If you meet a dog with a striking, wolf-like appearance and endless energy, it is probably a Siberian husky. This intelligent breed was originally developed as a working dog that could withstand harsh and freezing conditions but has now become a widely-owned pet across the United States. Huskies are handsome, high-energy dogs that like to chase, and still have the natural instincts of a hunter. However, while they are popular pets, huskies can be dangerous, and a Siberian husky bite can do some serious damage.
All dog bites should be taken seriously. When a person suffers an injury from a husky bite, they could be left with severe wounds or lasting psychological trauma. If a victim decides to take legal action, a dog bite attorney will be able to help guide them through the process and ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve.
Read this guide to understand every aspect of the Siberian husky, from its origins, characteristics, temperament, and tendency to attack, to how you can survive a husky attack, and what victims should do after an incident.
Reputation of the Siberian Husky
While the Siberian husky is wolf-like in appearance, it is developing a reputation as a good family pet. The breed has won many people over with its unique looks and playful nature.
However, potential owners and those who come into contact with strange huskies also need to be aware of the negative sides of the breed’s reputation. They are known to be extremely active – to the point of becoming destructive – and have unpredictable temperaments. It is not uncommon for a husky’s mood to turn in an instant. Siberian huskies have been known to attack and bite, and strangers should always approach with caution.
The earliest dogs in the husky lineage originated in Asia, as descendants of the first sledding dogs. The direct ancestors of Siberian huskies were first bred by the indigenous tribe of the area, both as family companions, and as high-endurance working dogs. These dogs were capable of pulling loaded sleds across huge distances in freezing temperatures. They were vital to the survival of those living in these sub-zero landscapes and were also used on arctic expeditions.
Part of the Chukchi population was based in eastern Siberia, which is how the Siberian husky breed name came to stick. Some of these dogs were exported to other areas of the world, such as Alaska.
Siberian huskies shot to prominence in 1925, when they played a vital role in the Nome Serum Run – a rescue mission in Alaska. Sledding teams, pulled by huskies, were used to deliver a life-saving diphtheria vaccine to the town of Nome after an outbreak of the disease, preventing an epidemic. The heroic huskies and their handlers had to cross an icy expanse of more than 650 miles, surviving arctic blizzards and harsh terrain. A bronze statue of Balto – the lead dog for the final leg of the run – was erected in New York’s Central Park to commemorate the effort.
In 1930, the Siberian husky was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The breed was branded the ‘Arctic husky’ by the United Kennel Club, but this name was changed to Siberian husky, in line with the AKC, in 1991.
Huskies have also been used to great effect over the years in polar expeditions, as well as arctic search and rescue teams, while their popularity as household pets is also at an all-time high.
Characteristics of Siberian Huskies
- Key Characteristics: Athletic and agile
- Height: Males – 21-24 inches / Females – 18-20 inches
- Weight: Males – 45-60 lbs / Females – 35-50 lbs
- Color: Black, white, gray, brown, red
- Coat: Thick, with an extra undercoat
- Eyes: Blue, brown, black –heterochromia
- Ears: Pointy, upright
- Tail: Large and expressive
- Life Span: 12-14 years
Siberian Huskies have a wide range of very distinctive physical characteristics. They are far from the biggest dogs around, but these mid-sized canines display great speed, agility, and power.
Huskies are covered with thick fur, with these coats designed to help them withstand the coldest conditions, including temperature lows of about -60 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that they are also heavy shedders – something to keep in mind for would-be owners.
Most huskies have a blended color, often black and white, or black, white, and gray. They also may have blended coloring including brown or reddish hues. But it is the eye color of a Siberian Husky that really stands out. Some huskies have unique, piercing icy blue eyes, while others have deep black and brown colored eyes. This breed also sometimes has heterochromia – the phenomenon of each eye being a different color.
The ears of a husky stand upright, like those of a wolf, while their tails are also key features of the breed. Heavy fur covers their tails, which can be curled up around a husky’s face for added warmth if it is resting in particularly cold temperatures. The tail will be low if the dog is relaxed, and curled upward when it is alert, excited, or aggressive.
What is the Temperament of a Husky?
These are some of the key behavioral traits and characteristics that Siberian huskies commonly display:
- High prey drive
- Rowdy and overactive
- Highly destructive when bored
- Escape artist
- Mood swings – sudden snapping
When huskies are trained well and kept active by their owner, they are good-natured and have a curious and playful nature. They have a natural pack mentality and are usually sociable and friendly with other dogs. However, problems can arise, and a Siberian husky can become aggressive in certain circumstances. Huskies have a tendency to display sudden aggression, with little warning.
Firstly, huskies are extremely energetic and need to be kept active. If they become bored, they can cause major issues. They may be prone to howling, chewing, jumping and digging, and can cause some serious damage. The natural instincts of the husky also give it a high prey drive. These dogs will chase anything that runs – including cats and other animals. If they catch them, a husky might grab and bite its prey.
They are also known to be skilled escape artists. They are curious and want to seek adventure. Huskies are great at slipping through seemingly secured fences. If allowed to escape and run free, a husky may bite an unsuspecting stranger, or attack a smaller animal.
|Siberian Husky Characteristics
|Suitability for Inexperienced Owners
The Growing Popularity of Huskies
The popularity of the Siberian husky dog breed has been rising steadily in recent years. As the authority on U.S. dog breeds, the American Kennel Club compiles an annual list chronicling the most-owned dogs in the United States.
Siberian Huskies have risen from 16th in 2012 to currently sit at number 12 on the list at the time of writing.
Siberian Huskies in Pop Culture
Huskies appear in several animated TV shows, while the animated movie Balto was released in 1995, loosely portraying the events of the 1925 serum run in Alaska. A Siberian husky was also used as a recurring canine character on the live-action zombie show Z Nation.
But the most prominent pop-culture appearance by Siberian huskies was in the 2006 movie Eight Below, which stars the late Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, and a pack of husky sled dogs.
Based on real-life events, the movie follows a research trip in Antarctica. When the scientists are forced to abandon their base suddenly due to extreme weather conditions, their sled dogs are left behind to wait for the next extraction – surviving for five months in the freezing wild until a rescue mission arrives.
Owning and Training a Siberian Husky
The characteristics of huskies mean that they are not the ideal pet for everybody. Here, we examine the challenges of owning and training Siberian huskies, and ensuring that they do not become aggressive or bite an unsuspecting victim.
Behavior of Your Siberian Husky
One of the most significant challenges facing husky owners is that this breed is traditionally extremely strong-willed. While they are usually good-natured, this strength of will can cause problems. A Siberian husky needs an owner who is confident and can take charge.
Without proper training and firm handling, or if a husky does receive the attention it needs, problems can arise, and you may see attacks occur. These problems can involve significant destruction and even aggressive and violent behavior. This is when a Siberian husky bite or attack is most likely.
Husky Safety Around Children
Huskies are generally fairly safe to have around children. This breed gets on well with people, though there are plenty of horrifying incidents showing otherwise. Owners should not leave younger children alone with these dogs. All dogs, including huskies, can attack and bite with little warning if they are scared, uncomfortable, or sense any kind of threat. Children should always be supervised, even if the dog has no history of aggression.
How to Train Your Husky to Stop Biting
As with many dog breeds, husky puppies can nip and bite when they are young. This is usually not aggressive behavior, or a signal of dog behavioral problems – the husky puppy is probably playing over-enthusiastically. But without proper training, they may continue this aggressive biting behavior as they become older, when they can cause severe wounds.
These are just some of the best steps to stop a husky puppy biting:
- Ensure a puppy is eight weeks old before taking it from a breeder if possible. The dog’s mother will still be teaching the pup valuable hierarchy lessons from the 6-8 week mark.
- Socialize your puppy from an early age. Make sure it has supervised contact with other dogs and people.
- Practice consistency. Make sure everyone coming into frequent contact with the dog knows how to deal with a husky bite incident.
- If the pup bites too hard while playing, say ouch loudly and remove yourself from the vicinity of its mouth. Deploy chew toys as an acceptable replacement for the dog.
- Develop a word or phrase as a cue to stop biting. If the husky becomes aggressive, say the cue, and reward the right reaction with treats for positive reinforcement.
- If your puppy bites, stop playing immediately and turn away from it. Teach the puppy that there are consequences for biting.
- If biting persists, gently hold the dog’s muzzle so that its mouth is held closed after a biting incident.
- Do not use force or aggression – this will make any problem worse.
If a husky biting problem persists, consult an expert. You could also take your husky to basic training classes, where instructors can help you carry out these steps.
Aggression and Biting in Huskies
Statistics show that the Siberian Husky is the fifth most dangerous breed of dog breed, based on the number of husky attacks recorded in the United States and Canada over the last three decades.
A study collected dog bite media reports and data between 1982-2014, breaking them down by breed to give us a strong indication of the most dangerous dogs, and the breeds most likely to bite.
Siberian husky attacks accounted for a high number of incidents. The breed was responsible for 83 attacks over the test period. Of those attacks, 27 were maulings which resulted in serious injuries, while 26 other husky attacks proved fatal. The number of fatal attacks by huskies is also significantly higher than the number of deaths caused by German Shepherds and Presa Canarios (the third and fourth most dangerous dog breeds according to attack numbers over the same period).
Despite the reports of huskies being good with children, it should be noted that most attacks were on youngsters. Not all attack reports specified age, but it was confirmed that 51 children were bitten by huskies, compared to eight adults.
Dog Bite Statistics in the U.S (Infographic). Download or share our dangerous breeds dog bite info-graphic to educate others on the dangers of approaching a dangerous dog.
Siberian Husky Fatal Dog Attacks
Infant Killed in Fatal Siberian Husky Attack – Minnesota, 2010
A baby – aged just 11 days old – was killed by the family’s Siberian husky in his own home. At the time of the attack, the youngster was laying in a car seat, which had been placed on top of a bed. The baby suffered severe and fatal head wounds from at least one dog bite. Emergency services were called to the home in Independent, Minnesota, and worked at the scene to try to save the infant for more than an hour. The cause of death was confirmed as head injuries suffered in a dog attack.
Husky Kills Dozens of Animals After Escaping Home – Utah, 2018
A husky left a trail of dead animals in a single-night killing spree. The pet dog – a 4-year-old husky named Nikita – managed to escape from its home in Tooele, Utah, before killing a cat, 20 chickens, two rabbits, two ducks, a goose, and a turkey. It carried out the attacks at two locations near its home, including a backyard petting zoo, set up for disabled youngsters. The dog had to work hard to get to some of its victims, including digging the rabbits out of their enclosure.
Baby Fatally Mauled by Family Husky – Illinois, 2009
An infant girl was grabbed and killed by her family’s husky at their home in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The child – a twin girl who was born just three weeks earlier – had been laying on a bed while her mother was in the kitchen. The mom heard the baby cry, before seeing the husky walk into the hallway with the child in its mouth. It was speculated that the dog may have thought the child was a toy or an animal, or that it heard the girl cry and was trying to bring her to her mom.
How to Protect Yourself When Attacked by a Siberian Husky
As we’ve seen from some of the documented instances of husky attacks, they can be deadly. Here’s how you can ensure you do not become the victim of husky bite injury.
- Stay away from strange or unfamiliar dogs. Huskies are often friendly with people, but their temperaments are difficult to judge and can turn quickly. If in doubt, or if the dog is displaying aggressive body language, steer clear.
- If a Siberian husky charges at you, do not run. Huskies have a high prey drive and enjoy chasing. If husky runs toward you, stay calm and remain as still as possible. Do not make eye contact with the dog.
- Do not let a husky bite you. Keep the dog at a distance if it attacks by using whatever you can as a shield. Use bags or articles of clothing to divert the dog’s teeth.
- Protect yourself. If you are the victim of a sustained husky attack, protect yourself from the worst of it. Huskies are quick, agile, and powerful. Stay on your feet and protect your major arteries by covering spots such as the neck and thighs. Severe dog bites in these areas could even result in a victim bleeding out.
- Find a way to escape. Try to find a way to get away from the dog. Get in/outdoors, or climb onto a wall or fence. Hitting or kicking an attacking dog should be used as a last resort. It might make the attack worse, but you might be left with no other option.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury?
Different areas have varying dog bite laws, which help decide the punishment handed down to the dog and owner in the event of a husky attack or a dog bite injury.
In California, the strict liability statute is used. This is a zero-tolerance rule that makes the owner of a dog liable for an attack by their pet. This covers dog bites that happen in public places, such as during a dog walk in a park, or on private property if the victim is lawfully permitted to be there.
This means that when a person is bitten by a dog, the animal’s owner will be responsible. As an owner, it is their duty to ensure that their pet does not put other people or animals in danger.
Siberian Husky Attack – Talk to a Husky Bite Attorney
A husky bite can result in severe wounds and may have a serious impact on a person’s life. A victim could suffer:
- Flesh damage and puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Ligament damage
- Tendon and muscle injuries
Even if no physical pain is sustained, being challenged by an aggressive dog is frightening. A dog attack incident can also result in emotional trauma and psychological suffering.
These injuries can leave victims facing a variety of costs, such as medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages, through no fault of their own.
Dog bites should never be trivialized. They are serious, and those responsible should be held accountable. In most cases, this means talking to a dog bite attorney and taking legal action against the dog’s owner.
To do so, victims should collect:
- Photographic evidence – This can include photographs or videos of the incident, as well as pictures of the scene and the injuries sustained.
- Witness statements – First-hand accounts and contact details from anyone who saw the incident.
- Police and medical reports – Request copies of all reports relating to the incident.
- Personal account – Produce a written account of the husky attack.
- Bills and expenses – Collect proof of all medical expenses and financial impacts relating to the attack.
The final step is to contact the experienced dog attack lawyers of Bisnar Chase.
While it is usually not an easy decision to pursue legal action, it is sometimes necessary. It can help victims recoup their costs, and ensure that other people are not endangered by a careless dog owner’s negligence.