Siberian Huskies are robust dogs and can be expected to live for 12 to 14 years. However the breed is prone to some genetic issues that can affect the longevity and overall health of your new pet. Hip dysplasia and a number of eye issues are the main ones to look out for when selecting a husky puppy. Here is a summary of these problems and what you can do to help select a healthy puppy.
Hip Dysplasia is relatively common to larger dog breeds. It is a genetic fault resulting in an abnormal formation of the hip socket. The head (top) of the thigh bone does not fit snugly in to the pevic joint socket, causing pain and arthritis. The effects can be anywhere from mild to debilitating for the animal. Hip dysplasia affects both male and female huskies, and can affect either or both hip joints.
Hip dysplasia develops over the husky’s early life, and by 18 months is usually present if it were to occur. Identification in young puppies is not possible, but because it is a genetic defect you can minimize the chances of acquiring a puppy prone to dysplasia. The good news is that through careful breeding the complaint has had a marked reduction over the past decade and is not the widespread problem it once was.
The Orthopedic Foundation For Animals has a registry with a free search facility on its home page. You can look up information on a dog you are potentially acquiring to see if it might be prone to dysplasia.
A dog that has acquired hip dysplasia will need to be carefully managed via weight control (keeping dog from growing overweight) and exercise control (not too strenuous to cause discomfort or inflammation). There is medical treatment available, and even surgery, which has good success rates but the costs can be high.
There are a number of eye issues affecting Siberian Huskies. Hereditary cataracts (also known as juvenile cataracts) affect puppies as young as three months old, and causes anything from a mild decrease in vision to complete blindness. Corneal Dystrophy starts to affect young adult dogs and affects female dogs more than males. Progressive retinal atrophy is another problem that initially decreases effectiveness of night vision, followed by day vision and blindness ensues.
Detection is not possible for newborn puppies. Eye issues affect a small percentage of huskies (less than 10%) and you can minimize the chance of acquiring a puppy with eye issues by talking to the breeder before adoption.
Some dog clubs hold health clinics where you can get your Siberian Husky checked out by a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
What you can do
Husky puppies should be acquired from a reputable breeder – one that has a history of producing healthy animals and does not shy away from answering all of your questions. Ask about the health of the animals and what the breeder has been doing to minimize genetic defects. A good breeder will be up front and honest and although no breeder can say their animals are 100% perfect, they might be able to provide some sort of guarantee against certain conditions. Any breeder you deal with should be able to supply paperwork to establish the blood line of your animal as well as genetic test results explaining potential defects present in the puppy.
If you are looking for a husky breeder check out our breeder directory to see if there is a breeder near you. There is a breeder directory for those within the USA, plus another for our international visitors.
Don’t forget the the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals free search facility for animals prone to hip displaysia, but if your animal is not listed you should get in contact with a local Siberian Husky dog club for some local advice. You can use our dog club directory to help find a club near you.