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rec.pets.dogs: Siberian Huskies Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-fa.../faq-list.html, or
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in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
Stephen R. Lee
OooWoo Racing Kennel
159 Monte Rey South
Los Alamos, NM 87544 (USA)
* Charmaine Budden, December 1, 1992
* Stacey E. Curtis, December 1, 1992
* Joy Krikowa (Schekowa Kennels), December 1, 1992
* Henry Cordani, Feburary, 1995
* Brenda Rosebrock, August, 1995
* Brenda Potter, August, 1995
* Betty Goetz, August, 1995
* Addresses updated in 1994 by Cindy Tittle Moore.
* Additional breed clubs added (supplied by Henry Cordani). List of
breeders removed. 2/95, CTM
* Parts re-written, Stephen R. Lee, September, 1995.
Copyright 1994, 1995 by Stephen Lee.
Table of Contents
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Care and Training
* Special Medical Problems
* Frequently Asked Questions
+ Breed Clubs
Siberian Huskies are a medium sized, strong, graceful, and tenacious
sled dog. They are a handsome dog, energetic and dignified. While they
are a medium sized dog, they are extremely strong, able to pull light
loads at moderate speeds for long distances.
AKC Official Siberian Husky Standard
The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
breeder to strive towards.
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard.
The Siberian Husky was originally developed by the Chukchi people of
northeastern Siberia as an endurance sled dog. They were also used to
herd reindeer. In 1909, the first large numbers of these Chukchi dogs
were brought to Alaska to compete in the long-distance All-Alaska
Sweepstakes races, and the Alaskan dog drivers quickly recognized the
ability of these small, compact dogs from Siberia.
In the winter of 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic broke out in the
isolated town of Nome, Alaska, a relay of dog teams brought
life-saving serum from distant Nenana. This heroic endeavor earned
national prominence for the drivers and their dogs. One of these
drivers, Leonhard Seppala, brought his team of Siberian Huskies,
descendants of the original imports from Siberia, to the United States
on a personal appearance tour. While in New England he competed in
sled dog races and again proved the superiority of Siberian Huskies
over the native dogs. The New England drivers and pioneer fanciers
acquired foundation stock, earned AKC recognition for the breed in
1930, and founded the Siberian Husky Club of America in 1938.
Characteristics and Temperament
Coat and Grooming
The Siberian Husky is a comparatively easy dog to care for. He is by
nature fastidiously clean and is typically free from body odor and
parasites. Siberian s clean themselves like cats. In fact, a Siberian
that becomes soiled with mud will clean himself up. Therefore, bathing
requirements are minimal. In fact, most owners bathe their dogs once
per year or less.
Twice a year, Siberians "blow" their undercoats, that is, they shed
their undercoats completely. It is a very intense shedding period that
can last three weeks or more from start to finish. The good news is
that this only happens twice a year. The remainder of the time,
Siberians are relatively shed free. Some people feel that this
periodic problem is easier to cope with than the constant shedding and
renewal of many smooth-coated breeds. The bad news is that the
shedding period can be rather messy. The hair comes out in large and
small clumps. Lots of vacuuming and brushing are in order. It should
be noted, however, that this shedding "schedule" is _climate
dependent_. Some owners that live in very warm climes, ones that lack
clearly defined "seasonal changes," report some shedding year round in
Other than during coat-blowing season, the Siberian needs very little
grooming. No trimming or shaving of hair is required or recommended.
Just occasional brushing to remove dead hair and keep the coat fresh
and shiny is required. Their nails should be checked and clipped
periodically, and their feet should be checked regularly to ensure
good health, particularly in actively working dogs.
The Siberian Husky has a delightful temperament, affectionate but not
fawning. This gentle and friendly disposition may be a heritage from
the past, since the Chukchi people held their dogs in great esteem,
housed them in the family shelters, and encouraged their children to
play with them. The Siberian Husky is alert, eager to please, and
adaptable. An aggressive dog is not a team dog, and therefore a lousy
sled dog. Siberians are an extremely intelligent and independent
breed. They can be very stubborn, owing to their original purpose, and
they are easily bored. This independent and stubborn nature may at
times challenge your ingenuity. His versatility makes him an agreeable
companion to people of all ages and varying interests. However, this
is not a breed that is typically recommended for first-time dog
owners, as mistakes are easy to make and sometimes difficult to fix
with this remarkably intelligent and opportunistic breed. While
capable of showing strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky
is not usually a one-man dog. He exhibits no fear or suspicion of
strangers and is as likely to greet a would be thief as warmly as a
trusted family member. This is not the temperament of a watch-dog,
although a Siberian Husky may unwittingly act as a deterrent to those
ignorant of his true hospitable nature, simply due to his intense
personality and appearance.
Barking, Talking, and Howling
Siberian Huskies are rather quiet dogs. They do not typically bark.
They do talk, however, in a soft "woo woo woo" sound. They can also
howl quite well. Owners of multiple Huskies report frequent howling,
starting and stopping simultaneously. Since the Siberian, like other
northern breeds, is a very pack oriented animal, this behavior is
Care and Training
When you collect your puppy, your breeder should tell you what the
puppy's diet has been to date, as well as recommendation as to the
best food and feeding frequency in the future, both for while the dog
is still a puppy as well as when the dog is an adult. You should try
and follow the puppy's diet at the time you collect him from the
breeder as best you can, until the puppy is settled in to its new
environment. Then you can gradually change the diet to suit your
preferences. Remember that sudden changes in diet can severely disrupt
the puppy's digestive system and cause gastric distress. The Siberian
requires a relatively small amount of food for his size. This trait
may be traced to the origins of the breed, as the Chukchis developed
their dogs to pull a light load at a fast pace over great distances in
low temperatures on the smallest possible intake of food.
As for the type and "brand" of dog food, basically any reputable dog
food manufacturer provides a dog food that is sufficient to keep a dog
healthy. However, the premium brands of dog food have the advantage
that one can feed the dog less and still get very good nourishment. In
addition, stool size and amount is generally less with the premium dog
foods. Keep in mind that feeding dogs is partly art, and partly
science. The dog food manufacturers have done the science part. The
rest is up to you. Some people feed their dogs a mix of canned and dry
food twice a day. Others feed only dry and allow free feeding, and so
on. Be sure and pick a frequency of feeding, brand, and type of food
to suit your dogs needs. For working Siberians, a "performance"
formula is in order. For Siberians that go for walks and hikes, a
"maintenance" formula is usually best. Consult your breeder and
veterinarian for advice.
One other thing worth mentioning here is how long to feed puppy food.
Some research indicates that feeding puppy food for too long can
increase the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs that are susceptible
to it. Some breeders start feeding adult food very soon. Even though
the Siberian is not fully mature until 18 months, most people
gradually switch to adult dog food at the 8-10 month time frame.
Again, this is something to discuss with your breeder and
Siberian Huskies are happiest when they can share in family
activities. The best arrangement is one in which the dog can come in
and out of the house of its own free-will, through a dog door. If a
dog door is not possible, then training the dog to go to an outside
door to be let out is also very easy to do. Outside, the dog should
have a large, fenced yard. The fence should be strong and at least 6
feet tall. It is also a good idea to bury wire in the ground to
discourage digging out. Siberians are notorious diggers. It is usually
best to set up a sand box somewhere in a shaded part of the yard and
encourage digging there, if possible. Siberians should _not_ be
allowed to roam around the neighborhood. If one chooses to kennel a
Siberian, the kennel should be chain link, with a concrete run, and
should be 6 to 7 ft wide and 10 to 15 ft long. It should be at least 6
ft high with chain link across the top of the kennel. It should be in
a shaded location and have an insulated dog house with a door for
shelter from the elements.
Because the Siberian is an arctic dog, it can remain outside in very
cold weather. However, it should be provided with shelter from the
elements in the form of a good sturdy house. The house should have a
flat roof, as Siberians love to lay on top of their houses and observe
the world. A good insulated house with nice straw bedding is perfect
for Siberians that spend most of their time outside. Heating the dog
house is usually not necessary.
Training Siberian Huskies can be a challenge. They are an extremely
intelligent, energetic, and stubborn breed, and one must be ready for
the unexpected. Training should start when the dog is young. You
should work to establish the rules of the house early, and make sure
that the puppy knows that you are in charge. For example, if you do
not want the dog on the bed as an adult, do not allow it as a puppy
and never give in, even once, or the dog will think that all rules are
flexible. The rule of thumb is that if you train a dog to do
something, expect him to do it. Therefore, if the puppy learns that
certain things are allowed, it will be difficult to train them not to
do them as adults.
Since the dog is pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as
the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog
will respect you and training will be much easier. It is very
important to understand the distinction between establishing yourself
as alpha and bullying the dog into submission. _These are not the same
thing!_ The former is simply a communication that the dog needs and
expects, while the latter is very negative and detrimental to the
dog's well-being. By establishing yourself as the leader of the pack
early, your dog will learn to respect you and look to you for guidance
and will know where the boundaries for acceptable behavior lie. It is
best to enroll in a puppy training class (or puppy kindergarten
training as they are commonly known) soon after your dog is home and
has all of its vaccinations. This training is good for the dog and for
you as the owner, as it will help you understand your new puppy and
establish you as alpha very early in the puppy's life, which is
important with this breed. Once you have completed the puppy class,
and have been working with the dog for a few months, a basic obedience
class is in order.
Obedience training this breed can be very interesting and extremely
challenging. Many owners will complain that their dogs act perfectly
in class, but will not obey at home. This breed is intelligent enough
to differentiate situations very well, and will apply different rules
of behavior for different situations. You must stay on top of the dog
and maintain control, which is easier to do while the dog is of
manageable size than with a stubborn, energetic adult that has been
allowed to get away with undesirable behavior for a long time.
It is _very_ important to remember that the Siberian Husky is a
_working breed_. His heritage has endowed him with the desire to run
and his conformation has given him the ability to enjoy it
effortlessly. Because of this, it is important that no Siberian ever
be allowed unrestrained freedom. Instead, for his own protection, he
should be confined and under control at all times. Since he is a
working dog, he must be given something to do. Exercise may be
obtained in the leash, at play, and best of all, through mushing.
Siberians make wonderful hiking companions, and with a dog backpack,
can carry food and water. Above all, if you feel that it is
inconvenient or cruel to keep a dog confined and under control like
this, then the Siberian Husky is not the breed for you.
Special Medical Problems
The Siberian Husky is a remarkably healthy breed. When well cared for,
the Siberian is relatively "maintenance free", outside of normal
checkups and vaccinations.
The incidence of hip dysplasia in Siberians is fairly low. However,
breeding Siberians should, among other things, be OFA (Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals) certified prior to breeding. OFA certification
cannot be granted prior to 24 months of age. Conscientious efforts of
breeders have kept the incidence of this condition low in the
According to CERF, the incidence of cataracts in the breed checked by
ACVO veterinarians is around 15-18%. The actual incidence is probably
higher as many long time breeders discover the anomaly in young dogs
early and never certify them. With the typical cataract, the dogs
vision is not usually substantially affected, and they lead a full,
happy, albeit it neutered, life. However, a more aggressive cataract
also exists, which progresses quickly and may cause blindness by 2 to
3 years of age.
Corneal dystrophy is also present in the breed. This disease causes
diffuse and progressive vision loss in mid to older age. It is often
not present or detectable until age 4 to 6 years, at which time the
dog could easily have produced a few litters and perpetuated the
Glaucoma is also present in the Siberian, particularly in some
specific racing lines. Glaucoma causes the animal significant pain and
vision loss usually before it is detected by the owner.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and central progressive retinal
atrophy (CPRA) have appeared in a number of breeds, including
Siberians. These problems are genetically caused. Careful screening of
potential breeding pairs has helped reduce the incidence of these
problem in the breed, and the current incidence of PRA is relatively
Obviously, Siberian owners and breeders should regularly check and
clear eyes through CERF prior to embarking on a breeding program.
Frequently Asked Questions
_Are Siberian Huskies part wolf?_
No. The Siberian Husky is a domesticated pure bred dog and has been
for many centuries. They are sometimes mistaken for wolves, and
they are sometimes used in movies to depict wolves, but they are
most certainly _not_ wolves or part wolf.
_Why are some Siberian noses partially pink and partially black?_
This is called a "snow nose", and is fairly common in the breed. A
snow nose is a reddish or pink marking on a black or liver colored
nose. Snow nose can disappear over warmer months and reappear over
the winter months. There is nothing wrong with a snow nose, and it
is perfectly acceptable in the breed.
_Can Siberians have different colored eyes?_
Yes. This is fairly common in the breed. One eye may be blue while
the other is brown.
I_s there something wrong with an eye that is both brown and blue?_
No. This is called a "pinto eye", a "parti eye", or a "split eye."
It is also fairly common in the breed. One or both eyes may be all
blue with a brown pie shaped wedge, or all brown with a blue wedge.
At first glance, it may appear that there is something wrong with
the eye but there is not. It is simply a matter if pigmentation.
This too is perfectly acceptable in the breed.
_I've heard that Siberians are mischievous. Is this true?_
Yes and no. Siberians are very intelligent dogs. They will often do
things that surprise their owners. They can get into things that
one might think are impossible. When Siberians are bored, they can
become quite mischievous, inventive, and destructive. This is
typical of working dogs. This is why it is so important to include
the Siberian in family activities and give him plenty of attention
_I've heard that Siberians are high-strung. Is this true?_
Yes and no. Siberians are a very energetic breed. As a working dog,
they need something to do, some way of challenging their
intelligence and an outlet for their energy. If they are not
provided one, they will find one for themselves.
_I've heard Siberians are dumb. Is that true?_
No! Siberian Huskies are extremely intelligent working dogs. People
often mistake the fact that they can be difficult to train as a
sign of stupidity. One must keep the Siberian interested and
challenge his intelligence in order to properly train him. A
Siberian will probably know what you want him to do, he just may
not want to do it!
_Just how cold can a Siberian Husky live in?_
Siberian Huskies can work and live in temperatures as low as 75
degrees Fahrenheit below zero.
Demidoff, Lorna, and Jennings, Michael. _The Complete Siberian Husky_,
1978, Howell Books. ISBN 0-87605-314-2.
Coppinger, Lorna and ISDRA. _The World of Sled Dogs_, 1977, Howell
Book House. ISBN 0-87605-671-0.
_The Siberian Quarterly_
Hofflin Publishing Ltd.
4401 Zephyr Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-3299
_In the United States:_
_Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc_
Corresponding Secretary, Fain Zimmerman, 65 Madera Drive,
Victoria, TX 77905-4847
Newsletter Editor, Leslie Cranford, 109 Weatherly Way, Pelham,
_International Siberian Husky Club_
Recording Secretary, Judy Pilkay, 7428 Chadwick Dr.,
Murfreesboro, TN 37129-8012
_Yankee Siberian Husky Club_
Corresponding Secretary - Rebecca Kelsey, 3 Brownfield Lane,
Georgetown, MA 01833
Newsletter Editor - Fred Thompson, 372A N. State St., Concord,
Breeder Referral - Tamara Davis, Tay Marr Kennel, 13 Titus
Lane, Boxford, MA 01921, .
_The Siberian Husky Club of Canada, Inc._
Corresponding Secretary, Lee Schuler
RR#3 Jarvis, Ontario
Newsletter Editor, Margatet Knight, R.R.#1, Hwy. #56, York,
Ontario N0A 1R0
_The Siberian Husky of NSW Inc. (Australia)_
Mrs. Denise Sorensen - Secretary, P.O. Box 111, Ourimbah NSW
President - Henry Cordani can be reached at internet address
_Siberian Husky Club of Victoria Inc._
The Secretary, P.O. Box 137, Box Hill, Victoria 3128 Australia
_Siberian Husky and Malamute Club of S.A. Inc_
The Secretary, Cass vanRyswyk, P.O. Box 169, St Agnes, South
Australia 5097 Australia, Ph: 61-8-264-6975
Contact the club closest to you for a list of breeders in your area.
In the US, there are a number of regional clubs, the National club can
help you find the one in your area. Similar systems exist in other
countries. Bear in mind that you need to approve the breeder in the
final analysis for yourself -- being on a list is no a priori
guarantee of reputability.
More detailed tips for locating a good breeder can be found in the
Getting A Dog FAQ.
* Mailing list: Email to with
SUBSCRIBE SIBERNET-L your name in the body of the message to join
a mailing list for fanciers of the Siberian Husky.
Siberian Husky FAQ
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