Siberian Husky Breeder Round-Up

Siberian Husky Breeder Round-Up

In creating the book The Complete Guide to Siberian Huskies” (written by Mary Meisenzahl and available on Amazon) we interviewed 10 of the top Siberian Husky breeders in the country.  We used their advice and expertise to help make the book the best possible guide book for a new Siberian Husky owner.

But… there was so much good advice in those interviews that we couldn’t fit it all into the book.  So we decided we’d compile the best answers to each question and present them here.  If you are thinking of getting a Siberian Husky, or are a current owner, the advice that follows will be invaluable to you as you proceed on your ownership journey.  Enjoy:

Question #1:  What are your tips for choosing the right Siberian Husky from either a breeder or rescue?

Picking a Husky PuppyConsensus:
 The Siberian Husky is an active, intelligent working dog with a strong stubborn streak. Breeders stress that is not the breed for everyone. Do your research on both the breeder and the breed before making your decision. Check to see if they are on the Husky Club of America breeder referral list and verify their testing methods. Spend some time with the puppy dog you are considering so that you can better understand their temperament and look for a clause that indicates that the rescue group or breeder will take the dog back if it doesn’t work out.

Best Quotes:

Spend time with the puppy to check for temperament. Make sure that breeders have a lifetime takeback policy for puppies, and a congenital contract in case the puppy has a defect or dies. Make sure you can see the puppy or at least have a video camera on them to watch them grow. When rescuing, be certain that they will take the husky back if it is not a good fit.”
Jose Carmona-  Carmona Kennels

Do your research about the breed. Siberian huskies are not for everyone. Use the Siberian Husky Club of America breeder referral list to choose a breeder. Be sure to choose a breeder who tests the dogs and certifies them free of hereditary hip and eye diseases. Verify that they do that testing using the OFA.org website. Never buy site-unseen through a website.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

Anyone who is in a position to rescue is encouraged to do so. For those who prefer to get a Siberian from a breeder, the key is ensuring that the breeder is, by strict definition, ‘reputable’. To be considered ‘reputable’, the breeder must, at minimum: perform OFA/CERF screenings on potential parents; participate in a recognized, competitive activity with their dogs (agility, obedience, conformation, etc.); carefully screen prospective homes; accept their dogs back if they cannot be kept by the new home; offer a written health guarantee; and puppies should be well-socialized, vet-checked, and vaccinated prior to going to their new homes.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

Question #2:  What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed?

Husky Personality and TempermentConsensus:
This is an active, high-maintenance breed that loves to run and will be enticed to chase after anything that moves quickly, so it is important to keep them on a leash at all times when you and your pooch are out and about. They also have an incredible ability to pull, and will need to be taught to restrain themselves when walking on a leash. While they make entertaining and affectionate companions and exercise buddies, the majority of Siberian Huskies are too friendly to make effective watchdogs.

Best Quotes:

They are extremely non-aggressive and do not make good watchdogs at all. They love everyone; we jokingly tell people that all of our dogs have their “licker license”. They are dogs who love to join in on whatever their owner is doing; biking, running, skijoring, jogging, you name it. They are runners, so need some sort of containment, either a kennel, a fenced yard, or a leash. If you let them off-leash, you are very apt to lose them.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Their humor, grace, and beauty.”
Karen Street-  Shiver Siberians

Taken as a whole, they are wonderful dogs. However, for anyone who has not done their homework about the breed traits, it is likely that disappointment will follow. This is a ‘high-maintenance’ breed. They are not trust-worthy off-lead, they are escape artists and are highly predatory,  and they require training which is consistent and clear. They are also sled-pullers who must be taught to walk nicely on lead, and they ‘blow-coat’ twice a year. Some may have a tendency to be dominant or possessive of food or toys.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

Question #3:  What do most people not know about Siberian Huskies that would surprise them?

Husky factsConsensus:
 While the Siberian Husky breed is often associated with blue eyes, it is perfectly acceptable for them to have brown, amber, green, or grey eyes. They are also prone to a condition known as “Snow Nose” which causes their nose to fade to a pinkish color during the winter months. This breed of dogs also has a surprising amount of fur to help keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. During their seasonal shedding period, they drop large chunks of fur which six months or so and they truly enjoy being outside in the cold and snow.

Best Quotes:

They do a lot of shedding two to three times a year, as well as when they are experiencing stress. Huskies love to dig holes in the yard when they are bored or looking for a place to cool off. They also acclimate very well in different climates and they can be escape artists. Some even love to swim.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

Their noses turn pink in the winter.”
Megan Parker-  Joseph Parker

They do better in life with another Siberian husky as a companion. Most of them have a natural instinct to pull in harness and love being outside in the cold and snow all the time.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

They do NOT all have blue eyes – and this is completely acceptable.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Huskies

Question #4:  How would you  recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?

Husky Puppy Walking down road

Consensus:
 Puppies chew, and Siberian Husky puppies are no exception to this rule. Ensure that you pick up anything that you don’t want chewed on and purchase a good selection of tough toys to chew on. You also want to make sure that you have a safe space available for your pup when you can’t keep an eye on them. Crates and x-pens both work well for this, but keep in mind that this breed is known for their clever escapes, so you need to check the crate or pen for weak points each time that you put your pup away.

Best Quotes:

Get a large wire crate so they have a safe place to be when you are not home. Get very heavy-duty toys, such as kong toys. They are likely to destroy most stuffies. Give them bones to chew. Keep them in one room,such as the kitchen until they are potty trained. Learn about the breed. Find a breeder who gives lifetime breeder support.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Basically, baby-proof their house. Siberians, when left unattended, are destructive. If you don’t want it chewed do not leave it laying around. It’s important to realize that it is never the puppy’s fault that they chewed your brand new Ugg Boots because you didn’t put them out of reach. A crate is essential for this breed until they can be trusted. Trust needs to be earned.”
Lianne Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

Be sure you have a crate that you can keep the puppy in when you cannot watch them. Inspect the fence in your yard for small areas that a puppy could potentially slip under. Repair any vulnerabilities before the puppy arrives. If you do not have a fenced yard be prepared to walk your puppy at least six times a day or put a tie-out cable in your yard to attach your puppy to for potty breaks. Give your new puppy plenty of toys and save things to chew on.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

Question #5:  What are some unexpected things a new Siberian Husky owner might encounter in the first few weeks?

Siberian husky parentConsensus:
 The first few weeks home can be unsettling for your new dog or puppy and they may develop some separation anxiety. This breed is quite capable of turning on the theatrics and they are likely to whine or cry for a few days, especially at nighttime. Be attentive and reassure your pup, but be sure not to give in to their crying. The life changes that your pup is experiencing may upset the fairly delicate stomach of the Siberian Husky as well, so there is a good chance that they may experience a little gastrointestinal distress in the form of diarrhea.

Best Quotes:

Separation anxiety can be strong for some puppies when they first leave their litter and mother. Be patient and kind and reassuring to the new baby. Within a couple of weeks, they should settle into your lifestyle. Don’t let the excessive crying prevent you from properly crate training your puppy. Siberian huskies can be overly dramatic.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

Whining from being in a new place and away from their littermates; puppies may be nervous at first. They often have a sensitive stomach from changes in food, stress, and environment. Puppies have small bladders, so they must be taken out very often, even in the middle of the night. If you have bought an adult dog home, make sure they are on a leash at all times. If unleashed outside, they may run away.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

They can get separation anxiety. Huskies are very much a pack oriented dog. Love and attention are paramount. During the overnight hours, this can be difficult since they are often alone in their crate. Eventually, they will get used to this new environment, but it can take some time. Huskies have somewhat of a destructive nature. It becomes more evident as they get older, but even as pups they love to chew on items. Electric cords, sock, and rags are just a few items that can be at risk. Andrew and Heather Kronenberger- Frosty Meadow Husky Farm

Sibes tend to get diarrhea from any changes that aren’t done very GRADUALLY. When a pup goes to a new home pretty much everything changes: the layout of the house and property; possibly the food; the water may change from well water to city water; the people around your pup change; and the routine changes. If they are sent to a different area of the country, the climate and foliage can even change. This is a lot for a pup to take in and adjust to all at once, so they may get diarrhea.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Question #6:  What house-training advice do you have for a new owner?

Husky Potty TrainingConsensus:
 Siberian Huskies are typically a fairly easy breed to house-train, although there are always exceptions. Breeders recommend using a crate both for the dog’s comfort and to help during housetraining. The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down,but it is important to avoid giving your dog enough room to go to the bathroom inside the crate. They should be taken to potty whenever they wake up, whenever they have a meal, and about every 15 -10 minutes when they are playing. Always take them to the same spot outside as this will make training easier. Consistency and patience are the keys to getting your pup housetrained.

Best Quotes:

Take the puppy out to potty after every nap and every meal. Watch for signs of needing to go out like circling a specific area, or walking back-and-forth and looking at the door, or other similar cues.”
Shari Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

Crate, consistency, and patience.”
Liane Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

Stay consistent and use the crate method.”
Karen Street-  Shiver Siberians

Take them outside right after eating a meal. They will catch on very quickly.”
Jose Carmona-  Carmona Kennels

Question #7:  What tips do you have for socializing your Siberian Husky with other pets?

Socializing a HuskyConsensus:
 Siberian Huskies were bred to pull dogsleds, which requires cooperation with other canines, so they tend to be fairly dog-friendly by nature, although they do have an exceptionally high prey drive. Ensuring that your dog is well-socialized will help to encourage their friendly nature and keep them safe and confident. After your pup’s immunizations have been completed, start exposing them to as many friendly and safe new places, people, and pets as you can. Most experts recommend avoiding dog parks, instead of taking your pup to pet-friendly stores or outdoor shopping areas.

Best Quotes:

After your puppy has had their immunization shots, take them on walks in public places. Puppy socialization classes are also good. Dog parks are horrible for puppies and can cause them to fear other dogs. They are an unsafe environment for most dogs. You can also take your new puppy to stores that allow dogs like pet supply stores. Please be careful about taking your puppy out on hot days and take water with you. Also, carry treats with you for strangers to give to your puppy when your pup is acting a little shy. Be patient and don’t force anything.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

If you are socializing your dog with another dog you can walk them together as a way to get them used to each other. If you are socializing your dog with a cat you can put them in wire crates side by side so they can safely smell and see each other before attempting a one-on-one introduction. One or both animals should be kept on a leash so if they get too rough you can pull them away. Do not introduce a new dog to any other animal on their first day. They need time to adjust to the new people and new situations before adding another new animal into the mix.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Introduce animals slowly and carefully; they should generally be on a leash at first. Do not go to public dog parks for about a million reasons. Monitor their prey drive closely if you are introducing them to a cat, ferret, or another small animal. Do not set your dog up to fail.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

Question #8:  How much exercise does a Siberian Husky need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?

Proper Exercise for a HuskyConsensus:
 Although there is some variation, most Siberian Huskies tend to fall somewhere between energetic and extremely energetic. While most of these dogs can manage with just a walk or two a day, they will be much happier if they get more frequents walks or some form of more intense exercise. Fortunately, these dogs are multitalented. If you don’t have a dogsled handy, they can excel at other physically demanding activities such as skijoring, agility training, and even flyball.

Best Quotes:

Each dog is going to be different, but most need quite a bit. Running daily is best.”
Karen Street-  Shiver Siberians

Huskies are not sedentary dogs! They love to run and play. If not given the opportunity to run they will become destructive to cure their boredom. We recommend at least 1-2 hours a day, in 20-30 minute increments. As with anything, consistency is a good thing. If all parties work or are away for a good portion of the day, we recommend a pet care facility or in-home pet service. It’s generally not a good idea to leave them alone or in a crate for any more than 3-4 hours or so. As they age, the activity level decreases. Andrew and Heather Kronenberger

They need some sort of daily exercise – a walk at least. But, don’t forget that mental stimulation can be as important as physical exercise, as these guys are very intelligent.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

It truly depends on the dog itself as well as their diet. If you feed your dog a food that is designed for high energy they are going to need to burn off that energy. Never allow your Siberian to be off-leash, and a consistent schedule will very beneficial to not only yourself but to the dog as well.”
Liane Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

Question #9:  How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner?

Husky Puppy TrainingConsensus:
 Siberian Huskies are exceptionally clever dogs, who can get into and out of just about anything. They can also pick up just about any lesson that you select for them, but they are often fairly stubborn as well, so they may simply choose not to. These dogs are remarkably food-oriented and they tend to learn best when they are given several short training sessions throughout the day to avoid boredom. Training should continue throughout the lifetime of your Siberian Husky as these dogs will often test their owners.

Best Quotes:

They are easy to train, as they are very smart. However, it is also their smarts that makes them stubborn. Just when you think you have them fully trained, they may test their boundaries. It’s important to stick to your guns and make sure they know that you are in charge, not them. Andrew and Heather Kronenberger- Frosty Meadow Husky Farm

They can be stubborn. If they are kept on the same trick, they will easily get bored with it, so it is a good idea to switch up the task you want them to learn. Keep training sessions short— about 10 to 15 mins several times a day. Set your boundaries as soon as they arrive at your home. If you do not want them on your furniture or in a certain room, make sure you are persistent no matter how cute they look. Do not give in! If you give in to them one time, they will own you.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

They are very fast learners and generally very food motivated. Training them during their imprinting stage 10-18 weeks is CRITICAL. If you do not put the hard work in you are going to have a little monster on your hands. Siberians have very selective hearing. They choose to listen to you or not. The best advice I can give is to train them young with tough love. Consistency, Patience and Tough Love will set you up for a wonderful dog in the future.”
Liane Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

Question #10:  What are some of the unwanted behaviors that a Siberian Husky might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them?

Bad Behavior in HuskiesConsensus:
 Siberian Huskies tend to be a bit possessive of both people and objects, a behavior that should be extinguished quickly. They also tend to be a bit mouthy, often trying to manipulate the hands of the humans around them, a trait which should be discouraged as they don’t have particularly soft mouths, so this kind of play can easily end up drawing blood. The most commonly cited behavior, however, is their tendency to run off. The best way to prevent your dog from taking an unplanned adventure is to ensure that they remain leashed when not at home.

Best Quotes:

Running off and not returning. Siberian Huskies must be on a leash. They can climb fencing, chew through wire or wood fencing, dig under fencing-they are able to figure a way out of almost anything including harnesses, collars, penned areas, or anything else confining. If you think they cannot get out, look again…they will slip through the tiniest of cracks.”
Jill n Kenn Campbell-  Campbells Siberian Huskies

They tend to take to one individual and get possessive towards other animals. We just insist that other pets in the house get equal time and loves.”
Megan Parker-  Joseph Parker

Some puppies can be difficult to stop from mouthing your hands for attention. It is a behavior that can escalate to biting if you do not address it right away. One of the best ways we have found is to remove your hands from the dog’s reach and give them a toy instead. If the behavior continues after doing that, remove your hand or body part that the dog is mouthing from their reach and ignore the dog. If they are not getting any attention for doing the bad behavior they will likely stop. If the mouthing turns into biting, talk to a professional trainer.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

Digging is a behavior that many huskies have. If they have a gravel yard or patio block are they may not develop that behavior.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Question #11:  Do Siberian Huskies make good travel companions? Why or why not?

Husky Travel TipsConsensus:
 This breed of dog is well suited for traveling, especially if they start traveling at a young age. They are energetic, adventurous dogs that love spending as much time with their families as they can, wherever their families happen to be. Their tendency to run off after any quick moving animal can be problematic if they aren’t leashed at all times, however. Be especially cautious if traveling in warmer areas, however, and ensure you have plenty of water for both you and your canine companion.

Best Quotes:

Yes! This breed is bred for long-distance sled pulling. They thoroughly enjoy adventures.”
Liane Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

If you travel with your pets a lot as a puppy, they make good traveling companions. It depends on how much the owner takes them places. If they decide they want to take trips with their dogs once they are grown and they have never traveled, they may not do as well.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

Yes, as long as they are trained. But, never keep them off the leash. If they see a small animal run, they will run after it.”
Jose Carmona-  Carmona Kennels

Question #12:  Do they have any specific dietary needs or differences from other breeds?

Siberian Husky NutritionConsensus:
 While Siberian Huskies aren’t prone to allergies, they do tend to develop gastrointestinal issues fairly easily. They do best on a consistent diet that is free of grain, greasy additives, or table scraps. Breeders cited both fish and chicken as excellent protein sources for this breed. It is important to note that these dogs don’t need quite as much food as other dogs their size, and if they are full they will often leave a portion of their food in their bowl. Never force your Siberian Husky to finish their supper.

Best Quotes:

They have a very finicky gut. They should not have a lot of table food, greasy food, lactose, or grain. Siberian Huskies do best with fish as the first ingredient, followed by wholesome vegetables and fruits— not food additives or fillers.”
Jill n Kenn Campbell-  Campbell’s Siberian Huskies

Siberian huskies are considered easy keepers in the feeding department. They usually require less food than the average dog of their size. They do require a good quality high meat-based food for optimum nutrition and digestion.”
Shari Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

They eat far less than other dogs their size.”
Karen Street-  Shiver Siberians

Question #13:  What grooming tips do you have?

Siberian Husky taking a bathConsensus:
 Due to their thick, double-layered coat, Siberian Huskies require more grooming than many other breeds. They should be thoroughly brushed two or three times a week to remove tangles and reduce shedding, but only bathed as needed in order to avoid dried out skin. It is essential to get your Husky’s undercoat as dry as possible after bathing, preferably with a high powered blow dryer. If the undercoat remains wet, it is at risk of developing mold or mildew.

Best Quotes:

Brush them out a couple of times a week to reduce shedding. Wash them only when needed— when they are smelly or have been playing in the mud. Too much washing can dry their skin and coats out. Never shave your Husky! This will damage their coats and may never grow back in properly.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

Do NOT shave this breed. When they’re blowing coat, bath and blow-dry with forced air routinely until which time as the excess undercoat has been removed.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

Brush, brush, brush, and keep those nails trimmed.”
Megan Parker-  Joseph Parker

Have a high-powered hairdryer on hand to use when their coats begin to drop. It’s an absolute necessity.”
Karen Street-  Shiver Siberians

Question #14:  What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice?

Brushing a HuskyConsensus:
 This dog breed was developed with a thick, warm coat to help them stay warm as they raced many, many miles over ice and snow. They tend to shed moderately throughout the year, then in the spring and fall they blow their coat. This means that for three weeks out of every three months, your dog will shed an enormous amount of underfur. Bushing your dog more frequently during that time will help speed up this shedding process.

Best Quotes:

Typically two times a year you will have a huge amount of hair coming out. Many spayed and neutered dogs shed slightly throughout the year instead of having a huge amount, all at once. A high-velocity blow dryer like you would use at a grooming shop is the best method of getting all the hair out.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies

They shed their undercoat, which is a tremendous amount of hair, once every six months. This process can take up to three weeks, but you can lessen it greatly by blowing out the hair with a high-powered blower or taking them to a groomer to get it out.”
Bonnie Schaeffel-  Liberty Siberians

Usually, at least twice a year, they ‘blow-coat’. It’s an absolute mess. Everywhere the dog goes there will be fur. You cannot shave this breed. They should be groomed routinely, especially during these time frames.”
Jess Moore-  Jalerran Siberians

Question #15:  Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Siberian Huskies?

Husky Health ProblemsConsensus:
 Siberian Huskies are typically a healthy breed overall, but they are prone to a few conditions. The most commonly seen genetic disorder revolved around their eyes as they are prone to developing cataracts early in their lives. Hip dysplasia is rarely a problem for this breed, but it can sometimes emerge due to unscrupulous breeding practices. Seizures are also more common in this breed, but as of yet, it hasn’t been determined if genetics is the cause of the seizures, or if it is related to an environmental pathogen.

Best Quotes:

Overall they are a healthy breed but some may develop eye conditions, seizures, zinc deficiencies, or hip dysplasia. My biggest concern regarding genetic health issues are those issues caused by breeders who are not putting in the time and effort into learning the pedigrees and health testing their breeding stock. Anyone can put two dogs together to create puppies but unscrupulous breeders neglect to know what is behind the dogs.”
Liane Tofani-  Midnight White Siberians

Your main genetic health concerns in this breed are juvenile cataracts and hip dysplasia. They should have their eyes examined by an animal eye care specialist once a year. Their eyes can change from year to year like us humans. They need to have x-rays of their hips by your veterinarian at the age of 2 yrs which should be sent into a certified radiologist such as the OFA. Other than these 2 main concerns the Siberian husky is generally very healthy.”
Wendy Bentley-  Sweetgum Siberians

The Siberian husky has fewer genetic health concerns than many other purebred dogs. Hereditary cataracts are one of the most common issues and it has very little effect on the dog’s ability to function. Blinding cataracts is rather rare. There are some other eye diseases that affect the breed but they are not common. There is also a high incidence of Epilepsy in the breed. There is no genetic test that can be done for Epilepsy and it may or may not be hereditary. It can also be the result of a health issue or toxic exposure. Hip dysplasia is common in poorly bred dogs who come from lines of pet breeders who don’t health test.”
Sheri Wright-  Bralin Siberian Huskies