The name 'Husky' is thought to be a word skimmed of 'Eskimo' or 'Esky', which were names once applied to the indigenous peoples of the far northern regions of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia. This dog breed is thought to be one of the oldest breeds in the world and was pivotal to the survival of these people in the inhospitable regions of the world.
The Siberian Husky was bred for the sled! This high stamina dog was a lifeline for the indigenous people who populated the vast, frozen tracts of the north and it was bred for that most specific of jobs - to pull a sled and provide transportation.
Analysis of the DNA of Huskies, as they are simply known, has proved that they are one of the oldest known breeds of dog from research undertaken in 2006 (along with another 13 breeds of dog described as 'ancient breeds'). This means in essence, that these breeds have the fewest differences, at a genetic or phenotype level (the physical traits influenced by environment), from wolves. This does not mean they are wolves or any type of wolf-dog hybrid (as all breeds of dog from the smallest to the largest share DNA with wolves) more that the physical make up of them is simply the best solution to the problem of Arctic conditions, similar to wolf habitats The Siberian Husky, along with some other northern breeds, did not evolve very much past that phenotype, as other physical traits would not help survive the weather.
Average height to the withers: Many people comment on Siberian Huskies being smaller than they imagined with males being between 21-24 inches and females between 20-22 inches.
Average weight: Males between 23-34kg and females between 17-27kg.
Belonging to the 'Spitz' family of dogs, the Siberian Husky shares quite a few physical traits with the Akita, Samoyed and Malamute, all hardy northern bred dogs. The appearance of this dog is all thanks to the conditions it had to work and survive in.
The thick, waterproof double coat is able to withstand temperatures as low as -50 Â°C. The coat should not be overly long as this is considered a fault by breed standards. The tail is bushy, curled and used to cover the nose and face while sleeping to provide extra warmth. The coat can be a variety of colours ranging from a pure white, gray, red, sable, agouti (a rare colour when the guard or outer layer of hair is banded with black near the root and at the tip with a yellow or beige band at the centre), black and black and white. One very notable feature of this breed is the hypnotic and breathtaking eyes they possess. The eyes are almond shaped and set equally in the face but come in varied tones of copper, chocolate brown or an icy cool blue. In some dogs, one eye may be brown and the other blue (a trait known as heterochromia), or one or both eyes may be part coloured, (half brown and half blue or partial heterochromia). Hetrochromia can also occur in other Spitz breeds and some others such as the Border Collie.
Some interesting facts about this dog are that it has a relatively long nose which enables the air to be warmed before it reaches the lungs and like some other Spitz types, it has developed a seasonal accumulation of oil around the eyes/eyebrows which ensure that snow cannot stick to its eye area when it moves and shakes it head.
A unique temperament for a unique dog. This is a dog that developed the ability to think for itself in order to survive a hostile environment coupled with a 'pack mentality' in order to work well in a sled team with a tendency to howl at moments, this is not a dog that is suited to the novice owner. Like many working type dogs, it thrives on mental stimulation and a job 'to do'. Always chomping at the proverbial bit, the Siberian Husky has endless energy and stamina. These are captivating dogs though, with charm and an ability to build successful relationships with both other dogs it lives with and its owner or handler. They are very intelligent dogs and will become easily bored and upset if they do not have the required amount of exercise and stimulation. As a pet, they have a reputation for the ability to observe and learn and copy actions very successfully such as opening doors and hitting light switches. When bored however, this energy is negatively channelled into destructive and undesirable behaviours such as digging. Many Huskies in the UK are kept as pack dogs for sled racing or recreational 'mushing'. They will benefit from a strong, firm and consistent leader and need a solid training and socialisation routine from the outset if they are to live successfully in a family unit, especially with other pets in it.
The Siberian Husky can suffer more than other breeds from Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.
Eye issues are a relatively frequent occurrence so regular eye examinations are a must.
If you do not like an excess of dog hair in the house then this breed probably isn't for you! Huskies shed more or less year round, peaking in spring. As such regular grooming is a must and will demand a lot of your time. Another time investment in the Husky with the amount of walking and exercising you will need to do, making it a good choice for active and experienced, people.