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What’s It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

The Siberian Husky is a very special type of dog, unlike any other in existence today. It has a rich history and a personality that is both individual and loving. However, this dog is not for everyone. It requires a certain type of person with a certain type of lifestyle to be able to cater for it properly.

But what’s it actually like to own a Siberian Husky? Are there things you should know before you buy one and then what should you know about ownership after you do? Is the Husky really a dog for you?

Before You Get a Siberian Husky

There are things you need to know about the Husky before you dive straight in, such as:

  • Health – if you are purchasing from a breeder then ensure you ask for evidence of its parents and any DNA testing performed. One of the reasons why you decide to buy from a breeder is to get just this kind of information. You want to ensure that their parents haven’t had any genetic diseases which may have been passed down to the puppy you are buying.
  • Cost – will you be able to afford the Husky? There are lots of costs involved in bringing up a dog such as this, not just the initial purchase price. Apart from vaccinations, there are insurance costs (really recommend you do this), food, toys, etc. Work it out before you buy and get emotionally involved as you need to be sure you can afford the Husky for the next (at least) 10 years.
  • Time – the Siberian Husky is a dog that you’re going to need to exercise at least twice a day and for at least an hour each time – are you sure you have this amount of time to give?
  • Vacations – if you’ve been going abroad every year, what will you do with the Husky when you go away? You have other options, which I will discuss later.
  • Company – this is not the type of dog that should be left alone all day. Do you have a flexible working environment as if the Husky is going to be left alone for anything more than a couple of hours or so, you may run into some serious problems.
  • Other pets in the house – the Husky is not typically a dog that can live with a cat due to their high prey-drive. It’s possible, but not advisable. If you have an existing cat then it is not suggested you opt for a Siberian Husky.
  • lifespan – the Husky is potentially going to be around for the next 15 years, are you prepared for this?

Also, there are some people who believe the Husky makes a great guard dog – it might be best to check out this article before proceeding if you think this way.

What’s it like having a Siberian Husky Puppy in the house?

It has the potential to turn it upside-down but in a good way. They will, of course, be into everything and they will certainly keep you on your toes. They will need constant attention and there will be accidents. They may not know that it’s not okay to go to the toilet inside and they may not know that it’s not okay to chew your furniture and knock things off tables.

This is the time when you will start the bonding process and you do this just by simply being around. It is also the time when socialization should occur.

What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

Socialization of the Siberian Husky

This is a key moment in your Husky’s life and can really set them up to be a good all-round pet in later life. Or, if you skip it, can cause you all kinds of problems in the years to come.

But what do we actually mean by socialization? Ideally occurring in the first few weeks of the Husky’s life, this is when you introduce your Husky to as many children and as many other animals as possible. The idea behind this is that they will become familiar with the animals at an early age and so they will feel familiar and at ease with when older.

There are a few ways to do this but with cats (which is one of the more common challenges) some people will take their Husky’s to a cat rescue center. It’s a controlled environment and you can easily remove your Husky from it if required.

There are no guarantees though. The Siberian Husky has a very high prey-drive which means when it sees a small mammal it may well identify it as prey. If outside and not on a leash, it will most likely run after it. The Husky is not a dog that’s recommended to share the same house as a cat because of this.

Owners have reported that the Husky and cat have got on famously for years until one day, when something switched in the Husky’s head, it saw the cat as prey and bad things happened.

Are You House Proud?

If you like your house nice and tidy and clean then that’s just lovely. However, good luck to you keeping it that way when you have a Siberian Husky in the house! There will be fur all over the place, combined with its toys. You’ll find them everywhere.

You’ll find Husky-hairs in your food and their toys in places you haven’t seen for years. My point here is you’re going to have to lower your expectations a little if you get one. Things are going to change and stay that way, possibly for the next 15 years 🙂

What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

Husky-Proofing Your Home

It’s important, particularly when they are still a puppy to ensure that they can’t get anywhere near anything that might hurt them. As a puppy they will literally be into everything so you will want to make sure that items that are dangerous to them are well out of the way, for instance:

  • Human Medication – an obvious one of course but these probably won’t be a problem as they are usually kept high-up, just make sure they are high enough so the little Husky can’t get to them.
  • Flea Collars – might seem like a strange one this but your Husky will like to chew stuff and you really don’t want them chewing these as they can be lethal in high doses.
  • Our Food – there are a lot of foods that we eat that are very dangerous to your dog. It’s always tempting to give them a little treat from the food that we eat but you might not be doing them any favors. For instance, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, grapes, nuts can cause some very serious internal problems with your Husky and although it’s unlikely you’re going to try and feed your dog an onion, you don’t want them to find one and try it!
  • Car products – things like antifreeze, you might not currently think about putting that on a higher shelf but you really should make sure it’s high enough so the little Husky can’t get it.
  • Plants – tricky one this as many people do neglect it. Plants such as daffodils, tulips, and rhododendrons can be fatal to your dog.
  • Bleach – obvious one really, especially if you have children – put it in a locked cabinet somewhere safe.
  • Any product with lead – such as paints and batteries can contain this and can cause serious harm to your dog.
  • Garden products – things like fertilizer can be dangerous to your dog, perhaps not fatal but you shouldn’t take the chance. In fact, any products that you’re applying to your garden should be high enough so they can’t get access to it.
  • Rat poisons – another obvious one but one that some people just forget about. If you’ve got a rat problem then make sure you clear up all the traps etc. before you bring your Husky home for the first time.

So, in summary – there are many products that are dangerous to your Siberian Husky and you need to ensure they can’t accidentally discover them and try them out! Before you get your Husky into your home, walk around every single room in your house.

You’re going to feel stupid (and you may look it) but get down on all fours and see what your Husky will have access to. If in doubt about a particular product or plant, then move it. Don’t risk it!

Taking the Husky Outside

The Siberian Husky is a dog that needs exercise and needs it regularly. Remember, its ancestors were used to pulling a sled around all day and the need to get this exercise hasn’t been lost in the breed despite some cross-breeding and time passing since these days. So, you will need to be able to commit a lot of time to ensure that your Husky gets the exercise it wants, and needs.

But how much exercise does the Husky actually need? I would say that at the minimum would be to exercise them a couple of times a day and each time should be at least an hour. Ideally, this isn’t just a gentle stroll – the Husky is at its happiest when they are running so make sure they have some good stretches of exercise where they’re not just walking!

The problem most people find with this is trying to keep up! The Husky seems to have endless energy and will want to keep going all day, we, on the other hand, may get tired after a couple of minutes 🙂

What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

A word of caution when exercising in hotter climates though. The Husky has a double coat and can overheat quickly and unless you’re exercising in sub-zero temperatures, this is something you need to keep an eye on.

Try and avoid direct sunlight and ensure you bring lots of water and have lots of breaks for them to cool down if required.

One idea that’s becoming more popular these days in doggy treadmills. This might seem bizarre but for an animal like this, it’s actually a great idea. If you’re unable to give them the amount of exercise they need outside, or maybe you’re in a climate or location where it’s just not possible then you can top up their exercise in the comfort of your own home!

If you’re thinking of this or would just like to find out more about them, I only recommend one type and I have all the information about that here (opens in a new window) if you’d like to take a look.

Siberian Husky Known Illnesses

Like all breeds of dog, there are some illnesses that are more prone to occur in this breed than others Although there are quite a few listed here, it shouldn’t put you off. If you think of all the things that can possibly happen to us it’s a far longer list!

Eye Problems

There are a few issues that can affect the Husky’s eyes, such as:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy – this can be quite common with Huskies and is when the retina of their eye deteriorates. Early detection is the key here as the resolution can cost you a small fortune – hope you took out that Insurance!
  • Cataracts – affecting around 10% of all Huskies, this is one of the most common health problems seen. Usually, though, this will occur between months 6 and 12 of their life and if left untreated can cause more serious problems, such as blindness – again, early detection is the key.
  • Corneal dystrophy – this is a hereditary disease that will affect the cornea. You will notice small, white dots in their eye and may cause their vision to be blurry. Unfortunately, there is no treatment currently available for this.
  • Uveodermatologic syndrome – this is also quite common with the Husky and can also affect the nervous system as well as the skin, although it should be noted that this latter reaction is purely cosmetic. In severe cases, the condition can cause eventual blindness. If you notice persistent red eyes as well as an obvious problem with the Husky’s vision, seek veterinary help.

By the way, if you’re wondering whether the Husky is color blind – check out this article 🙂

Hip Dysplasia

The Husky isn’t the only dog that suffers from this as Hip Dysplasia is quite common in many breeds, including the Siberian Husky. This can cause them a lot of pain if left untreated and when treated can cost you a lot of money if you don’t have insurance. It can be seen in any age of Husky but is seen more in middle and later age.

Treatment usually requires surgery but not always. Weight issues don’t usually occur with the Husky as it runs around so much but if it is a bit overweight, losing some may help to reduce some of the pain.

Typical symptoms of Hip Dysplasia include:

  • A slight grating noise from joint movements.
  • Reluctance to move and obvious signs of discomfort and pain when moving.
  • Loss of muscle mass (not so easy to notice and you’ll probably discover the problem via other methods first)
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Obvious changes in style when walking.

Follicular Dysplasia

Something that will only usually affect your Husky before they reach around 6 months is Follicular Dysplasia, which is a condition that can cause noticeable problems with their hair growth. This can include different patches of fur growing at different rates and hair loss. This is a condition that is managed rather than cured, as there isn’t one currently.

Hypothyroidism

Again, another common condition that affects the Siberian Husky and is related to the thyroid gland. Typical symptoms are an increase in weight for no apparent reason, a lack of energy or problems with their coat, such as fur loss. There is currently no cure for hypothyroidism but is managed via medication.

Lifespan

You might think that because of all the above possible diseases and conditions (and this isn’t a definitive list) that the lifespan of the Siberian Husky will be quite short. But actually, problems are quite rare. The lifespan of a Siberian Husky is usually between 12 and 15 years, with the female on average lasting a bit longer than the male.

Do always take these numbers with a pinch of salt though. If you have a 12-year-old Husky it doesn’t mean you only have 3 years left, they are after all only averages and the chances are if you have a healthy Husky of 12 then they will probably last longer than 15.

What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

This is a longer lifespan than average and just goes to show that despite the above conditions they are not common enough or serious enough to affect the average lifespan of the Husky!

Cost of a Siberian Husky

The price of a Husky varies quite a bit and the main thing that dictates how much you pay is where you buy it from. There are advantages to buying a Husky from a respected breeder.

You will be able to discount any genetic diseases that they are prone to have and find out the health of its parents. Basically, if its parents are fit and healthy then there’s a good chance their off-spring will be also.

From a breeder, you will most likely pay upwards of $1500 and it can go as high as your wallet is deep. If you choose not to go through a breeder then the average price seems to be around $750, although you can go cheaper. For instance, I think an awesome way to buy a Husky is through a rescue center. I know there are risks involved as they might not have been socialized but to save a Husky and give it the life they deserve is a wonderful thing to do. You won’t pay much, either.

Conversational Skills

Although the Siberian Husky is known for being on the quiet side, that doesn’t mean they won’t engage you in conversation. They particularly like to do this when they’re not quite getting what they want. I mentioned before that the Husky is a particularly stubborn breed of dog and it protests as best it can when something is happening that it disagrees with. This could be:

  • When they think it’s time to go out for exercise but it’s cold and wet and you’d rather stay inside.
  • When you think it’s time for them to come back inside and they want to stay outside.
  • When they are nice and comfy in their bed and you are trying to get them up.
  • When you’re out and they want to let everyone else know that you’ve abandoned them.

If you have more than one then they could set each other off. So, one might start howling and the other will follow. They used to do this in the wild actually as the reverberations caused by the different frequencies of the howling gave the impression that there are more dogs present than there actually are – which is useful when stalking prey.

Playing With Your Siberian Husky

Spending time and playing with your Siberian Husky is absolutely crucial in building a bond between you and the dog. It is also essential to burn through some of that energy they have to burn.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to drain much of it exercising outside so that really just leaves you a couple of options. Firstly, the treadmill option that I mentioned above (you should really consider this if you have the room for one) but secondly, is for you to play with them, a lot.

What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

You’re going to end up with Husky toys all over your house. You will spend a lot of money on toys for them that you think they will love but when they see them their reaction will be, “meh”. Much to your displeasure.

If you’re looking for some toys that have worked for me then I can really recommend you take a look at the link (opens in a new window). There’s only three I’m currently suggesting as the others have been a bit of a mixed bag and the success has been varied. The ones in that link I’ve had the best feedback from – and they are also pretty cheap!

So, you’re going to be spending big chunks of your fay playing with them. Hardly a hardship though, right? Not only does playing help reduce stress in your Husky but it will reduce stress in you also! So, if you’ve had a rubbish day at work I don’t know a better way to make yourself feel better than to spend some quality time with your Husky.

Planning a Vacation

Before you decide on buying a Siberian Husky you need to think about what you’re going to do when you go away on vacation. If you’re used to going away somewhere hot each year for a beach holiday then this isn’t an ideal location for the Husky and you’re going to have to think long and hard as to what to do. So, what are your options?

  1. Don’t take them with you– if you want to carry on taking your holidays as normal in the same place, the chances are this isn’t going to be suitable for the Husky. Obviously, if you have to fly anywhere – then they certainly won’t be joining you. If you are intent on doing this then you will have to either send your Husky into a kennel for a week or get someone to house (dog)-sit for however long you’re going for. Personally, I think it’s a shame if someone feels they have to put their dog into a kennel whilst they go away and enjoy themselves, but that’s just me.
  2. Take them with you – okay, so this will take some changes to what you’re used to perhaps but why not? They are part of your family too now so why shouldn’t they be included? These days there are more and more hotels that are accommodating dogs. If you think about it, this is a win-win for everyone. We win as we can take our Huskys on holiday with us and the hotel managers win as they get to charge a premium for the option.

So, this is something you should think about before you buy a Husky. They are an incredibly sociable animal and don’t like to be left alone for any amount of time.

How sure are you that the kennels will take good care of them and provide them with the attention they need? Personally, I wouldn’t be trusting anyone but my own family with such a thing so precious. They would be coming with me.

Dog Insurance

Insurance is something that everyone hates paying but they are sure glad they did when they need it. Insurance for a dog can be quite expensive but that’s because the vet costs can be very high. Just a couple of nights in the vets and you could be looking at over $1000.

My advice would be to factor in the cost of insurance before you buy one. You’ll be able to sleep better at night and there is surely nothing worse than having to debate whether you should give your Husky the operation it needs because it costs thousands and you just can’t afford it.

Summary

You probably know this already but the Siberian Husky is a very special breed of dog. They are not for the amateur-owner or the first-time owner. They require a lot of your time and unique handling.

They are not, in any way, an aggressive dog but they do have a high prey-drive so are not best with other small mammals (like cats) in the same home. The Husky needs a lot of exercise and does not like being left alone, at all.

The Husky is Right For You If…

  • You have owned a dog before, this is probably not the best breed for the first-time owner.
  • You are not going to leave them alone in the house for anything more than 2 or 3 hours.
  • You do not have existing cats or small mammals that are able to interact with the Husky. Although there are many owners that have spent years with their Husky and cat in perfect harmony, there are always exceptions and it is not recommended.
  • You are prepared for the amount of fur you will need to continually tidy up in your house for most likely (at least) the next decade.
  • You live in a climate that allows you to exercise the Husky as much as they need.
What's It Like to Own a Siberian Husky?

If the above applies to you then maybe you are the right type of person to own one of these truly spectacular breeds of dog. There are so many dogs available to us these days that we are truly spoilt.

To be able to give the Siberian Husky the life it needs and the life it deserves though, we need to be prepared. I hope, after reading this post, you’re a little bit more prepared.

Finally, if you’re interested in reading my Complete Guide to the Siberian Husky – then do check out the link.