Let’s just get this out of the way – Siberian huskies are gorgeous dogs. That wolfish appearance. Their white coat accessorized by red, black, sable, or gray (or sometimes entirely white). Some have blue eyes or even heterochromatic eyes. It’s no wonder people are drawn to these handsome canines.
But beneath that beautiful exterior lies a rugged, adventure-loving explorer. Today’s Siberian huskies are descended from the sled dogs used by the Chukchi people of northeastern Siberia, and their temperament is not far removed from their ancestors. These dogs were bred to run tirelessly over wild, frozen terrain for hours, problem solving on their own to find the best path. In the summers, they were set free to roam & hunt for their own food, then recalled in the winter to pull sleds. All of this has combined to create a dog that is fiercely independent, incredibly intelligent, & endlessly energetic.
If you have dreams of bringing home a Siberian husky (or Siberian husky mix), you should know what you’re getting yourself into. I have two Siberian huskies, now aged 10 & 12, and there were definitely some lessons I had to learn the hard way early on (RIP my DVD collection).
Here are the 4 tips I always share with people when they tell me they want a Siberian:
1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
No, really. If you want a Siberian, this is going to be your new mantra. Plan on at least an hour, twice a day, & probably more on weekends.
Even if you have a big back yard. Even if you have another dog for them to play with.
Remember, this is a breed that wants to run. It’s not fair to bring home a dog that lives to run unless you have a plan to accommodate that need. And believe you me, if a husky can’t run, then that energy is going to go somewhere else – namely into digging up your yard, destroying your house, & waking your neighbors at 3 a.m. by howling.
But the good news is you have many options at your disposal:
- Running with your husky
- Biking, rollerblading, or any other wheeled tool that lets you keep up with your husky while they run
- Hiking (on leash!)
Just remember, a tired husky is a happy husky.
2. Get Used To Playful Disobedience
Breed guides usually warn that Siberian huskies are not good “first-time” dogs because training them can be somewhat of a challenge.
I can vouch for the accuracy of this. If you want a dog who will do competitive obedience & learn a hundred tricks & be perfect even off leash, look for another breed.
It’s not that a husky is disobedient on purpose. It’s just that they see all their options in the situation, & if sitting or staying or heeling seems really boring, then why should they do it? YOLO, am I right? Why not just goof around & give a play bow & try to entice the human into a game instead?
Siberians absolutely can & should be taught all of these things. Just come prepared with patience, a sense of humor, & flexible training methods.
3. Hope You Like the Snow
This seems pretty obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning.
You’d be hard pressed to find a dog that loves snow & cold weather more than the Siberian husky. These are high energy dogs under normal circumstances, but if you live with a husky, you’ll definitely notice a difference in them once the weather turns colder. An acquaintance of mine from our local dog park calls it “husky mode” – an extra surge of energy brought on by dropping temperatures, cold wind, and frozen ground.
So if you’re the kind of person who hides indoors come November & stays there until May, do not get a husky. Neither of you will be happy.
4. Turn Your Yard into Alcatraz
Owing to their particular combination of intelligence & energy, plus their roaming instincts, Siberian huskies are escape artists. They can tunnel under walls, chew through tethers, squeeze through loose boards, & even climb some fences.
And if your husky isn’t getting all the exercise it needs? It’s not a question of “if” but “when” they will find a way to escape your yard.
Make sure you have a sturdy fence that is higher than your dog can jump. If your dog is a climber, you can install a coyote roller on the top of your fence. It’s also a good idea to bury chicken wire a few feet deep all around your fence so they can’t dig under it.
Ultimately, however, the best way to keep your husky from escaping is to make sure it gets the exercise & socialization it needs to stay happy. When all its needs are met, it won’t feel the desire to escape to seek fulfillment elsewhere.
If you still haven’t Googled “couch potato dog breeds” after reading this post, then congratulations! You might just be crazy enough to have a Siberian husky as your new best friend!