It’s the Pitbull Husky mix endearingly dubbed the Pitsky, and it’s earning a devoted fan-base around the world.
But what’s so great about the Pitsky, and what do you need to know in order to be the owner of a happy, healthy Pitsky?
Before we dive in, please know that this dog is not for folks who want a dog they can leave in the yard and occasionally make a fuss of when they remember to! Few dogs are, but a bored, neglected Pitsky is a recipe for disaster.
In this article, we’ll discuss Pitsky strengths and weaknesses, Pitsky variability – and they’re very variable indeed! And we’ll give you tips on raising and keeping a Pitsky. Let’s get started!
Is The Pitsky A “Designer” Mutt?
There’s been some controversy about so-called “designer dogs,” those enchantingly named crossbreeds like the Pitsky, Labradoodle, or Bullypit.
To a certain extent, it’s because fans of purebred, pedigreed dogs feel that crossbreeding introduces too much unpredictability into a dog’s makeup.
But any pet owner with some experience will know that even pedigreed dogs turn out to be individuals in their own right.
Admittedly, pedigree dogs have a physical appearance that fits in with the “breed standard,” but that’s not always a good thing.
For example, the squashed-in face of a purebred Bulldog means a good chance of respiratory issues, and the elongated form of the Dachshund is a recipe for spinal problems.
Add to that the fact that when you’re breeding from a limited gene pool, inbreeding can occur and genetic weaknesses become as much part of the breed as its breed-standard physical appearance.
The Pitbull Husky mix certainly is variable in its appearance, but the combination has resulted in charming dogs when they’re given the right kind of care.
What probably started as an accident of nature, is now a combination that is sometimes created by design. Does this make the Pitsky a “designer dog?” No more so than any other dog, be it pedigreed or crossbred!
Let’s Look At Mom And Dad
Even when you’re buying a purebred dog, looking at Mom and Dad dog can help you to know what to expect from their puppies.
But do remember that it’s no better than an educated guess – both parents carry the genes of their forefathers, and even if they don’t find expression in the puppy’s parents, they can come to the fore in the pup himself.
The most compelling clues we can pick up from the Pitsky’s parentage relate to temperament, but some physical traits like size, might reflect in the grown up offspring too.
For example, if both Mom and Dad are large compared to most dogs in their breed, there’s a pretty good chance that your Pitsky will be larger.
And knowing exactly what type of Pitbull is in your pup could be of interest too. There are several types of dog under consideration here!
Most people think of the American Pitbull when referring to “Pitbulls,” but there are several types of dog that are designated as Pitbulls.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier are among these.
To crown it all, just about any crossbreed with some Pitbull lineage is often referred to as a Pitbull, so checking out this parent will be enlightening.
Without going into too much detail, and generalizing Pitbull traits, Pitbulls are muscular, energetic, mid-sized dogs with broad, “smiling” mouths and short velvety coats.
Contrary to their reputation for fierceness, a well-brought-up Pitbull is a great family pet and is sometimes rather friendlier towards strangers than its owners would actually like.
Since build and size varies according to the type of Pitbull in a Pitsky’s parentage will be an important question to ask. Of course, you could always go with “luck of the draw!”
On the Siberian Husky side of the family, we have a much more standardized dog breed and we can be a little more specific about physical characteristics.
As dogs that were bred to pull sleds, they’re powerfully-built and have tons of stamina, but they may be smaller than you’d expect if you’re unfamiliar with the breed.
Females are 20 to 22 inches tall and males are a larger 21 to 23½ inches tall at the withers. In simple terms, we’re looking at a medium-sized dog rather than a large one.
The coat is very thick with an undercoat and overcoat making these dogs less heat-tolerant than their Pitsky offspring would be, but also very tolerant of cold.
They’re a working dog breed, so they’re intelligent, friendly, and gentle when treated well.
Colors range from White, to black, gray and white with just about all the shades in between including black and tan or reddish-tan.
What Can You Expect Of A Pitbull Husky Mix?
Throw the genes of Siberian Huskies and Pitbulls (of any sort) into the mixing pot, and what do you get? It can be something of a lottery!
However, we can look at the range of possible outcomes as well as the things the Pitsky’s parents have in common to get a clearer idea of the type of dog you’ll get.
With both parents of the Pitsky being medium-sized dogs, we can be in pretty firm ground when expecting our Pitsky pup to turn into a mid-sized cutie.
But here’s one of the reasons why the type of Pitbull matters so much: one can get pocket bullies too!
And while the American Pitbull is relatively slender with longish legs, the American Bully has shorter legs and a heavier build.
Will your Pitsky pup have a coat like a Pitbull or a Husky? Once again, there’s a lot of variability. It’s safe to say that a Pitsky will rarely have as thick a coat as a Husky or as thin a coat as a Pitbull.
Everything in between is possible! There are Pitsky’s with coats that look very similar to a Pitbull’s and there are longer-haired Pitskies too.
Fun fact about the Pitsky: it can be absolutely any color of the doggie-color rainbow – or a combination. The results can be perfectly charming and add to the uniqueness of Pitskies.
An interesting contribution from the Husky side of the family, blue eyes can occur, or more intriguing yet, one blue eye and one brown.
The Pitsky is known for its sweet temperament and loyalty towards its family. But it’s in its temperament that one of the biggest Pitsky pitfalls lies.
As smart, active dogs, Pitskies get bored very easily. A bored dog looks for something to do, and even negative attention is attention of some kind, so expect very destructive behavior if your Pitsky does not get enough stimulation.
This can range from shredding your belongings including furniture, to compulsive digging, and with that, an urge to escape and take himself for a walk.
These dogs are good companions, but they need company and attention too. Making sure your Pitsky gets enough exercise and play and isn’t left alone for too long will be very important to a happy relationship between the two of you.
Both Huskies and Pitbulls have a high natural prey drive, so don’t expect them to play nicely with smaller animals unless they’re well socialized, and expect them to take off in pursuit of anything that runs away from them.
Fortunately, you have a highly trainable dog on your hands, but do remember that Pitbulls have terrier breeds in their heritage.
That leads to occasional stubbornness, or moments of becoming “selectively deaf” when something exciting is going on.
Your Pitsky is naturally good with children, but any dog can play too roughly, or retaliate if the child mistreats them, so train your kids to respect your dog and provide supervision.
Pitsky Health Issues
One of the biggest advantages of choosing a crossbreed is that you have potential to benefit from what is known as “hybrid vigor,” a situation in which the offspring is stronger and healthier than either of its parents.
However, there’s also a possibility of inheriting health problems from one or both parents, so though “Mutts” are generally healthier than pedigree dogs, there’s a chance they can develop health issues.
In this section, we’ll look at problems that both parents may suffer from, or carry the genes for. That doesn’t mean your Pitsky will experience them, but you will be able to look out for them.
Around 114 dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, some more than others. Both Huskies and Pitbulls are among these.
Hip dysplasia occurs because of uneven growth of the hip socket and the top of the femur that fits into it.
The joint becomes loose, and that means extra wear and tear that ultimately leads to arthritis. This issue can lead to your dog becoming crippled.
You can help to reduce the chances of hip dysplasia by making sure your Pitsky doesn’t overeat, especially as a puppy.
Leaving food out all the time results in puppies eating more than they need to, so stick to set mealtimes.
Strong muscles can also help, so give your dog enough exercise. If your Pitsky is showing signs of hip dysplasia, low-impact exercise like swimming can be a help.
Puppies can be screened for hip dysplasia potential, so ask your veterinarian to check it out or, if you’re buying from a breeder, ask them to have your puppy screened.
When a young dog has hip dysplasia, it can sometimes be corrected through surgery, but it will be extremely costly.
Most older dogs with hip dysplasia continue to live in relative comfort for some years provided they have pain relief.
Some people even equip their dogs with wheeled gadgets to make moving about possible if they become totally crippled.
Cataracts And Other Eye Issues
Both Pitbulls and Huskies are known to be somewhat prone to eye issues. Juvenile cataracts are among these.
Almost any older dog can develop cataracts, but it’s unusual in younger animals, and that makes this issue notable in the Pitsky’s parents.
Fortunately, cataracts can easily be treated with surgery, but if left untreated, they can lead to blindness.
Progressive retinal atrophy is far more sinister. Simply put, it means that certain dogs’ genes have programmed them to slowly become blind.
Although the condition isn’t painful, and its progression is usually slow, there is no treatment.
Antioxidant supplements sometimes slow its progress, and your vet is likely to recommend them if your Pitsky falls victim to this unpleasant ailment.
Pitbulls, depending on their lineage, can also be inclined to develop other eye issues, but fortunately, they’re treatable.
It’s possible that your Pitsky could inherit them. The bottom line is that you should treat any inflammation or abnormality of the eyes as a reason for an urgent visit to the veterinarian.
Allergies And Skin Problems
Minor allergies and skin problems aren’t fatal, but they’re uncomfortable for your dog and the longer you leave them, the harder they might be to treat.
Look out for dry skin, sores that come from licking or biting irritated areas, inflammation, and any abnormalities in your dog’s coat including excessive dryness, too much oiliness, or “doggy dandruff.”
It’s especially important to have any skin infections or mite infestations treated quickly before they can spread too much.
Allergies are often harder to figure out, but if your veterinarian thinks your dog might have one, you can start by changing his diet to eliminate common dog allergens.
Meanwhile, your dog’s vet may prescribe medication to reduce the effect of allergies.
Flea bite allergies are very common too, so keep up your tick and flea prevention efforts. Your Pitsky will be healthier and happier without passengers!
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that help to regulate physical processes.
Both Huskies and Pitbulls are among the breeds that can develop an underactive thyroid, so it’s possible that your Pitsky may develop this condition too.
Loss of condition, weird behavior like sudden fits of fearfulness or aggression, and weight gain that can’t be explained by changes in diet or activity are among the symptoms to watch out for.
Hypothyroidism is very easy to treat, however. Your veterinarian will give your Pitsky a blood test if hypothyroidism is suspected, and if this is the case, the problem can easily be treated with medication.
It can’t be cured, so the medication will be a lifelong requirement, but it will correct the issues that come from having an underactive thyroid.
Caring For A Pitsky
As a pet owner, caring properly for your Pitsky will be your first responsibility. Are you ready for the commitment?
Because Pitskies require exactly that. This crossbreed is not for laissez-faire pet owners. You will have to be an active pet parent in more ways than one!
Feeding A Pitsky
Feeding your Pitsky properly is probably your easiest task, especially if you opt for regular pet food instead of attempting the balancing act that comes with trying to make a balanced diet for a dog in your own kitchen.
Choose a high-quality, nutrient-rich dog food that’s suitable for an active dog. Match your Pitsky’s life stage to the pet food formula. Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs all have different nutritional requirements.
Pitsky puppies will need three feeds a day. Don’t allow your puppy to feed at will.
From the age of about six months onward, you will be feeding your Pitsky twice a day, measuring out the portions so that you know you’re getting the nutrient and calorie intake right. Being overweight is never good for a dog’s health, and Pitskies are no exception to this rule.
Remember, you should be able to feel the ribs under the skin when lightly stroking his side, and you want to see a clear “waist.”
Training A Pitsky
Obedience training is important for all dogs, and the Pitbull Husky mix in your Pitsky’s lineage will make training essential.
Huskies need to “work” and Pitbulls’ independent spirit needs to be kept in check for their own safety.
When training dogs, remember that patience and positivity are a must. “Punishing” a dog for not learning fast or enough or for forgetting commands will make him fearful.
He may not understand what you’re so mad about, and the breach of trust could mean that you actually cause behavioral problems instead of correcting them.
Positive reinforcement is a must. Teaching your dog that obeying you has wonderful results in the form of love, approval, and treats will help him to remain obedient even when you don’t have treats handy.
If you don’t have experience training a dog, consider going to dog or puppy classes. Be sure to practice the things you and your dog learned there every day. Going to “school” will also help you with socializing your dog.
Socializing A Pitsky
Socialization training is another thing that all dogs need. For your Pitsky, it’s especially important.
It prevents your dog from getting overexcited or over-protective of you in the presence of other people. It also helps them to get along with other animals.
But do remember that prey drive! If it runs away, your dog will chase it, and if he catches his “prey” the consequences could be unpleasant.
Having said that, a lot of Pitsky owners report great success with socializing their dogs – at least, with regard to other dogs and people. Socializing means just that.
Take your dog into new environments, introduce new people, including children, to him, and let him interact with other animals in positive settings.
The younger you start, the better, but it is possible to socialize older Pitskies. It just means more careful supervision, and will take longer. Get expert advice if you’re doing this for the first time.
This is a big one! And unless you have plenty of time to spend on pet parenting, it may be the deal-breaker that tells you a Pitsky isn’t for you. Remember, a bored dog with too much excess energy is going to be Trouble with a capital “T.”
Your Pitbull Husky mix has two very energetic types of dog as its parents. A combination of Pitbull enthusiasm and Husky stamina makes for a dog that absolutely needs two hours of exercise every day.
That means morning and evening walks and active play in which you are a participant. If you’re pretty active yourself and would like to take your Pitsky for runs, be sure not to start too young.
Despite all that energy, dogs younger than 1.5 years may injure themselves permanently trying to keep up extended running. Their bones are still developing, so give it time.
For your own safety, teach your dog to walk with you on a slack leash before considering running. He can easily overbalance you if he suddenly pulls on the lead.
Games are always a great way to wear off some extra energy. Tug of war games are fine and fetch will always be a favorite – although your dog might take some time to learn to return the toy to you!
On top of your two hours of exercise, you should also take some time to take him through his dog training lessons – so if you don’t have the time, don’t get the Pitsky!
Time your Pitsky spends exercising and playing on his own shouldn’t form part of the two-hour rule, but do make sure he has some entertaining (and tough) toys to play with.
Simple companionship is important to your Pitsky. It won’t always need to be active.
Just being close to you will be enough to keep him out of mischief – at least, most of the time! It’s when you’re away from home or are not accessible to your dog that boredom and loneliness really sets in – and trouble ensues.
If you need to be away from home for long hours during the day, a Pitsky isn’t a good choice for you – unless family members are there for him instead.
If you and your family want to go on holiday or go on a long outing, it’s best to have a pet sitter who knows their stuff. Pitskies do not take well to being left alone.
Interestingly, there’s research that shows dogs don’t like being left alone for more than three hours – four at most.
But when it comes to Pitskies, it’s not just a matter of your dog feeling unhappy. He may escape, wander, get into all kinds of trouble, excavate your entire yard, and generally be destructive.
Pitbulls have low-maintenance, short coats. Huskies have high-maintenance, long coats with a protective undercoat. What kind of coat will your Pitsky have?
While coat lengths may differ, it’s likely that you’ll need to pay less attention to grooming than you would with a Husky, and more than you would if you had a Pitbull.
You can expect a fair amount of shedding, so at the least, a weekly brush-out will be needed.
Bathing dogs is more about your comfort than theirs. If your dog is smelly or dirty, give him a bath.
The only mistakes you can make are bathing your Pitsky too frequently, or using products that aren’t formulated for use on a dog’s skin. Choose shampoo that’s made for dogs.
Is A Pitsky Right For You?
When considering getting a Pitsky, knowing the nature of the “beast” helps you to decide if the two of you will be a good match.
For most people with overly busy lives, the Pitbull Husky mix is not a good choice. Neither of you is going to be happy!
Pick a Pitsky if you’re energetic, have time on your hands, and are willing and able to take your pet parenting responsibilities seriously.
If you can check these boxes, you should be fine with a Pitsky as long as you have enough space to keep an energetic dog. This is definitely not an apartment dog!
You’ll also need some willing backup on days when you can’t be with your Pitsky as much as you (and he) will like.
Dogs hate having their routines disrupted, so all the usual things should happen – including exercise and play – on days when you can’t be there for your dog. It’s not a case of “spoiling” a dog. Being together is part of his pack instinct.
Where To Get A Pitsky
In closing, you might be wondering where to get a Pitsky. Since it isn’t a recognized breed, finding one might be quite difficult.
You can start your enquiries at shelters – especially if there’s one specializing in dogs with Pitbull lineage in your area. Just remember that a shelter dog’s lineage is guessed at rather than known!
You can also try talking to Pitbull and Husky breeders – some of them dabble in “hybrids” or they may know other breeders who do.
Finally, there are ads to watch – many Pitsky owners say they found their puppies advertised in online listings or ads.
Just remember that if the Mom’s owners didn’t supervise her properly during heat, you can’t be sure of the father!
Keeping “hybrids,” or even outright mutts, is fun! As long as you have what it takes to be a good pet owner, you’re sure to end up with a delightful dog!