Complete Guide To The Siberian Husky: Care, Grooming, Personality and More

Tough as nails but tenderhearted, the rugged Siberian Husky embraces life. With their people by their sides, every day is a new adventure whether it’s at work or play.

I’ve been around Siberians for the past 20 years as a veterinarian and have gotten to know many of them quite well.

How Big Do Siberian Huskies Get?

Siberian Huskies are mid-sized dogs at 45–50 pounds and up to 23.5 inches tall. Often confused with the larger Alaskan Malamute, breeders prefer calling them Siberians because they’re not particularly husky. Compact, their bodies are strong but lean and even lanky.

What Coat Colors Do Siberian Huskies Come In?

Their thick medium coats come in a remarkable medley of shades, including:

• Black
• White
• Agouti and white
• Black and white
• Black, tan and white
• Brown and white
• Red and white
• Sable and white

Black points and piebald coats are acceptable for breeding or shows.

Eyes are brown, blue, or both — one of each isn’t uncommon. Ears are triangular, thick and high-set. Their bushy tails are a window to their souls — carried down when the dog is relaxed and over the back when excited.

What Is The Personality of a Siberian Husky?

Siberian Huskies are reserved but not shy. Intelligent and thoughtful, they seemingly think before they act and are rarely aggressive. They bond quickly with people, including children, and aren’t suspicious enough to be guard dogs.

Faithful family friends, human or canine companionship is a must — they’ll be miserable left alone for long hours. Best suited for an active lifestyle, all they want is to tag along with you wherever you’re going.

Bred to pull sleds, Siberian Huskies are born to run. Physically and mentally, they need a challenge. Without plenty of exercise, they’ll be frustrated and mischievous. Training, activity and commitment are the keys to a successful partnership.

How Much Grooming Do Siberian Huskies Need?

Siberian Huskies are clean dogs. They’re not prone to body odor and need only occasional bathing, but controlling seasonal shedding can be a battle.

Siberians have a bulky, two-layer coat — a short, dense layer close to the skin for warmth and a coarse, medium-length top coat. They’re virtually weatherproof, but the undercoat sheds twice yearly and needs aggressive thinning to be manageable.
Brush them weekly with a metal rake to remove dead hair. Use a long-pinned brush or a steel comb three times weekly during shedding season to strip the undercoat. Hair on the rear hindquarters and around the neck is particularly thick and prone to matting without vigorous combing.

The Siberians’ erect ears aren’t prone to infections, but an occasional cleaning keeps them fresh. Most dogs will get enough exercise to wear their nails down naturally, but check them monthly and trim them, if necessary, to prevent foot problems.

What Are The Exercise Needs Of A Siberian Husky?

This is a dog for the highly active person. Without daily vigorous exercise, a Siberian can become loud and destructive in the home. With the proper level of exercise, this will be the best friend you’ll ever have.

Examples of Good Exercise:

  • Walking at least 30 minutes vigorously daily
  • Hiking
  • Dog Park or Day Play
  • Swimming
  • Pulling a Wagon
  • Walking/Hiking With A Weighted Vest (only for adult dogs; be mindful of how much weight you have your dog carry based on their own weight)

Don’t forget the mental side of exercise as well. Engaging your Siberian’s brain and making them think is another great way to help tire them out and keep them happy. More advanced ways you can help your Husky include:

What Is The Best Food For A Siberian Husky?

Siberian Husky puppies are either chow hounds or they just don’t care that much about food. Adjust your feeding expectations accordingly.

Best Puppy Food For A Siberian Husky:

Best Adult Food For A Siberian Husky:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

How Long Do Siberian Huskies Live?

12-14 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Conditions Do Siberian Huskies Have?

Siberians are really healthy dogs. While you can always have an outlier that develops a condition like hip dysplasia or allergies, this is not a breed that I frequently see for any one particular issue.

The biggest issue my Siberian owners have is maintaining the proper weight of their dogs. This includes overweight as well as underweight dogs.

An overweight dog obviously needs calorie reduction which is usually accomplished by feeding the appropriate amount of food. I find that most of my clients who are overfeeding aren’t using the proper “cup” size to measure the food. Simply cutting the food back to the level that your bag of food recommends for the idea weight of your dog.

For example: your dog currently weighs 65 lbs and your veterinarian says he/she should lose 10 lbs. Check the bag of food that you’re feeding and accurately measure out what a 55 lbs dog should eat. If you’re already feeding that amount, then you need to cut back further.

If your dog is a chowhound and complains when you don’t “feed him enough,” then a low-calorie food would be the next best choice. Those foods have higher fiber levels so that the dog feels more full while getting less calories.

Where Can I Find a Siberian Husky?

Siberian Husky Club of America Breeder List

AKC Puppy Page

Want to Rescue? Siberian Husky Club of America Trust

Where Can I Find Out More About Siberian Huskies?

Siberian Husky Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Regional Siberian Husky Clubs

Interesting Facts About Siberian Huskies

Siberian Huskies have a fascinating history — it’s the stuff of bedtime stories.

• Climate Change Played a Role in Their Development

Ancestors of the Siberian Husky were bred by the Chukchi people, hunter-gathers in the Bering Sea region near both North American and Russia. As the climate naturally changed over time, they were forced to expand their hunting grounds to find food, developing a lightweight sled dog capable of carrying heavy loads over long distances in brutal conditions. Averaging less than 60 pounds, the Husky’s smaller size was an advantage because they required less food.

• Siberian Huskies Don’t “Mush”

Sled teams in the movies might run when they hear “mush,” but the truth is — it’s too soft a word to get the attention of most dogs. An anglicized version of the French word “marche,” meaning walk, it was once used as a start signal, but the “sh” sounds blend into the Arctic winds and is difficult to hear, even for a dog’s ears. Today, sledders use words with a hard sound, such “hike” or “go.”

Huskies Are Heroes

A Siberian-led sled dog team made a 674-mile run to Nome, Alaska in 1925, carrying serum to treat a deadly diphtheria outbreak. Led by the famous Balto, they made a month-long journey in just six days and saved many lives.

The “race for life” is commemorated annually during the Iditarod dog sled race, and a statue of Balto stills stands in Central Park today with a plaque that reads: “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dog that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice across treacherous waters through arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance. Fidelity. Intelligence.”

The Nose Knows

A Husky’s coat color genetically influences the shade of its nose. Gray dogs have black noses while black dogs have tan noses — sable Huskies have a liver nose. Snow nose, or winter nose — a reversible loss of pigmentation caused by fewer daylight hours — is also common in Huskies during cold months.

They Do the Siberian Swirl

No, the Siberian Swirl isn’t the latest dance craze. It’s the curled up position Huskies sleep in — tails over their noses — to conserve warmth in cold. Instinctive, the behavior persists today in all climates.

• Huskies Howl

Howling is a form of canine communication, especially among wolves from which Siberians were bred Huskies rarely bark because barking communicates aggression or territoriality. They do, however, howl to make their point — a trait thankfully responsive to training.

Siberians Don’t Mind the Spotlight

Siberian Huskies have had their share of movie roles in hits like Snow Dogs and Eight Below. They’ve also stolen a few celebrity hearts. Hollywood owners past and present include, British entertainer Rita Ora, actor and musician Jared Leto and actor-comedian Ben Stiller.