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Road test: Siberian Husky

Posted by: Paul Entwistle | 1 May, 2012 - 7:11 AM
Dr Tony Vigano road tests the Siberian Husky for the Afternoon show.

A member of the Spitz family of dogs which also includes the Norwegian Elkhound in the Hound group of dogs, the Pomeranian in the Toy group, the Keeshond in the Non-sporting group, and the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed and the Siberian Husky in the Working group.

A member of the Spitz family of dogs which also includes the Norwegian Elkhound in the Hound group of dogs, the Pomeranian in the Toy group, the Keeshond in the Non-sporting group, and the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed and the Siberian Husky in the Working group.

The Siberian Husky has special significance for those of us who can remember Sergeant Preston of the Yukon which was a radio program some 50 years ago. A Canadian Mountie who challenged the forces of evil at the time ably assisted by his dog King, the leader of his sled team. King was a Siberian Husky.

The Siberian Husky has been used extensively as a sled dog both in the Arctic and the Antarctic.

 

 

HISTORY:

 

A native of Siberia, the breed was brought to Alaska in 1909 having been used for centuries by the Chukchi people in Siberia to pull sleds, herd reindeer and perform watchdogging functions.

They are perfect for the harsh Siberian conditions exhibiting great stamina and finding use as a light weight sled dog.

They became internationally famous in 1925 during a diphtheria epidemic in Nome Alaska when they were used to relay precious medical supplies to the stricken city.

 

 

APPEARANCE:

 

A strong, compact working dog, they can be any colour from black to pure white. Most are black or red with white markings or shaded grey and the markings on the head can be quite striking and not found in any other breed.

Eye colour equally is unique, being blue, brown or amber and in any combination including eyes which can be half blue and half brown.

Their large feet have hair between the toes for gripping the ice and the tail is sickle shaped.

Their coat is extremely thick and weather resistant being made up of a woolly under and a softer outer coat. They grow to between 51-60cm in height, weigh 20-25kg. and live to between 12-15 years.

 

CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Extremely people oriented and friendly, they are gentle and playful though need a structured obedience program with an experienced instructor as they can be mischievous and willful.    

They are very intelligent, sociable, easy going and docile and have become very popular as a companion animal, though they are still used for sledding, carting and racing.

Bonding strongly with their family they need companionship or they become bored and can be destructive. For this reason and because they are a natural pack dog, many owners elect to have two or more.

They are also notorious roamers and so need a secure backyard and whilst they seldom bark they do howl so problems can arise with neighbours.

 

WHO SHOULD HAVE ONE:

 

From the above it is apparent that they are not for everyone and unless you have time to spend with your Siberian Husky it may be best to pass them by. For the right person who is prepared to let them into their life totally they have all the attributes of a first class family pet. Good with children and other family pets (though better if early socialised), they are friendly with strangers and if given plenty of exercise adapt well to apartments as they are quite active indoors, though a large, secure yard is an advantage.

They prefer cooler climates due to their heavy coats and if to be kept in Perth they need adequate shade and preferably an air conditioned home during the summer.

The coat does not need much care though heavy shedding occurs a couple of times a year and regular brushing is required using steel combs and slicker brushes to get rid of the dense undercoat and to prevent matting.

 

VETERINARY PROBLEMS:

 

Generally a healthy breed and relatively free of breed specific problems though there are a couple of notable conditions.

Hip dysplasia (an early onset hereditary arthritic condition of the hip joints) is a problem as can be progressive retinal atrophy. Both of these can be screened and so care is recommended in selecting a puppy. Juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, zinc related skin conditions and thyroid deficiencies are also reported as are metabolic diseases such as diabetes and Cushings syndrome.

 

In summation, the Siberian Husky is a friendly and devoted companion dog which is quite popular in Perth. Care must be taken to shield them from Perth’s oppressive heat in the summer and keeping them inside is preferable at this time of the year.

They tend to roam and so a secure backyard is essential but constant companionship by way of a house mate (another Husky) and the presence of their family is the answer so this needs to be factored into the decision of buying one (or two).

All these things considered they come highly recommended.

 

Tony Vigano

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