Siberian Husky: Training, Health Care, and Breed Information

It’s often true that the most difficult breeds of dogs to train and control, are also the most rewarding dogs to own. If you have never trained a dog before, and you are not certain that you can take care of one of the most difficult breeds, then skip the Siberian Husky.

However, if you are willing and able to endure the rigors of Siberian Husky training, I will take care of nearly all the information you need to know.

The Siberian Husky resembles a wild wolf, has a distinctive soft appearance and extreme intensity both in its eyes and its mind. They are very intelligent. If trained correctly and thoroughly, they are excellent family dogs.

Jump to: Breed History, Appearance, Health Issues, Dog Care, Siberian Husky Training, and Further Reading.

Despite the general difficulties of Siberian Husky training, they do make good dogs for families with children and other pets, so long as you are able to complete the training correctly. But, this breed is smart and stubborn, and is definitely one of the hardest breeds of dog to train. Socialization and thorough obedience training are essential.

Thanks to the Siberian Husky’s pack mentality, a well-socialized pup will get along great with children and other dogs.

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Breed History – Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky comes from Siberia, where it was bred and raised by natives as both a work and family dog. During the Gold Rush in the United States, the Siberian Husky was imported as a sled dog. The excellence of the Siberian Husky in terms of trainability and strength led to dog sledding competitions soon after that.

When the Soviet government cut off trade with the United States in 1930, Siberian Huskies could no longer be imported, so the breed has been kept in circulation domestically ever since. This has led to some changes between the North American Siberian Husky and their original ancestors, but the main traits remain intact.

Appearance – Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskies are medium-sized with a wolfish appearance. Their coat is thick and doubled, and has a medium length. The coat is soft and lays more-or-less flat against the body. There are a variety of coat color patterns, such as solid white, solid black, a mix of those two, or any mix of black, white, red, and copper.

The eye colors of Siberian Huskies also vary widely.

A male Siberian Husky is just under two feet tall at the shoulder, and weighs 45 to 60 pounds. A female is about 20-22 inches tall, and weighs between 35-50 pounds.

Unique Health Problems – Siberian Husky

The healthy, well-bred Siberian Husky will live between 12 and 15 years or more. Breeding is a big responsibility requiring careful screening of each dog’s health before mating. The best possible diet and puppy socialization will ensure the longest, happiest possible life.

The Siberian Husky is a rather healthy breed, and it’s rare they will develop the common problem of Hip Dysplasia.

However, the eye problems that most dog breeds can develop, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy and cataracts, are also known to occur with Siberian Huskies. One additional eye complaint is Corneal Dystrophy, which doesn’t seem to affect their vision.

Dog Care – Siberian Husky

A Siberian Husky requires fairly little grooming. In fact, it will groom itself rather like a cat, and generally be free of odors even if you only bathe them once a year.

Brush your Siberian Husky about once a week to avoid tangles and matting. They shed about twice a year, more in warmer areas. Take good care of their feet by trimming their nails at least once a week and trimming the hair around the pads of the paws. Clean their ears to prevent buildup and infections at least weekly.

One of the key things to remember with a Siberian Husky is that they need an extreme amount of exercise. The Siberian Husky was developed for pulling sleds of ore! You need to burn that energy off with long, high-powered walks or jogs every single day. They simply won’t cope with a lazy lifestyle.

They’re also not indoor dogs. They can be adapted to indoor life, but a Siberian Husky who lives in a small apartment will need even more exercise, more than most families can provide. Despite being better-suited for outdoor life, they do need a lot of human interaction to reinforce their socialization training. They crave human interaction and will develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors without it.

The next thing to know is that any Siberian Husky is going to work hard to escape at every opportunity. They’ll dig under fences, climb the fences, and even climb trees. Make sure there’s no opportunity for your Siberian Husky to escape, because they won’t necessarily every return. Make sure the fence goes deep into the ground and constantly repair loose boards.

If you don’t provide the proper obedience training, love, and oodles of exercise, your Siberian Husky can become incredibly destructive. I’m not talking about scratches and bite marks on furniture, I’m talking about walls with holes in them. Don’t let a Siberian Husky become bored or lonely. Crate train your Siberian Husky right from the start, so that you can crate him as needed to prevent such behavior.

Siberian Husky Training

If you haven’t trained several dogs successfully, or if you tend to have trouble when a dog challenges your authority, do not get a Siberian Husky. You need to be the strongest alpha leader over the most primal dog instincts you’ll ever face, in order to have success at making a Siberian Husky your family dog. Even a young Siberian Husky puppy can instantly replace you as the leader of the pack.

The Siberian Husky is a breed that will resist training, and will repeatedly challenge everything. No matter how well your Siberian Husky training has gone, they will constantly try to wear you down and get you to allow them to break the rules.

Once you let them break one rule, you’ve lost control over your Siberian Husky.

Now, with that being said, do not abuse or use harsh corrections with your Siberian Husky. It’s inhumane to do so, and this is one breed you never want to be in conflict with. You simply have to use the same kind corrective methods I recommend for other dogs, but with near-constant vigilance.

Make sure that you socialize your Siberian Husky thoroughly from day one. They’ll need the chance to meet other dogs and people, and learn to be calm and follow the rules. Also make sure that everyone who meets your Siberian Husky knows how to respond to rule-breaking. Consider sending your Siberian Husky to specialized Husky training school, but make sure you continue to have a firm hand because most Huskies will begin breaking rules the minute they come home.

Never let a Siberian Husky go off-leash, no matter how well-trained he is.

I realize the tone of this advice is very heavy-handed, and it might seem hard to reconcile this with the fact that a Siberian Husky can be a wonderful family dog. Dogs are complex, intelligent creatures with their own minds, and the Siberian Husky is proof.

During the life-long Siberian Husky training process, you have to remember that this has always been a pack dog. Their world is entirely focused around the hierarchy of a dog pack. You need to ensure that your dog is always at the bottom of the pack – even subordinate to your youngest children. There are ways to do that effectively, but if you or any member of your family relaxes for even a day, you’ll be stuck undoing the damage.

One of the main ways during Siberian Husky training to ensure that your dog is at the bottom of the totem pole, is through food control. Every member of your family should start, from day one, by reaching into your dog’s bowl and forcing the puppy to eat from their hands. Providing food is a sign of dominance. Take away the food after every meal, and always make your Siberian Husky wait until the family finishes eating, before he eats.

Never let your Siberian Husky on furniture, nor allow him to sleep in your bed. Never allow him to have table scraps except when you put them in his bowl at feeding time, and consider making him take the scraps from your hand, at his bowl.

Remember that crate training and leash training are both important. Crate training will prevent boredom from turning into a destructive rampage. Leash training will need to focus on quelling his urge to pull, which, don’t forget, he was bred for.

A few other notes, although there is much, much more you need to know before you visit a Siberian Husky breeder and bring home a pup:

  • Clicker training is a good alternative to using treats during Siberian Husky training.
  • I cannot over-emphasize the early, and constant need for puppy socialization and obedience training. These Siberian Husky training processes should go on for the dog’s whole life.
  • A Siberian Husky loves to be around others, including children and other dogs.
  • In fact, a Siberian Husky is generally too friendly to be used as a guard dog.
  • Patience, diligence and consistency are essential every single day.
  • Your Siberian Husky won’t likely develop any problems with excessive barking; they’d much rather howl.
  • Read about Siberian Husky training in detail and visit breeders before you decide to bring one home.
  • Prevent behavior problems – don’t expect to reverse them once they arise.

Finally, I’ll repeat again. You must establish your alpha position every single day. He will test this regardless, but stay firm and fair and you will pass his tests.

Further Reading about Siberian Husky Training

A New Owner’s Guide to Siberian Huskies by Kathleen Kanzler
Start here, and be sure to read it before you buy your Siberian Husky.

The Siberian Husky: Live the Adventure by Margaret Koehler
This is the definitive resource, written by a breeder and sledding competitor.

Siberian Huskies Complete Owner’s Manual by Kerry Kern
Not as complete, but very helpful.

Learn how to train your dog, or go back to my list of popular breeds of dog.

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