The Siberian

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The Siberian Husky is one the most beautiful of dogs. With its varied markings and colors, impish expression, and soft, touchable coat, it has instant appeal to many people. And in the right circumstances, Siberians make pets and companions equal to none. They are friendly, loveable, clean, athletic, and intelligent. They don't bark without reason; in fact, they seldom bark at all, opting instead for an occasional companionable "wolf howl." They love everybody, so their owners don't have to worry about vicious attacks. They are healthy with few of the hereditary ills that affect many breeds. They thrive on less food than many breeds of comparable size. They have an upbeat, happy attitude about life, ready to take its challenges head on.

But woe to the unprepared owner who thinks his or her Siberian should decorate the backyard with its beauty yet remain quietly in the background of family life. Siberians are gregarious pack animals. They demand activity, companionship, being in the middle of what's going on. Left to their own amusements, they become bored, then destructive, and finally look for escape. Being athletic, they need exercise and space to run. Yet they lack the protective, territorial instincts that would allow them to be trustworthy off leash and running free. A tall fence is a MUST, for a Siberian has to be confined. Siberians are superb hunters; cats and livestock are regarded as prey. Although generally easy to groom, twice yearly their dense undercoats shed--copious quantities of fluff that covers everything. Their outgoing natures make them regard everyone as friend, and they are worthless as guard and protection dogs. Their independence, combined with keen intelligence, make them unwilling to be slavish followers of a master's every whim. They learn quickly, but they obey only when it pleases them.

The Siberian in a medium-sized dog. Males range from 21"-23.5" at the shoulder and 50-60 pounds. Females range from 20-22" and 40-50 pounds. They come in shades of black, gray, and red with blue or brown eyes and often one of each. Pure white or piebald (white with large colored patches) are also acceptable. Eyes may be blue or brown, and many dogs have one of each or an eye with both colors.

The Siberian Husky was originally developed as a sled dog, pulling light loads over long distances. It is, therefore, a strong, athletic animal requiring daily exercise. Their thick double coat allows them to survive comfortably in subzero temperatures, yet with proper shade they adapt to much warmer climates.

Siberian have one of the lowest incidences of hip dysplasia of all breeds. Reputable breeders have breeding stock x-rayed and evaluated by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.)

Hereditary eye disease can be a problem. Juvenile cataracts may develop in youngsters between six months and two years. Although most affected dogs do not have noticeably impaired vision, occasionally a dog goes blind. Corneal dystrophy is a second hereditary eye disease found in some Siberians. Abnormal fat cells are deposited on the cornea of the eye and can obscure vision. It normally appears after age five. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) has appeared in a few male Siberians, causing blindness. Glaucoma can also develop in some dogs.

Because of these inherited eye problems, all breeding stock should be examined by an ACVO veterinarian (member of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.) The report forms may then be submitted to CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) or SHOR (SHOR Eye Clearance List) for a registration number.                                                                                                                                                                                                

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