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Siberian Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds and its origins like in north-eastern Siberia. This breed belongs to the Spitz family and it is a direct descendant of the original “sled dog”, along with the Alaskan Malamute and Samoyed. Husky’s are medium to large sized working dogs with a dense coat with typical triangular erect ears and a sickle tail. Its thick fur allows these dogs to survive in extreme conditions while pulling heavy loads of various goods through long distances in the harsh arctic environment. Siberian Husky was introduced into the US and Canada as a result of the Nome Gold Rush in Alaska, where they were used as sled dogs. These days, the Husky is still a popular sled dog breed, but they are also used as family pets and show dogs.
My Siberian Husky blog will provide you with the basics you need to know about these wonderful dogs. I will show you photos and videos featuring some nice Huskies and also tell you a bit about how to keep them. In case you own a Siberian Husky, please send me a photo and I will post it here. Thanks.
Siberian Huskies are docile and obedient dogs if treated properly, but they do have quirks that you need to look out for.
First of all, they were bred as work dogs, and as such are brimming with raw energy. They need to be constantly mentally and physically occupied or they will find ways to amuse themselves, and you, as their owner, will probably not like what they come up with. When bored and inactive for longer periods they will become rather destructive, chewing on everything that they can get a hold of, or if you keep them in a yard, digging holes wherever they find an available patch of dirt. You need to give them something to do, be it walks, obedience training, or just playing with them. It is also highly recommendable that you allow them to run as often as you can, this will help them stay in optimal shape and use up a lot of that excessive energy.
If properly socialized while young they will be very friendly towards people and children, but their strong prey drive usually makes them quite aggressive towards small animals. If they grew up with a cat, they will usually learn to tolerate it, but it is not unheard of that Husky who lived with a cat for years just suddenly killed it for no apparent reason. This instinct can at times override their obedience and training, so you should be careful, as they might just run off after an animal, ignoring your commands and potentially exposing themselves to various risks.
Their friendly nature makes them terrible guard dogs, they will probably not warn you of an intruder, but rather greet him as a well known friend, so don’t rely on them to keep your household safe. They are known for the fact that they don’t bark, but instead howl, but you needn’t worry, they don’t do that often enough to really be a problem. What you should worry about, though, is that they really shed a lot, so keep that in mind if you intend to keep a Siberian Husky indoors.
In 1925 an Alaskan city of Nome with the population of 1500 souls became icebound, as their only line of communication with the world – their port, was encased in ice. At first this didn’t seem as such a terrible thing, but soon after the city’s doctor Curtis Welch received his first case of what he at time thought was tonsillitis in a two year old boy.
This disease has similar symptoms as diphtheria, but the doctor dismissed the latter as a possibility because none of the people in the boy’s vicinity showed signs of this extremely contagious and resilient disease. Soon after the boy died more cases of apparent tonsillitis started popping up until people realized they were actually dealing with diphtheria.
Under normal conditions this wouldn’t be too terrible as the disease is easily cured with the appropriate serum, but unluckily for them, the city only had a small supply of an already expired serum in its stock. Doctor even tried administering some of it to a girl who was one of the first cases, but it was ineffective and the girl died. With the port frozen there was no way of dispatching the serum quickly enough for it to save numerous lives.
Transporting the serum by plane was proposed, but it was determined that it would not be possible, not only because of the terrible flying conditions and freezing cold that the pilot would have to endure, but also because there were no sufficiently trained pilots in the vicinity to even attempt the flight. The only option that remained was a sled relay.
Frank Knight was given 300,000 units of the serum from the Anchorage hospital and he transported it to Nenana. The planed relay route was 674 miles long and most of the ground it covered was extremely inhospitable and freezing cold. The relay started in Nenana on January 27 and the first part of the relay already resulted in for dogs that died of exhaustion and cold. The relay lasted for 5 days and included 20 mushers and somewhere around 150 dogs, many of whom gave their lives in this frenzied race. One of them, Balto, who was the leading dog in the last relay sled, even became famous for his dedication. The dogs showed such endurance, and what is much more important, such loyalty that made them obey their masters and run until they dropped dead from exhaustion, that the breed became one of the most popular and loved dog breeds of the time.
The heroic actions of men and dogs that gave all that they had in this relay are commemorated in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which is held annually.
Siberian Huskies are dogs with beautiful double coats that need to be groomed for the dog’s comfort. Not only is grooming your dog a nice way to strengthen your bond it also makes him more accustomed to being handled by people, which will make going to the vet much easier, and it will stimulate his coat to produce more beneficial oils. You also get the chance to inspect your dog for parasites or skin irritations that can become more serious if unnoticed for a long time.
First you should use a pin brush to scrape off as much of the shed hair as possible. Take great care to do this as gently as possible because the hair can be matted and if you catch this hair with a brush and pull you might hurt your dog. Huskies shed a lot so expect this to last for a while and don’t be surprised if you find more hair than you expected.
During the brushing look at the dog’s exposed skin and try to see if there are any irritations. If you find any don’t ignore them, after the bathing you should disinfect them and apply antibiotic ointment. Even if they look insignificant in size or severity, bear in mind that they can grow rapidly if left unattended and cause your dog quite a bit of discomfort and even infections. If you determine that what looked like an irritation is actually a tick, don’t just pull on it in hopes that you’ll get it out that way. That might cause its mouth to break of and remain in the dog’s bloodstream, possibly causing infections. Instead cover the bite with Vaseline, and once the tick releases its hold on the skin and comes up for air, remove it with pincers.
You shouldn’t bathe your dog too often, but it might help him during the shedding period. Soak your dog with warm water until you are sure that he is completely drenched. Once he is, cover him in a mild shampoo, if you can’t find any of the special dog shampoos use a baby shampoo instead. You don’t need to massage it into his fur, just pour it over him until he is completely covered. Leave it in for some time, and then proceed to meticulously rinse it out. You mustn’t leave any shampoo in the coat, as it will cause irritation. Dry the dog, first with a towel and then with a blow dryer set to a low temperature.
Check the insides of the Husky’s ears for parasites or wax build up. It would be good if you used antibiotic ear wash as this pretty much insures that your dog will not suffer from infections. Once the ears are checked out it’s time to trim the nails. If you’ve never done this before and you don’t have a steady hand this step might be something that you would want to leave to the professionals. If you cut too high you might cause bleeding, so if you do decide to do this have some clotting agent at your disposal.
Siberian Huskies were first bred as work dogs that lived under great physical strains and in terribly harsh climates. As such they are very resilient and generally healthy, but there are some conditions that are commonly found in Huskies. As an owner, you would do well to stay informed on such conditions in order to be able to recognize their early symptoms and stop them from progressing further.
Like many breeds, Huskies often suffer from genetic eye disorders. One of such disorders is cataracts. They usually develop in older dogs, but Siberian Huskies can sometimes be afflicted with juvenile cataracts which can start developing when the pup is just several months old. You can recognize the onset of cataracts by the appearance of cream or gray colored specks in the dog’s eyes. If you do notice such specks contact your vet immediately, surgical solutions are available, but if the condition is left untreated for too long it might lead to blindness.
Corneal dystrophy is another hereditary eye disorder that Huskies often suffer from. It attacks the layers of cornea and usually if it is present in one eye, it will be in the other one as well. Depending on the layers it affected it might result in small ulcers. It can also manifest itself as white areas in the dog’s eyes. There are medications that are able to repair smaller damages to cornea, but surgical procedure might be necessary for the more advanced cases.
Entropion is also an eye condition which is characterized by an eyelid (usually lower) that is not developing properly, and starts growing inward towards the dog’s eye. It usually develops early in the dog’s life, and while it can be repaired surgically, it is probably best to wait while the dog is a bit older and his facial bones are better developed.
Zinc-responsive dermatosis is condition that causes the dog’s skin to become crusty, and it is caused by the dog’s inability to properly absorb zinc from its nutrition. The condition is easily counteracted by the addition of extra zinc to the dog’s diet, sometimes this will be required for the rest of the dog’s life. If left unnoticed the dog might scratch the irritated skin and cause further irritation, wounds and inflammation.
Siberian Huskies are also known to suffer from laryngeal paralysis. This is basically a disorder of nerves that regulate breathing. This condition prevents the laryngal muscles from properly opening the larynx when the dog tries to breathe in. Its symptoms are labored and rasping breathing. If it is of hereditary type it will usually develop in a dog before he reaches 6 months of age, but other types of this condition might come up later in a dog’s life. If the condition is not too severe, keeping your dog away from stress and heat will be enough for it to stop having breathing problems. In more severe cases, however, a surgery is required.
Siberian Huskies make loyal and obedient pets, but in order for them to love and respect you, you need to extend the same courtesy to them. If you plan on bringing a Siberian Husky home you need to know that they are an extremely energetic breed and that your new puppy will spend most of the day sniffing around and looking for ways to amuse himself. That’s why your house needs to be ready for a lively but not too cautious dog.
Remove all the electrical cables that he could chew on, as well as any swallowable small items that the puppy might not be able to pass naturally. Cover all of the openings in the fence if you intend on keeping your puppy outside, as Husky’s prey drive is very strong and you shouldn’t be at all surprised if you find that your dog has run off chasing a cat or some other small animal. This might be dangerous even with the adult dogs, but puppies are much more likely to get hurt during such escapades.
Make sure to call a reliable vet as soon as you bring your puppy home, he or she will tell what vaccinations need to be given to the dog, as well as how much and how often you should feed him. Generally, all puppies require a steady three meals a day at first, and you can never go wrong with buying premium quality food for your little friend.
Be warned, Huskies shed a lot, so if you are particularly bothered by that it might be smart to keep them outside. They can handle low temperatures well, and are somewhat resistant to heat as well, but make sure that they have some shade during the hotter months. Treat your puppies with kindness and patience and they will grow into beautiful and devoted dogs that will bring you a lot of joy.