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Is there anyone out there who is experienced with Siberian Huskies?

(25 Posts)
Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 17:35:11

We are very tentatively looking at rehoming a Siberian Husky rescue dog.

I have not met him yet, this is just a very early stage idea, but I thought I should find out as much about the breed as I can.

I could google but I wanted honest, experienced advice, not an encyclopaedia listing or similar.

I am told he is incredibly friendly and sociable, needs further training, needs more socialisation with other dogs but has been great with other dogs so far, and is likely to be great with children.

I currently have a submissive Collie Cross who is also a rescue dog.

What should I know?

What do you think?

Does this sound good or something to be cautious about to you?

Scoundrel Thu 29-Sep-11 17:36:27

Huskies are difficult to recall. They're bred to run in one direction for hours on end grin

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 17:47:15

Thanks Scoundrel - that is the sort of thing I need to know as I make a decision.

Avantia Thu 29-Sep-11 17:47:25

Huskies are beautiful dogs and at one stage my DH suggested that we get one . I looked into it and as Scoundrell said they are breed to run and run and run. I have never seen a Huskie off a lead . Also they are pack animals and are better in pairs .

I have been to a couple of training classed with my dog and the huskies are can be extremely dominant with their owners .

I would be cautious with rehoming a Huskie unless you are an experinced dog person.

Avantia Thu 29-Sep-11 17:48:21

I have a lab who is breed to retrive and come back and thankfully she does .

Hope it works out for Huskie whatever the decision.

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 17:51:22

I should have said that this one is an amputee. That doesn't slow dogs down does it?

Would he be highly likely to dominate my collie cross then?

We have done well with our current rescue dog but I suspect that is down to him rather than us. grin

Maybe I should not upset the apple cart!

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 17:53:14

We are not the only ones who have shown an interest in him so I am sure they will find him a home Avantia but they are obviously being very careful where he goes.

momnipotent Thu 29-Sep-11 17:55:10

Agree with others re:huskies having a reputation for running off. Had a neighbour with one and he was never allowed off-leash.

That said, we have a husky cross (with lab and chow). We absolutely could not have asked for a better dog, but if we had read up on the husky and chow breeds ahead of time, we wouldn't have even considered him. smile

Scoundrel Thu 29-Sep-11 18:16:54

YY to the dominance thing too. There is a woman who walks two malamutes (they're very similar to huskies aren't they?) in my local park. They run rings around her and she has very little control of them. She now walks them often after dark because of the way they dominate the other dogs that are out. They are absolutely beautiful but I would never have one myself.

toboldlygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:20:52

I'm a volunteer for the Siberian Husky Welfare Association and own/race my own.

They absolutely cannot be let off the lead except in the most securely fenced places. Their recall is non-existent and they have a very high prey drive. This can make exercising them difficult as they require a great deal of walking (around three hours per day, as a guideline) but this all has to be on a lead. They are not safe with cats, small pets or livestock in any circumstances. They shed heavily all year round and really heavily twice a year. They tend to howl rather than bark. As a breed they are prone to separation anxiety which tends to manifest in a very destructive and noisy way. They don't really 'do' obedience and will consider every command in light of whether it will benefit them or not.

On the plus side... they tend to be a very healthy and robust dog, very low incidence of hip dysplasia or other hereditary issues, they often work well into their teens and are long lived. There are lots of very fun (but expensive and time consuming) sports you can do with them - I'd go as far to say that they must do some kind of recreational harness work to keep them happy - Cani-x, scootering, bikejoring etc. They are, of course, very beautiful. smile

They really are more of a way of life than just a dog - for example, you couldn't leave one home alone for a working day, every facet of your life needs to be adjusted around them - and I wouldn't ever recommend one as a pet unless you're actively seeking a big lifestyle change.

toboldlygo Thu 29-Sep-11 18:29:45

Scoundrel - Mals and huskies are actually quite different, mals do have a rep for dog aggression (especially same-sex dog aggression) but tend to be a little more laid back in all other ways, less of the frantic run-run-run and more inclination towards obedience. They are heavy freighting dogs, larger, slower and a bit more chilled out.

Huskies are known for being gregarious and generally get on well with strangers and strange dogs (they are crap guard dogs, they greet everyone like a long lost friend grin) provided they've been well socialised, as with all dogs. Their style of play can be very overbearing however, two huskies will bite, rag each other by the neck, howl and scream and bowl each other over, all at 100mph, it can easily be misinterpreted as aggression and is very intimidating to other dogs. They are sprint racing dogs, faster, leaner and more manic.

I don't believe in the whole dominance thing, every husky I've had has responded well to basic positive reward training despite being allowed through doorways first and to sleep on the sofa. grin They do need a firm hand but only in the sense that they need regular, constructive training rather than being allowed to do whatever they want but again, that goes for all dogs.

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 18:30:03

toboldlygo that is a very honest assessment of a breed you clearly love.

It sounds like this dog would not be a good match with our own at all. He can run and run but has good recall and is very easy as long as we don't walk him on a lead.

They sound like opposites really.

Thank you everyone for stopping me from leading with my heart rather than my head.

Scoundrel Thu 29-Sep-11 18:33:25

Interesting, tobodlygo! Thanks smile

bangcrash Thu 29-Sep-11 19:01:38

So good to read a proper dialogue about them, lots by me at the moment being shouted at, not walked enough and getting in trouble for howling or chewing. Bet most soon end up in rescuesad

Vallhala Thu 29-Sep-11 19:02:39

"They don't really 'do' obedience and will consider every command in light of whether it will benefit them or not."

Oh. So you've met my daughters then?


May I add that in the opinion of this rescuer, I would expect any dog who is to be adopted into a family to be assessed with children, in an experienced foster home or with volunteers DC, rather than for the family to be merely told that the rescue thinks he is "likely" to be good with children.

A rescued dog who will be being adopted into a home, particularly where there are children, may not come into rescue with a full background history but he should leave the rescue with one.

Vallhala Thu 29-Sep-11 19:05:42

Oh my gawd, what terrible grammar! blush

Sorry, hope it makes sense anyway.

<<Note to self: Either reply to OP or prepare to collect child from Guides. Not both. You are clearly incapable of multitasking.>>

GrownUpNow Thu 29-Sep-11 19:11:16

My DP wants one and to be honest though they sound lovely animals and are absolutely gorgeous, they sound like a dog who need a very specific kind of owner and home. All my research says they aren't great for inexperienced dog owners like we are.

toboldlygo Thu 29-Sep-11 19:37:08

There are a huge number coming into rescue at the moment (sadly they are becoming very popular) and the vast majority are between 6 and 24 months of age, i.e the stage where the cute fluffy puppy turns into an adolescent nightmare and starts to make huge demands on the owner's time and resources.

What I would say to anyone considering one is to call one of the breed organisations - SHWA UK or SHCGB - both are manned by volunteers so you may need to leave a message but someone will call you back. Just explain that you are thinking about getting a husky and they will be happy to talk your ear off about it. Most importantly they will be able to put you in touch with a local husky owner or a racing event near you and encourage you to come and spend some time with the dogs, see what they can do and chat to other owners to get a real picture of what it's like to be owned by huskies. smile

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 19:37:33

Valhalla it made sense to me. Thanks for your input.

I think it is probably a "no" for us but a friend of mine who has experience with them is now interested - that sounds a better match.

His kids are grown up as well so there is not that risk.

toboldlygo Thu 29-Sep-11 19:57:46

Just to add that mine attend weekly training classes, same as for any other dog, in addition to their race training (purely recreational for us, neither of mine is KC reg and therefore can't take part in championships etc.) and have a passable level of obedience in that specific situation and one is at the stage where I'm actually thinking she could compete in agility by next year (at a low-key local level, you won't see us at Olympia grin) but by god has it been a battle to get there and they will never, ever behave like a collie or a lab in that wondrous people-pleasing way. Absolutely everything they do is subject to that cost/benefit analysis - and, being faster and cleverer than us hoomins, that seldom works out in our favour.

Carrotsandcelery Thu 29-Sep-11 20:16:20

This is it, the collie is strong in our one - added to his submissive nature and, sadly, his post rescue desperation to please - he is a very easy dog to have around (as long as you don't try to walk him on a lead).

I am being forgetful of what he was like when we got him mind you. We were chucked out of agility and refused entry to training classes blush We just worked away ourselves with him and loved, loved, loved him and he came round. He had to learn to trust us and then the rest fell into place.

Regardless of that though, he is mostly a collie, and the other is a siberian husky.

RedwingWinter Fri 30-Sep-11 05:21:52

Toboldlygo's advice is perfect.

I have a rescue husky/mal cross who we got in the spring. He's fabulous. I have seen people let their huskies off-leash but this seems foolish. I would never do this with ours as if anything interesting came by (like a squirrel) he would be miles away within minutes. I practise recall with him at the securely fenced dog park just in case he ever gets off his leash by accident.

All our friends love him and he loves them and their dogs. He is really intelligent and capable of learning new commands very quickly - but he is stubborn and will decide for himself if he wants to do it or not. ('I don't smell any cheese ... I don't think I'll bother sitting'. You can see his nose twitch while he tries to decide if there's anything in it for him).

Lots of people say that you shouldn't get a husky unless you already have experience with one. On the other hand these people usually have multiple huskies because they got one and fell in love with it. They are very different dogs from collies and if you want to have two dogs that can run around together, it won't work. On the other hand, you could train the collie with a 'find the husky' command for the occasions when the husky escapes!

Elibean Fri 30-Sep-11 08:31:09

I think I know the one you mean - he is beautiful smile

Good luck deciding (I knew he would be beyond my capabilities!)

Rhinestone Fri 30-Sep-11 11:44:13

Agree totally with toboldlygo. IMVHO there are dogs - those lovely four-legged things who know their side of the bargain when you employ the right training techniques. Then there are huskies - and they haven't read the manual and they don't care! Think you can motivate me with a treat?!! You foolish human!!

They are wonderful, beautiful, bewitching animals but yes, a husky is a lifestyle, not a dog!

silentcatastrophe Fri 30-Sep-11 16:10:10

I think huskies are stunning animals. But... I wouldn't have one of my own for the reasons already stated. They would be much happier working and not living alone. Mind you, if these arctic winters are going to carry on, a team of huskies and a sled might not be such a bad idea....

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