|Country of origin
|United States (Alaska)
|Classification and breed standards
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Alaskan husky is not so much a
dog as it is a type or a
category. It falls short of being a breed in that there is no preferred type and
no restriction as to ancestry; it is defined only by its purpose, which is that
of a highly efficient sled
dog. That said, dog drivers usually distinguish between the Alaskan husky
and “hound crosses”, so perhaps there is informal recognition that the Alaskan
husky is expected to display a degree of northern dog type.
The Alaskan is the sled dog of choice for world-class
competition. None of the purebred northern breeds can match it for sheer racing
speed. Demanding speed-racing events such as the
Fairbanks (Alaska) Open North American Championship and the Anchorage Fur
Rendezvous are invariably won by teams of Alaskan huskies, or
of Alaskans crossed with hounds
or gundogs. Hounds are
valued for their toughness and endurance. Winning speeds often average more than
19 miles per hour over three days' racing at 20 to 30 miles each day. On the
rare occasion when purebred teams are entered in such races, they nearly always
Alaskan huskies that fulfill the demanding performance standards of
world-class dogsled racing can be extremely valuable. A top-level racing lead
dog can bring $10,000-15,000. Conversely, dogs that fail to perform effectively
are worth nothing, and the high levels of
culling practiced in many
kennels are strongly condemned with
The Alaskan husky is basically a
dog, in which northern or ancestry, such as the
or the traditional Alaskan village dog, predominates. Many other breeds have
contributed to its genetic makeup, from
staghound and foxhound
to greyhound and
accounts for the Alaskan's great variability of appearance.
Alaskan huskies (at least those used for speed racing) are moderate in size,
averaging perhaps 46 to 50 pounds for males and 38 to 42 pounds for females.
They often resemble racing strains of the
breed (which is undeniably a major component of the Alaskan husky genetic mix)
but are usually taller and leggier with more pronounced tuck-up.
Colour and markings are a matter of total indifference to racing drivers;
hence the husky may be of any possible canine colour and any pattern of
markings. Eyes may be of any colour and, as in the Siberian Husky, are often
light blue. Coats are almost always short to medium in length, never long, and
usually less dense than the coats of northern purebreds; coat length is governed
by the need for effective heat dissipation while racing.
In very cold conditions, Alaskans often race in “dog coats” or belly
protectors. Particularly in long distance races, these dogs often require “dog
booties” to protect their feet from abrasion and cracking. Thus the
considerations of hardiness and climate resistance prevalent in breeds such as
Canadian Inuit Dog are subordinated in the Alaskan husky to the overriding
consideration of functional capability. The Alaskan huskies lack the dense coat
required to keep them warm, and they are not as hardy as Siberians, often
requiring extra care on the trails.
Andre Nadeau says this is the reason his Siberians did so well in the 1998
where he led nearly the whole race until being passed by a team of Alaskan
Dogs are bred for stamina, strength, speed, and endurance. It is essential
for a sled dog to want to work. And for dogs meeting many new people, the dogs
must not be aggressive towards people. (Source: personal communication, Paul
Reid, owner of Chocpaw Expeditions in Ontario)
Alaskan huskies are very popular as pets in Alaska, where they are relatively
easy to obtain from professional dogsled racers. Puppies judged to be unfit for
racing are regularly culled, and as a result they are often available free to
any good home. Older dogs which have outlived their usefulness as racing dogs
make excellent pets for people willing to exercise them regularly. Older
ex-racers tend to be very alert and well behaved, as well as somewhat less
energetic than their younger counterparts.
Young huskies make good pets if given plenty of space to run and play, but
their high demand for exercise and activity makes them a poor choice for urban
residents. In the Alaskan cities of
Anchorage and Fairbanks the large number of trails and extensive open space make
it easy to ensure plenty of free running; in contrast the relative lack of large
open areas in Juneau makes them somewhat more difficult to exercise.
If multiple huskies are kept in the same lot they tend to be very vocal,
howling and barking at each other and any other dogs in the vicinity. In crowded
neighborhoods this can be a very irritating nuisance to neighbors, especially
other dog owners. They are also accomplished diggers, and will tunnel underneath
fences and houses to hunt burrowing animals and to escape their enclosures.
Huskies make extremely poor household dogs. They shed heavily during the
spring and are extremely active, running in circles inside a house when bored or
cramped. If left alone inside a dwelling for long periods they will tear things
apart out of boredom. They also enjoy hunting small animals which can be a
nuisance if rats or mice are in the walls or basement, since the husky will
constantly scratch and tear at the walls and floors.
In Alaska they are occasionally killed by wild
moose in the winter, since
moose will enter human areas in search of winter browse of willows and mountain
ash. True to their wolf ancestors, huskies tend not to back down from such
encounters, and an angry moose can easily stomp and kick several dogs causing
severe injuries. Professional dogsled racers always surround their lots with
very high fences to prevent moose from causing havoc.
The Alaskan Husky generally lives for a period of 16-23 years.
The most common Mix-breed that makes up the Alaskan Husky line, is that of a
Siberian Husky & Alaskan Malamute. Both are strong and hearty northern breed
dogs, with thousand of years of breeding and history in the north country.
Future of the husky
Various attempts have been made in the past to organise breeders of Alaskan
huskies and to establish a registry for these dogs; such attempts have never
received significant support. Although husky kennels tend to be large, with many
kennels harbouring over a hundred dogs, and the breed population arguably in
excess of one hundred thousand, this canine variety remains an informal and
unregistered category of dog.
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