The Siberian Husky Breed – Good and Bad

I currently share my life with two Siberian Huskies – puppy Lara (7 months old) and Shania (3.5 years old). Both of them are very silly, and very energetic. They love to play, explore, and hunt for earth critters.

Siberian Huskies are beautiful dogs who love people and love life. They can be great family dogs if properly trained. However, because of their high energy and high prey drive, they require a lot of daily exercise and are not to be trusted off leash. When bored, a Husky may chew, dig, and escape to look for adventure elsewhere.

Before getting a Sibe puppy, find out all you can about the wonderful nature of Siberian Huskies – the good, the bad, and the quirky.

Siberian Huskies – The Good

1. Siberian Huskies are love bugs.

Sibes are very affectionate dogs. They are especially friendly with people, even strangers.

Husky Shania has very many friends in our neighborhood and she enjoys going to say hello to them every day. Her most favorite friend in the world is the Awesome Cookie Guy. Whenever we pass his house, Shania always stops and waits. When her Cookie friend spots her and comes out, he comes bearing gifts – a yummy low-fat cookie for Shania!

Shania also comes to me when I am sad or upset. She will lie down next to me or lay her head on my lap and give me licks.

The people trusting nature of Siberian Huskies make it easy to find caretakers for them when I get busy, or when I need to leave on emergencies or vacations.

2. Siberian Huskies are athletic and have a strong zest for life.

Lara and Shania are frequently on the go. They enjoy re-landscaping our backyard, attacking bushes, pulling down trees, running, jumping, and digging. They both enjoy playing chasing games and are always ready to go out for a walk and explore. They get very excited whenever anybody comes to visit and enjoy spending play-time and rest-time with their pack.

As part of their zesty life program, Huskies also love to eat.

Both Lara and Shania will eat and eat and continue to eat more if they can. To keep them healthy and slim, I set up a fixed eating schedule and only give them their allotted amount of food. If I give them treats, then I reduce their regular meals a bit so that they keep a fairly constant caloric intake.

Sibes are not shy about stealing food or begging for food. Both Lara and Shania will steal each other’s food if they can. They will also steal from my other dog, Shiba Inu Sephy.

I always supervise them closely during meal-times. Food stealing can encourage food aggression, so I train my dogs not to steal and teach them that if there is any stealing, I will handle the situation.

Siberian Huskies can also get impatient about food and may get slightly overzealous when taking food out of your hand. Bite inhibition training is a must.

3. Siberian Huskies are clever and independent.

Reward Training

Sibes are smart and will quickly learn new commands and figure out interactive toy puzzles; especially when food is on the line.

Lara learned how to Sit on command as soon as we got her home (8 weeks old). In fact, if we use positive reinforcement techniques, we can start obedience training puppies  as early as 6 weeks old. However, puppies should not be removed from the litter until they are at least 8 weeks old.

With clever and independent dogs like the Siberian Husky, it is most effective to use reward training techniques. I teach my Huskies that the best way to get what they want is to do what I want first. Here is more on how I trained my Husky puppy.

  • If they want to go play in the backyard, they must first do a simple Sit next to the door.
  • If they want their food toy, they must first do a Handshake.
  • If they dig where they are not supposed to in the backyard then they lose their backyard privileges.

Since we control all of our dog’s resources, we can encourage good behaviors and discourage bad behaviors by tying those behaviors to our dog’s most desired resources.

With reward training my Sibes are always motivated to work. They are never hand-shy and love being with people. Siberian Huskies have a wonderful independent spirit, so we should not shock them, choke them, or physically dominate them into submission.

Siberian Huskies – The Bad

1. Siberian Huskies shed a whole lot.

Sibes blow their coat once or twice a year. During this time they will shed most of their undercoat and replace it with new fur. Frequent brushing will help to control some of this shedding and keep our Husky comfortable and clean.

Even though they may only blow their coat twice a year, Sibes actually shed all year round. There is Sibe fur everywhere in our house, including carpets, tile floor, counters, tables, chairs, blankets, and beds. Hair can also get onto kitchen utensils, food, and drinks.

If you or members of your family are allergic to dog fur, it is best not to get a Siberian Husky.

Because they shed so much, try to make brushing and handling fun for your Husky. I always pair brushing sessions with food so that it becomes a fun and rewarding experience. I start with a soft brush and slowly switch over to using the Furminator which is awesome at getting out a dog’s undercoat.

2. Siberian Huskies are awful guard dogs.

Sibes look wild, like wolves. For this reason, many people think that they make fierce guard dogs.

In truth, however, a Husky is more likely to invite strangers into your home with open paws and give them many licks.

Siberian Huskies are happy, goofy, and naturally trust all the people that they see.

My Siberians may sometimes make a fuss when people are at the door, but it is out of excitement rather than a warning cry.

Also, my Siberians will happily follow anyone home as long as they have some yummy pieces of food.

3. Siberian Huskies have very high prey drive.

Husky Shania is a very accomplished huntress.

When we first got our backyard landscaped, we had a big Earth Critter Attack. There are a fair number of rodents including gophers, voles, and mice that live in our area and they decided to throw a big party on our newly planted grass. Holes were appearing everywhere and the organic scent-based pest control we used did not seem to have much of an effect.

We were worried that our yard would not even last the year but then huntress Shania went into action. After a few days of hunting and marking, we noticed that the Rodent Gang had moved their party location somewhere else!

However, this high prey drive also makes it extremely risky to let a Sibe go off-leash in a non-enclosed space. If she spots a deer or squirrel, she will be gone and away before you can shout Stop. Siberian Huskies are very athletic and can cover large distances in a fairly short amount of time.

High prey drive also means that a Husky will have a strong instinct to chase and hunt cats and possibly also small dogs.

4. Siberian Huskies love to pull, pull, pull.

Sibes were bred to pull sleds, and today, they still love to PULL!

One of the biggest challenge with my Huskies is teaching them how to walk without pulling and/or to only pull on command.

The easiest way to leash train a Husky is to start when she is young and still small. I have tried a variety of techniques with my dogs and what has worked best are the red-light,green-light technique and the 180-turn-around technique.

I started leash training puppy Lara almost as soon as we got her. First I trained her in our backyard. After she was fully vaccinated, I started leash training her around our neighborhood.

While leash training a Sibe, it is very important to be totally consistent. I stop as soon as puppy Lara starts to pull and if she pulls too much, I turn around and walk in the opposite direction. This teaches her that the fastest way to get to where she wants to go is to walk along with me at a measured pace.

5. Siberian Huskies love to sing.

Sibes have a great singing voice. However, neighbors may not particularly enjoy it when Siberians decide to sing or howl to the moon.

Husky Lara is a very vocal dog. She barks when excited, frustrated, scared, and sometimes when other dogs are barking. I have to spend more time and effort training her to stay quiet because her natural instinct is to vocalize.

Husky Shania is a more quiet dog. She almost never barks and the only time she vocalizes is when she is playing with my other dogs. She also sings beautifully when she hears a squeaky toy.

My Husky breeder tells me that there are some Sibe bloodlines that are more noisy than others. Lara’s mother, for example, comes from a more vocal bloodline.

6. Siberian Huskies are a big time commitment.

Sibes are very energetic and affectionate. They like being with people and they also need something to do. Otherwise, they will get bored and get into at least 10 kinds of trouble.

All my dogs work for all of their food, either through obedience exercises, grooming sessions, play sessions, or through interactive food toys. In addition, they go for 1.5 hour daily walks and wrestle with each other several times a day. Sometimes, I join in on the fun and play flirt pole or the water hose game with them.

When bored or lonely, a Husky will figure out her own activities, which may lead to property damage or escape expeditions.

Do not get a dog, especially a Siberian Husky, unless you have a lot of free time to spend with her. If you must work long hours, consider dog daycare or hiring a dog walker. Sibes do best when there are many interesting activities throughout the day and frequent human supervision.

I Love Siberian Huskies

Sibes are awesome dogs. They are always ready of adventure, and they will be there to give you licks and support when you need it, or even when you don’t.

I got my Huskies through the breeder list from the Siberian Husky Club of America. I also considered adopting from my local Siberian Husky rescue, but did not find one that fit well with my Shiba Inu.

It is best to avoid backyard breeders, pet stores, and online pet stores. Such establishments almost always sell unhealthy puppies with poor temperaments.

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  1. Ali says

    We just adopted a 6 year old female husky from a previously neglectful owner who did nothing to train her and before that owner she was a stray. When we got her she was a very quiet and under weight but now we have had her for nearly 3 months and she has begun to get back to her healthy weight. But the first time we took her to a vet she was diagnosed with heart worms. The treatment for them requires her to stay still with very minimal exercise except to use the bathroom. since we began the treatment so soon after we got her we did not have a chance to train her fully. she had begun to learn to sit and to not jump. But since the treatment and the lack of exercise began she has stopped listening unless enticed with a treat and she barks when left alone.We know sibes are supposed to have a lot of exercise but the treatment stops us from letting her. Do you have any tips to get her to listen better/be trained and to be more calm without her normal amount of exercise?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, it is not easy to keep a Husky occupied and not moving too much. One thing that has been helpful for my dog are frozen Kongs. When my Husky is recovering from soft tissue damage, I feed her most of her daily food through frozen Kongs. The great thing with Kongs is that she can work on it lying down, and it keeps her occupied. My Husky is very food focused so she is very motivated to work on the Kongs, and they give her something engaging to do.

      During recovery, I also spend more time with my dog. We do grooming exercises, focus exercises (Look), and anything else that does not require much movement. If necessary, I keep her in a safe but confined area (pen), so that she cannot start playing with my other dogs, or start moving around too much. If necessary, I also use this opportunity to train my dog to get used to alone time. I start with very very short periods of alone time, and very slowly build up from there.

      I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs, so they work for all of their food. In this way, I can reward them well for doing commands for me, they stay occupied, and I make sure they do not over-eat.

  2. chris says

    Hi, i have 2 sibes, 1 is charlie nearly 3 years old and opie nearly 2 years old. I have only just bought these beautiful dogs from owners who couldnt cater to their needs, charlie although has taken this transaction quite harsh i am doing my best to hand feed him every night but he doesnt eat much and will refuse once he has eaten. I am quite concerned for charlie and i am running out of ideas to get him to eat, i have cooked nice meals for him and everything but no matter what i do for him he just wants his owners back to him. Is there anyway i can help him adjust or get him to eat properly

    • shibashake says

      Have they been to the vet? When I get new dogs, I usually take them to the vet for a check-up to make sure that everything is ok. Once I am sure that everything is ok physically, then I can start to look at other causes.

      When there are big changes with my dog, he also gets pretty stressed. The last time we moved houses, I set up a fixed schedule right away and also a consistent set of rules. This helps to create certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress. My dog also loves going hiking, so we went on lots of quiet hiking trips, during off-hours, so he had a fun outlet for his anxious energy and a quiet place to relax.

      More on dog anxiety.

  3. amy says

    Hi i have a 6yr old husky and as of recent she has been crying and jumping at t he back door whenever im not outside and shes not in any ideas what this could be? She is an inside and outside dog anf does have a companion.she doesnt like alot of toys, doesnt play with them

  4. Jacob says

    I have a question about interaction with other dogs. My puppy is about five months old now and he goes to the dog park about three times a week. He is getting too big for the small dog area but he is still too small for the large dog area. When he sees other dogs, he acts very alpha and I understand that as a Sibe he likes to play and sometimes tends to be dominant. How do I help encourage him to play nicely with other dogs? I’m afraid that when I finally introduce him into the large dog area he might be too aggressive for the other dogs and instigate a fight with the others. Is there any way to improve his alpha behavior?

  5. Aimee says

    I was wondering if you could give me a bit of advice.

    My partner and I have a 2 year old female Husky named Ahri and a 6 month old male named Hunter. They seem to get along fairly well but on occasion their playing can start to get aggressive and the hair on their backs will be raised. This usually happens out in the backyard when they arent being supervised. They make very loud constant whining/howling noises and we’ve even had the neighbours complain about the noise.

    I have been training my pups to sit, stay, lay down, wait etc. But this is one problem I don’t know how to break them out of. I would really love for them to get along as it would bring a lot more peace to the house!

    If you have any idea what I could try I would be very greatful!

    Thank you so much! :)


    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I try to manage their excitement level during play by throwing in many play-breaks. These short breaks help them to refocus on me and to calm down. When my dogs get too excited, they start to lose control, so I try to keep their play-level at a comfortable pace. In this way, nobody gets overwhelmed, everybody has fun, and play does not escalate into something else.

      I also set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and I have safe zones that a dog can go to if she is feeling overwhelmed.

  6. Patsy Gonzales says

    My 9 month old Siberian named bandit gets into my kitchen and his so tall he gets on counters and steals food if you turn your back for one second if yoy try to take it he growls and had even but me, if he gets into trash and i try to take he goes under bed and if i try to take he does the same, doesn’t hardly eat his food He is hard headed and had bit me twice when i try to take something from him, my son in law says he’s to old to train and I’m scared for him i love him so much, he knows to sit and watch me to lay down and speak but only if i have treat he won’t do with out, and at times he will do all command at once without saying if he sees the treat. I don’t know what to do, plz help

  7. Deen Singh says

    Damon our Siberian husky went missing on Saturday 6th December 2014. We are very worried and cannot sleep wondering if he is OK. He is very beautiful black and white, male (Neutered) with brow and blue eyes. A reward is offered. He went missing in the Plumstead area

  8. Bahram says

    I recently bought a husky. He is 2.5 month old. And he bites a lot. At first it wasn’t that bad. But now it’s becoming very painful. I tried telling him ‘NO’ every time he bites. But he seems to get more energetic after I tell him no and bites harder. It’s becoming a big problem. Can you help please?

  9. Felicia says

    I just took in a 6year old husky she’s gorgeous and very shy almost I can’t get her to eat and she’s so skinny the only thing she likes is cheese so far… I can tell she’s had a hard life so far she was used as a breeder dog by aweful people I’ve never seen an adult husky look this bad but she still has spirit left in her I just hope it’ll help having a loving family in her life she’s been an outside dog all her life but I can barely get her to go outside again I don’t wanna be pushy with her I don’t mind her being inside by any means I don’t believe in dogs being outside all the time any way. I think she might be slightly depressed because it looks like her babies were prematurely taken from her I gave her a bone which seemed to cheer her up she takes It everywhere with her lol she just seems to calm for a husky

    • shibashake says

      I am so glad that she has found a good home, and can start to heal and learn to trust again. I really wish there were more controls in terms of breeding and selling dogs.

      Four paws up to you for helping out a Husky in need. Big hugs to your Husky girl!

  10. SB says

    My 2yo Siberian Male has started to pee on people .. ( Not in my home ) Never ever has he done anything like this !!! Nothing has changed within our home environment . Nothing has changed with his daily outings . I have always taken him to the paw park ( Dog park ) and recently he has started peeing on PEOPLE . Yesterday , he peed in one of the water buckets ! Help ?

    • shibashake says

      Is he neutered? Does he only do this at the park? Does he do this the entire time he is at the park or only at the beginning or only when there are certain dogs around? Does he lift his leg when he pees on people? How is he with people, e.g. is he shy around people, over-excited around people?

      When trying to change my dog’s behavior, I first start by trying to identify where the behavior is coming from and what triggers it. Once I better understand this, the behavior becomes much more predictable, and I can more effectively retrain or redirect my dog.

  11. Rose says

    Wow! That’s great advice. I just know nothing about a raw meat diet except that it sounds good for a dog. I mean I like sushi and my steaks kinda’ rare so I figured maybe my dog would too. But I also didn’t realize how expensive it could be. I will definatley check with my vet about switching his dog food. It just sucks that he doesn’t like blue wilderness because it really works in keeping him healthy and his hair soft and shiny. Also if I did take up hunting (my husband likes to hunt but since I hate killing animals he doesn’t) would that kind of freshly killed meat be good to feed my dog? I’ve come to terms with the hunting thing over the past few years where if we use the food and hide I Dont mind as much….I just really want to give my dog everything he should have so he can really be happy and in touch with his “wild” side. I see a lot of his wild instincts come out in his actions sometimes and I really like that. As long as he knows right from wrong, in other words is trained to behave around other people and pets the right way then sometimes when we take him out and he chases a squirell or growls at something he hears in the brush, its kinda nice to see his dog survival instincts kick in some. Anyway thanks for the advice and let me know what you think about fresh meat like deer?

  12. Rose says

    Hi. I am writing about my 8 1/2 month old husky once again (Sterling). He has been eating Blue Wilderness large breed puppy dry food since he starting eating real food( well dog food). He also eats Blue Wilderness can wet food. He doesn’t seem to like it very much anymore. There is only one flavor in the dry food but I mix in different flavors of canned food and I have pretty much learned what he doesn’t like and what he will eat. But he really doesn’t seem to like the taste much at all. He even would rather eat other dogs foodlike Purina or pedigree or iams but I only want the best for him. Anyway I kinda have a couple questions. I would like your advice on what you think about switching his food to a different brand and what brand do you think I should try. I was also thinking about adding in raw meat to some meals but I read some scary things about raw meat. I go shooting but I Dont hunt so do I buy raw meat from the grocery store or a butcher and just give it to him? Do I cook it a little? And would it be healthier for him than just dog food? Oh and what kind of meat would I get? Thanks for all the great advice so far and hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

    • Bri says

      I had a ton of fears about meat as well! I refuse to buy meat for my dogs from the store unless its organic- they tend to be loaded with tons of unhealthy things- try looking around and finding a farmer who raises organic meats, and always cook it! My lab was very picky and only ate bottom of the barrel grain- I couldn’t get him to eat high quality food, so I switched them over to a more “organic” raw diet and they are doing great!

      Canines were meant to eat meat- not grains- at least not directly.

      They both have high energy (he has Lyme disease, and cancer, so imagine my surprise when he joined us on a six and a half mile walk the other day and was ready to go again the next day! He’s in better shape now then he was at four. The vet was amazed at how well he’s doing), healthier coats, and are on proper diets. You can check with your vet, and get an idea on dog food recipes if you have time to do “home made”. Home made food is much more costly than dry food, so I tend to stock up meat goes on sale I.E turkeys at thanksgiving, chickens from my neighbor, pork from the farmer down the street. Or buy packages from my local butcher which ranges from $50-$500.

      I kept my lab on puppy food until they were a year and a half old. The brands that worked best for me, were Natural Balance, Canidae, and Blue Buffalo. The DogFoodAdvisor is a wonderful site, where you can compare all the major dog foods, and read reviews from pet owners.

      Two weeks ago I adopted a three year old husky, and she’s done equally as well on the new diet, I hope this helps or gives you some ideas!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Rose,
      I am currently feeding my Huskies Wellness CORE Original recipe kibble. They also get boiled/microwave chicken, deboned, nothing added, and well cooked. I cut the chicken into small pieces, and use that as rewards for various things. I feed my Huskies grain-free kibble because it has balanced nutrition, is easy to handle, and I can put it in interactive food toys, so my dogs work for their food.

      What the American Veterinary Medical Association says about home-cooked meals and raw meat-

      The AVMA does not recommend that people attempt to prepare home-cooked meals for their pets because pet nutrition is very complicated and unique to species and individual animals.

      ~~ [ Excerpt from Tips On Cooking Your Pet A Home-Cooked Meal, AVMA ]

      The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans. Cooking or pasteurization through the application of heat until the protein reaches an internal temperature adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms has been the traditional method used to eliminate pathogens in animal-source protein, although the AVMA recognizes that newer technologies and other methods such as irradiation are constantly being developed and implemented.
      ~~[ Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets ]

      There are various dog diets, and each of them has their own pros and cons. Here is more on the different dog diets.

      There is a big debate about raw diets, so there are many opinions and arguments from both sides. I rely most on scientific studies, articles from top veterinary schools, as well as established professional organizations such as the AVMA.

      My younger Husky, Lara, used to stay out at night and hunt rodents in our backyard. After a short time, she developed tapeworms and she also got Giardia.

      Now, I am very careful about what my dogs eat.

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