The snow-loving Siberian Husky may have a wild side but he's also a hero, both for saving lives in the Arctic and lifting spirits in the home.
According to DNA evidence, Siberian Huskies are one of the most ancient breeds. Their ancestors pulled sleds over great distances for the nomadic Chukchi people of Northeast Asia. During the Alaskan Gold Rush a team of Chukchi huskies so dominated the a racing event that everyone wanted one. Their speed proved a lifesaver in 1925, when a team of Huskies pulled a sled 340 miles in six days to deliver serum to diphtheria-stricken Nome. The Iditarod dog sled race commemorates this feat, and lead dogs Balto and Togo became national heroes. A statue of Balto stands in Central Park in New York City.
The breed's striking good looks and fun-loving personality endeared it to people more interested in a family companion than sled puller, and it's remained one of the most popular breeds in America for years. But the Sibe requires a lot of exercise and has a tendency to make his own fun---usually of the mischievous sort---if you don't provide it!
This breed loves to run, especially on a frigid day. They also enjoy robust games involving lots of activities. Be sure their toys are tough!
The Siberian Husky is technically a large dog. As such, it has a somewhat greater predisposition to hip dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size---just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, are also important for protecting joint health throughout life, especially in active dogs.
One of the Husky's most serious potential problems is bloat or gastric torsion, a condition in which the gases accumulate in the stomach and can't escape. The stomach may then twist, totally cutting off any ability for anything to leave the stomach. The dog's stomach enlarges as gases continue to accumulate, and the dog is restless and tries unsuccessfully to vomit. This is an extreme emergency that need immediate veterinary attention to save the dog. Nobody knows exactly how to prevent it, but many veterinarians advocate feeding an anti-gas pill with every meal. Coat care is fairly simple. Use a pin brush to remove dead hair once or twice a week. You may have to brush the britches in layers so you get all the way to the skin. Spritzing these areas with a mixture of water and conditioner will prevent static electricity as your brush.
During shedding season, use a shedding tool to remove the thick undercoat. You may have to brush daily for a week or two. Bathing in warm water can loosen dead hair. Brushing right after bathing, when the hair is still slightly damp, will usually remove the most coat.
For the best looking results, use a shampoo that builds body. You may also wish to use color-enhancing shampoos, or if your dog has itchy skin, avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoos. Blow-drying the coat will make it even fuller. Sibes tend to have healthy ears, but they should still be checked regularly. Apply an ear cleanser any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal.
Brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.
Siberian Huskies hate to slow down for anything, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.