Maintaining you Siberian in top condition is essential for his health and happiness. Too many people view grooming as some dreaded chore but it really isn’t, the Siberian Husky is a comparatively easy dog to care for and grooming is your opportunity to spend some quality time with your dog. Siberians are by nature a fastidiously clean dog and free from body odour, Siberians clean themselves a lot like cats. Bathing requirements are minimal and many owners only bath their dog once a year.
Grooming time provides an opportunity for you to explore your husky in a calm and controlled way. Use the time play with his paws, ears and tail – all are sensitive areas and grooming time is a good way to desensitise him to touching these areas.
The Siberian has a double coat of hair, underneath is a soft downy undercoat, protected by a harsh outercoat – which actually grows through the undercoat. The outercoat is ‘water-proof’ and protects the Siberian from rain, dirt, thorns, etc. The undercoat serves to provide insulation from hold and cold environments.
Shedding and Trimming
At least once a year the Siberian Husky sheds his entire undercoat. This process can last up to six weeks from start to finish. All dead hair needs to be brushed out to enable quick and strong re-growth. A warm bath and a blow dry will encourage the hair to drop out evenly and easily – making it easier to comb out.
In their natural climate of Siberia the Husky does not shed during the year (except when they blow their coats) due to the cold and dry environment. But if you don’t live in Siberia you will find that the husky tends to shed throughout the year. Shedding is a natural process. Dogs perspire only through their paw pads so getting rid of extra hair in the summer is an absolute necessity to prevent heat stress.
(Note puppies go through a major shedding process from 10-14 months when their puppy hair is shed and replaced by the coarser hair of the adult dog).
Overall the Siberian needs very little grooming compared to other breeds, no trimming of hair is needed, just a regular brush to remove any dead hair. Do not shave, strip or clip your husky close. The undercoat insulates against the coat and the top provides protection from harmful uv sunrays and should not be cut short.
Never clip your huskys whiskers – they are sensory devices that your dog needs. Whiskers vibrate as a warning to the dog when they come into contact with something solid.
The key to happy grooming is to teach your Siberian to accept being brushed and standing or laying quietly while it is being done. Wild dogs perform grooming sessions on each other frequently, it promotes social cohesion and reaffirms the hierarchy.
Regular short grooming sessions should be undertaken at least once a week to keep his coat healthy and shiny. Some people tend to forget about grooming as the winter turns cold and this is a big mistake. In the wet months the coat can begin to mat if it is not regularly brushed, matting destroys the insulating properties of the undercoat and makes for a very cold husky.
When brushing start with a wide toothed comb, preferably one with rounded teeth – this will help break up any mats. Then proceed to brush the coat vigorously, following the way the hair grows. Do small sections of the coat at a time.
Be sure to groom the whole husky, including the belly and underneath the tail where mats often hide!
Your grooming routine should include a flea inspection. Use a fine toothed metal flea comb, keep a glass of hot water nearby to dip the flea bearing comb in – the fleas will drown.