you, the owner. The alpha male is the one that leads. This leader will dictate when to eat and when to play. Your Husky will look to you to lead them and without this leadership, they can suffer from some serious anxiety disorders which can, in turn, lead to other health issues. So, be the person they expect you to be and lead. Don’t feel bad about assuming this position of authority as by doing it, you will actually be giving them exactly what they want.
15) They Do Not Make a Good Guard Dog
They may look mean but they are far from it. Don’t even consider utilizing a Siberian Husky as a guard dog – it’s just a bad idea. It’s like taking a knife to a gun-fight, it’s not going to end well. So, let’s think about what would happen if you were indeed to use a Husky for a guard dog:
- An intruder enters property without permission – Husky hears a noise and goes to investigate.
- Husky sees intruder who becomes nervous at the sight of a dog – Husky wags tail.
- Intruder considers running out of the house – Husky sees intruder as a new best friend.
- Intruder starts to back out of the house – Husky fetches his favorite toy so they can play.
- Intruder and Husky become best friends.
So, rather than use your Husky as a guard dog, just invest in a surveillance camera for the outside instead. This will have much better success. Mind you, a goldfish would make a better guard dog than a Husky!
Will Love Them like Nothing Else
I know some of the points above may have been a little contentious and not everyone will agree with them but here, I’m sure, we can all agree. You don’t need to spend that much time with the Siberian Husky to fall for them. Their stunning looks combined with their mischievous behavior and deeply affectionate nature make this a breed you can’t help but fall for. They will change your life for the better. Not only will you have a new best friend for a substantial amount of time but you will also become much fitter due to the exercise they will force you to get 🙂