Firstly you need to decide whether you are looking foremost for a companion pet or a show/breeding dog. The Siberian Husky Club of Victoria is deeply concerned about maintaining and improving the standard of dogs in Australia. Do not request a pet puppy if you have any desire to breed with it!

Don't be bedazzled by a pair of mischievous eyes or cute markings! As with everything else, shop around. Conformation and temperament do matter. Consider the pup's pedigree, and look at its parents, siblings of the parents, and possibly grand parents, and ask questions.

If the dam has had a litter previously, what were those puppies like? Can you see them, or can the breeder provide references from previous purchasers of those pups? Note that the VCA states that a bitch should not be bred from more than once in 12 months.

The remainder of this article is targeted at pet buyers. Those seeking a show/breeding dog will have these plus other more demanding requirements and should pay particular attention to the breed standard when assessing a suitable puppy.

Puppy on scales   Litter of 10 puppies

Temperament of the puppy

Consider friendliness, sociability, willingness to please, the tendancy of the puppy to mouthing/play-nipping (most pups will exhibit this to some degree as a normal part of teething & development).

Look for any signs of possessiveness of food & toy and the pup's relative dominance status amongst peers of the litter.

Most people will naturally pick the most confident, affectionate and fearless pup as their choice. But it's not always a good match-up. This pup will likely grow up to have an appealing 'look at me' presence in the show ring. But they'll also have an 'alpha' attitude and be very testing to live with. If the dog is left by itself all day it'll probably remodel the house.

Conversely the ultra-shy, 'run away and hide' pup will take a lot of extra work in socialisation to get them out of their shell. They will require a very different training approach - nearly always positive and only a very small reprimand when the dog is disobedient will be enough for them to get the message. A totally corrective (check-chain) approach will likely turn this dog into a basket case.

The 'loner' pup who is quite happy spending time away from the rest of the pack will often be the best suited pup for the working family where the pup will be alone for long hours every day.

If the breeder has been attentive to observation of the puppies over their first several weeks, they should be able to help guide you as to which pups have the temperament which is best matched to your needs and the environment that the pup will be living in when it comes home.

Some breeders go further than this, and will actually select the pup for you based on your discussions plus their observation of your time spent with their dogs and the litter. The key as a buyer is to be able to tell if a breeder who picks out your pup is doing it for all these right reasons, or because they have a motive to sell off particular dogs for their own purposes.

Health

Have the parents been screened for eye diseases by a qualified veterinary opthalmologist? There are some very nasty eye problems in the breed, fortunately not all that common in Australia. Some of these hereditary diseases, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, lead to blindness and have no cure. Screening the parents prior to mating is cheap, simple and noninvasive prevention. If the breeder hasn't done so, why not?

Hip Displaysia is of reasonably low incidence due to careful past screening by breeders although it's not unheard of in Australia. It can be screened for by x-ray scoring of the parents prior to mating.

If the sire or dam have been either eye or hip screened, the breeder should be able to supply or show you the certificates which confirm this has been done.

Laxating patellas (slipping kneecaps) seems to be becoming more of a problem recently - it is not proven to be genetic but we are cautious that it may be so in some breeding lines in Victoria (Australia) as they have had high incidence of problems in their progeny.

Sex preference

Especially if you already have another dog – generally one of each get along better, but if you are going to desex the pup anyway then it's not as critical.

Coat and eye colour

Honestly, most people put colour at the top of their list but to be frank about it, at the end of the day would you prefer a dog with a difficult temperament around the house, or one with a great temperament which wasn't the ideal colour that you'd set your heart on. Think hard about that one before rushing in on a colour-based choice.

Conclusion

Well, that's it – a wealth of information (and maybe more questions than answers). We recommend that you discuss your requirements with several breeders, and view several litters before making a decision to purchase. If you are not comfortable with the answers of one breeder, seek another who you are comfortable with. Your puppy will be with you for the next 12–14 years so it is not a decision to be rushed into, but one that you will want to spend some time over to make sure you get it right.