Huskies are very famous medium breed dogs. They were first bred as sled dogs which explains their phenomenal endurance and high energy. They can adapt easily to any new environment and do not mind strangers. Huskies are known for being big, strong, and fluffy. They are not huge dogs, but they fall in the category of medium-breed dogs.
Some husky owners have a common question “why is my husky so small?” There could be several reasons which affect the growth of a husky. Some of them can be normal, like genetics and breeding, and the others can be pathological (involves a disease) like diet, exercise, anxiety, and illnesses.
If you’re worried about the size of your husky, this article will answer all your questions. You will learn how to:
- Confirm whether your husky is small or normal;
- Reasons why your husky is small;
- Things you can do to ensure that your husky will grow to be a healthy, medium-sized dog.
How Do I Know if My Husky’s Size is Normal?
First, before deciding if your husky is too small, you should consider their age and gender. Puppies will grow bigger with age in normal cases but might have delays in some pathological cases that we will be listing next; concerning gender, males usually grow bigger than females, so you have to keep that in mind when comparing your dog with another husky from a different gender.
The following Table shows the normal Growth and Weight of both Female and Male Huskies during different life stages:
|Age||Weight of Female Husky||Weight of Male Husky|
|1 Month||2 to 6 lb||3 to 5 lb|
|2 Months||5 to 10 lb||10 to 15 lb|
|3 Months||15 to 20 lb||20 to 30 lb|
|4 Months||20 to 25 lb||27 to 32 lb|
|5 Months||23 to 26 lb||34 to 39 lb|
|6 Months||25 to 33 lb||30 to 40 lb|
|7 Months||27 to 35 lb||35 to 45 lb|
|8 Months||28 to 37 lb||40 to 50 lb|
|9 Months||29 to 39 lb||40 to 50 lb|
|10 Months||30 to 45 lb||45 to 55 lb|
|11 Months||30 to 45 lb||45 to 55 lb|
|12 Months||35 to 50 lb||45 to 60 lb|
After 12 months, huskies normally keep the same weight with small changes if any major changes happen and can be caused by an illness, overfeeding, or underfeeding.
Why Is My Husky So Small?
There are many reasons for your husky to be small; some are not harmful, but others can be concerning. The following reasons will be explained: diet, genetics, excessive exercise, anxiety, internal worms, portosystemic shunts, congenital hypothyroidism, and osteochondrodysplasia.
Malnutrition can be a major cause of delayed growth. Your puppy’s body isn’t getting the nutrients needed to grow; therefore, the bones, muscles, and cartilages won’t develop as they should. Even for adult dogs, malnutrition will cause them to lose weight and muscle mass and result in weak cartilages and joints, which are very sensitive in huskies because they are prone to canine hip dysplasia (deformity of the hip)
When does malnutrition in dogs happen?
Malnutrition happens when the dog is not eating a well-balanced meal, for example, low-quality dry food that you find in markets, unbalanced and incomplete homemade recipes, feeding a smaller quantity than the amount required, internal (worms) and external (fleas, ticks, mites) parasites taking away the nutrients from your pet’s body, and last but not least feeding unhealthy human foods that contain onions and garlic that can cause hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells)
How do you ensure you are feeding your husky the right diet?
- If you decide to feed your dog homemade food as the main diet, make sure that you follow a recipe approved by a veterinary nutritionist. Depending on your dog’s age, weight, and breed, they will create a meal containing all the nutrients needed.
- If you decide to feed your dog dry food as the main diet, ensure you are getting the good quality found in a vet clinic, and keep in mind the age, breed, spayed/neutered or not, health consideration, and the flavor your dog prefers the most.
- If you decide to feed your dog wet food as the main diet, you should know that there are very few options for well-balanced wet food, and it’s very risky. You can add dry food to it to make it more nutritional.
If your husky has malnutrition, your veterinarian will ask for blood tests, diagnose them, and prescribe the treatment needed.
Genetics is the most common cause for your husky to be small in size. Your dog might be a mixed breed; this means that one of the parents is not a pure husky, or the mixed genes run in their blood. Thankfully this reason is completely harmless and does not affect your dog in the future. To ensure that your dog is small because of genetics, you can try to find their biological parents or run some tests at your veterinary clinic to exclude that it might be a disease.
Common breeds mixed with huskies that can cause them to be small:
- Alaskan Klee kai
- American Eskimo
3. Excessive Exercise
Some people think that over-exercising is a good idea to get rid of the energy of a puppy, but in fact, it can be harmful to their health. Excessive exercise harms their musculoskeletal development, which is of particular concern in large and medium-breed dogs like huskies. Just like human kids, it might damage their growth plates and joints, leading to conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia at an early age.
How to know if your dog is getting too much exercise?
If you are over-exercising your dog, the following signs will appear:
- Heat stroke
- Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- Sore muscles
- Behavioral changes
- Joint injury
Remember that a 5-month-old puppy shouldn’t exercise more than 25 minutes at once. You have to ensure they are in the shade because too much sun can harm your puppy, even deadly if a heat stroke occurs. And last but not least, make sure always to provide water.
4. Internal Parasites
Internal worms such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are a common reason for stunt growth. Some of these worms can affect your puppy since they’re born, and all of them will cause serious malnutrition and anemia sometimes. Many worms can lead to an intestinal blockage that can be deadly. As mentioned, malnutrition will delay the development of muscles, bones, and cartilages, leading to stunt growth and other health issues such as canine hip dysplasia.
How to know if your dog has worms?
Usually, worms are asymptomatic, but with an increase in number, some symptoms might show, such as:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Worms showing in your dog’s feces
- Worms segments on your dogs’ coat
- Loss of appetite
- Sometimes vomiting
Your veterinarian can make the diagnosis of internal parasites. They will ask for a sample of your husky’s feces and examine it under a microscope, searching for the eggs of the parasites.
5. Osteochondrodysplasia and Achondroplasia
Osteochondrodysplasia is a growth abnormality of the bone and cartilage, which results in abnormal bone growth and bone deformities. It is very rare in huskies, except if mixed with another breed that tends to be predisposed to this disorder, such as Samoyeds, Labrador retriever, Alaskan malamutes, and Scottish deerhounds.
Achondroplasia, also called dwarfism, is a form of osteochondrodysplasia in which the bones do not grow to the normal size and become much smaller than they should be compared to their breed. It is caused by a mutation of the fibroblast growth factor receptor gene. It is also rare in huskies except if they are bred with another breed predisposed to achondroplasia, such as German shepherds, corgi, basset hounds, and Scottish terrier.
Some breeders encourage this abnormality by intentionally breeding a husky with one of the breeds listed. Still, it is unethical due to the many diseases that might occur. It is important to know where your husky is coming from, the breeder’s breed, and what breeds his parents are.
Both achondroplasia and osteochondrodysplasia are genetically acquired disorders. It means their appearance is caused by external influences and cannot be passed down to offspring during reproduction
If you suspect that your husky might have one of these disorders, you can look out for these signs:
- An abnormally large head
- Short nose and undershot jaw
- Crooked teeth
- Abnormal bone shape
- No growth or slow and poor growth
- Bones appear shorter than normal
- Spinal deviation
For your veterinarian to diagnose, you need to give them your husky’s full medical history, including the breed of the parents and when you started noticing the abnormalities. Your veterinarian will run blood tests, urinalysis (urine test), and x-rays showing any bone or spine abnormalities.
6. Portosystemic Shunts
The portosystemic shunt, also known as the liver shunt is another common cause for your husky to stop growing but is usually accompanied by other serious symptoms; it is caused by a congenital disability where the portal vein (a large vein that collects blood from the gastrointestinal system, pancreas, and spleen and carries it into the liver who gets rid of toxins and byproducts) has an abnormal connection with another vein allowing blood to shunt around the liver.
It can also be acquired, and sometimes multiple small shunts form when the animal has a serious liver disease such as cirrhosis.
How to know if your dog has a portosystemic shunt that is causing them not to grow normally?
Usually, animals with portosystemic shunts show a lot of serious symptoms:
- poor or no growth
- poor muscle development
- abnormal behaviors such as disorientation
- staring into space
- head pressing
- polyuria (excessive urination)
- polydipsia (excessive drinking and thirst)
- long period to recover from anesthesia
Your veterinarian will diagnose a portosystemic shunt by doing blood tests that usually show anemia, urinalysis, bile acid test, ultrasounds, x-rays, and MRIs.
If your dog shows any of the symptoms listed, make sure to take them to the hospital because it can be very serious if it is a portosystemic shunt.
7. Congenital Hypothyroidism
Congenital hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is underactive and slows your dog’s metabolism down. It is a rare condition. Still, it usually occurs in medium to large-sized dogs, including huskies. It is caused by an aplasia (the thyroid is not developed) or hypoplasia (below the normal size) of the thyroid gland, which usually results in dwarfism.
A dog or cat will look small because hypothyroidism will lead to a short spine, bowing the forelimbs, and ossification of the cartilages.
If you suspect hypothyroidism in your husky, you can look out for the following symptoms:
- weight gain without an increased appetite
- Thinning coat
Your veterinarian will diagnose it by doing blood tests and x-rays.
8. Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are underrated reasons when it comes to losing weight. When your husky feels uncomfortable, it will lose appetite. Therefore, they will stop eating and playing, leading to malnutrition and weak muscles and cartilages.
Your dog can be stressed because of the following reasons:
- Environmental changes
- Loss of a loved one
- Lack of exercise and playing
You can avoid it by always taking them for a vet check to ensure there’s no hidden sickness and by simply playing with them more and giving them more time.
How do you ensure your husky will grow into a normal medium-sized dog?
- You have to feed them good quality food and complete meals
- You have to deworm them at least every 3 months (depending on your dog’s age, weight, health, and environment)
- You have to talk to your breeder or the family you are adopting your husky from and get the full history
- Do not get a husky mixed with a small breed dog. It won’t only cause him stunted growth, but it will lead to other health issues as well
- Do not over-exercise your puppy
- Keep your dog entertained to avoid the anxiety that might cause weight loss
Does Spaying and Neutering Cause Stunting?
The answer is no. On the contrary, spaying or neutering your large or medium breed dog at a young age causes a delayed closure in the growth plate, causing dogs to grow longer than they should have, and this can cause them a lot of joint issues, which is why it is preferable to spay and neuter your husky after becoming older than one-year-old. But be careful. It is still necessary to spay and neuter, especially if your dog is a male husky. Most of them have undescended testicule (a testicle in the abdomen) that can develop into a tumor if it is not removed.
There could be many reasons why your husky is so small. It’s either genetics, malnutrition, overexercising when they were puppies, stress that makes them lose weight, congenital issues like Osteochondrodysplasia, Achondroplasia, congenital hypothyroidism, and portosystemic shunt, or acquired diseases such as internal parasites. Most of these conditions can be prevented by choosing the right dog, not mixed with a smaller breed, and by giving the right nutrition and parasites prevention.
Lamis has remarkable humility, empathy and generosity. Out of love for animals, she founded her own animal rescue team. As of now, this team rescued, treated and rehomed over 60 animals!
She has worked as an Intern in various veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. She has also had numerous voluntary experiences including blood donations and creating educational content for her countrymen.
Currently, she’s pursuing her Master’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine at Lebanese Public University.
She’s CPD certified in –
- Small Animal Nutrition
- Nutrition of Hospitalized Cats
- Dog Grooming
- Pet Psychology