So you want a Siberian?
Siberians are natural born athletes.
Siberian Huskies were originally bred to provide a mode of transportation to the nomadic Chukchi people of Siberia. Imagine a dog that can pull a sled packed full of all of a person’s belongings and supplies for living, and I am sure you can imagine why they are called natural athletes. This breed was developed to WORK, therefore they need sufficient exercise, or they often become very difficult to live with. If they do not get the required exercise to tire them out and keep them occupied and happy, they will find outlets in digging, escaping or chewing . A good outlet for their energy must be found, whether that be two hour long walks a day, a long run or bike ride, or a pulling activity like sledding or skijoring. Siberians also need mental stimulation: things like teaching new tricks, mind games, snuffle mats and treat toys are great to keep their minds active.
Siberians LOVE to dig.
Exercise, play and interaction can reduce this but most often will not fully eliminate it. Siberians dig for recreation, to escape, to keep cool and to get warm. If you dream of a pristine yard with unmarked green grass, this breed might not be for you. It can be controlled by providing a “designated digging area” for your dog to take his digging out on!
Siberians can sometimes become destructive.
This goes back to the first two things I mentioned. If given appropriate stimulation for both mind and body, this can be kept to a minimum, but please be aware that if left alone for long periods of time, or not exercised properly, these dogs sometimes resort to chewing, digging, ripping and tearing of almost anything they can reach. This includes but is not limited to their own toys, furniture, curtains, jackets, shoes, carpets, baseboards, walls, door, and your hardwood floors. Dogs and puppies should be crate-trained to limit this while they are left alone, and sufficient exercise and stimulation should be provided while you are home.
Siberians should NEVER EVER, EVER be trusted off leash.
Siberians are NOT off-leash dogs; if you want a dog to play fetch in the lake with you or go on off leash hikes in the wilderness, then this is not the breed for you. These dogs were bred to run, and they are unquestionably good at it. I have seen the most well behaved, well-trained Siberian (my own) take off in a dead sprint for the horizon, and no amount of calling would even convince her to turn her head to see what the fuss was all about. I highly recommend keeping your Siberian on leash at all times to save from tragic heartache.
This trait has been selected for in this breed for centuries, and it is what makes them such great sled dogs. While a solid “Come” command is an asset, it can never be guaranteed to actually bring your Siberian home, and more often than not, is totally fruitless. Siberians should never be trusted off leash unless they are in a securely fenced area. Please do NOT consider a Siberian if you are not willing to keep your Siberian on leash or within a secure enclosure for their safety.
Siberians are escape artists.
Over, under or through… these dogs will find a way, and once loose, you may never get them back. A securely fenced yard or dog run at a minimum of 6 foot is very important for this breed, and something around the bottom of the yard so they cannot dig out is recommended, as many have been known to dig under or climb over fences. We have owned multiple who could clear a 6 foot fence and several who have dug under and got out. Some families will find that they need to build a roof for their dog-runs to keep their climbers in. We have chicken wire hanging a foot over the top of our perimeter so the jumpers and climbers cannot escape.
Siberians shed – ALOT!
Siberians blow coat twice a year – once from January – June and the again from July – December! LOL I am not exaggerating. If you can’t handle dog hair on your clothes, on your furniture, in your food… then the Siberian is not for you.
However, this can be managed if you are diligent. A good combing once a week will keep the coat cycling so that you can avoid the “big blow”, and a good vacuum cleaner is a must!
Siberians can be VERY challenging to train…
These dogs are not like retrievers who will obey your every wish and command, they always expect something in return, whether it be lots of praise, pets or treats! They CAN be extremely challenging to train, especially if you do not have the right mindset going in, but contrary to popular belief, it is not because they are not smart or because they are “un-trainable”; in fact, it is because they are too smart! I came across the best analogy for this, by, Syntari Siberians: “If you tell my Sheltie to jump off of a cliff, he will obediently do so. If you tell my Siberian to jump off of a cliff, he will say “After you, Mom.” Now, you tell me, which dog is smarter??”.
Don’t expect them to work for me for nothing, because I am sure that you wouldn’t work for nothing! Understand that you will have to keep their training interesting in order to keep them engaged. A sense of humor is essential for training and working with a Siberian, and you must keep things fun and change things up in order to get keep his focus! To me, the training challenges are actually a plus, not a pitfall, but you must be willing to accept this if you wish to bring a Siberian into your family.
It is STRONGLY recommend to use positive reinforcement for training your Siberian- in a nutshell, reward what you like and do not reward what you don’t like!
Siberians naturally have a high prey drive.
As with many of the larger, more primitive breeds, Siberians are considered to have a high prey drive. This means that small animals (rabbits, cats, rodents) can be at risk with this breed. If raised from birth and well socialized with them, the Siberian can be taught to live in harmony with small animals, but potential owners should be aware that owning both a Siberian and a small animal can be a risk. Keep in mind also that a small animal running through your yard could be too tempting for your Siberian to resist!
Siberians do not make good guard dogs.
Siberians are not very threatening besides their wolf-like appearance. Your Siberian would be more likely to lick a burglar than to warn him off. They like almost all people and will be un-fit guards of your home of property. They are also not considered “loyal” dogs; as much as your Siberian loves you, he will most likely love your in-laws or the kid down the street just as much. So although they would howl or bark to let you know someone is at your house, they are indeed a lover, not a fighter.
Siberians are GREAT with kids.
This goes back to the previous statement most Siberians are so friendly and outgoing that they are great with children. They don’t often roughhouse with people, making them great companions for families with kids, but you should be careful to ensure that they don’t knock children over in their willingness to say “Hi” to their human companions. NEVER allow your Siberian to jump up on children, even as a puppy, as this is a bad habit and can be very hard to break once the dog gets big enough to knock over a child! They are generally exceedingly gentle, especially when taught to be so from a young age. That being said, as with all dogs, never leave your Siberian unattended with your kids; accidents can and do happen.
Taken from the Siberian Husky Club Of America:
Are you interested in buying a Siberian Husky? Then, you’ve already heard how marvelous they are. We think you should also be told that they do have their shortcomings, and may not make the ideal pet for everyone who is attracted to them. Siberians are a gregarious lot and need the company of other dogs or of people at all times. If you work all day, or have room for only one dog . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
While capable of strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky is also very friendly with strangers. So, if you want the fierce loyalty of a one-man dog . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
The Siberian Husky is not a watch dog, although those ignorant of his true nature may be frightened by his appearance. If you want a dog with aggressive guard-dog instincts . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
At least once a year Siberians shed their coats. If you like fur all over the house and in the very air you breathe, then fine. If, however, you value neatness at all times, then . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
Siberian Huskies have a natural proclivity for digging holes in backyards. If you take great pride in your landscaping efforts . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
Of all the shortcomings to be found in Siberians, the most dangerous to the pet owner is their tremendous desire to RUN. But the very first dash that a puppy makes across the road could be his last run, anywhere. A Siberian, for his own protection, should be kept confined or under control at all times. If you are one of those people who think it is cruel to kennel a dog, or keep him confined in his own backyard . . . don’t buy a Siberian.
We just happen to believe that any dog is better off in a proper kennel than running loose all over the countryside. Yes, a kennel dog is missing a lot in life: the chance to be hit by a car; the fun of being dirty, full of burrs, and loaded with worms; the opportunity of being attacked by other dogs; the joy of being sick on garbage infested with disease; the pleasure of being tormented by mean kids; the thrill of being shot in a farmyard; and finally the great comfort of never knowing where he belongs or how to behave. We don’t want to see any Siberian become a TRAMP.
If you have read this far, honestly feel that you qualify on all counts, and are still determined to own a Siberian, then we take great pleasure in welcoming you to the fold. Join the rest of us in the smug complacency of knowing that we own the most beautiful, the smartest, the most nearly ideal dog in the world . . . the SIBERIAN HUSKY!