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Huskies on a farm?

 
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Hi there! This is my first topic on this forum. I'm still in the dreaming and research phase of my hypothetical future land and I've never owned a dog so please forgive my ignorance. I'm still learning.

I've always been in love with huskies. My uncle owned one for years and ever since I can remember I've wanted one. I know they're not guard dogs and would serve no special purpose on a farm except to make me smile and get fur on all my stuff. That said, from what I've been reading they live to dig, tend to kill small animals and cannot ever be let to roam free. Everything I've read says they'll bolt, never to be seen again.

Is this true? Are huskies an impossible breed to raise on a farm? Does anyone have experience with this ?
 
Octavia Greason
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I also wonder since huskies have a pack mentality if it would help to raise the husky from puppy age around grown dogs who were already trained for farm living. The older dogs who know not to bolt or kill chickens would hopefully fill a dominant role in the "pack" and the younger husky would be more apt to follow their behaviors, hopefully. Just a thought...
 
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Outdoor adventure businesses in the north, produce many Huskies and crosses. A few years ago, here in BC, one company killed over 100 of them when the business no longer needed them. The humane society got involved and public opinion killed that business. Check it out and I'm sure you'll find that there is a good supply of free dogs. This is similar to what is going on with racing grayhounds.

As for the dogs learning from others already present on the farm, this may happen, but a strong young dog is likely to usurp the leader and form his own pack. Huskies aren't quite as domesticated as most dogs are and will usually try to dominate smaller and less wild breeds
 
Octavia Greason
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That's terrible D:
Getting a husky isn't a problem really, if I look long enough I'll find one. I'm just worried that on a homestead/farm they'd be apt to run away or kill chickens. I'd kinda prefer not to have to protect my animals from each other.
That makes sense. I'd imagine a husky would end up dominating, especially if the other dogs aren't pack breeds. 'Twas just a thought is all.
As a side note, the other dogs we'd like to have are a german shepherd (the boyfriend loves em but I'm still afraid of em) and maybe an Irish wolfhound (though that plan may be unnecessary with the shepherd).
 
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I love Siberian Huskies too, but they surely aren't farm dogs. I've seen some husky mixes that failed to inherit the negative husky traits and thus worked out ok on farms. But purebred huskies, especially when young, are nothing but trouble on a farm.

Huskies are bred to run, so it is no surprise that when they get loose they run for miles. Their lack of homing instinct is an asset for a sleddog, but not a farm dog.

They are bred from stock where traditionally dogs were turned loose during the summers to fend for themselves. Thus only those proficient in killing small game survived. And lived to reproduce It's an instinct still seen in huskies today. So....huskies are runners and small animal killers.

They also dig, an instinct they have retained from their arctic ancestors, where they needed to dig out their own shelters in order to survive. Today's dogs still have a strong digging desire and I've seen them dig quite impressive holes.

So if you turn loose a husky on a farm, it will run around killing or trying to kill all the livestock, then run down the road, killing your neighbors' stock. Possibly if exposed to livestock from puppy up it would learn to leave your animals alone, but don't bet on it. And they'd still kill your neighbor's stock.

They don't "learn" to be calm, protective, stay at home farm dogs by being raised around an old farm dog. Their instincts are too strong for that.

In my opinion, a husky is a very poor choice for a farm. The dog will only end up being chained or penned, thus living a frustrated life for a animal with such a strong desire to run. It would be like buying a Border Collie for an apartment. That happened after the movie Babe, and thus hundreds of mentally warped Border Collies were dumped into shelters about a year later. Poor dogs got the short end of the stick by no fault of their own. I adopted several of those dogs and they were weird and warped for the rest of their lives. Luckily I have a large farm where their weirdness could be tolerated.

If you're afraid of a German Shepherd, how about a smaller breed? Australian Cattle Dog is an option. There are a lot of terrier breeds that make good farm dogs. Assorted collies are others to consider. Since you like the looks of an Irish Wolfhound, you could also consider a Scottish Deerhound, a Saluki, a greyhound, or a whippet. They are not traditional farm dog breeds, but are not uncommon on farms in England. Since your boyfriend leans towards a German Shepherd, you could check out the Belgian sheepdog breeds : Belgian Sheepdog, Turveran, Malinois. And there's the dociler Shiloh Shepherd.
 
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Octavia Greason wrote:Are huskies an impossible breed to raise on a farm? Does anyone have experience with this ?



We have livestock guarding dogs that if you saw them you would likely mistake them for wolves - most people do. The vet calls ours Huskies. Ours are great on the farm. They guard their livestock and they herd. They were born and raised around livestock and taught to farm by their elders and us. This is their job and life. I would not expect to be able to take a random dog of most breeds and drop it into the job. Instincts are part but there is a lot of culture and learning. Ours have been working on our farm for many generations.

Our dogs do kill vermin as well as predators. They have very strong hunting instincts. Hunting and herding are very close behaviors.

Interestingly, wolves may be natural ranchers, managing the herds within their territories which is perhaps part of why they domesticated humans so successfully.
 
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50/50 husky/pit stud. Regularly roamed for days in the millions of Weyerhaeuser timber that surrounds me. Then I put up electric line and field fencing. Now he knows his boundries and stays close.

Digging was a problem before there was much work for him to do, but now watching pigs and ducks is an all day affair.

Probably not the best breed, but a smart enough humane can properly become most dogs pack leader and lay down the law fairly reasonably.

The pitbull in him makes all the difference. My bitch is full pit, and the most devotedly loyal dog, to an obsession level. She didnt have perfect instincts but never had I had a dog so desperate to please me, incredibly easy to train.
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As long as they're getting PLENTY of exercise (which should be no problem at all on a farm), Huskies are incredible dogs and are capable of being trained to do just about any task (that a dog is able to perform). Just remember that it is important to establish Alpha dominance early in the relationship and they will be the most loyal and obedient dogs you've ever had!
 
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I think generally speaking huskies are much more difficult than say a border collie or a labrador, but they were bred for different things. I do, however know of a few people who do agility or competitive obedience with huskies and I'm sure there are a couple doing flyball so they can be trained and they can be trained to be under control and responsive off lead. I have a friend who has a malamute and I tried to talk her out of it as I was sure it was going to end in tears - two small children, not very well fenced property surrounded by sheep and gamebirds and her only previous dog experience was with labradors and spaniels, that dog has turned out to be one of the most faithful, well adjusted pets I know, it doesn't stray, doesn't chase stock, is amazing with the kids and is never on a lead (doesn't need to be!). I think if you find a well bred dog (look for breeders who do something with their dogs other than just husky work - biddable-ness will hopefully be passed on to the puppies, and find a knowledgeable, positive trainer to help you.

I will say that you need to look at each dog as an individual, you might get a husky who never strays more than 10ft from your porch unless it's with you or you might get a border collie who wanders off if you take your eye off it for a minute.

I must say though that I'm surprised that, on a forum that focusses on something as forward thinking as permaculture, the amount of people who have mentioned 'dominance', 'pack leadership', 'alpha' etc, etc. these concepts are outdated and untrue, dogs do not have a linear dominance structure within a group and certainly wouldn't view humans as part of any group structure they may have (they see you as a person not a dog). Wild wolves don't even have linear 'pack' structures of the type many of these trainers would have you believe (most wolf 'packs' are family groups consisting of parents, older but not yet breeding age offspring and younger cubs from that years breeding - these family groups will occasionally join together in times when there is large prey to hunt but even then they do not have a simple dominance structure - wolf A might be 'dominant over wolf B and wolf B might be dominant over wolf C but you could find that wolf C is dominant over wolf A).

Please, if you have a dog and you have any sort of issues with that dog, educate yourself about modern dog training, don't base everything you know on what the 80 year old farmer next door told you or what you see on a certain TV program by a certain male presenter.
 
Sam Allison
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I've come on here to learn about permaculture not debate dog training (there are plenty of dog forums I can go on to do that if I want to) so I'm only going to say this and not get into a debate

Please read more about the work of David Mech - http://www.davemech.org/index.html - quite possibly one of the most respected wolf scientists there is. According to wolf.org (http://www.wolf.org/learn/basic-wolf-info/wolf-faqs/#f) 'What is a wolf pack? A wolf pack is a cohesive family unit consisting of the adult parents and their offspring of the current year and perhaps the previous year and sometimes two years or more. Wolf parents used to be referred to as the alpha male and alpha female or the alpha pair. These terms have been replaced by “breeding male,” “breeding female,” and “breeding pair,” or simply “parents.” The adult parents are usually unrelated, and other unrelated wolves may sometimes join the pack.' There are numerous resources explaining why pack theory in dogs doesn't work I recommend http://www.apbc.org.uk/articles/why-wont-dominance-die and http://www.tarynblyth.co.za/articles/pack-theory-fact-or-fiction/ to start with but a google search will throw up many more.

Pack theory, dominance and 'Alpha status' is spoken about in dogs because it always has been that way, in my opinion saying that people who study the current science and try to use up to date methods are wrong is the same as looking at food production and saying that intensive monoculture is the right/only way because that is how it's always been done.

I live with a large 'pack' as well (12 at the minute) and I could show you instances where there is a circular social structure in my dogs - and I'm 100% positive they don't view me as a dog! But as I said I'm here to learn about permaculture not dog training so I'm not getting into a huge debate (in my experience dog training debates always turn into huge arguments)
 
Sam Allison
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Yes dogs need to be taught to respect their people, but it is a two way street and the people also need to look at the dog and 'listen' to what the dog is telling them.

A few years ago I offered my help to the parents of a friend of a friend. They had a beautiful dog who adored people but had started showing signs of aggression to their grandchildren when they came to the house. I visited a few times and gave them my advice but they then decided to go to a dominance based trainer. This trainer told them to introduce a 'nothing in life is free' type structure (where the dog has to 'earn' everything - it had to following a 'command' before it was allowed to eat, or go out to have a wee, or play, if it approached the owners to try get them to play or have a fuss it was to be sent away again) and they were to dramatically reduce the amount of access the dog had to the house - it went from being allowed just about everywhere to only the kitchen, conservatory and garden. It got worse, it started urinating in the house, chewing the furniture when it was left alone, howling, and the worse it got the more strict they got. It didn't address the original problem either in fact it started being more protective toward anyone coming near the house, or anyone coming near the owners when they were out for a walk. The dog ended up being put down when it nearly bit one of the grandchildren. They found out a week afterwards that the neighbours children had been terrorising the poor dog - throwing sticks and stones at it, hitting it, shouting at it over the fence etc. The dog was terrified of children, not everywhere just in the house and garden (because that's where bad things with children had happened) but by not addressing the problem and introducing rank reduction programs the dog got stressed and confused, and the more stressed it got the more it screamed out for help (the urinating, chewing, howling was the only way the dog knew of saying help me) but the more it screamed for help the more it got punished until finally the dog could take it no more and it snapped.

That dog should never have died, and there are many more that are killed because of bad training and bad behaviourists (yes I appreciate that there are bad positive trainers as well). There is always a reason for anything a dog does, saying that it is because the dog thinks it's dominant is just too simplistic, it doesn't encourage the trainer to dig deeper and look for the real reason behind the behaviour. Using the terms 'dominance' and 'alpha' encourages the owner to use force or punishment (this has been scientifically proven) as they feel the dog is doing something to spite them, rather than seeing it a information.

Sam
 
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Back to the original topic, I personally wouldn't have a husky or a malamute at any price. Comes from growing up in Alaska and going to school with a boy who was almost killed by his own family's sled dogs (my mother and aunt were the ones who saw him being chewed on as they drove past and took him to the doctor). Then one of my brothers got a really pretty young malamute when we were living in Oregon and just about the first thing she did was kill one of our cats. A few years ago, before we moved to this house, a malamute wandering the neighborhood found my chickens and killed one and was eyeing my goats when I got ahold of him (he was perfectly friendly with people). It may be possible that with the right dog and the right training, a husky or malamute could become a good farm dog, but I wouldn't want to take a chance on it.

On the other hand, a well-bred German Shepherd should be an excellent dog! Irish Wolfhounds are neat dogs, but very short-lived (and horribly expensive!).

I've got four dogs right now, two Rat Terriers, a LGD, and a Border Collie/Pit/Lab/German Shepherd cross. The three that I've had since they were puppies consider me their mother, I think -- which would make me the equivalent of their pack leader. The other little Rat Terrier came to us as a three-year-old. He's a sweet little dog, but is only now, after having him nearly a year, really seeming to be attached to me. As an aside, he's the smallest of the four dogs, but is definitely the boss. Even the 100+ pound LGD defers to him! All four dogs are pretty good as farm dogs, though I think the LGD eats chickens if they get loose and she catches them (I try to keep them from getting loose!).

Kathleen
 
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We have 2 malamute mixes. They're both rescues, and neither is purebred. One is probably a pitbull mix, the other, probably a wolf mix. The pitbull mix has the personality of a pit. He is incredibly loyal, not interested in running away, and just wants to please you. He is also incredibly needy. The wolf mix has a personality far closer to a purebred malamute. He knows what he is supposed to do, but unless he wants to, you're not going to make it happen. He is clever, a digger, and escape artist. I don't trust either of them around my ducks.

They are great dogs, and have a healthy respect for our 17lb siamese with long claws, but are not good options for a farm situation. Either the dogs or the ducks have access to the yard, never at the same time. The prey drive with spitz type breeds is just too strong to ever fully trust them around animals they're capable of killing easily. And the thing with northern breeds is that they were bred to run for long distances and not return to the same place every night, so that homing instinct isn't strong. If the dog splits, it very well may never come home.

Also, this is ONE DAY worth of fur from one of the dogs.
 
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Okay, while we are talking dogs and livestock- What's the best breed for getting along with poultry? I know just about any breed can be trained to a point not to chase poultry, but are there some better then others?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Ernie, I don't think there is any breed that will just automatically be safe around poultry. Any dog will require some training. So look for dogs from breeds known to be trainable, and desiring to please their master, and who also don't have a really high prey drive.

Right now I have Cameo, a Maremma X Akbash LGD, who killed at least one chicken when she was about eight months old, and has also killed wild birds and rabbits. She got scolded good for killing the one chicken I caught her with, and has never showed the slightest interest in the two hens that run loose in the yard (can't keep them in the coop with the others). She's two and a half now.

Mac is a three-year-old mutt, half Border Collie, 1/4 Pit, 1/8 each Lab and German Shepherd (I don't know much about Pits, but the other breeds are known for being trainable and wanting to please their owner), and he bonded to my penned ducks when he was a baby, and has never ever bothered any of the poultry.

I've also got two little Rat Terriers -- Minto, the male, was three years old when I got him, raised on a ranch around all kinds of animals, and he's never bothered the poultry. Ladybug, not quite a year old, has had to be scolded a number of times for chasing chickens, but she's gotten much better and I haven't had to get after her for several weeks. She's got a dash of Border Collie in her ( 1/8 ) which I think makes her a little easier to train than most purebred Terriers, but she's also very active (I think she's got anti-gravity in her front paws).

There are only a few breeds, such as the Huskies and Malamutes, that I wouldn't ever recommend having around smaller animals such as poultry. And even then, you might do all right with a Samoyed, as they seem to have a different temperament than the other sled-dog breeds.

Kathleen
 
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So you just named two breeds that would be likely to challenge a husky. The problem with huskies is they are the most "wolf" of any dog I know. A wolfhound was specially developed to take on a wolf though and it would be difficult for the husky to dominate unless its naturally submissive as huskies are very small dogs. A shepherd also can challenge a husky and stand a fair chance, the husky would have them outmatched in bite power and speed BUT their muscle and weight would balance it out possibly.
 
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Our only dog is a pure husky from the shelter, she took some training and we now live in town but she dose fine with the rabbits, goats and chickens (she dose need training with larger animals) she dosnt leave our sides more then 20 feet thou and i don't think she dose very well at patrolling. She happily takes on any intruder thou i believe she thinks she's playing and she will drop anything from a wild rabbit to a raccoon if she has one in her mouth completely unharmed if we tell her to. I dont think shes much of a LGD but she works out fine for our needs
 
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With ANY breed of dog there is a list of common attributes that affect each dog differently, and on a sliding scale.

The Northern breeds are/were bred to pull/run and be very noisy (apex predator alert). They are very high energy, requiring a lot of attention, as their normal work (pulling) will most likely not be available. They tend to be single person oriented and find it harder than other breeds to transfer that allegiance to other family members, be they human or a part of the greater feathered and furred family members.

In some ways they appear to be "less domesticated" almost, with their tendencies to roam, have high prey drive and are commonly seen to be very independent and less biddable when compared to "farm dogs".

They are also FAR more likely to harm humans, based on Canadian Dog bite statistics (where they are sadly responsible for almost all deaths attributed to dogs annually; the pitbull did not even register). This generally occurs up north in isolated vilages where a surplus of dogs and lack of access to veterinary care leads to roaming packs of dogs that can very quickly become quasi feral.

There are NO bad dogs, or bad breeds, just simply that each breed is exactly that, bred and cultivated by humans for specific traits, for specific jobs; those that did not measure up were eliminated from the breeding stock. This is why there are countless breeds of dogs and a multitude of breed classes (guardian, herding, hunting...). Us humans have literally spent centuries nurturing specific traits in specific breeds, hundreds of thousands of generations to do "what" they do. This is why some breeds have a far greater likelihood of living successfully on a free range property with livestock. This is why you will find "farm useful" breeds such as terriers (rodent patrol) herding and guardian breeds are common on farms.

Back to your question: a husky would be theoretically, NOT the best choice; but as always, there are exceptions to all rules. To avoid heartache, I would opt for an adult dog, whose personality is already formed (nature vs nurture) and is known to be safe around livestock and be farm friendly over a puppy. Most folks think that if they "raise it right" they can overcome "nature" and to a certain degree this can be correct. BUT nature is a very strong force to counter, and sometimes, regardless of all the "right" training and nurturing, nature has a tendency to "will out", as the animal matures.
 
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I grew up with huskies on a farm. My family did dog sledding and we raised chickens and rabbits, and had cats. The dogs were smart enough to be taught that our cats were not to be harmed, but also conniving enough to recognize that a stray cat did not fall under the category of "our" cats. The chickens and rabbits were fenced in, and the huskies fenced in a separate space, but huskies are known escape artists and we had to update the security countless times. We have had dogs who could dig under fences, climb over fences, unlatch gates, unhook snaps, chew through walls, slip out of collars, and bend metal fence posts. Most of them could not be let loose because of that desire to run in a straight line instead of wandering the nearby area like most other breeds. We did have one who could be trusted to run free, but not until he was 14 years old and mostly blind. They are great at killing small animals like squirrels, rats, rabbits, raccoons, and skunks. If you could find a way to use that to keep pests out of your yard/garden? You will still need to have some sort of physical barrier since an invisible electric fence wouldn't deter a determined husky. They will take the hit on the way out of their designated area, but once out, it doesn't seem worth it to take another shock to get back in even if they want back in.

Someone mentioned digging. Most of ours didn't dig much unless they were trying to escape. But we did have one dog who dug so much my dad actually talked about putting him in a space he wanted to put a pond, but ended up deciding not to do the pond, so we just lived with lots of holes.

My dad used to do obedience competitions with a few of his huskies, but said they were the hardest breed he has ever trained. They are often smart enough to know what you want, but just don't care to please you. You can teach them to fetch, and they will bring it back a couple of times, then look at you as if to say, "YOU go get it." But there are always exceptions. He told me about one time when he was working with a particularly difficult dog, he turned around and discovered that another one in the kennel next to him was following all the commands without having been directly trained.

We have had other dog sledding friends who trained their dogs to bring their empty buckets to the garage to be collected and refilled. They also taught the dogs that they had to bring in a piece of firewood any time they wanted to go in the house. The owners would chop the wood, then just leave it for the dogs to carry in all year round so that it was ready to go in the winter. I don't know if these friends had other animals, but it does prove that they definitely can be trained to help around the farm!

As previously mentioned, they shed. A lot. As a kid I had lofty dreams of turning all that fur into yarn and making extra soft scarves. I did learn that it is possible, but I didn't know how to, so the birds in our area got to take it to make extra fluffy nests.

I would say as a cat lover, huskies are my favorite dog breed for their independent personalities, but now that I have moved out on my own I would never own a husky on my own. Too much work to train and so much maintenance work. My sisters have border collies and I think I would pick those first.
 
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It really depends... I think it comes down to genetics... personality and training..
I had a full bred husky she was the best at first she didn't like cats...i trained her to like cats...and she would lay with them they became family...i was very proud of that training...she was smart tho and respected me ..i also have a Shepard husky mix now ...he is seriously one of the best dogs...he was  always good with cats ive never had him on a farm but when he used to get out he would run right past my goats like they werent even there ..hes a wonderful dog ..his pups are too ..all learned cats are family and they all get along fine with cats because i trained them that way...and they have been around them their whole lives..i currently just got two Anatolian husky mixes ..and they are training to be LGDs ..( will he trained by a veteran 6 yr old LGd ) and myself of course...i have been a little concerned about the husky in them and so was everyone else I got reemed n the LGD community...for the mix ...but they look like and mostly act like Anatolian shepherds... people forget they are taking from both breeds...not just one...i wanted to give them a shot... one has a little more energy we will see what happens with training......and people automatically think husky high prey drive ...not always....and a lot of times can be trained.. however their mom the husky  is very mellow ..and was fine around a goat..horses and cats..their dad is the Anatolian shepherd...i notice from my own pups that most of the  genetics are dads side.....so mine shouldn't have a high prey drive ..( and mixes are healthier dogs because they take genetics from the different breeds) so far they don't..they are n a smaller pen ...with the goats on outside of a larger pen...so far they are doing well...its important to teach them young whats good and whats bad and on a farm obedience is important...
I also took on sisters which  some say do great together others say no way..... sibling syndrome does exist but i have yet to see it and dont with the puppies i kept from the Shepard husky i have...his son is just like him btw the sweetest thing with no prey  drive ..i guess my point is....that any dog can be a good or bad dog...a lot comes down to genetics... personality.. temperament and training..
 
Lorinne Anderson
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The short answer is no; as mentioned they generally have a high prey drive...

BUT as mentioned, this can vary from dog to dog, there are exceptions to ALL rules. IF you are a very strong personality with a good foundation in dog training, ANY dog breed or mix COULD potentially be just fine.

That said, I work with a rescue group that commonly have husky/husky mix pups/dogs.  Unless it is a proven, low prey drive, adult husky, raised in a farm setting AND would be a single dog (no "pack mentality) I would not, generally recommend a husky or husky mix for a farm, nor would I commonly consider placing one in that situation.
 
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Get a gerbirian shepsky German Shepard siberian husky cross some look just like siberian huskys and can adapt to farm life with proper training
 
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Dog trainer here.... Huskeies are difficult if you have live stock. It is very difficult to keep them from killing chickens the methods I use have worked consistently with 100's of dogs but not so much on high prey drive dogs.
 
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First of all good for you researching, and learning before you get a dog. That's says a lot about what a great dog owner you will be.  I'm on the fence about a lot that's been said. Yes certain breeds have strong instincts, and strong behaviors, but if you know what you're doing and put in the work, most dogs are capable of learning to behave in an acceptable manner.  
So knowing what you may be up against is the first step. Next is knowing yourself.  Will you be able to gain the knowledge? Have the time needed to train? Have the patience?  Once you have your answers, and your ready then it's time to find a dog.  If a husky is still what you want go for it.  I personally encourage people to find rescues rather than purebreds. They tend to have less health issues, and it always seems like they are more loving and loyal dogs. ( Just what I feel)
A couple of months ago 3 puppies (3 or 4 months old) showed up in our backyard.  After a month of searching for the owners, we have decided to keep them.  We don't know what they are. They look like German shepherd. The vets guess is German shepherd, husky, maybe cattle dog.  They are sweethearts, and we love them.  They are around 5/6 months old. They have already killed a gopher, and a rat.  They dig like crazy.  They are smart and learn quick, but are going to require a lot of work and training on our part.  I would never have gotten 3 Sheppard puppies, but sometimes the universe sends them to you ( or some jerk who dumped them) and you love them and do your best by them.
I hope what ever you end up doing it works out for you. There's just something special and amazing about dogs.
 
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