Last Updated: April 12, 2021
The Alaskan Husky is actually technically not a purebred dog but is rather a blend of various Northern dog breeds such as the sprint Alaskans, Mackenzie River husky and the distance Alaskans, selected for being efficient sled dogs. It has though been around in some form for many years as a working dog and is better at endurance for sled pulling than the Siberian Huskies even. It also makes a good companion, as long as it gets is working needs met it can be gentle, loyal, loving and social. It is a Medium to Large Dog and has a life span of 10 to 15 years.
|The Alaskan Husky at a Glance|
|Average size||Medium to Large|
|Average weight||35 to 60 pounds|
|Average height||20 to 26 inches|
|Life span||10 to 15 years|
|Coat type||Dense undercoat and short to medium outercoat|
|Color||Any color or markings including black, blonde, white, orange and grey|
|Popularity||Not a registered member of the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Moderate to average|
|Tolerance to cold||Excellent|
|Shedding||Average with twice a year heavy seasonal shedding|
|Drooling||Low to moderate|
|Obesity||Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised|
|Grooming/brushing||Average – brush twice a week but during heavy seasonal times brush daily|
|Exercise needs||High – needs to be a working dog or with very active owners|
|Trainability||Easy to moderately easy|
|Friendliness||Very good – social with socialization|
|Good first dog||No – best with owners with experience|
|Good family pet||Very good with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good to excellent with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate to good, socialization is essential as smaller pets can trigger prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Very good with socialization|
|Good apartment dog||Low – needs space and a yard at the least|
|Handles alone time well||Low – requires social interaction either with you or with other dogs|
|Health issues||Fairly healthy but some potential issues can include Hypothyroidism, eye problems, congenital deformation of the larynx and stomach and bowel issues|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$235 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$265 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license|
|Average annual expenses||$985 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,200|
|Rescue organizations||Husky Rescue Alaska, Heartland Husky Rescue, Arctic Rescue and more, also check local shelters and rescues|
|Biting Statistics||None under Alaskan Husky but under just Husky – Attacks Doing Bodily Harm: 83 Child Victims: 51 Deaths: 26 Maimings: 27|
The Alaskan Husky’s Beginnings
The Alaskan Husky has its origins in the Native Village dog from Canada and Alaska which is a bit taller than other Eskimo Village dogs, which makes them better at performing other tasks as well as being good sled pullers. Mushers developed them to help in various roles such as supply delivering, log hauling, racing and transportation. Dogs found in local villages were used to create Alaskan Huskies that had traits different owners wanted like stamina, size, speed, feet and coat type. As a result it is not technically a purebred but its type has been around for many years.
Since there has been no standard drawn for this dog it there are really no restrictions on what its ancestry can be. It tended to be a mix of various types of Nordic dogs in the past but more recently other European dogs have also been introduced like hounds or pointers like the German Shorthaired Pointers. The latter kind may have improved in racing but the downside to this mix is their coats are thinner so they are not as well adjusted to the cold and have to wear coats and booties. Racing dogs have been bred for distance racing which can be anything from 50 to 1000 miles in length, or mid distance racing which can be anything from 20 to 250 miles in length.
New Lease on Life
As the Alaskan Husky is an example of planner breeding it is still a pedigree dog, it is just not completely purebred. For this reason probably they are not recognized by the AKC or CKC. In most cases they are bred today for working purposes still and for sledding and racing of some kind. It is rare they are kept as just a pet unless it has been rescued. This is the top dog for dog sled racing and the top performing dogs can be worth several thousands of dollars as a result. There is no breed club for the Alaskan Husky.
The Dog You See Today
In general people think of the racing Alaskan Husky in terms of size which ranges from 35 to 60 pounds in weight and 20 to 26 inches in height. The working huskies though are larger and can reach up to 80 pounds and start at about 50 pounds. As there is a mix of dogs from one breeder to another depending on what kind of traits they want to bring out, there is quite a mix in its appearance too. They tend to have a lean body though, long legs and a deep chest. Some look quite like the Siberian Husky but different colors and leaner and smaller. Some are wolf like but some look more like one of the dogs they have been mixed with.
Most have ears that are erect and pointy but some have ears that fold at the tip or fold over completely. Eye colors vary depending on coat colors, they can be blue or brown or even one color in each eye. Its coat can be short to medium in length (it should not be long) and can be any mix of colors or patterns. The undercoat is dense to protect it from the cold and outer coat tends to be coarse.
The Inner Alaskan Husky
With a variety of mixes possible temperament can vary as much as appearance but in general they are hard working, affectionate, loyal and determined. They are pack oriented so need lots of companionship from either other dogs or from its human family. It needs owners who are experienced, it is not a breed for a novice owner at all. It also needs you to be home more than out, and needs very active owners if not being kept to work or sled with. It will not be happy being left alone for long periods of time. It is at its happiest when it is kept for its purpose and acts as a companion alongside that.
Alaskan Huskies tend to be very focused and disciplined but it does like to have a wander! It is intelligent and active and thrives most when it has a role to play. It gets along well with people with socialization, it is gentle and social and loves the attention they bring. It has a playful side to it too and has a very cheerful and happy nature. It is loving towards its family and enjoys a good cuddle and is good with strangers being so easy going. Because of this though it is not a good watchdog as it wants to make friends with everyone.
Living with an Alaskan Husky
What will training look like?
This is a very intelligent dog type and when handled properly it will respond well to training and should be moderately easy or even easy. The proper approach though is key, you need to be firm, confident and consistent with it, make it clear you are the pack leader at all times. Start the training from a young age and you well be able to prevent bad habits from developing. Also start socialization from a young age too so that it knows how to respond appropriately to different people, sounds, places, situations, animals and such. Use positive training methods and keep its sessions frequent and short rather than long and boring! These dogs can be independent minded and without a strong willed approach to handling some can be stubborn which can slow things down.
How active is the Alaskan Husky?
As mentioned Alaskan Huskies are extremely energetic and active and really should be kept for sledding and working as this is what they were developed for, and are happiest doing. If you have one as just a companion though it is possible to keep it happy and healthy as long as you are very active and enjoy it. This dog needs a home not an apartment, one that comes with a large yard or even better some land. It is very athletic and has a lot of endurance and stamina. As well as needing a lot of physical activity it also needs mental activity and challenge. It is great in cold climates but should be monitored in warmer ones. It will need two long and brisk walks a day, play with you, preferable a role or work to undertake along with regular opportunities during the week for off leash run time somewhere safe. It can also be trained to join you for long hikes, runs, cycling and even swimming. Be warned they can jump surprisingly high so make your fences tall enough or they will get out!
Caring for the Alaskan Husky
The Alaskan Husky has moderate grooming needs, it does shed an average amount at usual times so brushing will be needed about twice a week. It sheds more heavily twice a year and has blow outs when large clumps of hair falls out. At this time daily brushing will be needed and cleaning up hair around the home will be a larger chore. In colder climates the shedding is more manageable. It is a self cleaning coat so needs little bathing, only do so with a dog shampoo when it really needs it so you do not damage the natural oils in it.
Its teeth should be brushed at least twice a week or even daily if it allows it. Start young using a toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs and it will be less difficult. Its nails should be clipped if it does not wear them down outside naturally. You can do it yourself just do not go too far down as there will be bleeding and pain. Also examine the ears once a week for redness, irritation, wax build up and other signs of infection. You should then give them a clean by wiping with a damp cloth, or with a cotton ball and ear cleaner. Do not push anything into the ears, this could damage them.
The Alaskan Husky is such an active breed that it may need more food than other dogs of a similar size and it should certainly be fed a high quality dry food that is full of nutrients and not fillers. Other factors that can impact the amount is its metabolism rate, level of activity, age, health and size. It is likely the range will be 3 to 4 cups of dry dog food split into at least two meals. Make sure it has access to water at all times that is kept as fresh as possible.
How is the Alaskan Husky with children and other animals?
The Alaskan Husky is very good with children with socialization and when raised with them, it is playful and energetic but also gentle and loving. Around smaller children supervision is a good idea, especially when it is a puppy as it may knock them over with its energy levels by accident. Be sure they are taught how to properly approach, play and touch it. It is also a pack animal and gets on well with other dogs. However it can have a strong prey drive and smaller non-canine pets can trigger that so socialization is essential and sometime even then they will still give chase.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Alaskan Husky is quite a healthy dog but some issues can include eye problems, hypothyroidism, stomach and bowel problems, congenital deformation of the larynx and hip dysplasia. Its life span is about 10 to 15 years.
When looking at statistics concerning reported dog attacks on people over the last 35 years in North America, the Alaskan Husky is not directly mentioned. However there is mention of just a Husky which is reported to have been involved in a total of 83 attacks that did bodily harm. 27 were maimings, with the victims left being disfigured, permanent scarring or had loss of limb. 51 were children and 26 of the total attacks resulted in a person’s death. This puts it in the top 10% of dog attacks. There was also a heading for Husky mixes, 7 in total, 3 more child victims, 5 maimings and 1 death. It is not made clear what type of Husky was responsible or if all husky types have been put into one category. The Alaska Husky is not your everyday companion. It has strong needs in terms of leadership, attention, work and activity. It also needs good socialization and training. Make sure you can take on this dog before you bring one home.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
The Alaskan Husky can range in cost by quite a bit depending on where you get it from. You can find adverts for puppies from as little as $300 but these are not places or people you should be buying from. Places like ignorant breeders, pet stores or puppy mills should not be helped to stay in business. To get a decent dog from a decent breeder you are going to start at prices around $1200. But for top sled breeders that is going up into multiple thousands of dollars even into 5 figure sums. Sometimes they can be found at local shelters or rescues and there are some husky specific places around to check out. Adoption costs run from $50 to $400.
Once you have found your husky there are some initial costs to spend on like items it will need (crate, carrier, collar, leash, bowls, bedding and such) when it is home. These will be around $220. There are also some medical checks and tests to have done by a vet once it is settled. Spaying or neutering possibly, blood tests, a physical examination, shots, deworming and micro chipping will all cost about $290.
Then there are the costs to care for your pet over the years. Feeding it a good quality dry dog food and treats will be around $235 a year. Miscellaneous costs like license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys are another $265 or so a year. Then just basic health care like flea and tick prevetion, shots, check ups and of course savings for emergencies or pet insurance is another $485 a year. This gives an estimated annual cost for the Alaskan Husky of $985. If you are racing it, those costs will be a lot more.
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The Alaskan Husky is for the most part a great working dog and sled dog, kept in colder climates and terrific at dog sled racing. It is not technically a purebred but its type has been around longer than some actual purebreds have! It is an attractive dog and that can draw people to it when they are not really the most compatible of owners. If you are not keeping it for its traditional purpose make sure you can commit to a lot of activity every day and that the shedding in warmer months is not something you cannot live with. It is a happy, loving and loyal dog but it is not a watchdog.
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.
- The Alaskan Husky’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Alaskan Husky
- Living with an Alaskan Husky
- Caring for the Alaskan Husky
- How is the Alaskan Husky with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag