Huskies and other animals
Huskies are typical pack dogs and LOVE to be with their human and canine friends. We do not recommend keeping a husky as a single dog as they are often very lonely, get depressed and resort to destructive behaviour. Nevertheless occasionally we have huskies that are not good with other dogs and have to be re-homed alone – if you are interested in a single dog, please contact us and we will put you on our waiting list. Huskies usually get along with all kinds of dogs but seem to have a preference for their own breed – if you have ever seen a pack of huskies play with each other you understand what I am talking about, so we usually recommend that you keep huskies in pairs. Some huskies might not be good with small dogs – if they have not been socialized with them, they might see them as prey or they might simply play too rough and be to boisterous for small, fragile dogs – we can advise you which of our rescues can be re-homed to smaller doggie friends. Huskies have a very strong prey drive – in Siberia where the breed existed for thousands of years huskies were free to roam during the summer months and had to fend for themselves – they know how to hunt and kill and our modern huskies have not forgotten this part of their heritage. Huskies will hunt and kill livestock like chicken, sheep and goats as well as any other small animals that live in your household (cats, parrots, hamsters etc). Therefore we do not recommend re-homing a husky with any of the above. If you do have cats and still want to adopt a husky, we recommend that you consider a puppy or husky mix – while this is not a guarantee that the dog will be cat-friendly, it increases your chances significantly. In any case please never leave your cat and dog together unsupervised.
Huskies and guard duties
Do not get a husky if you want a guard dog!!! Huskies are typically friendly to everybody and absolutely do not make good watch dogs!! On the contrary, during a burglary at your house your husky simply might run off through the open front door.
Huskies and children
Huskies are usually very good with children, even very small ones. Nevertheless remember that huskies are high-energy dogs and might knock a small child over while running and jumping around – in any case a small child should never be unsupervised with any dog. If you adopt a rescue, please explain to your children that the newcomer had a stressful time and will need some quiet time to settle into your household. Also explain to them to not approach the dog while it is sleeping or during feeding time. We can also advise you which dog has already lived with children.
Huskies and energy levels
Huskies typically have high energy levels. They are working dogs and were bred to pull a sled for hours every day in very tough conditions, so they have great stamina and are also very smart. If you want a happy husky, you will have to provide your dog with a lot of physical as well as mental exercise. This can be done in the form of long, on-leash walks, jogging, letting your husky pull you on a bike or scooter, taking them for dry-land sledding, clicker training, dog dancing, agility, fly-ball etc. If you provide your husky with a lot of stimulation, it will help to keep him out of trouble e.g. digging up your garden, chewing your sprinkler system, ripping the washing in tiny pieces or looking for a bone right in the middle of your couch! Please also be aware that huskies were bred to pull, so some huskies might not walk very well on leash and still need some training. If you have a very busy life and cannot spend a lot of time exercising your husky, we suggest that you consider adopting an older dog. Huskies age very gracefully and maintain their good looks well into old age, but their need for exercise will diminish slightly with their age.
Huskies and secure confinement
Huskies are bred to run, run, run, run, run....... and in addition to this are very curious dogs – they will use every opportunity to check out the neighbourhood, or the doggies next door, or the cat on the other side of the road. This is why we only re-home our rescues to “husky-proof” properties (at least 1,8m high walling, double gated or separate front and back garden). Huskies will run and often get lost, taken in by people with no good intentions or hit by a car. Please also remember that most huskies cannot be trusted off-leash and have to be exercised on-leash at all times.
Note: Blue eyes are not a sign that a husky is purebred as a lot of people still believe.
The breed standard of a Siberian husky states that their eyes can be any colour (blue, brown, amber, green, or a mixture of all of these colours). The quality of a Siberian husky should be judged by its ability in pulling a sled, not its eye or coat colour.
PROS AND CONS
The Minus Points
- Not a one-man dog- any human will do- this may be seen as a lack of loyalty.
- He will not guard your home or property.
- Strong desire to run. If he gets free he will run so far he will be lost, if not hit by a car or train, or shot by a farmer.
- Cannot be relied on to return to you on command. He will decide whether or not to return for himself, knowing that you cannot catch him.
- Too independent and strong willed generally to be a candidate for obedience training/work, but this does not mean they are stupid dogs. Huskies are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog due to their incredible ability to problem solve – and this is what makes them keen escape artists.
- Keen and efficient hunter and killer and cannot be trusted with non canine pets or livestock of any sort. On occasion been known to accept into the pack a cat that he is brought up with, but all others will be regarded as fair game. Please note – huskies have been known to kill cats that they have lived happily with for many years, for no obvious reason.
- Like any dog - must be exercised to keep him fit and content, but this must be done ON lead.
- Can be very destructive, especially when young and/or if left alone for a long time.
- Needs company, both human and canine, and is miserable without it.
- Needs a safely enclosed exercise area. Your garden must be fully fenced and secure. Six foot high fencing USUALLY is enough (1.8 meters). Check neighbours will not object to high fences. Take care he cannot dig his way out beneath it, and do not leave dustbins etc near the fence or he may use them to get over the top. Keep the garden gate locked otherwise there is a risk that visitors, window cleaners etc may leave them open.
- Your garden is unlikely to remain neat and tidy with a husky rampaging happily within.
- He needs correct feeding- breeders will be able to tell you which foods suit huskies and which can cause problems, they have sensitive digestive systems and require a good quality diet.
- Moults twice a year. The quantity of fur shed can surprise you, especially in spring when the winter coat is replaced by a shorter summer coat.
- You need an understanding and experienced veterinary surgeon. Huskies are sensitive to some drugs, particularly anaesthetics, sedatives and tranquillisers. This is due to their relatively low metabolic rate and lack of body fat. Also the bulk of their fur can lead vets to overestimate their weight and so overdose them. Huskies should always be weighed accurately beforehand to avoid this.
The Good Points
- Friendly with people of all ages.
- An honest dog – his body language and voice can be taken at face value - he says what he means.
- He has no guarding instinct and will greet and kiss an intruder the same as any other visitor.
- Gregarious - he likes company.
- Youthful in outlook, he often reaches 14 years of age, sometimes 16 or more.
- Robust athletic constitution.
- Good travellers, new sights and sounds do not upset them.
- Intelligent and mischievous.
- Easygoing and forgiving.
- Clean, little or no doggy smell. Some people allergic to dogs can tolerate Siberian husky fur.
- Straightforward to groom, but do require regular grooming.
- Quiet. They do not often bark, but they do howl like a wolf often just for the joy of it. This may be a disadvantage in some neighbourhoods.
- They do not require as much food for their size as many other breeds.
- Get on well with other well adjusted canines. However they will take up a challenge if offered. The above assumes a normal puppyhood and socialisation.
If you decide that you can handle the quirkiness of this breed, then you are in for a treat because more fulfilling a relationship you will not find. This breed not only entrenches itself into your family and home but into your life. Huskies are not your average dog. They have very unique traits which are not common to many other breeds of dogs. Some husky owners describe their husky’s behaviour as “cat-like”. Huskies need and love to exercise. Enough exercise keeps them content and out of mischief. They will be less inclined to dig and chew and howl if they are properly exercised. So if you are a couch potato, then a husky is not for you! If you like magic, then you are in for a treat with your husky! Harry Houdini has nothing on this breed. If there is a way out of the property, this dog will find it! Huskies don’t come back either. It isn’t that they don’t love you or their home; it is just simply in their blood. It’s a case of “have husky blood...will travel”.
Siberian huskies are wonderful, fun, beautiful, loving dogs, but they are not the right breed for every person or a good addition to every household. So please inform yourself about the breed characteristics and about the character of a specific dog you might be interested in before you get a Siberian, especially if you consider adopting a rescue.
A lot of our rescue dogs have been bought as expensive puppies by owners who did not do their homework on husky behaviour and just wanted a beautiful dogs with the blue eyes and a few months later, when these cute puppies start behaving like sled dogs, they find themselves in rescue, on the streets or on death row at the SPCA. Taking a husky into your home and into your family is a commitment.
THANK YOU for going through all this information – if you still think that a husky is the right dog for you, please contact one of our HR-KZN representatives.
Adapted from Husky Rescue South Africa