As a husky owner, I am often asked about the breed and what it is like to own a Siberian Husky. I typically give people general advice about grooming, personality, and training; however, I always end it with the fact that just because my husky is this way, does not mean that all other huskies are. Every dog is different, but we can use the most common features found in each breed to give new owners an idea about what their new dog might be like.
Because of this, I have asked husky owners from all over the United States (and some internationally) what advice they would give to new husky owners or those thinking about adding a husky to their family about owning a Siberian Husky. I then took these comments and categorized them into training, grooming, personality, things you will need, and just husky things.
I have also included my general advice for each of these categories. There are also links at the end of this post for more official and research based facts about huskies. Please keep in mind that this post is meant to be fun and light-hearted, while pointing out some factors of the breed.
Training is an important part of owning any dog. Siberian Huskies are typically very intelligent dogs. However, they can be difficult to train. Huskies have the ability to decide whether they really want to do what you are asking of them or not, and it can vary with their mood. Training these dogs will take time, patience and knowledge of your individual dog. Know what motivates them and what will turn them away.
Below are some comments and tips from owners on training huskies:
Meg O’Keefe So as far as training goes, try to figure out early on what will motivate your husky. For instance, mine is very food motivated. That’s how he was taught basic commands.
Brittany Garibaldi Be consistent with training. Training is a lifestyle, not just a 15 min a day thing. Northern breeds are working dogs, so make sure you work them… Bike-joring, obedience training, agility… These activities need to be done daily if not weekly.
A happy dog, is a tired dog.
Paige Doster Start leash training early. They’re strong pullers and have to be kept on the leash at all times, so good leash training is a must.
Marcie Biskie Adair They are very smart, never underestimate a snowdog!!
Esmeralda N Kuno Sven *not all do well in or out of crates* DON’T give up on training, even the stubborn ones can learn. Listen to what they need- not all train the same way.
Jeff Reisman Oh yeah – crate training! This is vital for huskies. Keeps their trouble-making to a minimum when you’re not home, plus huskies love to have their own little den to retreat to sometimes. We put ours in their crates at night and when we leave the house, and they go in with no hesitation. (Getting a biscuit in the crate every time helps this training along nicely.) Direct small children and guests to stay away from the crates though (whether occupied or not,) as this is THEIR space and they may get protective of it or any toy or bone they take in there with them. A husky is very unlikely to attack with serious force, but their growls and nips can be frightening to kids and anyone unfamiliar with the breed.
Rebekah Tornillo Patience, patience patience…..
Megan Sanoma Hill Tip: some people might say you can’t train a husky. It’s not true, it’s just a lot of hard work and dedication. But they are very smart and catch on very quick.
Fur and Grooming:
If you do not want to spend time grooming your dog every few days, then a husky might not be for you. Huskies need lots and lots of grooming to keep up with their beautiful coats. They typically “blow” their coat twice a year for several weeks, but it can last longer if you live in a warmer climate. “Blowing” their coat means that they are shedding tons of undercoat. During this time you will need to brush your dog every day. If not, there is a chance their coat could become matted and tangled.
NEVER EVER shave your Siberian Husky. Ever. Huskies are double coated dogs. This means that their coat naturally COOLS and warms them. Yes, their fur helps them to cool down. Do not shave it. Ever. Shaving your dog can expose them to skin issues that they would not have otherwise. It does not cool them down.
Below are comments and tips from owners on fur and grooming:
Haleigh Freed Oh and on a funny note:
Dog hair will be EVERYWHERE. Non-husky owners don’t even understand. IT’S. EVERYWHERE. You’ll never wear black or yoga pants in the house again. It’ll be in your hair, in your car, at work/school, in unopened food, at the restaurant, at your cousins house in Norway, EVERYWHERE. You will eat it and breathe it in. If you probably can’t deal with that, maybe look for a different breed.
Jeff Reisman Never shave them! Brush them several times a week. Only bathe them when absolutely necessary, most dirt falls off on its own, and a good brushing takes care of the rest.
Jennifer Strohmeyer Be prepared for hair on everything and in everything just the way life works.
Karen Kwiatkowski Neil Don’t get hung up on having a spotless house or clothes without dog fur on them!
Carmen Scruggs Don’t get upset about all the fur
Gina Donatelli Miceli Don’t shave them. Ever!!! It will do far more harm than good. Do know how to properly groom a double coat, and expect to do it daily, at least a couple weeks a year (more for wooly coats).
Paige Doster Get used to hair everywhere… It becomes a normal part of your routine to roll yourself off with a lint roller. I keep them in my car and purse because I usually have to do it several times a day
Things you’ll need:
When you get any dog, you will need things like dog food, water and food bowls, grooming tools, a collar, a leash, ect. However, Siberian Huskies come with a few extra requirements. Take these things into consideration when getting a husky: You will need lint rollers (lots and lots), a 6-foot fence in your yard (any smaller and your husky will climb it), dig protection around your fence (they will dig out when you are not looking), high value treats (Huskies are stubborn, they need extra encouragement to get them to listen), and a very good vacuum to help with all the fur that is going to take over your house (and car, and clothes, and work, and life.)
Below are some comments and tips from owners on things you need when you have a husky:
Joyce Donohue Buy stock in lint rollers lol.
Esmeralda N Kuno Sven
*consider good food not Wal-Mart food, only because some have sensitive tummies and they have high energy.
Jeff Reisman Bored huskies = troublemaking huskies. Tired huskies = good huskies. Chew bones, toys, interesting treats, keep them coming. Buy a good vacuum.
Kim Blackwelder Russell Have plenty of cheese on hand!
Gina Donatelli Miceli Own a sturdy vacuum and several lint rolls. Have at least a 6′ tall fence with some form of digging prevention around the entire perimeter.
Meranda Frisbie Like all dogs they love to run and are very active dogs. It’s very important to have a fenced in yard for them. For some this is not possible so just make sure you take them to dog parts and on walk/runs.
All dogs have an individual personality. However, different breeds do have different temperaments and breed standards. Huskies tend to have pretty big personalities. Some common traits of huskies are that they are high energy, stubborn, extremely smart, friendly, noisy, and pack oriented.
However, I believe that the Siberian Husky personality is best captured in the words of the owners:
Susan Bailey A surprise mix of an ADHD toddler (into everything) and a MIT grad (can figure out locks and latches)
Amanda Allen Carroll Sweet babies but ohhh so hard headed. I swore mine was deaf until she turned 3. If you can make it through the first 3 years then it’s downhill from there.
Sam Akers They are escape artists. Never let them go without a leash if you are not in a SAFE fenced area and don’t stand in the doorway for a last minute chat – they can bolt through the small opening.
Kay Chitu Do your homework first. Huskies are nothing like any other dog. They are busy all the time and so are you-cleaning up after them. Some are very demanding and others are great. I have one that is anti-social no matter what( even took him to class), thinks everything is hers and scares the poop out of bike riders that get near the car as we are going down the road. Her bark scares me. I am forever filling and refilling holes in the yard. If not someone from china will come out of it, they get so deep. I have had to buy patio blocks to line the outside of my wire-welded fence to keep the diggers in and not getting out to the woods and be lost.
Jeff Reisman They will let you know when anything dangerous passes by: Car, pedestrian, dog, cat, squirrel, rabbit, bird, dragonfly, errant leaf, sketchy-looking cloud…
Amara Ogbuehi Understand that it’s either smothering love or nothing. There is no in between. You may feel like you’re failing as a fur mom, but it’s not you. Your husky just knows he or she owns you and can yank out your heart at their own discretion.
Jeff Coker If you don’t like the attitude of cats and don’t like fur (a lot of fur) all the time, they aren’t for you. Very finicky dogs but well worth it.
Jennifer Strohmeyer The unconditional undeniable love that you get from this breed is healing. Be prepared to be tested to your limits – they are worth it
Cynthia Viegas Make sure you are willing to be very active with them. They can keep up with you; unfortunately, you will have a hard time keeping up with them. They’re wild kids with a lot of spunk; I love my husky, my best friend, my forever kids.
Sameer Patel “The Drama, Oooohhhh the Drama” – be ready for the smallest of things to be the biggest of things; like if your husky bumps its paw and has no physical damage, it may limp, hobble or refuse to move…until the slight rustling of food packaging suddenly provides a miracle of divine proportions!!!
Lorraine Smit They are like your drunk friend, who thinks life is one huge party and is loads of fun. They just never sober up 😉
Haleigh Freed Although there are many generalizations you can make about huskies or dogs in general, just remember every dog is different and has their own personality. Through research and tips, some people will tell you huskies need at least a few hours of hard exercise each day, suck with kids, and aren’t very affectionate. My girl is the opposite of all of those, being the laziest husky ever. So, just pay attention to your own specific dog’s personality. Cheers!
Gina Donatelli Miceli Haleigh, totally agree all dogs are different and those are good points. I know some are practically lap dogs and I am always extremely jealous when I hear that lol. My tips were just what people should expect/prepare themselves for if considering this breed. Of course, if you find your husky loves to cuddle, can be off lead and comes when you call, won’t become destructive/frustrated without lots of activity, you’re one of the lucky ones!
Gina Donatelli Miceli Where do I start lol… Husky 101 (What most husky owners will tell you): DON’TS: Don’t expect you will ever be able to leave them in the house alone for long periods. Don’t expect they will ever be off leash dogs. Don’t expect they will be affectionate cuddle dogs, especially in the summer.
Just Husky Things:
This category somewhat ties in with personality, but is more tips on being owned by a husky.
Chris Garrison If you think your 3 year old talks back, get ready!
Remember the importance of positive reinforcement & understand how to best motivate your Husky in a variety of situations.
Holli Parsley And dont forget the chewing/destruction of huskies. My boy has gone through many crates. Thankfully hasn’t destroyed anything to bad like couches/beds/walls/doors etc. But without something to keep them entertained they can become destructive
Martin Vaughan Be careful opening door and not to just throw then open because they like to lay against them.
Elizabeth Ellis My Kira is the smartest and most loving dog I have ever owned. She tells me everything while looking in my eyes, no words needed. Mind you, she is half-husky, half-lab.
Holli Parsley Don’t forget wooooooing not all huskies talk but 3am songs of my people can be frustrating if people only want a dog that barks. My girl is very talkative where my boy isn’t unless she starts it. So back talk is something you will need to at least warn of lol
Krishna Mistry Watch out for the small places, they can pretty much hide anywhere!
Patti Woodard Never, ever, let them off their lead if not in a pin, fenced yard, or your house!!!
Leah Soos They are escape artists! Make sure you check your fence line on a regular basis to make sure there aren’t any holes or pushed out boards. And toys, lots and lots of toys!
Esmeralda N Kuno Sven *THEY ARE FOREVER FAMILY NO MATTER WHAT BREED.
*they talk (i love it) not everyone else might
*they need lots of exercise
*love them to death!
*treat them as a family member
*if In doubt ask a husky owner, vet, or research on the internet.
Sameer Patel “Zoomies” – Dunno what a Zoomies is? Maintain a clear path of travel for your Husky, stay out of the way, sit back and enjoy the show!
Jeff Reisman Don’t spend money on expensive landscaping. Your huskies will moonscape for you instead. 6 foot tall fence a must, secured at the bottom too! They WILL get out, eventually. Don’t chase them! Get them to chase you instead. Huskies love the chance to jump in a car, try an open car door instead. Always keep on a leash. Supervise them with young children, their playfulness can get a little rough for little ones. Sometimes they may not eat for several days. This is normal. Don’t wear black. Take up jogging, there’s no better running partner as they never get enough miles. Get two, and get them from a rescue group
Paige Doster Mine LOVE to dig and tear up the yard. I’ve noticed it being worse when it gets cooler outside.
Heidi Harty Something I’ve learned from my husky is that he eats when he wants to. He can go days without eating and eat a little or act like he’s never had food before. he gets board easily with the same food or treats switching it up or a variety of flavors help. There are days he eats like a horse too.
Jennifer Makepeace Make sure to shut the toilet lid every time you leave the bathroom.
Kira Anne Bandera Be careful … They are like malteesers , Once you have one you have to have another . lol
Cynthia Viegas BE CAREFUL WITH CORDS THEY LIKE TO EAT THEM! I NEVER FOUND THE PLUG MINE ATE.
Gina Donatelli Miceli Since this is for first time husky owners, these are for anyone that plans to only have one husky, i.e. that won’t have a buddy for them to play with: Do expect to dedicate LOTS of time to getting them the activity they need (Over an hour almost every day such as long runs, bike rides, or trips to the dog park. A couple walks a day and hiking on the weekend is a joke to huskies). Expect to provide lots of socialization (as in almost every day) with other dogs.
Husky 102 (What many husky owners don’t know): Pack socialization is very important to their wellbeing, and is not the same as regular dog socialization. While they will play with other dogs (especially good friends they know well and see regularly), husky play/pack socialization is very distinct. If you really want them to be happy and sane, find a couple other huskies for them to play with regularly and/or a play group with other huskies/northern breeds that meets weekly or at least monthly. I host a weekly play group and can’t count the number of husky parents that tell us they thought their dog was a loner before joining the group because other dog park dogs didn’t interest them after trying to play for a few minutes. Plus, there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a pack running together. Here’s my favorite photo from one of our playgroups. When they’re all together I’m rarely able to capture multiple dogs in one photo (unless they’re all chugging water) and this pretty much sums up why- always on the move! My boy is the blur at the bottom.
While there is some good advice here from real Siberian Husky owners, if you are considering buying or adopting a husky (or any dog breed), you need to do thorough research beforehand. Below are some comments from other owners about doing research, as well as some useful links that you can use.
Dawn McGuirt Bauer In my 8 years of rescuing…I have only seen a few well-bred huskies in rescue and most of them were in the earlier years. Most of them are poorly bred dogs (and I currently have 5 of them personally). If you don’t care about health guarantees…then a rescue husky is for you. If health guarantees are important…then go to a RESPONSIBLE breeder only. Fostering and volunteering for a husky rescue is a great way to learn if the breed is for you before purchasing a puppy that a person can’t handle and will rehome.
Lorraine Smit Know what you are letting yourself in for by doing research and enjoy them, every moment of every day.
Gina Donatelli Miceli Also here’s are two pages with great info (promise I’m done after that!),
Jaimie Scott Invest in the breed. Don’t just own a pet. Be an active steward. Learn what goes into responsible breeding, why these dogs are such great athletes, and all the great activities this breed excels in. Oh and always learn more from the SHCA. Dog Breed Info is not a reputable resource!
Susan Bailey They will steal your heart.
Thank you to all the owners for contributing your comments, tips, and pictures.
Have more questions about Siberian Huskies or have your own husky experiences to add? Comment below!
-Katie, Gracie and Echo
Disclaimer: All photos and quotes used with the permission of the owners