Whilst I was walking my 2 ½-year-old husky Luna one morning, I stopped to chat with a lady on my street who also has a dog. Our conversation prompted me to write this article.
Are Siberian Huskies aggressive by nature? No Huskies are not aggressive by nature, they are friendly and very playful.
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This lady used to avoid us at all costs, every time she saw us, from when Luna was only a few months old until very recently. Something I noticed that she wasn’t alone in doing. I find quite a few people avoid us. After discussions with other husky owners, we discovered that we weren’t alone in that regard.
I say until recently because my husband was walking Luna one day and bumped into her and her dog. They met on the street where there was nowhere for her to go with her dog to get out of the way and nowhere for my husband to go. Her dog has been very keen to say hello to Luna since they first saw each other but was never allowed to.
At an impasse with nowhere to go, they were forced to pass each other. After a very calm and friendly hello to each other, she no longer avoids us.
When I was talking to her, she mentioned how calm and friendly Luna was, and how it was unusual for huskies to be like that as they are normally aggressive. I was quite taken aback. This has never been my experience.
I replied that they are no more aggressive than any other dog, it really depends on their early experiences and upbringing, like any other dog and indeed like children. She then had a little chuckle at that and agreed, if a little doubtfully. But it got me thinking about it.
- Huskies are very high energy. They have amazing stamina and love to run and run and run!
- They are known to be friendly and gentle – they make rubbish guard dogs because they tend to want to be everyone’s friend and enjoy having a fuss made of them by anyone.
- They’re very playful and mischievous. They love to chase and be chased.
- Huskies can also be very independent and stubborn and are not natural-born people-pleasers like a Labrador.
This independence and stubbornness can make training a bit of a challenge because you have to discover what they like in order to get them to cooperate. With our husky Luna, it’s cheese, she will happily cooperate for a little piece of cheese. Our dog trainer said once that she loved helping us with Luna because getting a husky trained was an enrichment for her and she had to pull out all the tools in her belt to see what would work.
- A huskies’ body language is slightly different from other breeds. They naturally look bold and alert.
- Huskies also have a very direct gaze, at humans and other dogs. This direct gaze can be off-putting for other dogs and people.
- When they are being affectionate their ears fold back, which in some breeds can be seen as a sign of aggression.
Their body language could be part of the misconception that they are aggressive.
When huskies play with each other it can look as if they are fighting with each other. They are very mouthy with each other and tend to grab hold of necks and legs. But do tend to have good bite inhibition, which is certainly the case with Luna.
When Luna and her brother are playing I can understand why some people would think that huskies are aggressive. However, if you watch closely they bounce around a lot and use their bums to knock into each other while holding onto their necks. There is a lot of wasted movements which is how I know that they are playing. They also take turns throwing each other around, chasing and bowling each other over. Nothing says I love you like a husky body slam!
Huskies Never Forget
What I have definitely noticed with our husky is that a husky will never forget. If something happens to them they will remember.
For example, whenever Luna goes into our vet’s room, she sits down at the door and will not lift her bottom. This behavior started after she had her temperature taken. She hates having her temperature taken and will not lift her bottom until I put my hand on the door handle to leave.
Likewise, one evening she was in the garden for her pre-bedtime toilet. It was raining hard and the wind was howling. I wanted to get to bed, Luna wanted to enjoy the rain and wind. So I went in and got a little bit of cheese to entice her back inside. It was cheese so she bolted in from the garden. Now, she will only come in if there is a little bit of cheese waiting for her! They forget nothing.
Huskies and Training
As I mentioned earlier, huskies can be stubborn and they never forget. I firmly believe in force-free positive reinforcement training.
Huskies definitely need a consistent, firm but very gentle hand when it comes to training. If you are not consistent with a husky and you give them an inch, they will take that inch and they will run for miles with it!
Repetition is the key when training a husky. But the repetition needs to be consistent. They are smart dogs and need lots of mental stimulation as well as physical exertion. Lots of positive focus training, on-lead walking, and sometimes for them to run and stretch their legs.
I genuinely believe that the force-free training approach has helped Luna keep her lovely calm temperament. She is not, dog reactive or people reactive at all. I think that if you are heavy-handed with a husky, indeed with any dog, it will make them afraid and that fear will then be redirected towards another dog or person.
Are Siberian Huskies Aggressive?
I would definitely say that huskies are no more aggressive than any other dog. The current reports and statistics on dog bites tend to agree with me.
Huskie can even live and get along with cats. You can read my article Do Huskies and Cats get Along?
According to the CDC, approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the US every year. 800,000 of these bites require medical attention. In the US this equates to around 1 in 69 people being bitten by a dog.
- 81% of dog bites cause little to no damage and do not require medical assistance.
- Fatal Dog Attacks say that 25% of fatal dog attacks were caused by various dog breeds that were chained up.
- Un-neutered or un-spayed dogs were responsible for most dog bites.
- Over 30 different breeds and dog types were reported for biting.
In fact, Puppy Lover News compiled a list of dog breeds that bite the most:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Lhasa Apso
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Bull Terrier
The playful Husky didn’t make the list! This really isn’t a surprise for me.
Just because the husky breed is known to be friendly, this doesn’t mean that you should assume that every husky will be friendly.
Each dog, just like each person, is an individual, irrespective of breed. It will have its own personality, likes, dislikes, and past experiences which will have shaped its nature.
Always be dog aware and follow some sensible steps to avoid unpleasant encounters with dogs.
- You should never approach an unfamiliar dog without its owner’s consent. Even if it’s a small cute dog. Vet’s say that the majority of bites they receive are from Chihuahuas.
- Don’t interrupt a dog who is looking after her pups as she will be protective of them.
- Don’t disturb a dog if it’s sleeping.
- You should never put your face into a dog’s face.
- Don’t disturb a dog if it’s eating.
- Allow the dog to sniff you first, if it is happy then pet it on its shoulder or back, not it’s head. Not every dog likes their head to be petted.
- If the dog starts yawning, turning away from you, or tries to move away from you, then let it. The dog is trying to tell you that it is uncomfortable with the situation.
- Do not allow children to pull, prod, or climb on a dog.
- If a dog growls then it is not happy, do not approach it.
I hope you found this article helpful. By following a few rules encounters with dogs, including huskies, can be rewarding and danger free.