“Husky fever” seems to be taking Cambodia by storm. The husky puppies, most of them brought from Thailand, are flooding the pet shops. They are often kept in small cages and displayed under the blazing sun.
The breed has become so popular that pet shops claiming to “specialise in huskies only” have sprung up all over the city. What “specialising in husky” means is yet to be determined because when I spoke to these “specialists”, they didn’t seem to have the faintest idea about the breed, except that they had “three important vaccines” and are “very pretty dogs”.
No debate here. Huskies are really beautiful dogs.
But no one who has either purchased or is selling the breed here in Cambodia seems to have any idea on the specifics of this breed, their needs and requirements – dietary, behavioral or climate.
And naturally, when the dog becomes a nuisance or when its owner can’t meet its basic needs anymore, the dog is thrown away. Like our recent rescue, Husda.
Husda is a very typical example of what happens to a husky in Cambodia. She was left in a pagoda after being thrown out of a car with the driver driving away, showing no concern on what the dog’s fate will be. Luckily, my friend Billie saw her and brought her to us.
Husda is a happy 15-month old dog, but is suffering from severe stages of hip dysplasia and genetic problems in her joints, which would need constant maintenance and veterinary care. We hope that with her age, we might be able to give her the best chance and at least slow down the process of degradation and pain in her bone and joints.
Unfortunately, most dogs I have personally seen in Cambodia and also together with my team in our vet clinic have a number of problems – from chronic hip dysplasia and complications in the joints to various skin and allergy problems. They are predominantly fed rice and grain-based food, which leads to yet another number of health and developmental issues.
So, let’s go over it again: why you should not have a husky as a choice for a pet in Cambodia.
While it is a good-natured and fun dog to have around, a husky is a very stubborn and free-spirited breed. It requires extensive exercise and obedience training to maintain good behavior. Being highly independent, they easily run away if given a chance or taken off-leash.
As a working dog breed, they are born for high-energy play. Not just fetch a ball. They are clever dogs that require high levels of mental activity, constant human companionship and will be massively destructive in your home and apartment, if their energy is not exhausted.
Most people I know who own huskies here either keep them in their yard, letting them “play” there on their own or keep them in air-conditioned confined spaces. Neither of these options is appropriate for the breed. If they are left on their own in the yard – no matter how large – without supervision and devoid of intense human interaction and vigorous activities, they will become bored – and a bored husky is a dangerous dog. It starts biting, escaping, digging holes, chasing and killing anything that runs (huskies do have a high prey drive).
Most importantly, it can turn aggressive if the owner is not strong and wise enough to know how to handle this breed.
Then, of course comes the husky grooming dilemma. They are bred in sub-zero temperatures and do very poorly in tropical climates. Their dense double-coat enables them to regulate their internal temperature in the most extreme climates.
But it is frustrating to see owners allowing groomers to shave their huskies nearly naked because they say, it “must be hot for them” or even worse, because the dog “loses too much hair all over the house”. People! Huskies shed a lot. If this is your concern, do not get one. Ever. Full stop.
As for shaving to make them cooler, you are doing exactly the opposite.
In my book, no self-respecting educated groomer would do that – unless the animal is so neglected and matted that there is no way to brush through the clumps of fur. More despondently, however, is that most owners themselves do not realise that that very fur they insist of shaving off is what keeps their huskies resilient to extreme weather – very low or very high temperatures. In short, shaving a husky in Cambodia is literally making them feel the heat 10 times more.
It’s not easy to take care of an animal. Before getting yourself a pet, make sure you have a full understanding of the animal. If you insist on getting a dog, especially a working breed, do your research first and see if you can handle the needs they have. If you can’t, please do not just blindly follow the dog breed trends – it will only make you and the dog miserable. Claiming ignorance is not an excuse anymore – Google solved that for all of us.
Animal Mama® Animal Clinic & Welfare Centre provides a wide range of services for animals & pets: vet care, boarding, daycare, pet food & supplies, hydrotherapy, grooming and doggy play dates.
Please visit us at:
Villa #15, Street 500
Toul Tom Pong, Phnom Penh 12311