The Alaskan Husky is an amazing dog, strong, energetic, and determined. They make fabulous sled dogs, and can survive the harshest of conditions.
But do they make good pets? And are you able to offer them everything they need?
Let’s take a look at the facts in this in-depth article.
Have you ever watched one of those documentaries about the hard-working, seemingly tireless dogs who pull sleds in snow races? You were probably marveling at the Alaskan Husky dog.
Most Alaskan Husky fans are surprised to learn this isn’t actually a true purebred dog breed. Rather, it is a certain distinct class of working sled dog!
These amazing dogs are bred for speed, stamina, perseverance and intelligence. They also havekeen eyesight and sense of smell, a calm personality and overall trainability.
However, for these reasons Alaskan Husky class dogs also need a certain specific type of lifestyle to thrive as a domestic pet dog.
Every puppy is bred with an eye towards producing a certain set of personality and behavioral traits. This can make it more challenging to predict later life health issues at the puppy stage of life.
Have you been considering bringing an Alaskan Husky mix dog into your life? This article will help you decide if this is the right companion dog for you!
What Is An Alaskan Husky?
It’s a fact that you may not ever see visual hints of some of the dog breeds that are often interbred to produce the working class dog known as the Alaskan Husky.
Today’s Alaskan Huskies are descended from a long line of various high quality dog breeds.
These include but not limited to these major purebred canine bloodlines:
- Inuit native sled dogs (a 4,000-year-old Alaskan native dog breed that is also a veteran military service breed from as far back as World War II!).
- American Eskimo dogs.
- Siberian Husky dogs.
- Alaskan Malamute dogs.
- Chinook sled dogs.
- Greyhound dogs.
- German Shorthaired Pointer dogs.
- Standard Poodle dogs.
Alaskan Husky History
The first were bred by Inuit mushers (native Alaskan sled drivers).
This breed is described as a “purpose-based breed.” It was bred to do something, rather than to look a certain way.
Overall, Husky appearance traits still tend to dominate over other purebred genetic contributions. This is why coloration and size are the most significant visual variations in Alaskan Husky mix dogs.
For example, you may see a black and white Alaskan Husky dog, an all white Alaskan Husky dog, a black Alaskan Husky dog, and even a mini Alaskan Husky dog, based on differing parent dogs!
Brown is the predominant eye color, although occasionally you may see Alaskan Husky blue eyes puppy dogs.
As well, today’s musher-breeders have begun to breed specifically for shorter and longer coats.Short-haired Alaskan Husky dogs are used for sprint races and long-haired Alaskan Husky dogs for endurance races.
The main reason is how the length of the dog’s coat affects a dog’s ability to control body temperature. Dogs that are bred to be sprint racers need to shed heat more easily, which the short coat assists with.
Conversely, dogs bred to be distance racers need the longer coat, which provides vital insulating warmth on chilly long distance and overnight runs.
Alaskan Husky Vs Siberian Husky
An Alaskan Husky is bred to work, while a Siberian Husky is bred both to look a certain way and to work.
As such, only the Siberian Husky is a purebred dog breed which can be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Due to varying parentage, there will always been more variance in the looks of an Alaskan Husky dog than in a Siberian Husky.
Otherwise, both dogs are high energy, active, working dogs with similar diet, coat maintenance, lifestyle and companionship needs.
Siberian Huskies will have blue eyes, whereas most Alaskan Husky dogs will be brown eyed.
Alaskan Huskies can also vary a lot more in height and weight.
Alaskan Husky Weight
Depending on parentage, the typical Alaskan Husky dog may weigh anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds, with adult males typically outweighing females.
Alaskan Husky Special Climate Needs
Alaskan Husky dogs have an amazing tolerance for cold.
In Alaska, these dogs work and race in temperatures as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit (-51 degrees Celsius)!
However, they can acclimate to warmer climates. Take care to protect your pup from over-exposure to too-warm temperatures.
Provide access to an indoor living area with air conditioning if summers in your area get very hot.
Never shave or severely trim the Alaskan Husky’s coat. The coat provides moisture wicking to keep your pet cool, and protects your dog from getting sunburned.
Alaskan Husky Lifespan
This breed typically lives between 10 and 15 years. A puppy’s parentage can impact life span.
The more closely you can match the ideal environment, diet and lifestyle, the healthier and more long-lived you can expect your dog to be.
Running all day and night in distance races or while assisting owners with hunting, transportation and other seasonal needs is normal for this dog.
This also means you should plan to feed your pet a dog food blend designed for an active working dog.
However, to avoid issues of overweight or obesity, it will be critical to work with your family veterinarian to adjust portion sizes to accurately reflect how active your domestic Alaskan Husky dog is on a daily basis.
Alaskan Husky Temperament
The Alaskan Husky dog is an incredibly energetic dog. If this dog doesn’t receive sufficient opportunities to run, play, work and exercise each day, it can impact your dog’s behavior and health.
Even with this need met in full, however, there can be a lot of variation in Alaskan Husky temperament due to parentage.
It is important to be aware of this when you are selecting a puppy.
Overall, you want to pick a puppy that is active, bright and clear-eyed, curious and unafraid, amenable to being held and eager to play.
The Alaskan Husky temperament profile suggests that a well-bred puppy will be intelligent, independent, eager to learn and train, affectionate, loyal, cuddly and adventurous.
However, these traits can go south for any Alaskan Husky dog who is insufficiently active or left too long alone. In this case, the potential for destructiveness, disobedience, escaping and serious behavior problems is quite high.
These are active dogs that need companionship throughout the day, along with plenty of exercise and training.
Alaskan Husky Health
Today’s Alaskan Husky breeders continue to breed for traits over appearance, with the exception of the short versus long-haired coat mentioned in an earlier section.
Breeders find value in diverse cross-breeding both for building desired traits and to reduce the risk of known purebred dog health issues.
Genetically speaking, the less closely related the parent dogs are, the lower the risk of passing along genetically transmitted health issues to the pups becomes.
That is not to say the risk doesn’t remain, and it is vital to learn as much as you can about the parent dogs’ genetic line, background, known health issues and general breed-specific health issues before you pick out a baby Alaskan Husky puppy.
With sufficient research, your veterinarian can then assist with specific genetic testing to determine what if any heritable health risks your chosen puppy may bear.
Inherited Health Problems
Here are some specific known heritable health issues you may want to test for before making a firm commitment to an Alaskan Husky puppy:
- Progressive retinal atrophy. This inherited eye disease causes progressive degeneration of the retina in both eyes. Eventually it leads to blindness.
- Hypothyroidism. Recurring health issues such as skin flaking or black patches, weight gain, cold intolerance, ear infections and low energy can indicate hypothyroidism, an inherited condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of a hormone called thyroxin.
- Congenital larynx paralysis. This congenital disorder causes gradual paralysis of the larynx, which can lead to a wheezing sound as the dog breathes. This disorder is so common in Huskies it has given them the nickname “wheezers.”
- Lysosomal storage disease. This class of metabolic disorders is thankfully rare, but is always fatal, and usually at a very young age (i.e. 4 to 6 months of age).
- Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia, where the hip joint fails to develop properly, is a fairly common condition among purebred dog breeds. In most cases, without a hip replacement operation, the affected dog will eventually be unable to walk.
Alaskan Husky Puppies
You may be wondering about the typical Alaskan Husky price and how much a puppy might cost.
A puppy from a top racing line can set you back a pretty penny, running anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per dog!
Otherwise, a healthy Alaskan Husky dog puppy from a good breeder but without a racing pedigree may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500+.
Alaskan Husky Breeders
A good breeder will be serious about their reputation and overall high quality of their Alaskan Husky litters. They will be amenable to answering these questions and requests. They may even volunteer the necessary information.
Be wary if you encounter a breeder who seems unwilling or becomes defensive.
Some breeders who are less ethical will attempt to assure you that their litters are always “perfectly healthy.” But they will not have any proof, and possibly not even the knowledge that no such thing is biologically possible.
In these cases the best response is to beat a hasty retreat.
Seek a different breeder who truly wants to sell you a healthy baby Alaskan Husky puppy!
Alaskan Husky Rescue
Alaskan Husky adoption is more common than you might think.
These dogs are seriously active and high energy. This is a fact some owners discover only too late. Many people have realized that what their Alaskan Husky dog needs can’t be met by them.
It is not uncommon to find adult Alaskan Husky rescue dogs aged one year old and older at rescue organizations.
With time, training and dedication they may have the potential to still make a good pet.
Is An Alaskan Husky A Good Pet?
Are you able to provide your Alaskan Husky dog with early and ongoing training? How about an active lifestyle and a healthy diet? What about plenty of human companionship?
If so, you are off to a good start.
You will also need an appropriately temperature controlled living situation. Make sure you are confident that you are able to maintain the active lifestyle your dog needs, potentially for at least the next ten years.
If so, then you will have the best chance of experiencing all the best traits a domestic pet Alaskan Husky dog can exhibit!
Do you have an Alaskan Husky? Let us know about it in the comments!
- Dean, D., “The RCMP and Quebec’s Provincial Police Nearly Killed Off the Inuit Sled Dog,” Vice News, 2013.
- Friedman, S., “Alaskan Huskies are dogs bred to run,” The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,” 2017.
- Blue, C., “Be Informed About Your Puppy’s Health,” The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), 2017.
- Downing, R., DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CRPP, “Lysosomal Storage Diseases in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals, 2017.
- Lee, J.J., “What Makes a Great Sled Dog? Breed, Ambition, Tough Feet,” National Geographic, 2015.
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Alaskan Husky - Pros and Cons of an Unusual Sled Dog? ›
The Alaskan huskies have been selected over a long period of time and nowadays have an agile and powerful musculature and are taller and more slender than the Siberian huskies, enabling them to run fast in the snow and pull heavy weights, making them the perfect sled dogs.Why are Alaskan Huskies good sled dogs? ›
The Alaskan huskies have been selected over a long period of time and nowadays have an agile and powerful musculature and are taller and more slender than the Siberian huskies, enabling them to run fast in the snow and pull heavy weights, making them the perfect sled dogs.Are Huskies good sled dogs? ›
What Breeds Make the Best Sled Dogs? The Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Chinook are some of the most well-known of the sled-dog breeds, and with good reason. Sled dogs probably evolved in Mongolia between 35,000 and 30,000 years ago.Can Alaskan Husky live in hot weather? ›
However, just because your dog can adapt to a hotter temperature doesn't mean that you have nothing to worry about. Because Huskies are built for cooler weather, their owners have to look out for signs of dehydration, overheating, and overexertion.Will a husky protect you? ›
Huskies, by their very nature, are quite protective of their owners. Your job will be to reinforce that you are part of his territory to defend. You will also need to use obedience commands to train Ice to react in the correct manner to protect you.Why not to own a husky? ›
Huskies are considered working dogs, which means they are typically very high energy and require a significant amount of physical activity and mental stimulation. A lack of those things will result in a destructive, anxiety ridden dog.Do Alaskan sled dogs get cold? ›
They seem quite comfortable down to -10 degrees F, especially if they are actively pulling in harness, and can tolerate much colder temperatures before being adversely affected. The dogs have a dual fur coat consisting of a soft, dense under coat as well as a course outer coat.Can my Husky pull me on a sled? ›
The one thing that many of these famous dogs have in common is their ability to lead the charge on sled teams, pulling their handler along the frozen ground for miles at a time. Huskies are proven to be one of the best breeds for sled pulling and the ideal dog for sled pulling in the snow.Do Alaskan sled dogs sleep outside? ›
House dogs often sleep on a fluffy pillow bed, but sled dogs in Alaska have their own little huts outside.How many Huskies does it take to pull a sled? ›
How many dogs run in a team? The teams generally consist of 4 to 6 dogs for solo sleighs and 8 to 12 dogs for paired or family sleighs, depending on the safari, the conditions, the experience and strength of the musher and the overall weight in the sleigh.
What is the greatest sled dog ever? ›
Though Balto often gets the credit for saving the town of Nome, it was Togo, a Siberian Husky, who led his team across the most dangerous leg of the journey. Named after Heihachiro Togo, a Japanese Admiral who fought in the war between Russia and Japan (1904-05), Togo was the lead sled dog of Leonhard Seppala.At what age can a husky pull a sled? ›
The dog must be fully grown before starting any heavy or long traction. For sled dogs, this is between 18 and 24 months.Can a husky jump a 6ft fence? ›
To summarize, while the average height that a husky can jump is around four feet, some huskies have been known to reach heights of six feet or more. Whether it's chasing prey or just playing, huskies are truly athletic wonders and their jumping abilities are a testament to their strength and agility.Do huskies like to be hugged? ›
Huskies love to cuddle with their owners and be petted. They are a very happy and social breed of dog and enjoy human interaction.Is A husky loyal? ›
The Siberian Husky is described as mischievous, loyal, and outgoing, and those who love them would certainly agree.How aggressive can a Husky be? ›
Huskies are not an aggressive breed. They don't get aggressive toward other dogs unless cornered. Huskies can get aggressive when protecting their favorite toy or food from other dogs. They can also be aggressive if they feel intimidated by the other dogs.Can you stop a Husky from pulling? ›
Instead, if you feel your Husky start to pull you in one direction, you can plant your feet and not move, waiting until he returns to you. Or, if he is stronger than you, turn and walk the opposite way. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way he wanted to.Do huskies get jealous? ›
They can be jealous and demand your undivided attention if they feel that they do not have it or no longer have it.Do huskies like to sleep with their owners? ›
According to Pet Keen, dogs indeed do love sleeping with their owners, and while there are many reasons for this, some experts speculate it is because of the security and comfort that being near their owner provides.Why do huskies get abandoned? ›
More than a few have been surrendered to shelters because they chased or killed the family cat, or killed chickens or other small animals. Unfortunately, some have also attacked or killed a smaller family dog. Not all huskies have this strong of a prey drive, and some do coexist with smaller breed dogs.
Why are sled dogs always chained up? ›
The main benefit of the chain system is that when the dogs live on chains, they learn how to untangle themselves very easily. This is very important for the development of the young dogs since they then have less risk of seriously injuring themselves if they become tangled in the lines when running.What happens to sled dogs when they get old? ›
Although some rescue groups exist for retired sled dogs, such as The August Foundation for Alaska's Racing Dogs, some mushers choose not to adopt out their dogs. While it's unclear where the dogs end up, DeNure said it's likely they're killed — or “culled” as some describe it.How far can sled dogs run without stopping? ›
Sled dogs have been known to travel over 90 mi (145 km) in a 24 hour period while pulling 85 lb (39 kg) each. The endurance races of the most famous sledge dogs take place in North America.How fast can a husky sled go? ›
Modern-day sled dogs travel at an average of 20 mph over shorter distances, and 10 to 14 mph on longer distances. Even in poor trail conditions, sled dogs can manage 6 to 7 miles per hour.Are sled dogs loyal? ›
Alaskan Sled Dogs
Two of the most common sled dogs used in Alaska are the Siberian Husky (pictured above) and the Alaskan Malamute. Huskies are known as energetic dogs while malamutes have a calmer demeanor, but both are incredibly loyal dogs that owners often fall in love with.
Generally speaking, shaving a dog in the summer ranges from unnecessary to an outright bad idea. The ASPCA advises against it for most breeds—and that's especially true of huskies.Why do sled dogs feet not freeze? ›
Dog paws don't freeze because the arrangement of blood vessels beneath the animals' skin keeps the temperature just right, the scientists report. The arrangement helps the animal hold on to body heat, which might otherwise be easily lost through their hairless paws.Why are sled dogs no longer used? ›
Under the laws of some states, commercial dog sledding practices would be considered criminally cruel. In California, for example, the state criminal anti-cruelty law makes it a crime to inflict needless suffering or unnecessary cruelty upon an animal—including by overworking an animal.Do sled dogs live longer? ›
Sled dogs generally live longer than most breeds of similar sizes for several reasons: 1. Exercise. Their active lifestyle is a huge contributor to their long lifespan.What is the leader of a dog sled called? ›
Each sled dog team has a lead dog, or in some cases two lead dogs. Lead Dogs (like the famous Balto) are fast and intelligent, and must be able to set the pace and direct the team effectively. Directly behind the lead dogs are Swing Dogs, who help “swing” the team in the turns or curves.
Are sled dogs male or female? ›
A dog's gender matters little -- both male and female dogs are considered equally. For racing, the most intelligent and fastest dogs are picked to be lead dogs and run in the front of the pack. Behind them run swing dogs, whose job is to direct the team around turns and curves.How long do sled dogs live? ›
The "average" career of a sled dog at Bush Alaska is probably 8-10 years - sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less - and most of them live to ripe old ages after they retire. They often live 14-16 years... quite old for big dogs!Do sled dogs enjoy pulling sleds? ›
Dog body language is easy to read for those who spend time around them. Those who operate sustainable and ethical dog sled operations can see that dogs love to run. When well cared for, the dogs enjoy the dog sledding as much as we do.What is the difference between a Siberian Husky and an Alaskan husky? ›
Alaskan huskies are not purebred dogs according to the AKC, while Siberian huskies are. Siberian Huskies are usually larger than Alaskan huskies, with longer coats and more variety of both coat and eye colors. Alaskan huskies and Siberian huskies are bred for different lifestyles over time.What is the fastest sled dog breed? ›
The Alaskan Husky isn't a purebred, but a mix between the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and other breeds like Greyhounds, Border Collies, and Hounds. These dogs are bred to make fast and enthusiastic sled dogs.How many miles can sled dogs go in a day? ›
On poor trail conditions, sled dogs can still usually average 6 or 7 mph (9.7 or 11 km/h). Sled dogs have been known to travel over 90 mi (145 km) in a 24 hour period while pulling 85 lb (39 kg) each.What temperature is safe to walk a husky? ›
It's generally safe in temperatures of up to 19°C (68°F) but be careful when the mercury rises above this. Even at temperatures as low as 20°C (70°F) dogs are at risk of heat stroke.Why is it so hard to train a husky? ›
Huskies are not easy to train and will challenge first-time dog owners. The reason for this is in the breed history – Huskies were bred to pull sleds in harnesses over long distances. The breed was not developed to work closely with their owner. Instead, they were bred for endurance and athletic ability.How far can a Husky run without stopping? ›
A Siberian Husky can run up to 150 miles a day with an average speed of 9 to 10 miles per hour.Will an invisible fence stop a Husky? ›
Because of this reputation, pet parents often ask us: “Can a hidden fence really work for my Siberian Husky?” Yes, it can! For over 30 years, DogWatch Dealers have been training Siberian Huskies, Husky mixes, Alaskan Malamutes and more to stay in their yards with our hidden fences.
How do I keep my Husky in my yard? ›
Place your Husky on a leash and walk along the border of your yard. Always stay within the boundaries you expect your Husky to stay in once he is trained. Try to keep your training sessions distraction-free so he can stay focused on expectations.Why does my husky growl at me? ›
Threat or Fear
This type of growl with a low volume and a deep, rumbling sound usually happens when a dog feels scared, possessive, or threatened. It is a warning growl that indicates their discomfort in a particular situation.
A husky will try to show you affection by initiating physical contact. This may happen when they lean against you, or even if they rub against you when they walk by. And some huskies will even try to plop down in your lap.Do huskies know when you kiss them? ›
Really, the first question to ask is whether dogs understand kisses from people. It turns out that while dogs are pretty good at recognizing human emotions, they don't instinctively know what kisses are.What are huskies weaknesses? ›
Degenerative Myelopathy. Degenerative myelopathy is a neurologic condition, similar to ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease in people, that causes weakness and poor nerve function in the hind legs. It affects Huskies more frequently than other breeds.Are huskies one person dogs? ›
The Siberian Husky is not a one-person dog. Nor is he a guard dog. He might let you know someone is around, but he has no concept of protecting you. The Siberian is a friendly and gentle dog who is not overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive toward other dogs.Can a husky become aggressive? ›
Huskies are not an aggressive breed. They don't get aggressive toward other dogs unless cornered. Huskies can get aggressive when protecting their favorite toy or food from other dogs. They can also be aggressive if they feel intimidated by the other dogs.Is Husky aggressive or not? ›
Are Husky dangerous? Huskies are not an aggressive or dangerous dog breed. They were not developed to guard or defend their property or owner.Are huskies hard to train? ›
Huskies are not easy to train and will challenge first-time dog owners. The reason for this is in the breed history – Huskies were bred to pull sleds in harnesses over long distances. The breed was not developed to work closely with their owner. Instead, they were bred for endurance and athletic ability.Why is my husky growling at me? ›
Dogs will give a warning growl in situations involving things like resource guarding, stranger danger, feeling cornered, or feeling stressed. Dogs use these warning growls to communicate to you or another animal to “back off” because they are uncomfortable.
Why does my husky growl at me when I pet him? ›
It simply means they're having a great time. Your dog might even growl during a particularly pleasing cuddle or patting session. Many dogs growl talk to communicate contentment or as a greeting. These types of growls simply indicate happiness.What is the most naturally aggressive dog? ›
Pit bulls, rottweilers, dobermans are all considered aggressive dogs, while labs and corgis are supposed to be fun and docile.Are Husky dogs jealous? ›
They can be jealous and demand your undivided attention if they feel that they do not have it or no longer have it.Do huskies have behavior issues? ›
Your Siberian Husky may howl, whine or otherwise vocalize his displeasure at your leaving the house and his being left alone. This is a normal case of separation anxiety, but there are things that can be done to eliminate this problem.Is A Husky loyal? ›
The Siberian Husky is described as mischievous, loyal, and outgoing, and those who love them would certainly agree.How do you get a Husky to obey you? ›
- Use simple one-word commands and say them only once. ...
- Never correct your dog for something he did minutes earlier. ...
- Always praise (and offer a treat ) as soon as your puppy does something good (or stops doing something naughty). ...
- Be consistent.
You are your dog's closet companion, and being close to you means food, safety, and happiness. On the flip side, being separated from you may mean anxiety or distress. You're their pack now—and for some dogs, that means not letting anything, not even the pesky bathroom door, come between you.Do Huskies obey their owners? ›
Huskies are stubborn by nature. They are intelligent and don't need humans to think for them and they are truly independent thinkers. While they may comply with basic commands, the Husky is more of a free spirit with selective hearing. They tend to cooperate, if you're lucky, more than obey.Do Huskies want to please their owners? ›
Siberian Huskies are very intelligent and independent. This is often interpreted as severe stubbornness. They do not always strive to please their owners, unlike many other breeds. Obedience training is a MUST, as is extreme patience.