Siberian huskies have a wolf-like appearance, which can be intimidating. They are also a large breed, with a high energy level. These factors can leave you wondering, are huskies dangerous?
The truth is, dog bites do happen, but they are very rare. You are much more likely to be injured or killed by another human than your four-legged family member. Huskies are known to be incredibly sweet and loyal, which makes them unlikely to be aggressive or dangerous.
- Husky Temperament
- Are Huskies Aggressive?
- What The Data Shows
- When Huskies Can Be Dangerous
- Training To Deal With Aggression In Huskies
Despite their intimidating appearance, huskies are well known for being very gentle and friendly. They were originally domesticated by the Chukchi people of Siberia.
They lived alongside the tribe and pulled their sleds during the winter months. This history, along with their natural temperament, made them very pack oriented.
This means that they have a very close relationship with members of their pack, which we call family. They are also friendly with strangers, which makes them unlikely to act aggressively or bite strangers.
They have a strong need for social interaction with their family and other dogs, thanks to their pack-oriented nature. Without enough socialization, they can easily become lonely, and even depressed.
They do have a high prey drive. This typically doesn’t apply to humans but can make them dangerous to smaller animals if they aren’t socialized and trained properly.
Are Huskies Aggressive?
Generally, huskies are not aggressive. It’s not in their nature. They are avid hunters, thanks to their high prey drive. However, they typically have low levels of aggression when it comes to people and other dogs.
The American Temperament Test
The American Temperament test is designed to measure aspects of a dog’s temperament. These factors include aggressiveness, friendliness, stability, protectiveness, and shyness.
Individual dogs are tested in a variety of situations. Then, the pass/fail rate of the breed is listed as a percentage.
86.8% of Siberian huskies pass the ATT test. To put this into perspective, they performed slightly better than German shepherds, who pass the test 85% of the time.
Chihuahuas are on the low end of the spectrum, with only 69% passing. 92% of Labrador retrievers got a passing grade, making them one of the most friendly breeds.
What The Data Shows
Now it’s time to take a look at the good and bad within the numbers.
Are Dog Bites Common?
First, let’s discuss how likely you are to die from a dog bite. 1 out of 6 people die due to a heart attack. 1 out of 111 die due to a fall.
Your odds of a fatal dog attack are 1 in 118,776. To put this into perspective, 1 out of 180,746 people are killed by lightning each year.
Yes, fatal dog bites do occur, but they are extremely rare.
Fatalities By Breed
The best study on fatalities monitors the period from 2005 to 2017. Pit bulls are responsible for the most fatal dog attacks by far, accounting for 66% of deaths, with 284.
The next most fatal breed is Rottweilers, who are responsible for 10% of dog bite deaths. The beloved German Shepherd is responsible for 4.6% of fatalities.
Huskies account for 3% of fatalities, or 13 deaths during the period documented. This is roughly one fatality a year.
There’s a big difference between a dog’s tendency to bite, and fatal dog attacks. In fact, the chihuahua is considered the most aggressive dog by many measures, according to The Atlantic, even though they are not responsible for any fatal attacks.
They are more likely to act aggressively and bite, but are unlikely to cause serious injury due to their small size.
A study conducted by Animals 24/7 recorded the number of fatalities and dog attacks from 2014 to 2020. They found that huskies were responsible for 83 attacks and 26 deaths during this time period, which ranks them as the 6th most likely to bite.
When Huskies Can Be Dangerous
Like any dog or animal for that matter, huskies can be dangerous under the right circumstances.
Huskies are a medium to large breed, and they are very powerful. In addition to having the muscle strength to pull sleds through the snow, they have seemingly endless energy. They are also naturally happy and easily excited.
These factors mean there’s a risk of them accidentally hurting someone, particularly small children or the elderly.
They may jump up on someone and knock them down. In this case, they aren’t being aggressive. They are simply energetic and playful.
It’s important to keep this in mind if you have small children or elderly people in the home. If this is the case, you’ll need to train them well before they reach their full size.
Boredom Or Excess Energy
Huskies can run up to 100 miles in a single day and require about 2 hours of exercise each day. In addition to physical activity, they are intelligent working dogs.
This means they need plenty of mental and physical exercise. If they don’t get enough activity, they can release this pent-up energy in undesirable ways.
It’s unlikely that this will make them aggressive, but it’s certainly more likely. It’s much more likely that they will take out this energy on your couch or your favorite shoes.
Lack Of Socialization
Imagine yourself in a social situation without understanding the social rules. You don’t know how to communicate with other people properly, and you are scared because you are unfamiliar with the situation.
How would you react? Would fear cause you to withdraw, or would you snap at others? Can you imagine a disagreement or a fight occurring because you lack communication and proper social skills?
Putting yourself in their shoes, it’s easy to see why lack of socialization has been shown to be a major cause of dog aggression.
According to Nature, lack of socialization was one of the most influential factors when it comes to a dog’s fear level. This applies to other dogs and strangers.
Why is fear so important? According to VCA Animal Hospitals, fear is the most common cause of aggression in dogs.
The peak period of dog socialization is between 7 to 14 weeks old. However, if your husky is older, you can still work on their social skills.
Lack Of Training
Huskies are strong-willed, so they need a strong owner. Owning a husky means that you have to lead them. You must be the head of the pack.
A husky without proper training can be a lot like a toddler. They will lack impulse control, which can lead them to make bad decisions.
An untrained husky can develop guarding aggression, or simply harm someone accidentally due to excitement by jumping on them or scratching them.
Territorial Aggression And Resource Guarding
Huskies are territorial. They will be very welcoming to others within their family, or pack. They require socialization with other dogs, so they typically get along well with other pooches.
However, they will guard their territory and resources. If a strange dog comes into your yard, a friendly husky can become aggressive. Typically, they won’t attack, but they will let the dog know where their boundaries are.
This is a natural instinct. In the wild, a dog’s ability to protect their resources and territory are directly linked to their ability to survive. If a husky kills a rabbit, but another dog steals their meal, they are deprived of food. If it happens often, the husky will not survive, because they can’t eat.
Pain Or Illness
Huskies can be dangerous if they are sick or in pain. This also comes down to survival. In the wild, being hurt or ill makes them a target so they are more likely to act aggressively.
Pain or illness also affects their temperament and ability to think clearly. This also occurs in humans, so it’s not surprising.
Neglect Or Abuse
Neglect or abuse can trigger aggression in dogs. It’s important to know your husky’s history. Even if you treat them well, if they were abused or neglected in the past, they are more likely to be aggressive towards other animals or strangers.
High Prey Drive
Huskies naturally have a high prey drive. This can make them dangerous around smaller animals, particularly if they haven’t socialized with them early on.
Training To Deal With Aggression In Huskies
If your husky is aggressive, or you simply want to prevent aggression, proper training is important. You can help your husky to be calm and nonaggressive with time and patience.
Understanding The Root Cause
The first step to training your pooch to be nonaggressive is to understand what triggers the aggressive behavior.
We went over most causes of aggression in the previous section, but we’ll recap them here.
Huskies can be aggressive due to:
- Territorial or dominant
- Pain or illness
- Fear or lack of socialization
- Lack of training
- Abuse or neglect
- Lack of exercise
- High prey drive
Once you’ve found the root cause of aggression, you can take steps to minimize or correct this. Some are easily corrected, like a lack of exercise. Other causes are more difficult to address, like territorial behavior.
Be The Alpha
Being the alpha or dominant individual in your relationship doesn’t mean acting aggressively, ever. Instead, it means that you show your husky that you are in charge.
You should avoid actions or games that make you appear weak. If your husky wins at tug of war, for example, stop playing. When you take them for a walk, don’t allow them to lead you or pull you along.
Being the alpha also means remaining calm. Speak to them with authority and a calm demeanor. Expect them to obey commands, and give them in a confident voice.
Get A Check Up
If your husky suddenly becomes aggressive, the vet should be your first stop. Dogs can be good at hiding pain or sickness. There are also hormonal conditions that can trigger aggression.
Before you work on behavioral causes of aggression, a physical can confirm or rule out a health-related cause.
Tire Them Out
Regardless of the cause of aggression, exercise and mental stimulation can help. Tiring them out, particularly before a situation that they typically find stressful, will have a calming effect.
Be sure they get some high-intensity exercise. Rather than taking them for a walk, take them for a run or a hike. These pooches require plenty of activity.
Teaching them commands, playing hide and seek, and giving them puzzle toys can give them mental exercise, which is just as important for them as physical activity.
Use Positive Reinforcement
When doing any type of training, you should only use positive reinforcement. Dogs learn to perform the correct actions because they bring a good outcome.
For example, when your pooch follows your command, they get praise or a treat. This leads them to continue doing the behavior.
When your husky does something you don’t want them to do, avoid the urge to punish them. This will only trigger or worsen any aggressive tendencies.
Get Some Help
As pet parents, we often think we have to handle everything ourselves. However, the phrase “it takes a village” also applies to huskies. If you need help training your husky, sign them up for an obedience class.
If you are concerned about their behavior or it’s beyond your comfort zone, consider speaking with an animal behavioralist or professional trainer.
As mentioned previously, socializing your husky is very important. If they are new to socializing, start slow. You should also consider the environment.
If your husky is shy around strangers, for example, you’ll want to socialize them in a quiet environment. If you introduce them to a stranger in a busy environment, the stimulation makes them more likely to experience fear or anxiety.
Give Them Love
This is one of the most important things you can do to reduce aggression in your husky. Spend quality time with them. Give them your cuddles and your time.
Every dog is worthy of love, regardless of their behavioral issues. Having a close relationship with you will encourage them to want to please you, which can help curb aggression.
Has A Husky Ever Killed Anyone?
Yes. Huskies are responsible for approximately one fatality each year.
Are Huskies Dangerous To Other Dogs?
Huskies aren’t typically dangerous to other dogs. In fact, they need to spend time with other dogs to be happy.
It is important to socialize them with other dogs, however. Any dog, regardless of breed, can be dangerous to other pooches, particularly if they lack social skills.