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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Siberian Huskies Breed-FAQ

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:21:56 GMT

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/huskies Posting-frequency: 30 days URL: http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/huskies.html Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
======= There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/lists/faq-list.html, or via email by sending your message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with send usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list in the body of the message. This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s). This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty. ========== Siberian Huskies Author Stephen R. Lee OooWoo Racing Kennel 159 Monte Rey South Los Alamos, NM 87544 (USA) srlee@rt66.com http://www.rt66.com/~srlee/ Other contributors: * Charmaine Budden, December 1, 1992 * Stacey E. Curtis, December 1, 1992 [sec@softserver.canberra.edu.au] * Joy Krikowa (Schekowa Kennels), December 1, 1992 * Henry Cordani, Feburary, 1995 * Brenda Rosebrock, August, 1995 * Brenda Potter, August, 1995 * Betty Goetz, August, 1995 Revisions: * Addresses updated in 1994 by Cindy Tittle Moore. * Additional breed clubs added (supplied by Henry Cordani). List of breeders removed. 2/95, CTM * Parts re-written, Stephen R. Lee, September, 1995. Copyright 1994, 1995 by Stephen Lee. _________________________________________________________________ Table of Contents * Description * History * Characteristics and Temperament * Care and Training * Special Medical Problems * Frequently Asked Questions * Resources + Books + Periodicals + Breed Clubs + Breeders + Online _________________________________________________________________ Description Siberian Huskies are a medium sized, strong, graceful, and tenacious sled dog. They are a handsome dog, energetic and dignified. While they are a medium sized dog, they are extremely strong, able to pull light loads at moderate speeds for long distances. AKC Official Siberian Husky Standard The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others. The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the breeder to strive towards. Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the Standard. _________________________________________________________________ History The Siberian Husky was originally developed by the Chukchi people of northeastern Siberia as an endurance sled dog. They were also used to herd reindeer. In 1909, the first large numbers of these Chukchi dogs were brought to Alaska to compete in the long-distance All-Alaska Sweepstakes races, and the Alaskan dog drivers quickly recognized the ability of these small, compact dogs from Siberia. In the winter of 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic broke out in the isolated town of Nome, Alaska, a relay of dog teams brought life-saving serum from distant Nenana. This heroic endeavor earned national prominence for the drivers and their dogs. One of these drivers, Leonhard Seppala, brought his team of Siberian Huskies, descendants of the original imports from Siberia, to the United States on a personal appearance tour. While in New England he competed in sled dog races and again proved the superiority of Siberian Huskies over the native dogs. The New England drivers and pioneer fanciers acquired foundation stock, earned AKC recognition for the breed in 1930, and founded the Siberian Husky Club of America in 1938. _________________________________________________________________ Characteristics and Temperament Coat and Grooming The Siberian Husky is a comparatively easy dog to care for. He is by nature fastidiously clean and is typically free from body odor and parasites. Siberian s clean themselves like cats. In fact, a Siberian that becomes soiled with mud will clean himself up. Therefore, bathing requirements are minimal. In fact, most owners bathe their dogs once per year or less. Twice a year, Siberians "blow" their undercoats, that is, they shed their undercoats completely. It is a very intense shedding period that can last three weeks or more from start to finish. The good news is that this only happens twice a year. The remainder of the time, Siberians are relatively shed free. Some people feel that this periodic problem is easier to cope with than the constant shedding and renewal of many smooth-coated breeds. The bad news is that the shedding period can be rather messy. The hair comes out in large and small clumps. Lots of vacuuming and brushing are in order. It should be noted, however, that this shedding "schedule" is _climate dependent_. Some owners that live in very warm climes, ones that lack clearly defined "seasonal changes," report some shedding year round in the breed. Other than during coat-blowing season, the Siberian needs very little grooming. No trimming or shaving of hair is required or recommended. Just occasional brushing to remove dead hair and keep the coat fresh and shiny is required. Their nails should be checked and clipped periodically, and their feet should be checked regularly to ensure good health, particularly in actively working dogs. Temperament The Siberian Husky has a delightful temperament, affectionate but not fawning. This gentle and friendly disposition may be a heritage from the past, since the Chukchi people held their dogs in great esteem, housed them in the family shelters, and encouraged their children to play with them. The Siberian Husky is alert, eager to please, and adaptable. An aggressive dog is not a team dog, and therefore a lousy sled dog. Siberians are an extremely intelligent and independent breed. They can be very stubborn, owing to their original purpose, and they are easily bored. This independent and stubborn nature may at times challenge your ingenuity. His versatility makes him an agreeable companion to people of all ages and varying interests. However, this is not a breed that is typically recommended for first-time dog owners, as mistakes are easy to make and sometimes difficult to fix with this remarkably intelligent and opportunistic breed. While capable of showing strong affection for his family, the Siberian Husky is not usually a one-man dog. He exhibits no fear or suspicion of strangers and is as likely to greet a would be thief as warmly as a trusted family member. This is not the temperament of a watch-dog, although a Siberian Husky may unwittingly act as a deterrent to those ignorant of his true hospitable nature, simply due to his intense personality and appearance. Barking, Talking, and Howling Siberian Huskies are rather quiet dogs. They do not typically bark. They do talk, however, in a soft "woo woo woo" sound. They can also howl quite well. Owners of multiple Huskies report frequent howling, starting and stopping simultaneously. Since the Siberian, like other northern breeds, is a very pack oriented animal, this behavior is typical. _________________________________________________________________ Care and Training Feeding When you collect your puppy, your breeder should tell you what the puppy's diet has been to date, as well as recommendation as to the best food and feeding frequency in the future, both for while the dog is still a puppy as well as when the dog is an adult. You should try and follow the puppy's diet at the time you collect him from the breeder as best you can, until the puppy is settled in to its new environment. Then you can gradually change the diet to suit your preferences. Remember that sudden changes in diet can severely disrupt the puppy's digestive system and cause gastric distress. The Siberian requires a relatively small amount of food for his size. This trait may be traced to the origins of the breed, as the Chukchis developed their dogs to pull a light load at a fast pace over great distances in low temperatures on the smallest possible intake of food. As for the type and "brand" of dog food, basically any reputable dog food manufacturer provides a dog food that is sufficient to keep a dog healthy. However, the premium brands of dog food have the advantage that one can feed the dog less and still get very good nourishment. In addition, stool size and amount is generally less with the premium dog foods. Keep in mind that feeding dogs is partly art, and partly science. The dog food manufacturers have done the science part. The rest is up to you. Some people feed their dogs a mix of canned and dry food twice a day. Others feed only dry and allow free feeding, and so on. Be sure and pick a frequency of feeding, brand, and type of food to suit your dogs needs. For working Siberians, a "performance" formula is in order. For Siberians that go for walks and hikes, a "maintenance" formula is usually best. Consult your breeder and veterinarian for advice. One other thing worth mentioning here is how long to feed puppy food. Some research indicates that feeding puppy food for too long can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs that are susceptible to it. Some breeders start feeding adult food very soon. Even though the Siberian is not fully mature until 18 months, most people gradually switch to adult dog food at the 8-10 month time frame. Again, this is something to discuss with your breeder and veterinarian. Housing Siberian Huskies are happiest when they can share in family activities. The best arrangement is one in which the dog can come in and out of the house of its own free-will, through a dog door. If a dog door is not possible, then training the dog to go to an outside door to be let out is also very easy to do. Outside, the dog should have a large, fenced yard. The fence should be strong and at least 6 feet tall. It is also a good idea to bury wire in the ground to discourage digging out. Siberians are notorious diggers. It is usually best to set up a sand box somewhere in a shaded part of the yard and encourage digging there, if possible. Siberians should _not_ be allowed to roam around the neighborhood. If one chooses to kennel a Siberian, the kennel should be chain link, with a concrete run, and should be 6 to 7 ft wide and 10 to 15 ft long. It should be at least 6 ft high with chain link across the top of the kennel. It should be in a shaded location and have an insulated dog house with a door for shelter from the elements. Because the Siberian is an arctic dog, it can remain outside in very cold weather. However, it should be provided with shelter from the elements in the form of a good sturdy house. The house should have a flat roof, as Siberians love to lay on top of their houses and observe the world. A good insulated house with nice straw bedding is perfect for Siberians that spend most of their time outside. Heating the dog house is usually not necessary. Training Training Siberian Huskies can be a challenge. They are an extremely intelligent, energetic, and stubborn breed, and one must be ready for the unexpected. Training should start when the dog is young. You should work to establish the rules of the house early, and make sure that the puppy knows that you are in charge. For example, if you do not want the dog on the bed as an adult, do not allow it as a puppy and never give in, even once, or the dog will think that all rules are flexible. The rule of thumb is that if you train a dog to do something, expect him to do it. Therefore, if the puppy learns that certain things are allowed, it will be difficult to train them not to do them as adults. Since the dog is pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog will respect you and training will be much easier. It is very important to understand the distinction between establishing yourself as alpha and bullying the dog into submission. _These are not the same thing!_ The former is simply a communication that the dog needs and expects, while the latter is very negative and detrimental to the dog's well-being. By establishing yourself as the leader of the pack early, your dog will learn to respect you and look to you for guidance and will know where the boundaries for acceptable behavior lie. It is best to enroll in a puppy training class (or puppy kindergarten training as they are commonly known) soon after your dog is home and has all of its vaccinations. This training is good for the dog and for you as the owner, as it will help you understand your new puppy and establish you as alpha very early in the puppy's life, which is important with this breed. Once you have completed the puppy class, and have been working with the dog for a few months, a basic obedience class is in order. Obedience training this breed can be very interesting and extremely challenging. Many owners will complain that their dogs act perfectly in class, but will not obey at home. This breed is intelligent enough to differentiate situations very well, and will apply different rules of behavior for different situations. You must stay on top of the dog and maintain control, which is easier to do while the dog is of manageable size than with a stubborn, energetic adult that has been allowed to get away with undesirable behavior for a long time. It is _very_ important to remember that the Siberian Husky is a _working breed_. His heritage has endowed him with the desire to run and his conformation has given him the ability to enjoy it effortlessly. Because of this, it is important that no Siberian ever be allowed unrestrained freedom. Instead, for his own protection, he should be confined and under control at all times. Since he is a working dog, he must be given something to do. Exercise may be obtained in the leash, at play, and best of all, through mushing. Siberians make wonderful hiking companions, and with a dog backpack, can carry food and water. Above all, if you feel that it is inconvenient or cruel to keep a dog confined and under control like this, then the Siberian Husky is not the breed for you. _________________________________________________________________ Special Medical Problems The Siberian Husky is a remarkably healthy breed. When well cared for, the Siberian is relatively "maintenance free", outside of normal checkups and vaccinations. Hip Dysplasia The incidence of hip dysplasia in Siberians is fairly low. However, breeding Siberians should, among other things, be OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified prior to breeding. OFA certification cannot be granted prior to 24 months of age. Conscientious efforts of breeders have kept the incidence of this condition low in the Siberian. Eye Problems According to CERF, the incidence of cataracts in the breed checked by ACVO veterinarians is around 15-18%. The actual incidence is probably higher as many long time breeders discover the anomaly in young dogs early and never certify them. With the typical cataract, the dogs vision is not usually substantially affected, and they lead a full, happy, albeit it neutered, life. However, a more aggressive cataract also exists, which progresses quickly and may cause blindness by 2 to 3 years of age. Corneal dystrophy is also present in the breed. This disease causes diffuse and progressive vision loss in mid to older age. It is often not present or detectable until age 4 to 6 years, at which time the dog could easily have produced a few litters and perpetuated the problem. Glaucoma is also present in the Siberian, particularly in some specific racing lines. Glaucoma causes the animal significant pain and vision loss usually before it is detected by the owner. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and central progressive retinal atrophy (CPRA) have appeared in a number of breeds, including Siberians. These problems are genetically caused. Careful screening of potential breeding pairs has helped reduce the incidence of these problem in the breed, and the current incidence of PRA is relatively low. Obviously, Siberian owners and breeders should regularly check and clear eyes through CERF prior to embarking on a breeding program. _________________________________________________________________ Frequently Asked Questions _Are Siberian Huskies part wolf?_ No. The Siberian Husky is a domesticated pure bred dog and has been for many centuries. They are sometimes mistaken for wolves, and they are sometimes used in movies to depict wolves, but they are most certainly _not_ wolves or part wolf. _Why are some Siberian noses partially pink and partially black?_ This is called a "snow nose", and is fairly common in the breed. A snow nose is a reddish or pink marking on a black or liver colored nose. Snow nose can disappear over warmer months and reappear over the winter months. There is nothing wrong with a snow nose, and it is perfectly acceptable in the breed. _Can Siberians have different colored eyes?_ Yes. This is fairly common in the breed. One eye may be blue while the other is brown. I_s there something wrong with an eye that is both brown and blue?_ No. This is called a "pinto eye", a "parti eye", or a "split eye." It is also fairly common in the breed. One or both eyes may be all blue with a brown pie shaped wedge, or all brown with a blue wedge. At first glance, it may appear that there is something wrong with the eye but there is not. It is simply a matter if pigmentation. This too is perfectly acceptable in the breed. _I've heard that Siberians are mischievous. Is this true?_ Yes and no. Siberians are very intelligent dogs. They will often do things that surprise their owners. They can get into things that one might think are impossible. When Siberians are bored, they can become quite mischievous, inventive, and destructive. This is typical of working dogs. This is why it is so important to include the Siberian in family activities and give him plenty of attention and exercise. _I've heard that Siberians are high-strung. Is this true?_ Yes and no. Siberians are a very energetic breed. As a working dog, they need something to do, some way of challenging their intelligence and an outlet for their energy. If they are not provided one, they will find one for themselves. _I've heard Siberians are dumb. Is that true?_ No! Siberian Huskies are extremely intelligent working dogs. People often mistake the fact that they can be difficult to train as a sign of stupidity. One must keep the Siberian interested and challenge his intelligence in order to properly train him. A Siberian will probably know what you want him to do, he just may not want to do it! _Just how cold can a Siberian Husky live in?_ Siberian Huskies can work and live in temperatures as low as 75 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. _________________________________________________________________ Resources Books Demidoff, Lorna, and Jennings, Michael. _The Complete Siberian Husky_, 1978, Howell Books. ISBN 0-87605-314-2. Coppinger, Lorna and ISDRA. _The World of Sled Dogs_, 1977, Howell Book House. ISBN 0-87605-671-0. Periodicals _The Siberian Quarterly_ Hofflin Publishing Ltd. 4401 Zephyr Street Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-3299 Breed Clubs _In the United States:_ _Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc_ Corresponding Secretary, Fain Zimmerman, 65 Madera Drive, Victoria, TX 77905-4847 Newsletter Editor, Leslie Cranford, 109 Weatherly Way, Pelham, Al 35124 _International Siberian Husky Club_ Recording Secretary, Judy Pilkay, 7428 Chadwick Dr., Murfreesboro, TN 37129-8012 _Yankee Siberian Husky Club_ Corresponding Secretary - Rebecca Kelsey, 3 Brownfield Lane, Georgetown, MA 01833 Newsletter Editor - Fred Thompson, 372A N. State St., Concord, NH 03301, sleddog@empire.net Breeder Referral - Tamara Davis, Tay Marr Kennel, 13 Titus Lane, Boxford, MA 01921, taymarr@netway.com. _In Canada_ _The Siberian Husky Club of Canada, Inc._ Corresponding Secretary, Lee Schuler RR#3 Jarvis, Ontario N0A 1J0 lschuler@netroute.net Newsletter Editor, Margatet Knight, R.R.#1, Hwy. #56, York, Ontario N0A 1R0 _In Australia_ _The Siberian Husky of NSW Inc. (Australia)_ Mrs. Denise Sorensen - Secretary, P.O. Box 111, Ourimbah NSW 2258 Australia President - Henry Cordani can be reached at internet address cordani@ozemail.com.au _Siberian Husky Club of Victoria Inc._ The Secretary, P.O. Box 137, Box Hill, Victoria 3128 Australia _Siberian Husky and Malamute Club of S.A. Inc_ The Secretary, Cass vanRyswyk, P.O. Box 169, St Agnes, South Australia 5097 Australia, Ph: 61-8-264-6975 Breeders Contact the club closest to you for a list of breeders in your area. In the US, there are a number of regional clubs, the National club can help you find the one in your area. Similar systems exist in other countries. Bear in mind that you need to approve the breeder in the final analysis for yourself -- being on a list is no a priori guarantee of reputability. More detailed tips for locating a good breeder can be found in the Getting A Dog FAQ. Online * Mailing list: Email to listserv@apple.ease.lsoft.com with SUBSCRIBE SIBERNET-L your name in the body of the message to join a mailing list for fanciers of the Siberian Husky. _________________________________________________________________ Siberian Husky FAQ Stephen Lee, srlee@rt66.com