17 Things You Need to Know About Owning a Husky

1. Hair!

Huskies shed.

2. Boredom = Destruction

Huskies may be hard to train due to their stubborn nature, but that doesn’t mean they are unintelligent dogs. Quite the opposite: they’re very intelligent and need mental stimulation. If left to their own devices, with no one to interact with, they will amuse themselves by destroying all the things. Their prey drive is often high, so to them, taking squishy things and shaking them until the stuffing comes out both ends is how they play. It is just part of their nature. If you’re not home, and they’re bored, bad things tend to happen to your possessions. And if their toys aren’t built like metal Tonka trucks, they will destroy them.

3. Huskies need exercise and stimulation

Huskies are working dogs bred to run and run and run, and that energy has to come out somewhere. They usually need a job. Your job is to find a channel for that energy. Whether it’s lots and lots of running, staying at home with them most of the time to provide frequent stimulation, or a second husky for them to play with (outside or inside), you have to be mindful of this energy, and give it outlets. They’re also very “pack” oriented. If someone isn’t home all day with them most days, they need a buddy, preferably another husky. Why? Because they’re derpwolves, and they will find mischief and ways to entertain themselves if left alone.

4. Prey drive

Remember the whole “mildly brain damaged wolf” thing? Part of that wolfishness is a desire to hunt small prey. Cats. Rodents. Small children if they’re not used to them. Our boy Loki caught and dispatched a squirrel when he was 6 months old, and it happened in the blink of an eye. There are horror stories about huskies that grew up with cats, and then suddenly ate their housemate after years of peace.

5. Possessiveness / aggression

Huskies, in my experience, are much more likely to be possessive of their food and toys than other breeds. If you get a husky as a puppy, you need to practice techniques to make sure they don’t get food aggressive later on. There are some good videos out there on how to do it. But, this is one of those things where if you don’t want to get bit later on, you need to start early and reinforce it constantly, even if it means a few extra minutes out of your day.

6. Aloofness and difficulty training

Imagine a sci-fi movie about an alien race that selectively breeds another species on their planet to become dumber and dumber, more and more servile, and to instinctually worship the ground the alien race walks on. The subjugated species adores their masters with utter slavish devotion, and lives to please them. It would be pretty awful and terrifying. But, that’s what we’ve done with most breeds of dogs. They really do worship us, fawn all over people, and seek our approval and attention.

7. Picky eaters, except when they’re not.

Huskies can be picky eaters. Ours certainly are. Why? I don’t know, but my guess is that they have better survival instincts that other breeds of dog that are a lot more distant from wolves. Wild animals tend to be more cautious about what they eat, especially when it’s new (rats will spend upwards of 10 minutes investigating a new food source).

8. Get them a buddy

Huskies, despite being kind of aloof, still need lots and lots of interaction with others as pack animals. They enjoy it! It also helps channel their energies into less destructive areas (well, generally, not always). Consider getting two: of similar age, not litter mates, of opposite sexes. You want to avoid litter-mate syndrome. But, it curbed a lot of our huskies’ more destructive impulses when we got him another husky to play with. Trips to the dog park can also be great for them: most of the time they know how to “dog” (i.e. they have enough instinct left to know how to interact with other dogs, including reading dog social cues).

9. They’re chompy little sh*ts as puppies

Even more than most young dogs, huskies like to grab things and people with their mouths. This includes sleeves, pant legs, and anything else they can get their teeth on. Many first-time husky owners are shocked at how much their new puppies “bite.” When they’re young, keep a supply of things to replace what they are biting using substitution (i.e. replacing your sleeve with a knotted rope in their mouth.) The good news is they will grow out of it with good training.

10. Let me sing you the song of my people…

Huskies are vocal in a way that most dogs aren’t. They howl, garble, growl, groan, whine, and even tell you “no”. They usually don’t bark a lot, though. This isn’t a drawback most of the time, but it’s something you should be aware of.

11. Houdini lives!

Huskies are amazingly strong, fast, agile dogs. As mentioned above they can also be incredibly destructive and easily bored. This makes them notorious escape artists, capable of destroying a dog crate, crawling out a window, and then leaping over a 4-foot-high privacy fence with ease. They’re so good that sometimes people even try to make them into agility drill dogs and take them to competitions. Their lack of desire to please people and corresponding difficulty to train gives hilariously very mixed success, though. (Click the links, seriously).

12. Heat Index

Huskies are snow dogs. Their fur both heats and cools them, and their skin is sensitive to the sun (which is why you NEVER shave a husky). They also don’t need baths; oils in their coats help keep their skin healthy. Husky coats have multiple layers that each serve a specific purpose, and they all work together to try and keep your dog warm, cool, protected from the sun, and parasites away from their skin. In other words, never get your husky trimmed unless there is a very compelling medical reason to do so.

13. Crate Training

Huskies are good candidates for crate training. They can be destructive, and you don’t want them eating your cat in the middle of the night. They’re also escape artists. However, you must start crate training from an early age and associate it with good things (like where they get fed). It also needs to feel like a safe place to them, and there are plenty of good videos on how to crate train a husky.

14. Playin’ rough

Huskies play rougher with other dogs than many other dogs are used to. They act like young wolves: lots of growling, snapping, neck biting, leaping, pawing, and chasing. It’s basically play fighting, but to people not used to the way they interact with each other it can be a little startling. However, if you have experience with dogs you can read when it’s serious, and when it’s just for fun. At the same time, you have to teach them that they don’t get to play with humans that way (though they love a good game of chase).

15. They’re terrible guard dogs

Huskies are like that stoned roommate who wakes up, finds a burglar in the house, notes that they aren’t stealing anything that belongs to them, and goes back to bed. This makes them God-awful guard dogs. They’re not overly territorial or aggressive, except where their own personal belongings in their own personal spaces are concerned. They’re also generally gregarious with strangers initially and get bored with them quickly if they’re not doing anything interesting. So, unless you keep your jewelry in the dog crate, or burglars are into stealing knotted ropes made of rawhide, a husky isn’t a good option for protecting your house.

16. Houston, the Eagle has landed

Do you have a back yard? Is it big with lots of space to run, jump, fight, chomp, and exercise? That’s great for huskies!

17. Why the heck would anyone want a husky after reading this??

About 15 years ago it was noted that my descriptions of being a parent were enough to put people off of becoming one for several more years. Likewise, after this description of all the things that make being a husky owner difficult, why on earth would anyone want one? Here’s what I love about them.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

800 Followers

Naval aviator, senior defense analyst, nerd, trans, parent, and author of two books that have nothing in common with each other besides the author