If you’re considering adding a Siberian Husky to your family, it’s important to know a bit about this breed before you take the plunge. In this post, we’ll cover some of the basics about Siberians, including their characteristic temperament and unique care needs. Continue reading to learn more about this popular breed!
About the Breed
The Siberian husky is a graceful, intelligent, athletic dog that was bred in Northeast Asia as a sled dog. Sibes are a popular breed of dog because of their almond-shaped blue or multi-colored eyes and striking facial masks. Many people are drawn to Siberian huskies because of their wolf-like appearance, but beware because this athletic, intelligent dog can work independently and challenge the first-time dog’s parents.
This breed is known for its high endurance and eagerness to work. Though huskies are high-energy and occasionally aggressive dogs, when properly cared for, they can be friendly and compassionate. They arrived in America via Alaska.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Siberian Husky
How To Take Care Of A Husky?
Are you someone who is absolutely smitten by Huskies? Are you fascinated by their amazing history of pulling sleds in the coldest regions of the Northern Hemisphere?
Well, we don’t blame you! Huskies look like beautiful, unique creatures right out of a fairytale. So it’s only normal to fall in love with them at first sight.
What makes this large breed dog even more awesome is that they are athletic, intelligent, and capable of adapting to any climate.
Although they’re a bit of a challenge to train, these affectionate and playful natured dogs make excellent pets for anybody who has a lot of energy and loves the outdoors.
However, before bringing this majestic creature home, you need a guideline on how to take care of them. So, keep reading to find out more and decide whether a Husky is the right fit for your home.
Additional Read: 8 Helpful Tips for Keeping Your Dog At a Kennel
Husky Feeding Guide
Given their size, Huskies don’t need as much food as you might think. They actually have very fast metabolisms and won’t eat food if they are full.
In fact, exercise plays a big part in their food consumption patterns as well. If your Husky has been very active, it will eat more than usual, but during periods of inactivity, it will eat less. Factors like size, age, and your Husky’s health will determine how much food it should be eating.
Additional Read: 10 tips for traveling with dogs
Generally, female Huskies should weigh around 35 pounds while male dogs should weigh around 60 pounds. A Husky weighing 50 pounds requires an estimated daily intake of 1,358 calories.
An adult Husky will need to be fed twice a day. As for puppies, start off by giving them three meals a day. Make sure you don’t let your Husky exercise or do intensive physical activity up to 90 minutes after feeding, or he might suffer from gastric torsion.
Huskies can live on raw food, commercial food, and even a diet that is a mixture of both. If you are following the mixed method, never feed both raw and commercial food at the same time as these are digested differently.
If you’re giving your Husky a commercial food diet, then make sure it is high quality with animal protein stated amongst the top three ingredients.
Useful Nutritional Tips
Lamb, chicken, and fish are the best sources of protein for your Husky’s diet. Vegetables are also essential for providing minerals and vitamins.
As for fats, chicken fat, canola oil, and flax seeds are healthy sources, while Omega 3s are especially good for your Husky’s skin and fur coat.
A type of Omega 3 known as DHA is also needed for Siberian Husky Puppies’ brain and eye development. The carbohydrate content in a Husky’s diet should be low, but you could add low glycemic carbs like sweet potatoes.
Huskies are often also lactose intolerant, so it is best for them to stay away from milk. Some other foods that may be toxic for your Husky include:
- Caffeine, soda, and chocolate
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and garlic
- Avocados, citrus peels, and fruit seeds
How to Groom Your Siberian Husky Dog
Huskies are generally very clean animals and don’t need much work in the grooming department. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t require any attention at all. There are still some things you’ve got to do to keep your Husky looking its best.
1. Bath Time
Since Huskies are so good at grooming themselves and very rarely smell bad, they don’t really need more than one bath a year.
In fact, it’s actually recommended that you don’t bathe them as frequently as other breeds as it does more harm to their skin than good.
I know, crazy, right? All the more reason to get a Husky! However, that once a year bath time can be quite a feat because your giant Husky isn’t used to it.
It’s okay if you find it difficult, though, because you can always take your dog to a professional groomer for its yearly bath.
Make sure the water is warm before bringing your Husky into the bathroom. Also, set up your bath supplies in such a way that they’re easily accessible.
Try to tempt your Husky into the bath using treats. If you feel like your Husky might run away in the middle of the bath, you could also try using this method.
Use a shower spray to rinse off your dog, but don’t make him too wet, as the fur will take forever to dry. And of course, use a special dog shampoo and conditioner – never your own.
When drying your Husky, you’ll need to have a lot of towels to hand. After the bath, take your Husky for a walk under the sun to ensure that he is completely dry.
2. Hair Care
Huskies shed a lot of their fur. In spring and fall, they go through a ‘blowing coat’ phase for a minimum of three weeks where their undercoats are completely shed – which is a pretty messy affair!
Huskies should be brushed once a week with a slicker brush. This will get rid of all the loose hair and leave your Husky’s coat looking shiny and clean. You can also try grooming clippers if you want to manually shed their fur.
And remember, even if it’s really hot during summer and you think shaving your Huskies hair would be a good idea, don’t do it! A Husky’s coat is its only protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
3. Dental Care
If you don’t look after your dog’s teeth, plaque and tartar might build up and cause problems. And let’s not forget how your dog will have an absolutely horrible breath. This is why regular brushing your Husky’s teeth is so important.
Although it can be quite difficult, try to brush your Husky’s teeth at least twice a week. Make sure you use a specially designed dog toothpaste and brush that your vet approves of.
Start by taking some toothpaste on your fingers and rubbing it onto his gums so that your Husky gets used to the taste. Then, make gentle brush-like movements with your fingers along your Husky’s gums and teeth.
The next day, repeat this with a brush. Gradually, with practice, the brushing process will get a lot easier. For ensuring better dental hygiene and breath, you could also give your dog high-quality dental chewable.
4. Paw Maintenance
You’ll be surprised to know that although the Husky sheds its entire coat, it doesn’t shed the hair on its paws. Since this hair is always growing, it can accumulate mud, splinters, thorns, chemicals, and a lot of other harmful things.
This is why you should keep this hair trimmed and always wash your Husky’s paws after they’ve been outdoors. You’ll need to trim your Husky’s nails once every one or two weeks as well. But getting your large, energetic Husky to sit still while you do it can be quite the task.
It’s best to get a helping hand to hold him down. Be very careful not to cut any veins and ease your dog into the whole process.
Exercise Needs of Huskies
Huskies are used to hard work and tend to be very energetic. If you plan on owning a Husky, you should be ready for a vigorous exercise routine every day.
However, never make your Husky exercise in extremely hot weather. Keep in mind that temperatures of 65ºF (18ºC) are considered too hot for your Husky.
But this doesn’t mean you should abandon exercise in summer altogether. Just keep the physical activities to a minimum and watch out for signs of overheating.
Larger dogs have difficulty staying cool, so you’ll have to take precautionary measures and give your Husky plenty of water to drink.
1. Physical Activities
Huskies need intensive physical exercise of at least 30 to 60 minutes every day. Long walks of 45 to 60 minutes are the best way to tire them out. You could also buy an attachment that would let your Husky run with you while you bike.
When cycling, it’s important that you go slow and adjust the pace to your Husky. Huskies love going hiking and swimming as well.
They’re basically the ultimate sporty dog breed. Fetching games with balls, sticks, and frisbees are also enjoyable for your Husky. Even better, if you have a backyard that’s big, take off your Husky’s leash and let it run free!
2. Mental Activities
Huskies need mental stimulation along with their physical exercise. In order to get your Husky’s brain working, you should arrange an agility course with obstacles.
You could also buy a Kong toy and fill it with treats. Then let your Husky figure out how to get the treats out. Even something as simple as playing hide and seek with your Husky is a fun and stimulating game for him.
How to Train Your Siberian Husky Dog
Huskies are quite difficult to train. Since these dogs are usually in packs, they believe in leadership and hierarchy. This is why you have to show your Husky that you are in control.
Unless your Husky understands this, it will not listen to you or follow your commands. You can get your Husky’s respect by speaking in a confident voice and being strong-willed. Try doing activities like eating before your Husky or entering a room before it to let your Husky know that you are the leader.
1. Basic Commands
Start off with basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘come,’ and ‘stay .’Once your Husky has mastered these properly, you can move on to more complicated things.
When your Husky displays good manners, always reward it with treats and praises. Don’t skip out on positive reinforcement approval has to be an immediate response to your Husky’s good behavior for this method to work.
As for disciplining your Husky, you’ve got to be firm and authoritative. Immediately say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ to discourage it from bad behavior. However, you should never be violent or angry.
If your Husky doesn’t follow a command you give, walk away and ignore him. Try again after a while and keep trying until he listens. If your Husky is being extremely stubborn, send him to a ‘time out’ area where he can’t have contact with other people.
2. Crate Training
Place some treats inside the crate to lure your Husky in. Once your Husky finds the crate and goes in, give it praise. Keep the crate door open and let it explore.
Make sure the crate has comfortable and soft washable bedding inside. Never force your Husky inside; wait until he goes involuntarily.
After around one week of him getting used to the crate, start closing the door. Don’t leave the room and stay right outside so your Husky can see you.
If your Husky starts crying, don’t open the door immediately. Try to get your Husky distracted by placing toys inside. Only open the door after your Husky quietens down for 30 to 60 seconds. The best way to crate-train your Husky is by introducing it when your Husky is tired or sleepy.
3. Potty Training
First of all, you’ll need to assign an area for your dog’s bathroom activities. This can be outside or inside, using a litter box.
Observe your Husky’s natural bathroom schedule and set alarms accordingly. A puppy will need more frequent bathroom visits, especially after playtime, meal times, and before sleep.
Initially, when you take your dog to the potty area, don’t just leave him to do his business. Wait for him to finish. After following this for a few weeks, let him take to the routine on his own. This will be easier if he is crate trained.
A dog does not go to the bathroom in the same place he sleeps. So, make sure the crate is just the right size for your dog, with no extra space. Your dog will automatically leave and go to his usual potty area when it is time to relieve himself.
4. Leash Training
Initially, when walking your dog, try attaching a leash and if that doesn’t work, use a harness. Once you’ve done that, be sure to give him a treat.
If your Husky is going at a pace faster than you and you are being dragged along, you should tighten your leash and make it shorter. Keep your Husky walking beside you by holding out treats in your hand after intervals of walking.
If your Husky is pulling at the leash, don’t yank his collar. Change direction and say ‘no’ firmly. This will tell your Husky that you are in control.
Keep practicing, and soon your Husky will be ready for walking on a leash. With time, you should even be able to loosen your Husky’s leash without it bolting in a different direction.
5. Teaching Social Skills
Take your Husky out on walks and to the dog park so that it learns to interact with humans and other dogs. You could also arrange to have playtime with another dog that is the same size.
By exposing your Husky to the human world, it will get used to unusual sounds and objects without getting excited. You’ll need to start doing this as soon as your Husky gets vaccinated.
Keep treats at hand and carry a favorite toy during walks so that you can distract it if your Husky sees a squirrel. Be very careful when your Husky is around children because they’re naturally predisposed to chase small animals.
But Huskies are never aggressive, so don’t worry. Introduce children slowly and let the Husky approach the child while he/she is holding a treat.
Health Issues of Huskies and Prevention
Generally, Huskies live for 12 to 15 years and may even live longer. However, there are a few health problems specifically faced by Huskies that you should look out for.
1. Eye Diseases
Cataracts are an eye problem Huskies commonly face. Although it is mostly seen in older dogs, Husky puppies of six to 18 months are also prone to this disease.
If you notice your Husky is blinking more than usual, it’s time for a checkup. Turn your Husky’s head to the side, and if you see white spots, it’s probably cataracts.
There are a variety of options to treat cataracts, such as medication, eye drops, and surgery. Detecting cataracts early is extremely important because if left untreated, your Husky could go blind.
Huskies also tend to have dry eyes. A symptom of this is thick discharge around their eyes. But don’t worry, you can solve this easily by applying an eye solution.
2. Joint Problems
Huskies unfortunately also suffer from joint problems such as Degenerative Myelopathy. If your Husky is moving around like a drunk person, stumbling and falling down constantly, it’s most likely suffering from this disease.
Huskies are also very prone to developing Arthritis. For these problems, you need to feed your Husky a nutritious diet and keep a careful watch on its weight. There is also medication that can relieve your dog from the pain.
3. Skin Conditions
Huskies are prone to a skin condition called Zinc-responsive dermatosis. This is easily identified by red and crusty spots on the skin. It will also make your dog look starved, with brittle nails and a dull coat.
This condition happens when your Husky’s intestines do not have the ability to absorb enough nutrients. The treatment for this involves a change in diet and adding Zinc as a supplement to his meals.
The Right Weather for Huskies
Huskies are quite resilient creatures and can survive in extremely cold weather due to their Siberian roots. However, their thick coat also makes them prone to overheating.
Even though Huskies are meant for the cold, you still have to take some measures to ensure your Husky is comfortable.
Your Husky shouldn’t be spending all its time outdoors just because it enjoys it. And for when he is outdoors, you’ll need to have a dog house that is properly insulated.
The best outdoor bedding for your Husky will be hay or straw. Adding blankets would be useless as they would freeze in the snow.
If you live in a warm climate, you’ll have to take more precautions. To adjust your Husky to the heat, you’ll need to provide it with shade, shelter, and water.
So when outdoors, your husky should have a covered place where it can rest, such as a dog house or a garage. If the temperatures are extremely high, keep your Husky indoors under the air-conditioning.
You could also use a hosepipe to cool your Husky down or keep a kiddy pool in the backyard so your Husky can take a dip.
Also, make sure that your Husky drinks lots of water and stays hydrated during hot summer days. It’s a water bowl that should always be full and easily accessible.
Suppose you’ve reached the end of this article, congratulations! You now have a basic idea of how to take care of a Husky. Huskies are a universal favorite breed, and their playful nature brings immense delight to everybody around them.
However, they can be quite strong-willed and independent, so it is important that you know how to deal with them. With love, patience, and enough training, you can get a loyal and fun pet that will never leave your side. So, go on and bring your Husky home!