The high-energy, playful, and energetic Siberian husky is a true best friend to the families who adopt them, and their enthusiasm for life begins at birth and doesn’t end until the pass away. Every day is a great day for a Siberian husky, especially when their owners take them outside to run and play. Their boundless energy allows them to compete in harrowing events like the famed Iditarod race in Alaska, and their unflappable determination and exuberance has inspired the phrase, “Endurance, Fidelity, Intelligence.”
The American Kennel Club places Siberian Huskies at the twelfth position of the most popular breeds in the United States with the dogs gaining modestly in popularity over the past five years from the thirteenth to the twelfth spot. Huskies are the ideal dog for families who love spending more time outdoors than they do seat in front of the television, watching shows about the outdoors rather than participating in it.
Siberian Huskies have such a storied history that one of their most famous members has his own statute in Central Park. The statue was unveiled in 1925 and instantly became one of the most popular places in the park to take pictures for tourists and children. Siberian Huskies are an instantly recognizable breed with their signature ice-blue eyes and their thick, fluffy coat, but their wolf-like appearance bears no resemblance to their actual persona. Huskies are friendly and devoted to everyone they meet, even if they tend to view smaller animals like cats as prime targets for initiating a chase.
If you’re thinking about adopting one of these deliciously hyper dogs, here are 10 things you should know before owning a Siberian husky.
10Huskies Often Have Two Different Colored Eyes
It is a fact that Huskies Often Have Two Different Colored Eyes, but it does not affect the visionHeterochromia iridis is the medical term for the genetic condition where an imbalance in pigmentation makes the eyes look like they’re two different colors. The condition may present itself in humans, as well as dogs, and it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Around six of every 1,000 humans are born with the condition, which means more than 40 million people around the globe have two different colored eyes. Legendary singer David Bowie was one notable example of a human with this condition.
According to Dogster, some of the most common breeds that exhibit this condition are Siberian Huskies, Dalmatians, Australian Shepherds, and Australian Cattle Dogs. These breeds are not only frequently born with the condition, but they also commonly have complete heterochromia, which is where one eye is a completely different color than the other. One of the myths that persist about dogs with two different colored eyes is that the condition causes blindness. In fact, having two different colored eyes usually don’t come with any adverse impact to vision.
The only instance where the condition is frequently accompanied by a health issue is when Dalmatians have heterochromia as it frequently appears alongside partial or complete deafness. Fortunately for Siberian husky owners, the breed isn’t susceptible to deafness like Dalmatians, and husky owners can breathe easy that the condition won’t hurt the playful nature of the beloved family pet. The dogs may offer some excellent opportunities for beautiful photographs since the condition is a striking and conspicuous one.
9Siberian Huskies Love to Dig
Siberian Huskies have an amazing energy level, and one of the only problems owners reports is that their dogs frequently create big holes in the ground with excessive digging. They also tend to escape under holes they create in the backyard fence. Huskies love spending time outside, but if left alone with no humans or other huskies with which to play, they’ll create some serious havoc in the yard and anywhere else. If a husky’s owner plants a beautiful, new flowerbed in the backyard and leaves his dog unattended, there’s a serious chance that the husky will dig a big hole in the fresh dirt.
According to Whole Dog Journal, it may behoove a digging dog’s owner to create some outlets for the dog’s love of digging. Some owners actually build sandboxes for their dogs where a fresh pile of sand keeps the dog occupied and less likely to find a place at the fence line to dig and destroy flowerbeds or escape. An easy way to figure out how large of a sandbox is needed is to take a look at the holes the dog has already dug around the property. How large is the digging area? How deep are the holes made by the dog?
In the case of Siberian huskies, they often resist training efforts and get into trouble whenever the owner isn’t looking or when they don’t have dog friends around for playtime. A sandbox or other dedicated digging area can offer the dog the outlet he or she needs whenever the family isn’t able to expend the dog’s energy during lengthy afternoon playtime.
8Siberian Huskies Helped Find Downed Planes in WWII
Animals are a frequent part of wartime activities, and Siberian huskies played an incredible role during World War II when they were used as war dogs by the Quartermaster Corps. Huskies were taken to Helena, Montana to the War Dog Reception and Training Center where they were trained alongside other breeds like malamutes for the purposes of pulling sleds on rescue missions to find downed planes. Many of the planes flown in World War II went down in remote locations where the only help would come from a sled dog team.
After being notified of a crash, the canine units would send a reconnaissance plane out ahead of the sled dog team to notify the driver of any crevasses or dangerous areas that would require the sled dogs to change their route to avoid deadly hazards. The sleds used for rescuing the crews of downed aircraft would pack virtually nothing when traveling so that they could travel as fast as possible to the crash site while aircraft would fly ahead to the crash to drop food and supplies for the sled’s arrival.
The Warfare History Network shares that some of the best breeds for driving sleds were huskies and malamutes but that other dogs were used for duties like sentry work and guard duty. For the Allied forces, Siberian huskies were primarily used for rescue missions while dogs like German shepherds and Doberman pinschers were often used for patrolling and as messengers. By the end of the war, around a hundred crew members had been helped by sled dog teams.
7Siberian Huskies Can Run Thousands of Miles
Siberian huskies are best known as the hardy sled dogs that endure the famous Iditarod race, which sees the dogs run in temperatures that sink to 40 degrees below zero in gale force winds and blowing snow. Not only do sled dogs love running and thrive in the frigid environments of the polar north, but their bodies are also incredibly suited to the rigors of endless exercise in the most challenging of conditions.
Evidence suggests that Siberian huskies are able to punish their bodies with extreme activity without experiencing the cell damage that humans and most other dogs experience after a day of hard exercise. An article from Live Science reveals that sled dogs like Siberian huskies can perform the same, punishing exercise day after day and experience no cell damage. According to a scientist who has studied the physiology of sled dogs, Siberian huskies can program their bodies to withstand the rigors of intense training after just a single day of hard exercise.
Sled dogs apparently eat an amazing amount of food when they compete in races and exercise heavily alongside their human counterparts. Owners of huskies who work their dogs hard must feed them enormous amounts of food that sometimes exceeds 10,000 calories a day. To accomplish this feat, many owners of working sled dogs will feed their huskies a diet high in fat since fat has the most calories per gram of any food. The only drawback, it would seem, of the physiology of huskies is the fact that they don’t sweat except through their feet, so running in hot conditions can prove deadly.
6Siberian Huskies Love to Shed
The thick fur coat of a Siberian husky helps them survive the outrageously cold temperatures in the Arctic where temperatures get as cold as they get anywhere on the planet, but having all that fur comes with a price. Lots of shedding. A blog post from Rover’s The Dog People reveals that Siberian huskies have a double coat that means they need a little extra maintenance to keep their fur in beautiful condition and to reduce the amount of loose fur that ends up on the floor.
Huskies do tend to need less grooming than other breeds because of their short fur coat, but these regal dogs can suffer from matting and tangles if their fur isn’t brushed on a regular basis. If the dog suffers from mats, a wide-toothed comb can help detangle the mess, and regular brushing with a paddle brush can prevent the mats from forming. The best schedule for brushing a dog is usually a once-a-week appointment with the brush, but more frequent brushing during the shedding seasons can reduce the likelihood of tangles.
When the weather gets warmer, Siberian huskies begin to shed a lot, but brushing can help the process along and ensure the dog’s fur doesn’t become tangled. Frequent brushing can also reduce the amount of fur that ends up on the carpet, the couches, and everywhere else in the husky’s home. One of the neat features of the husky’s coat is that it will never grow longer than is necessary for the temperature in which the dog lives. With regular brushing and the occasional bath, a husky will never need a trip to the groomer. Getting a husky puppy used to a grooming schedule while he or she is young can help ensure smooth sailing for coat maintenance over the dog’s lifetime.
5Siberian Huskies Were Bred in the Most Extreme Climates
The Siberian husky has a history of companionship and breeding that stretches back more than 3,000 years when the nomadic Chukchi people began breeding the dogs to aid in sledding and transportation around the Chukchee Peninsula, which is in the Arctic Circle within Russia. The temperature in the arctic circle can regularly drop to 50 degrees below zero, but this astoundingly low temperature isn’t a problem for Siberian huskies. The blog from pet supply company Chewy reveals that the dog today continues its reign as the world’s best sled dog but also provides families with gentle love and companionship.
The Siberian husky was introduced to North American around 1900 when fur traders brought the breed over to use them as sled dogs throughout Alaska. Genetic research ahs show that the Siberian husky is related to the Alaskan husky and the Alaska Malamute as all three breeds share significant genetic information with the ancient sled dogs of Siberia. Dogs with lineages that began in the Arctic circle have the ability to withstand insanely low temperatures, and Siberian huskies have been known to survive temperatures that reach as cold as 60 F degrees below zero.
Siberian huskies can thrive in climates with warmer temperatures, but a pet blog at The Nest warns that husky owners must take great care with their dogs in warm climates. Since the dogs can’t sweat and can only release heat through their feet, they can become overheated and even suffer from heat stroke without ready access to cold water and shade. The Nest recommends putting a toddler pool in the back yard for playtime on warm days and using air conditioning in the summer to help keep huskies comfortable.
4According to the Chukchi, Siberian Huskies Guard the Gates of Heaven
One of the myths of the Chukchi people says huskies guard the gates of heaven and that the dogs will deny entry to anyone who has been cruel to a dog during his or her lifetime. The very economy of the Chukchi people was based around the ownership and use of huskies as sled dogs, and the best dogs were usually owned by the people with the most money. According to the Siberian Husky Club of Northern Ireland, the wealth of a family was based on the quality of their sled dogs.
The Chukchi didn’t have a written language, but they possessed a complex society based on the ownership of sled dogs. The people also had many legends and amazing stories about huskies that were passed down for generations. One legend says that during a famine when many people and dogs perished, a human woman nursed the last remaining husky pups to make sure the breed survived. Another legend reveals that a husky dog found her way back to her family years after she was lost deep in the wilderness.
An interesting facet of the breed’s history and its importance to the Chukchi is how breeding a good temperament was more significant to the people than aggression or any other type of attitude. A website in the United Kingdom called Pets 4 Homes reveals that the husky breed is one of the 14 most-ancient in the entire world, so it’s not surprising that the dog would be connected to so many ancient myths and stories.
3Siberian Huskies are the Dog World’s Best Escape Artists
People who aren’t prepared to exercise their huskies every day must be prepared to deal with a dog that has some of the best escape capabilities of any breed. Huskies who are left unattended in backyards will commonly escape by jumping clear over the fence or by digging a hole under the fence. They will run away and travel many miles before being found. Although exercising with a Siberian husky is no guarantee that the dog won’t find a way to escape and live the freedom of a life unencumbered by leashes, engaging with the dog on a daily basis can reduce the likelihood of a missing dog.
According to website Pet Wave, it may behoove Siberian husky owners to switch out some of the features around their home to more dog-proof items. For example, a taller fence that would prevent the dog from escaping with a bounding jump could help improve the backyard as a place to play rather than a pen to escape. Screen doors should never be the only barrier between a husky and the outdoors, and owners should get used to keeping the doors closed to prevent escape. Whenever the husky ventures outside into the backyard, at least one member of the family should always accompany the dog to make sure he or she doesn’t find some way to escape.
Australian site My Husky has some excellent recommendations for designing a backyard wall that will help prevent Siberian huskies from escaping. The wall should be at least six feet tall, and there shouldn’t be anything within reach of the wall that the husky can use for climbing or support to scale the wall. Some people actually put chicken wire underneath their walls in the event the husky decides to dig under rather than jump over.
2Siberian Husky Owners Can Earn a Sled Dog Degree
Attending classes with the family pet for the purposes of training is an excellent idea for any breed that needs training, but huskies aren’t always so amenable to training sessions. Their hyper nature doesn’t mean they’re entirely resistant to training, but Siberian huskies might be the only breed of dog where owners can actually earn a degree related to ownership and use of the dogs. The Siberian Husky Club of America offers a Sled Dog Degree that helps recognize dogs and their humans who compete in sled dog racing competitions. The program is available to purebred Siberian huskies who have been registered with the American Kennel Club.
After completing the program, which requires competing in sled dog races with specific parameters, the sled dog will be awarded the suffix “SD” and may also earn the “SDX” suffix for Sled Dog Excellent status or the “SDO” suffice for Sled Dog Outstanding status. Dogs can be spayed or neutered and still participate in the program, and they may also run as part of a mixed breed team. Races in which the dog participates must be part of a Recognized Race Giving Organization and must also occur on snow with sleds. To gain a qualifying time, the dog must run the entire race, from start to finish.
There are several types of races that may qualify the dog for a sled dog degree. Those races include distance races, sprint races, and races with separate stages. There are minimum mileage requirements for distance races and maximum mileage requirements for sprint races. Mileage in stage races must reach at least 10 miles. There is also a whole list of requirements that determine whether a dog has successfully finished the race.
1Siberian Huskies Delivered Lifesaving Medicine and Became Famous
Siberian huskies were used for thousands of years as sled dogs in Siberia, but it wasn’t until 1925 during a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska that they gained fame in North America. The closest place with medicine to fight the infection was in Anchorage, which was 500 miles away. Unfortunately, the outbreak occurred in January, which was the coldest and bleakest part of the year when temperatures could reach 50 below zero with blowing snow and endless fields of ice blocking the route from Anchorage to Nome.
In what history would call the “Great Race of Mercy,” several teams of sled dogs and mushers would volunteer to take the medication to Nome. According to a story about huskies from the American Kennel Club, one musher, a man named Gunnar Kaaen, would use the huskies he imported from Siberia for the journey and would rely on a novice three-year-old dog named Balto to make the trek. The medication was delivered to a village called Nenana near the end of January and would be taken by sled for legs that varied between 24 and 52 miles. Now-famous husky Balto was the leader of the last sled dog team and took Kaasen and the rest of the team to Nome.
The entire event took just five days, which was an incredibly short amount of time for the 128-mile journey. After his famous trek, Balto would live until the ripe old age of 14 and would live on as a symbol of the grit, determination, and strength of his fantastic breed. Balto’s story would even come to life as an animated feature in 1995 made by Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.
Siberian huskies are a treasured part of so many families around the world because of their pleasant disposition and the enthusiasm for life they continually display. Always ready to go outside and roll around in the grass or run around for hours, Siberian huskies are the perfect dog for people who love to run and want a dog with the stamina to keep up at any pace and over and distance.
Whether they’re taking part in the iconic Iditarod race in the deep, blinding snow of Alaska, or they’re on a twilight run with their owner in the park, huskies are ready to play and live life to the fullest with their families. These 10 things you should know before owning a Siberian Husky are just a starting point for anyone thinking about adopting one of these great pets. Devoted and friendly, Siberian huskies will make an optimist out of anyone and will inspire joie de vivre in friends, family, and anyone lucky enough to be around them.