Sunday, February 4, 2007

Shepherd-Husky Dog Mix peculiarities

Willy, shepherd-husky mix looks for mice under the snow
I think our shepherd-husky mix is one of the most intelligent dogs I've seen. She is not a fast runner like our full-husky, but if you've seen the pictures from my website (, you can see the husky look to her tail and legs. This dog is also very outgoing, loving to meet people and be pet by anyone around - like a typical husky is usually people-friendly. Also, like a husky, she pulls while being walked and is very, very strong. One thing she does not have is that innate husky need to run, run, run, - oh yeah, and run.

Speaking of strong, this is one thing we have had trouble with. Our dog is so strong that she could pull over 200 pounds on a snow sled (in snow) on her own, even up a bit of a incline. Therefore, we had trouble when we tied our dog out, either on a chain or cable. While we let our dogs sleep inside at night, and they are inside with us during daytimes when we are home. However, when everyone is gone, we put the dogs out on a cable or chain. The shepherd-mix, as she reached one year of age, was able to pull any stake we used out of the ground. We even tried a heavy calf stake-out pole embedded in concrete, buried 3 feet in the ground (unfortunately, our yard is quite sandy - typical for the west side of Michigan). She even bent the pole right over. All of the pulling is from trying to chase after stray dogs or squirrels, and she starts from a lot of slack in the line - so has a lot of speed when hitting the end of the line.

Our eventual solution was to fill a half-55 gallon barrel with cement, burying a solid iron pole with a hoop end (I think it's a 1" diameter) in the cement. We use the heaviest cable available in the stores for the cable, and change the cable at least one a year.

Okay, so that's about her strength. Anyone who has a husky or husky-mix had better start very early to train the dog NOT to pull during walks. Sorry, I cannot tell anyone how to accomplish that, as we never did train our to not pull. Maybe, researching how people train huskies to mush (and therefore to start and stop pulling) could give husky owners some clues. Some weblinks I've found include:

Also with training, make sure any dog learns to not jump up on people during enthusiastic greetings. Our mixed breed was 65 pounds at her ideal weight (she's a bit overweight right now). With her intelligence, our dog learned to sit, stay, talk, and shake quite easily (my husband is the trainer). She was taught to look at us by hearing her name first, knowing then to pay attention. My husband had us all us the same words, and have the same expectation (for instance, stay in place across the room until "released" with the proper command). We also used hand signals to augment the words. One example is to how one hand up in a typical "stop" guesture while telling the dog to stay. Maybe it was the training, but I expect it was the shepherd in her, this dog actually listens (MOST if the time) when called while running around the yard (the exception usually involved being hot the sent of a mouse or chipmunk).


mandersen said...

We just got a husky-shepherd mix, so of course now I'm googling 'husky-shepherd mix' and came across your site. Beautiful dogs! I've seen a lot of people saying they can't get their huskies to stop pulling on the leash. I would guess that they might have more of an urge to pull than other breeds, and I will attest that when we got our mix (at 4yrs) she was well into the habit of pulling.

I thought we'd be stuck with it, but after just a couple of visits to obedience class she is much improved. Still a long way to go, but the basic premise seems to be to INITIALLY have a bunch of small treats in your hand. You lead her around with the treats so she is staying at your side. Reward her when she is at your side. If she pulls ahead on the leash, just stop dead. Don't pull back, but call her back. ONLY when she returns, start walking again, and reward her ONLY once you've started walking. This way we don't reward her for pulling ahead and coming back (a game of tug of war), we reward her for walking by our side.

I always here people saying they 'can't' get their dog to do something which they will in fact do quite reliably in the hands of a good trainer. I've seen it over and over with all kinds of animals, so I would really recommend that anyone should find a GOOD training class and sign up for a few lessons. A well-behaved dog is so much more enjoyable for you and for everyone else than one that we make excuses for.


BSinDC said...

I had a husky Sheppard mix and I loved her. I want to get another one but cannot find a place that breeds them. Does anyone know of a place online or in the VA area that would have one?


MiChee said...

I have a husky/Sheppard mix that I adopted from the Humane society about 3weeks ago. I would suggest calling local adoption agencies and I bet you could get a great deal . There is a guy out of Fort Collins Colorado that will actually fly you your pet you adopt for a very minimal fee. I bet you could fine a humane society somewhere that has one. Snow (my dog) is 2 years old and fairly well behaved considering being in a shelter for a while. Good luck in your search!

kayla said...

I just got a shepherd-husky puppy from the pound and i LOVE her. Even though, the more I read up on the breed, the more nervous I am about her training. There are no obedience schools around here and my family always had small dogs. Hopefully a morning jog and a nice afternoon run daily will keep her in good enough shape to remain an indoor dog. I have a pretty descent back yard, but don't want to leave the baby outside! Is it hard to train them/ housebreak them? Also, as far as grooming goes, do they need to be taken to a groomer often or can I take care of that at home most of the time? Last question... about how much can I expect to feed her when she is fully grown? she is only about Ten weeks old right now and already eats about 4 times daily.

MiChee said...

i wouldn't be too worried about the training... each dog (in my opinion) will learn in its own time. I lucked out when I adopted mine he was two and fairly well trained... still needs a little more but nothing severe to be too worried about. Since yours is still in the puppy puppy stage I'm sure it will soon learn its boundaries. I'm sure the workout you have planned will be sufficient. I live at the base of a mountain with 27 acres for the two of us to explore. A hike to the top and back seems good for the day... Snow doesn't seem like he wants to go for much more of a lengthy walk than that... usually he just wants to snuggle afterwards. I bet once you get past the jittery puppy stage you will be fine. It will just take time. As for grooming.... I was told every other week. I personally think once a moth is sufficient... Snow is like a cat and he cleans himself like crazy... but every dog is different. Also for the feeding... how much are you feeding her daily? I was told that I should only be feeding him 2-3 cups of food a day, and he is fully grown. He begs constantly for food whenever I'm eating but I found "Taste of the Wild" with Salmon in it to be his favorite food and it is one of the most nutritious dog foods you can buy. I find that if I leave a full bowl that he will constantly eat... So I only feed him once a day and the correct portions... I've been told by many that it is always better to have a lean dog than a chubby one... the chubbier dogs seem to have more health issues- or so I'm told. I hope my very little knowledge will help. :S Good luck & Congrats on the new one!

Rebecca said...

I have been searching for a husky/ shepherd mix puppy for over a year and can't seem to find one anywhere. If anyone has any leads where I can find one, I would REALLY appreciate it. Thank you thank you PEACE ~R

Lori88Dino said...

We have a 3 year old "Musher" named Circa. She is a husky-shepherd mix and was abandoned at a vets office because the breeder thought that she was deaf and would not hear the sled commands when shipped up to Canada. (She's 3 now and can hear a cheese wrapper from 300 yards away...she has selective hearing as most females do). We live in Florida and adopted her when she was 8 weeks old....she's a spoiled princess....I guess that beats living chained to a dog house in Northern Canada. She sleeps on the couch and has bubble baths and pulls my 17 year old son down the street on his skateboard at breakneck speeds. She is the best dog we have ever had.....her breeders loss and our gain. She loves other dogs AND cats! The only time the German Shepherd comes out is when she's playing and grabs you by the pant cuff and shakes it back and forth or when someone she does not recognize approaches you. Mushers are a wonderful breed of dog....we call her our "Short furry daughter that talks funny"

Arnold Kenneth Jr said...

i have a one year hust/shepherd. and she is having a hard time eating. i was wondering what i kind of food should i buy her. i'm getting a worried about how little she eats through out the day.