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So You Want A Husky?

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There’s no doubt that Huskies are beautiful, truly remarkable dogs with a striking appearance and unique abilities, but are they the right kind of dog for you?

Since I had the pleasure of handling multiple Huskies during my career as a professional dog walker and pet sitter, today I’ll share some insights into this sled dog breed.

Specifically, 3 stories that explain why Huskies are also known as the Houdinies of dogs, which activity they excel at and whether or not they make good family dogs.

So You Want A Husky? - Husky lying on the ground.

Now without further ado, here’s a closer look at the Husky!

So You Want A Husky? 15 Facts About This Breed

1. Huskies Are Working Dogs From Northeastern Siberia

Huskies are medium-sized working dogs originally bred by the Chukchi people of northeastern Siberia, Russia.

They were primarily used as sled dogs to transport and haul supplies across long distances in Arctic conditions, but they were also used to help track, chase and surround reindeer and elk.

2. Siberian Husky Balto’s Monument Is The Iconic Symbol Of Sled-Dog Racing

In 1925, a Siberian Husky called Balto led the final leg of a serum run to Nome, Alaska, during a diphtheria outbreak. 

The town of Nome was facing a medical emergency as it lacked sufficient antitoxin, and the only available supply of serum was in Anchorage, Alaska, nearly 700 miles away.

A relay of dog teams, including Balto’s team, was organized to transport the serum to Nome. 

Balto and his musher, Gunnar Kaasen, navigated through harsh weather including limited visibility and icy conditions, but successfully delivered the serum to Nome on February 2, 1925.

To honor Balto’s role in the life-saving mission, the city of New York unveiled a statue of him in Central Park on December 17, 1925. 

So if you’re ever in NYC, go say hi to Balto!

3. Huskies Need Lots Of Daily Exercise

Balto’s story shows beautifully that Huskies have excellent stamina which allows them to cover vast distances without tiring easily.

Of course that means that they’re well-suited for sled racing, but they also excel in other endurance activities.

For example, long-distance running like canicross, bike-joring and ski-joring, all of which work best with specific dog pulling harnesses.

Husky client Milo out on a jog

4. Huskies Are Intelligent Dogs Who Love to Wander

Just as a heads up, you can’t keep Huskies in a fenced-in backyard all day long! 

If you do, they WILL find ways to entertain themselves and are known escape artists – hence the nickname “Houdini dogs”!

After all, their working background as sled dogs had them cover long distances across vast Arctic landscapes, and that’s also where their strong instinct to explore and wander comes from.

I remember one particular Husky who frequently walked with me and my personal dogs Missy & Buzz – and no, he was not one of my dog walking or pet sitting clients!

This pup lived in the same neighborhood as we did and unfortunately, he was left to his own devices way too often. 

So he dug out underneath his fence regularly and would walk with us for a bit before he went to investigate people’s front yards. 

Thankfully, he was very friendly and never caused any real problems other than leaving piles of poop behind.

Loose neighborhood Husky walking with us

I also remember one of my clients’ sharing the story of how his teenage Husky Milo frequently jumped the fence to explore the golf course greens he lived next to.  

And that’s although he went on daily runs with his owner!

I didn’t meet Milo until he was around 10 years old, and at that point he had slowed down a bit. 

Similarly, one of my friends who also has a Husky, Koda, told me that he figured out how to open the patio door to the balcony! 

He didn’t wreak any havoc other than make himself comfortable on a cushioned patio chair, waiting for her to come home.

So having shared all that, please understand that Huskies do need jobs and regular exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior! 

Especially while they’re young and adventurous.

Walking Husky clients Haley (left) and Milo (right)

5. They’re Great Problem Solvers

As I just laid out, Huskies are quick learners who can analyze their environment to find weaknesses in barriers or latch mechanisms.

While this can be frustrating, I recommend you try and channel their cognitive skills into something more productive. 

For example, figuring out mentally engaging, interactive dog toys such as:

  • Puzzle Toys: These toys usually have hidden compartments or treats that require the pup to push moving pieces around to reveal treats or toys. 
  • Food-Dispensing Toys: Huskies enjoy the challenge of working for their food. Food-dispensing toys like stuffed Kongs filled with a mixture of wet food or peanut butter and frozen, can keep them occupied for extended periods. Bonus: They also help slow down their eating pace.
  • Frozen Treats: Since Huskies have a natural affinity for cold climates due to their heritage, frozen treats can keep them occupied for extended periods. 
  • Hide and Seek: This burns mental energy and strengthens the bond between Huskies and their owners. Here’s how to play: Have your pup “stay”, go hide somewhere in your home, then call them! Reward when they find you, then repeat multiple times until you run out of hiding spots. 
Husky Milo staying busy with a frozen dog treat

6. Their Dense Double Coat Has Three Benefits

Huskies have a dense double coat that provides insulation and protection from the cold as well as from the sun.

Since the outer guard hairs of the thick Husky coat are relatively coarse, they also repel dirt.

So even though you may feel like a good shaving might benefit Huskies especially during the hot summer months, don’t do it! 

7. The Husky Coat Blows Heavily Twice A Year During Shedding Seasons

Instead of shaving your Husky’s coat, give it a good weekly brushing with a bristle brush to maintain the health of their coat and prevent matting.

Speaking of their coat, it comes in black, gray, white, and various combinations of these colors.

8. Huskies Are Relatively Clean by Nature

Huskies are fastidious self-groomers! 

Just like cats, they have a natural inclination to keep themselves clean by licking and nibbling their fur. 

This helps remove dirt and loose hair from their coat and minimizes the need for frequent baths or extensive grooming.

Compared to some other breeds, Huskies tend to have a relatively low natural odor as their dense coat and self-grooming habits help to keep odors in check.

9. Huskies Have Striking Eyes

Huskies often have striking blue or multi-colored eyes, adding to their unique appearance. 

Some Huskies also have different colored eyes!

Client Husky Piper had one blue eye and one brown eye

10. Huskies Are Generally Good-Natured and Affectionate

They have a friendly and outgoing temperament and are known to be gentle and patient with children.

That makes them great family pets who also get along nicely with other dogs. 

Remember the loose Husky who was walking with us? 

This could have been an entirely different encounter if he hadn’t been so friendly!

Treat time for Huskies Haley (left) and Milo (right)

11. However, Their Independent Nature Can Sometimes Make Them Challenging to Train

Huskies are known to be selectively obedient! 

After all, they were bred to be working dogs with a high level of autonomy, and their independence can make them less inclined to follow commands. 

That said, they may choose to ignore commands if they don’t see a direct benefit or if they find something more interesting happening around them. 

12. They Have a Strong Prey Drive 

Huskies also have a high prey drive, which means they have a strong instinctual urge to chase after – and catch! – small animals. 

My friend’s Husky Koda has caught multiple rabbits, and when I was out on a walk with both of them, I even witnessed him catch a frog mid air! 

This drive can make it challenging to train them to reliably come when called, especially outside, and it also doesn’t make them the best choice for homes with small pets.

13. Huskies Are Pack-Oriented

That’s because of their long history of living and working in groups where they were harnessed together in teams to pull sleds over long distances. 

Having said that, they thrive when they have strong social connections within their pack, whether it’s their human family or other dogs and hate being home alone.

14. Huskies Are Prone to Howling

Since Huskies have this strong pack instinct, they’re known to howl as it’s a way to gather their pack members, create a sense of unity and help coordinate activities.

Keeping that in mind, they howl when they’re excited, anxious, lonely, or looking for attention. 

15. Huskies Can Live 12-15 Years

Thanks to their good general health, Huskies can live long lives although there’s obviously differences.

For example, my senior Husky client Milo lived to be 16 years old and still enjoyed his daily walks, although they were slower ones towards the end.

But unfortunately, his “sister” Haley (not from the same litter) crossed the rainbow bridge way too early at only 10 years of age as she was diagnosed with cancer that had already spread. 

Senior Husky Milo with his favorite pet sitter (me!)

Bottom Line

So, do you still want a Husky?

Remember that Huskies are known for being vocal dogs, and howling can be a way for them to express various emotions. 

Also, Huskies have a strong instinct to explore and wander and are known escape artists!

To keep this urge in check, it’s crucial to provide them with proper exercise, mental stimulation, and a secure and well-maintained enclosure. 

But even high fences with secure foundations and locks are no guarantee to deter their escape attempts if they feel bored!

Regular exercise, interactive toys like puzzles that provide mental stimulation, as well as engaging training sessions can help keep them mentally and physically satisfied and reduce their urge to wander.

Since they’re very active dogs, they require lots of daily exercise and make great running or canicross partners!

They enjoy companionship and can feel more secure and content when they’re part of a social unit.

So, ready to share your life with a Husky? Let us know in the comment section below!

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So You Want A Husky? - Husky lying on the ground

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