When you think “sled dog,” you're probably imagining a Siberian Husky. And with good reason — Huskies have done some amazing work pulling sleds. Siberian Huskies once saved an entire town in Alaska — a team of these fearless adventurers brought diphtheria medication to Nome during an outbreak. There is a statue commemorating the lead dog's efforts in New York's Central Park (as famously featured in the film Six Degrees of Separation), and the Iditarod Trail Sled Race is run every year in memory of the team's accomplishments.
This breed was developed by the Chukchi, indigenous peoples of Siberia, to work — and survive — the harsh conditions of the Arctic region. Their extremely dense coats allow them to withstand extreme cold. Amazingly, these dogs can even change their metabolisms, allowing them to go long distances without fatigue or using up their fat stores.
Huskies are known for a few other distinctive characteristics as well. They're notorious howlers — you can hear a Husky's voice carry for miles. And these dogs often have striking blue eyes. (Don't worry; they're not “White Walkers.” They're supposed to look like that.)
Originally from Russia, this medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 35-60 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Sled pulling
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 11-13 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 23
FAMILY spitz, Northern (draft)
AREA OF ORIGIN Russia (Siberia)
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION sled pulling
TODAY'S FUNCTION sled racing
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 21-23.5 Weight: 45-60
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 20-22 Weight: 35-50
OTHER NAME Arctic husky
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs High
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability Medium
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A SIBERIAN HUSKY'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Siberian Huskies are very playful and affectionate, as well as being adventurous and exuberant. These dogs definitely have a sense of humor and mischief. They love children and typically get along well with family dogs and pets when properly socialized. They can be a bit suspicious of non-family animals, but are usually happy to meet human strangers.
WHAT IS SIBERIAN HUSKY BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is an extremely active breed. If you don't have a team for them to pull a sled with, your Siberian Husky will happily keep you company on your morning run. (So long as it's not too warm out.) Find an outlet for her energy, or your Husky might become destructive or overactive. Huskies also have a penchant for using those strong paws and nails for digging. While this can help them stay out of the cold air in subzero temperatures, you should probably keep an eye on them near your rosebushes.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A SIBERIAN HUSKY?
These dogs are brilliant, and they're going to make you work for it. Be patient and consistent; reward good behavior.
Given that these dogs were bred to roam the Siberian wilds, it's not surprising that they'll wander for miles if given the opportunity. They don't have the most reliable recall, so it's best to let your Husky play in the largest well-fenced area you can find.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO SIBERIAN HUSKIES SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
So. Much. Shedding. Officially, the Siberian Husky is a seasonal shedder, but you're going to see fur on everything you own all year 'round. Frequent brushing will help. Aside from that, though, your Husky won't need much in the way of grooming.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO SIBERIAN HUSKIES HAVE?
As a breed, Siberian Huskies are generally healthy. Some are susceptible to eye disease or hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE SIBERIAN HUSKIES GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Siberian Huskies among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A SIBERIAN HUSKY'S BEST DAY?
Your Siberian Husky wants to run and run and run and run and run and run and run and run and run and run and run. Preferably but not exclusively through snow.
SHOULD I ADOPT A SIBERIAN HUSKY?
As you might imagine of a dog developed to survive sub-zero temperatures, your Siberian Husky will never be a beach bunny. This breed is extremely good in cold climates, and extremely unhappy in warm ones. If you don't mind the shedding and can make sure she gets enough exercise, the Siberian Husky will melt you with her baby blues and turn your heart to “mush.”
Have you decided that a Siberian Husky is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.