So You’re Thinking of Getting a Siberian Husky?
With their beautiful eyes, quiet manner, and athletic build, Siberian Huskies are easy to fall in love with. And that’s what Americans have been doing since these dogs started arriving in Alaska from across the Bering Sea.
Is a Husky Right for Me?
The real question you should probably ask is: Am I right for a Husky? Remember, these dogs were bred to pull sleds over hundreds of miles of frozen tundra, so they won’t be content to spend their days lounging in front of the TV. They need vigorous exercise, and they would love to put on a harness and have the chance to pull a cart, a bike, or you on skates.
Huskies are intelligent but quite independent. They need a strong Pack Leader to train them. And because they can become bored with following commands, they respond better to new challenges. Another thing to remember: Huskies are great escape artists. If they’re not given enough mental and physical exercise to keep them engaged, they’ll climb backyard fences (or tunnel under them) to make a getaway.
All in the Family
Siberian Huskies are related to Samoyeds and malamutes. They’re directly descended from the original sled dogs, and, according to DNA analysis, they’re one of the oldest breeds of dog, closely related to their wolf ancestor.
“Husky” is a corruption of the nickname “Esky,” which was once used for “Eskimo” — a word that has largely been replaced by “Inuit.”
Huskies may be best known for pulling sleds in the famous Iditarod race, which commemorates one of the highlights of husky history. In 1925, teams of sled dogs traveled 600 miles from Anchorage to Nome to deliver serum during a deadly outbreak of diphtheria.
Huskies have a thicker coat than most dogs. It has two layers — a dense undercoat and a top coat of short straight hair. The coat allows them to survive in temperatures as low as -76° F in winter, and it reflects heat in summer. Huskies need weekly grooming.
Husky eyes are often a distinctive blue (although they also can be brown, amber, or even mixed colors). In most dog breeds, blue eyes are related to a coat color gene, but the Husky’s blue eyes come from a separate gene.
Huskies typically live 12 to 15 years. Genetic diseases specific to the breed include seizures and eye problems, such as glaucoma and juvenile cataracts.