The Siberian Husky, Samoyed, and Alaskan Malamute are all breeds directly descended from the original sled dog, which 2004 DNA analysis confirms is one of the oldest breeds of dog
The Husky has been described as a behavioral representative of the domestic dog’s forebearer, the wolf, exhibiting a wide range of its ancestors’ behaviour. They are known to howl rather than bark. Behavioral issues include a tendency to roam and to make escape attempts – they have been described as escape artists; which can include digging under, chewing through, or even jumping over fences .
A Siberian Husky’s coat is thicker than that of most other dog breeds, comprising two layers: a dense undercoat and a longer topcoat of short, straight guard hairs. It protects the dogs effectively against harsh Arctic winters, but the coat also reflects heat in the summer. It is able to withstand temperatures as low as −50 to −60 °C (−58 to −76 °F). The undercoat is often absent during shedding. Their thick coats require weekly grooming.
Siberian Huskies come in a variety of colours and patterns, usually with white paws and legs, facial markings, and tail tip. The most common coats are black and white, then less common copper-red and white, grey and white, pure white, and the rare “agouti” coat, though many individuals have blondish or piebald spotting. Striking masks, spectacles, and other facial markings occur in wide variety. Merle coat patterns are not allowed.
The ASPCA classifies the breed as good with children. It states they exhibit high energy indoors, have special exercise needs, may pursue cats, and may be destructive “without proper care.” A 6 ft (1.83 m) fence is recommended for this breed as a pet, although some have been known to overcome fences as high as 8 ft (2.44 m). Electric pet fencing may not be effective. They need the frequent companionship of people and other dogs.
A fifteen-minute daily obedience training class has been shown to serve well for Siberian Huskies. Siberians need consistent training and do well with a positive reinforcement training program. They rank 45th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, being of average working/obedience intelligence. They tend to run because they were at first bred to be sled dogs. They were historically bred to be working and companion animals by the Chukchi people, and should always be gentle in nature. The Chukchi people use Siberian huskies to look after their children.
Health issues in the breed are mainly genetic, such as seizures and defects of the eye and congenital laryngeal paralysis. Hip dysplasia is not often found in this breed; however, as with many medium or larger-sized canines, it can occur. There is low risk for hip dysplasia, with only two percent of tested Siberian Huskies showing dysplasia.