17 Things You Need to Know About Owning a Husky

Someone asked me to summarize what having a husky is like. They’re like no dog you have ever had, and in my 45 years I’ve had a lot: shi-tzus, poodles, labs, dobermans, Australian kelpies, and Australian cattle dogs. I described owning a husky as having a mildly brain-damaged wolf as a roommate. This isn’t too far off in terms of evolution, but it helps you think about things from their perspective: these are more “wolfish” dogs than most, and it’s why my family jokingly refer to them as derpwolves.

Thus, huskies are the most maddening, beautiful, lovable, high maintenance dogs you will ever have. Because they’re so difficult, and that HBO series that shall not be named, way too many huskies have ended up as surrenders to kill shelters. So, before you decide that you want to try giving one of these big furry maniacs a forever home, here’s some things you should know.

1. Hair!

A lot.

They need brushing at least twice a week, but that still won’t be enough. You need to accept that husky hair will get EVERYWHERE in your life, including your work clothes. You’ll have to make sure to vacuum and sweep more often. Husky hair tumbleweeds in every corner of your dwelling are just a fact of life. Invest in a company that makes lint rollers. Some people even use the reverse function on their shop vacs to “blow” the fur off their huskies when they are “blowing” their coat in the spring.

2. Boredom = Destruction

3. Huskies need exercise and stimulation

Or else.

4. Prey drive

Huskies generally aren’t recommended for people with cats. Forewarned is forearmed.

5. Possessiveness / aggression

Similarly, if you crate train them, this is their lair. This is their space, and they will often get possessive of it, and the things in it. You need to use a lot of the same techniques meant to eliminate food aggression to teach them not to be defensive about their “spaces”.

6. Aloofness and difficulty training

Huskies, however…

Huskies really don’t live for our approval. They’re affectionate on their own terms. They want to be around you, but not on top off you all the time. Like that introvert best friend who loves quietly sitting next to you in the family room playing his Nintendo Switch, they’re affection adjacent. They like us, but we’re still just best friend roommates. We’ve never heard of an emotional support husky.

Because they do not live for your approval, they’re harder to train. If they don’t feel like doing it, finding something that motivates them can be tough. Particularly because of point 7…

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

At the same time, they’ll occasionally eat weird stuff (like mulch, grass, or socks) and will get upset digestive systems. Be prepared to feed them rice, boiled chicken, and pumpkin to deal with dog diarrhea.


This means you’ll have to rotate dog foods, and find what treat will motivate them when doing training. They’re sure as **** not doing it just to please you, hooman.

8. Get them a buddy

It may seem completely counterintuitive, but we have found that more huskies actually equaled less work because of the companionship they provide each other, and resultant decrease in bad behavior born of loneliness.

Our huskies, that came with the names Thor and Loki. Seriously

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

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

11. Houdini lives!

If you have a back yard with a fence less than 5 feet, they need supervision. Escaping, and getting hit by cars, is one of the most common causes of death for young huskies. This is also why I cannot recommend getting your husky “chipped” highly enough. Perimeter fences and collars sometimes work as a deterrent.

12. Heat Index

The rule of thumb to know whether you should leave a husky out is the rule of 100: if the heat (Farenheit) plus percent humidity is more than 100, they probably shouldn’t be spending a ton of time outside unless they want to be out there (we have a doggy door). At 120 heat plus humidity, they should be indoors except to do their business. This means long walks in the evenings and mornings of the summer months.

Some huskies love a kiddie pool to cool off, and will happily hike the water all over the place in the summer. They will also hike all the water out of the dog bowls at the dog park, and lay in the mud they just made while they ignore all the other irate dog owners yelling at them.

13. Crate Training

However, because they are such big, intelligent, active dogs they are also poor candidates to stay in a crate while you’re at work or for very long periods. That’s how we ended up with our husky named Thor: his owner kept him in a crate 8 hours a day while they were at work. He was getting neurotic and starving himself to death: he weighed only 38 lbs when we adopted him.

In short, huskies can sleep at night in a crate, and stay there for a few hours at a time if no one’s home, but they shouldn’t be kept there for long periods.

14. Playin’ rough

15. They’re terrible guard dogs

16. Houston, the Eagle has landed

Do you have grass and other green, living things that you want to keep alive in your back yard? That’s not so good. See, all that running, romping, and chomping kills everything and rapidly turns it into a moonscape.

Our back yard. Also the planned landing site for Apollo 18.

Huskies are notorious diggers too. And what moonscape would be complete without craters big enough to lose a lunar lander in? So, if you love your yard a lot, and if it would cause you all sorts of emotional damage if you weren’t on the short list for Better Homes and Gardens Lawn of the Year, huskies probably aren’t the dog for you.

Unless you plan on never letting them touch the grass. (And who would be that mean?)

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

First, they’re beautiful and their fur is gloriously soft. There’s nothing more relaxing in the evening than petting your warm buddy next to you. They have particularly expressive faces, and, unlike many other breeds of dog that I’m not as fond of, there’s always something going on upstairs. Even if it is scheming.

“We heard you haz hot chocolateses hooman? Vet lies. Is good for us.”

As much as they pretend they don’t need people or their pack mates, it genuinely distresses them when you leave them alone, or take their pack mate for a walk without them.

Thor, waiting for Loki to come home from a walk

There’s something particularly exciting about being this close to an animal that gets you, and likes you, and you can definitely see their distant Pleistocene ancestors looking up at you. There’s a real “Julie of the Wolves” vibe to it.

If you like running, a leash trained husky will be the best buddy you ever had. The word “run” will be enough for them to sprint for the door, plant their butt on the floor, and wait for you to put on a leash. I don’t care how good of a runner you think you are: your husky is better. These are dogs who were born to drag hundreds of pounds of dead weight for a hundred of mile, get up the next morning, and do it all over again. The final leg of the Iditarod is just another Monday to these guys. Going running with you is their job, and these are dogs that need one: it gives them both purpose and happiness.

We also love our huskies because they are so independent, and their personalities are much easier to anthropomorphize than a lot of other dogs. As my spouse described it, it’s easier to “respect” a husky than most other dogs. In many ways they’re much more of a companion or friend than a pet in the traditional dog sense. At the same time, this dignity makes them even funnier and more lovable when they lose themselves in the moment and let their guard down, embracing their inner derpwolf unashamedly.

Derpwolves in their natural state

In some ways, they’re the Ferrari of dogs. Beautiful. Expensive. High maintenance. High performance, whether you keep them at home or actually race them (because they’re capable of both). Don’t even think of having them trimmed. Each one is slightly different enough to have a genuine personality. You’re attached to them in a way you wouldn’t be with your Honda Civic for all of these maddening, wonderful reasons, and almost no one ever says they regretted having one if they went in knowing what it entailed.



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

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Brynn Tannehill

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