The Siberian husky is a very wolf-like dog in terms of its appearance, and whilst they are true domestic dogs and not as closely related to wolves as their looks might have you believe, they also have very unique and individual temperaments.
The distinctive good looks of the breed is one of their most defining features, and is one of the things that makes them in great demand with people who love their appearance – but they are not a good choice of pet for everyone, and people who buy a Siberian husky puppy without doing their research first often realise early on that they have bitten off more than they can chew.
While this is an ancient dog breed that has a long recorded history going back for centuries, they only really began to gain traction in the UK over the course of the last twenty or so years, before which time they were relatively uncommon sights in the dog parks and streets of Britain.
Today, the Siberian husky is ranked as the UK’s eighteenth most popular dog breed over all – but back in 2017, they were sixteenth, seeing a slide of two places over the course of the last year.
In this article, we will look at the core traits of the Siberian husky and examine the reason for their popularity in the UK – and ask whether or not they’re falling out of fashion among dog owners, and why. Read on to learn more.
The Siberian husky is a medium to large-sized dog that falls within the Kennel Club’s working dog group, and the breed originated from Siberia in Russia. They were originally prized and kept as working sled dogs, possessing all of the core traits necessary to thrive in the region’s incredibly harsh winters, and perform a challenging working role with a level of endurance and stamina that is virtually unmatched by any other dog breed.
Today, they are popular all over the world as pets, and in colder regions, as sled dogs too – and they can also be seen competing in many forms of canine sports and competitions designed to allow sled dogs to strut their stuff.
They first really came to prominence in the UK within the last twenty years, before which time they were very uncommon and rarely kept here as pets. The dog’s appearance is one of their greatest appeals – and people who love a natural, traditional conformation that turns heads and immediately puts one in mind of the grey wolf need look no further than the Siberian husky.
The Siberian husky is a personable, outgoing and fun-loving dog that loves company, and will live perfectly happy within a pack. They tend to be inquisitive, mischievous and entertaining, and they love to meet new people and make friends.
Whilst they can be territorial in their homes and gardens, they tend to be more likely to bark and make a fuss before begging for a treat and some attention than they are to make any real effort to see off an intruder – after all, said intruder might be up for a game, or be willing to share a sandwich, and the husky wouldn’t want to miss out!
They are also bold dogs that don’t tend to be nervous or easily fazed, and they take change in their strides.
Given that they originate from a very cold area of the world, they think nothing of the average British winter either, and can be kept outdoors in a well-insulated kennel year-round if required. If you are looking for a really active, lively dog to choose as a jogging partner or take part in sled sport, the Siberian husky might well be the right dog for you – but they are not without their challenges.
Siberian huskies are challenging dogs with complex needs, and their core traits are strong and not easily manipulated.
First of all, the breed’s need for exercise is huge, and they will happily run and play all day without tiring out – which means that they are not a good choice of pet for many owners. They also tend to be adept at escaping from their homes and gardens and going off in search of adventure and entertainment, particularly if they are bored or not getting enough exercise.
Also, they tend to love people and be really quick to make friends with total strangers, which some dog owners don’t like and find somewhat disloyal.
It is also important to bear in mind that caring for the coat of the Siberian husky is an onerous and ongoing process, requiring daily brushing and grooming and regular baths. Dogs of the breed shed relatively heavily year-round, and a couple of times a year in spring and autumn, they shed their entire coat over the course of just a couple of weeks, which makes keeping shed fur from taking over the home an uphill struggle.
They also have a very strong prey drive, and are very single-minded about it – training the husky for reliable recall is not impossible, but it can be very hard. Huskies also seem to suffer terribly from selective deafness when it comes to following commands in general – if your request doesn’t suit the dog, they will think nothing of cheerfully ignoring you until such a time that they seed the benefit of complying!
When the breed first began to come to prominence in the UK, a lot of people immediately took to the breed and decided that the husky was the dog for them. While many of these people did plenty of research and made an informed decision to buy a dog of the breed knowing the challenges involved in doing so, others did not.
This caused a steep increase in demand for the breed around 5-10 years ago, which ultimately resulted in large numbers of huskies being abandoned and surrendered to rehoming shelters when their challenges and the time commitment required to care for them became apparent.
Now that the challenges of Siberian husky ownership are much better publicised, prospective dog owners have a better chance of getting the facts before committing to a purchase, and so, are less likely to buy a dog of the breed and then find out that they can’t manage it.
This has led to a slow but steady decline in breed popularity over the last few years, which is now levelling out as the breed has become better established in the UK and settled into a fairly consistent balance between supply and demand.