“What breed is that?”
If you’re the proud pet parent of an Alaskan Husky, this is a question you’re probably going to hear a lot. Often confused with the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky, or a cross between the two, the Alaskan Husky is actually none of the above.
Instead, this unique canine is a sled dog with a history, personality, and care requirements all their own. There’s a lot to learn if you’re thinking of welcoming an Alaskan Husky into your life, so let’s check out some of the amazing facts you need to know about these delightful dogs.
1. The Alaskan Husky isn’t a recognized breed
The next time someone asks you what breed your dog is, you can tell them that, technically, the Alaskan Husky isn’t a breed at all. In reality, the term “Alaskan Husky” refers to a category of dog bred purely for their impressive ability as sled dogs.
Alaskan Huskies were developed from a variety of breeds, including the Siberian Husky, the German Shorthaired Pointer, and other Spitz-type breeds. These dogs weren’t bred to achieve a specific look — they were bred to pull sleds, and to do it all day long.
As a result, the Alaskan Husky isn’t a purebred like the Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute. The Alaskan isn’t recognized by major kennel organizations like the American Kennel Club, and you’ll never see an Alaskan Husky in the show ring.
2. Alaskan Huskies are working dogs
From their nose to their tail, the Alaskan Husky was bred to work. Developed by mushers in Alaska, these remarkable dogs were developed to be the most effective sled dogs around.
This means they’re not only capable of impressive feats of endurance, but they’re also strong and fast runners. The Husky’s natural instinct is to run and pull, so pastimes and sports like backpacking, sledding, and skijoring should put a big smile on your dog’s face.
3. Looks vary from one Alaskan Husky to the next
In the purebred dog world, conformation is key. Dogs are bred to conform with a specific look as set out in the official breed standard.
But when it comes to Alaskan Huskies, there’s no such thing as an official breed standard. These dogs are bred to be the ultimate athletes, not to look a certain way, so one Alaskan Husky can look very different to the next.
Alaskan Huskies are generally medium-sized dogs. They weigh somewhere between 35 and 60 pounds, have pricked ears, and boast a thick undercoat to provide protection against the cold.
After that, their appearance can vary widely. The Alaskan’s coat can come in a wide range of colors and patterns, which is perhaps why many people find them so difficult to identify at first glance.
4. These dogs need to stay active
If you’re looking for a dog to share your couch potato lifestyle, the Alaskan Husky is not the pooch for you. Remember, this is a dog bred to run, run, and run some more, so don’t expect them to be happy just lazing around the house all day.
Instead, Alaskans need the chance to run every single day. They'll thrive with owners who embrace an active lifestyle, and they'll quickly resort to escape attempts and destructive behavior if left alone in a backyard all day long.
So if you’re searching for an enthusiastic hiking or jogging companion, or even a dog that can excel at a wide range of dog sports, the Alaskan Husky is a “pawsome” choice.
5. They love people
Alaskan Huskies may love to run more than just about anything else in the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of affection to share with their people. Alaskans are good-natured, loving, and always up for a snuggle. In fact, these dogs love nothing more than spending time with their families.
They’ll quickly become miserable if left to their own devices, so make sure you include your dog in as many activities and outings as possible.
6. They also love the cold
It probably goes without saying that a dog native to Alaska is right at home in cold climates. With their dense double coats, these dogs are well prepared to survive in freezing conditions, making them a good choice for pet parents in colder parts of the country. At the same time, they’re not suited to life in hot and humid climates for obvious reasons.
Once summer arrives, it’s best to avoid the hottest part of the day when exercising your Alaskan Husky. This will reduce the risk of heatstroke.
7. Alaskan Huskies are smart…
If you’ve ever seen a pack of sled dogs doing their thing, you won’t be surprised to learn that intelligence is another of the Alaskan Husky’s hallmark features. These are smart dogs capable of learning a wide range of commands, so don’t even think about applying the “dumb jock” stereotype here.
This intelligent nature means that regular mental stimulation is a “mutts-have” for your furry friend. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and frequent outings will all help keep your pup’s mind sharp and prevent boredom setting in.
8. ...but they’re not what you’d call easy to train
Given that Alaskan Huskies are intelligent and generally quite eager to please, you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re easy to train. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
Alaskan Huskies are well known for having minds of their own and sometimes being a little stubborn, so it’s a good idea to start training your puppy early to help overcome this independent streak. Right from the very first day you welcome an Alaskan Husky puppy into your home, make training part of your daily routine.
Positive reinforcement produces the best results, while patience is also a virtue. Keep your sessions short and fun to avoid excessive repetition, and remember to socialize your dog with other pets, people, and unfamiliar situations while they’re still a puppy.
It may take a little while for your pup to learn the lay of the land, but they’ll soon come to understand that following your instructions always leads to good things.
9. Alaskan Huskies aren’t suitable for novice pet parents
Many first-time pet parents are surprised to learn about the level of work involved in caring for a dog. So if you’re looking for your first dog, we’d recommend searching for a breed that’s a little less high-maintenance than the Alaskan Husky.
Alaskans need patient training and a whole lot of exercise, so they’re only really suited to experienced dog people.
10. Alaskan Huskies make wonderful companions — but only for the right people
Alaskan Huskies are beautiful, remarkable, and affectionate dogs, and they’ve got plenty of love to share with their humans. But they’re not conventional family pets.
Alaskans were born to work and can happily run all day long. While they can also make delightful companions, they’ll only be happy when paired with an owner who ensures that their needs for exercise, mental stimulation, and lots of human company are met.
Of course, if you can tick all those boxes, this amazing Alaskan might just be your ideal pet.