Have you ever seen a Siberian Husky panting while walking at a slow pace on a hot summers day in Tel Aviv as you stand there thinking to yourself how cruel the owner must be for bringing an arctic sled dog to this scorching hot climate? Before we begin to unleash our Israeli chutzpah at the dog’s owner, we should stop and ask ourselves, is a cold weather dog like a Siberian Husky, Samoyed, or Alaskan Malamute more sensitive to heat than other breeds? Or better yet, does a cold weather dog who is more physically equipped to withstand sub zero temperatures by definition have a lower tolerance to heat than other breeds?

Courtesy of Dave Veloz

Courtesy of Dave Veloz

Ironically, breeds like the Siberian Huskies are becoming increasingly popular domesticated pets in places like Florida, Mexico and Australia with no statistics revealing a higher rate of heat stroke or dehydration in comparison with other breeds. To understand this phenomenon, one must look no further than the history of the Canine. Although logic would lead us to believe that the original dogs hailed from a relatively cold climate region like Russia or Canada, UCLA scientists Dr. Robert K. Wayne and Bridgett M. Von Holdt have recently discovered that the canine’s origins stem from none other than right here in the Middle East. This means that the original dog A.K.A, the wolf, is indigenous to the Holy Land.

Despite the fact that today’s domesticated dogs have evolved from the wolf, and that a husky is just as close genetically to a wolf as a miniature poodle, the Siberian Husky seems to possess more features of the Gray Wolf than any other domestic dog breed. For instance, although all dogs are homeothermic, which means that they are able to regulate their own body temperature, both the Siberian Husky and the wolf have a double layer coat which keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 

This is a good reason to never shave your husky’s coat in the summer. They both have a similar shaped skull, and both have an inner layer of guard hairs lining the inside of their ears which protects them against heavy snow while running. Even their behavior patterns are similar as wolves, despite countless attempts, are essentially untrainable and it is well known that huskies are the most difficult domesticated breed group to train. 

As far as heat tolerance is concerned, interestingly enough, the breeds that are most sensitive to the heat are brachycephalic or, flat muzzled breeds like the pug or Pekingese. Obviously, like any dog, the husky should be kept in an air conditioned room with plenty of water during the peak hours of Israel’s summer days. So for those of you who’s breath is taken away by the beauty of a Siberian Husky but feel guilty about raising him in sunny Israel, just remember that these are incredibly rugged animals whose most remarkable characteristic is their ability to adapt to their ever changing physical environment, perhaps more so than any other breed.  

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