Siberian huskies are medium-sized, high-energy dogs that were bred to pull sleds. Though their wolf-like appearance has led some to believe they are more like wolves than other dogs, the wolf is the common ancestor of all dogs, and huskies are no more similar to wolves than other breeds. The work of veterinarians has led to an increased interest in what dogs and their ancestors eat in the wild, and observing wolves and stray dogs can provide valuable clues to the natural diet of the Siberian husky.
Wild Siberian Huskies
Dog owners interested in the behavior of wild huskies should note that huskies do not exist naturally in the wild. Instead, huskies are a domesticated breed of dogs that have been bred by humans to conform to a particular appearance and disposition. This does not, however, mean that there aren't wild huskies. Feral dogs are dogs that have escaped or been abandoned and then set up breeding populations in the wild. Huskies may be found among these populations. Feral dogs, however, do not have a long history of living in the wild and thus their behavior is often a result of fear and desperation rather than innate tendencies. To gain accurate information about what huskies would eat in the wild, animal scientists examine the behavior of both wolves and feral dogs.
Wolves are strictly carnivores that hunt for their prey. They obtain plant matter by eating the stomach contents of prey animals such as rabbits, moose, deer, elk and numerous other mammals. This has led some veterinarians and pet owners to advocate a whole prey model for feeding huskies. In this model, dogs are given whole animals such as ducks, rabbits and chicken to eat.
Dog behaviorists Raymond and Lorna Coppinger argue that wild dogs are scavengers that eat scraps left behind by humans. In some parts of the world, wild dogs exist on the outskirts of human civilization and feed on scraps. Large dogs such as huskies are more likely to actively hunt for their food or to use their large size to steal food from other dogs. Though feral dogs are primarily carnivorous, they eat other foods including bread, fast food and cooked vegetables. When a dog colony has existed for several generations, the dogs tend to be smaller dogs. The Coppingers argue that this indicates that wild dogs subsist on a different diet than wolves and that the scavenger diet may not be particularly healthy for domesticated dogs.
Several important facts about a natural diet for huskies can be gleaned from the breed's unique physiology. Huskies are high-energy dogs that tend to burn large quantities of calories in a day. This indicates that they need ample protein to remain in optimal health. Huskies have large canine teeth, which are designed to tear apart meat and bones. Their molars are stronger than human molars and designed for crushing animal bones. Consequently, a healthy diet in captivity should closely approximate a carnivorous diet. Huskies tend to develop allergies to fillers used in some pet foods like corn and grains, so these items should be avoided.