Alaskan Huskies are headstrong and hard-working dogs with an iconic wolf-like appearance. While many people are familiar with Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, the Alaskan Husky is a more elusive breed that’s a common source of confusion.
These dogs are not officially recognized by any kennel club. Thus, there are no strict breed standards. Pair that with their similar appearance to other arctic dog breeds and you’ll find a lot of varying information out there about Alaskan Huskies. Some dog owners are adamant about the distinctness differences Alaskan Huskies have while others believe they are nothing more than a unique crossbreed.
Whatever the case may be, these dogs are wonderful canines to raise. However, like any dog breed, it’s important to consider how these pups will fit into your life before you start thinking about adoption. Because there are no breed standards, it’s more important than ever to learn about what these dogs need to stay healthy and happy.
The History Of The Alaskan Husky
You’re not going to find a ton of information about Alaskan Huskies specifically. As we mentioned, these dogs aren’t recognized as a purebred. Thus, lineage and pedigree information is sparse.
To better understand where these dogs come from, you have to look at Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Several genetic studies have shown that these three dog breeds all share similar ancestors.
These dogs all have a very long history of working for humans. They were sled dogs for the Paleo-Eskimo people. The Paleo-Eskimo people predate modern Intuit people and inhabited fairly large arctic regions. They lived in areas stretching from modern-day East Russia to Greenland.
Back then, Alaskan Huskies and other arctic dog breeds worked hard to pull sleds and protect humans. Fast forward several thousand years and they can still be found doing the same thing! You can find them pulling sleds, attending sporting events, and more throughout Alaska. Of course, they’re also beloved pets for dog owners around the globe.
The modern Alaskan Husky is believed to be a crossbreed of several different breeds. In addition to Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, it’s theorized that these dogs share some genetic data with German Shorthaired Pointers, German Shepherds, and Salukis.
Currently, the Alaskan Husky is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, commonly referred to as the AKC.
So, if you’re thinking about getting an Alaskan Husky puppy, you need to do your research! Stick with reputable breeders that have an established reputation for rearing puppies. This will ensure that you’re getting a healthy companion with an identifiable bloodline. You can also find several rescues across the country that focus on Alaskan Huskies.
Types of Alaskan Husky Dogs
There are a few different kinds of Alaskan Huskies that you can get. You may find puppies that are born from crossbreeding Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Alternatively, you can find pups that are born from two Alaskan Husky parents.
Typically, the latter pups come from established bloodlines, making it easier to get information about possible health issues and potential genetic issues. Breeders will often focus on core traits as well to raise pups that are built for specific tasks.
For example, breeders may have working lines and racing lines. Dogs from working lines are built to pull dog sled. They are working sled dogs that need a lot of endurance and muscle. Meanwhile, racing dogs are all about agility and speed. These pups are raised to compete in long-distance sled dog race events, such as the Iditarod.
Generally, racing dogs are smaller and lighter than working dogs.
Alaskan Husky Temperament
Any owner of an Eskimo dog will tell you that these pups are anything but boring! Despite their serious looks, they’re very sociable creatures that want nothing more than to play. They do best in large packs. Their pack doesn’t just have to be dogs!
Alaskan Huskies do very well in family settings. As long as they are well-trained and socialized at a young age, you shouldn’t encounter any issues when it comes to aggression. Of course, you should always exercise caution with children. All kids in your family need to understand their limits so that they don’t bring out any unwanted behaviors. Even still, it’s best to never leave a large dog like the Alaskan Husky alone with young kids without any supervision.
For the most part, Alaskan Huskies get along with everyone. As always, early socialization is key. All dogs are a product of their environment, so how they react to strangers is largely dependent on how they are raised. Well-trained dogs are more than happy to play with strangers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them the best watchdog.
These dogs are prone to destructive behavior. However, that’s only ever an issue when they are not getting their needs met. Alaskan Huskies are highly active and very energetic. Thus, they’re not going to fit in with a family that’s not home for several hours a day. They require plenty of exercise to keep them occupied. Otherwise, they could turn to destructive behavior to stave off boredom.
Intelligence and Training
Another big perk of Alaskan Husky dogs is that they are very smart. They take to training well and have been known to show signs of great intelligence. Many dog owners go the extra mile and implement mental stimulation training. Unlike other breeds, the Alaskan Husky can handle it.
That said, all that intelligence can create some minor problems along the way. Like the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, Alaskan Huskies are almost too smart for their own good. They are notorious escape artists. Simple fences are no match for these dogs, so you need to be extra cautious about keeping them contained.
Furthermore, Alaskan Huskies are very independent. Unlike other dogs that live to please, these canine companions like to take a second to think about commands and whether or not they want to do them. If you ever get a chance, watch a musher or Alaskan Husky trainer try to tell these dogs what to do. They will eventually complete the task at hand, but oftentimes you can see the wheels turning in their head. They may take their sweet time or begrudgingly follow the course.
We recommend using some positive reinforcement training. Like any other dog, Alaskan Huskies respond better to treats and rewards rather than hard discipline. With Alaskan Huskies, the promise of a treat is a great way to get over that independent thinking issues. They’ll happily do what you say if you have a tasty treat on hand!
Another big thing to think about is the social rules of Alaskan Huskies and other sledding dogs. As we mentioned, these dogs are sociable creatures who thrive in packs. Typically, they will follow the orders of their pack leader. When you’re training your dog, it’s important to think of yourself as their pack leader. This doesn’t mean that you have to be mean or abusive. Instead, it’s about establishing your authority and having some conviction behind your commands. Adopting this mindset will help your dog view you as their pack leader, which can help to put some of those training issues to rest.
Alaskan Husky Characteristics
Size and Weight
Alaskan Huskies are considered to be medium-large dogs. They’re not absolutely massive, but they are bigger than what most people think. A good way to picture these dogs is to think of them as the middle point between Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes in terms of size.
The average weight of an Alaskan Husky is somewhere between 35 and 80 pounds. That’s a pretty big range. Their final adult weight will vary based on their bloodline.
Working dogs that are bred to pull heavy loads tend to be on the larger side. Their muscles are bigger and they exhibit some impressive signs of strength. On average, they will weigh between 50 and 80 pounds. Meanwhile, racing dogs are between 35 and 60 pounds. These pups are much leaner and have stronger leg muscles. Unlike Border Collies and Greyhounds, these pups are long-distance runners. They are bred for endurance rather than speed or power. Thus, they stay on the smaller side of the spectrum.
As with any other dog breed, females are smaller than males. That said, they still have the same energy and strength as their brothers.
At first glance, it’s easy to mistake these dogs for wolves. They have all the hallmarks of wild canines. This includes the erect pointed ears, the thick coats of fur, and the strong snout. However, these dogs are much smaller and have some distinct characteristics that set them apart.
Their bodies are lean and more slender than Alaskan Malamutes and wolves. They also have fluffy tails and diamond-shaped eyes. Speaking of the eyes, you’ll notice that most Alaskan Huskies have brown eyes. Some are blessed with icy blue peepers, but most will have brown eyes. In fact, many puppies start out with blue eyes. However, they will turn into a darker hazel hue as the dog gets older. Blue-eyed pups tend to be rare among Alaskan Husky breeders and fetch a pretty penny.
Alaskan Huskies have a medium-length coat. It’s a double-coat, which means that you will have to deal with a lot of shedding. These dogs have a dense undercoat. It’s finer than the exterior hairs that you touch when petting your dog. It has a consistency of fine cotton and is meant to act as insulation to protect them from frigid temperatures.
The coat will shed periodically throughout the year with a couple of severe blowouts during temperature changes. We’ll get into that in a bit.
When it comes to color, you can find Alaskan Huskies in a wide range of hues. Most are black and white. The black portion covers the top of their body and creates distinct markings around the face. You can also find brown, gray, and even red Huskies.
On average, Alaskan Huskies have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. Larger dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan, which is normal for canines.
Of course, there are several factors that can affect your pup’s lifespan. Common health problems, poor diet, and a lack of exercise can shorten their lives dramatically. So, providing your pup will all the basics is paramount.
Possible Health Problems
Thanks to their diverse genetics, Alaskan Huskies are relatively healthy dogs. However, that doesn’t mean that they are immune to issues. Here are some of the most common complications you should be wary of.
This condition affects the thyroid gland in the neck, which is responsible for producing hormones. With Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones to maintain your dog’s metabolism. Not to be confused with Hyperthyroidism, this condition causes your dog to gain weight despite regular exercise and a normal diet.
The good news is that it is manageable. There is no cure, but your vet can prescribe medications to maintain metabolism levels and prevent weight gain.
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
This is largely genetic, but it can affect dogs with poor feeding habits. Many reputable Alaskan Husky breeders will screen for this condition, but you still need to do your part to avoid it.
Basically, dysplasia occurs when the joint sockets become malformed. Whether it’s on the elbows or the hips, this poor development causes severe mobility issues. It can cause immense pain as well. Puppies are susceptible to developing hip dysplasia if they are not growing at the right rate. If they are overfed, the stress on their bones can result in deformation. The same goes for puppies who aren’t getting all the calcium and phosphorus they need to develop strong bones.
Hip and elbow dysplasia can be corrected with surgery. However, it needs to be caught early on to be effective.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This condition pertains to the eyes. It’s a genetic issue that can cause the tissue in their eyes to degrade over time. It’s a slow process, but it can eventually lead to blindness. Because it’s a genetic eye problem, there isn’t a universal treatment option available. Some vets will recommend supplements and some dietary changes so that your dog is getting beneficial vitamins.
The best way to keep your Alaskan Husky healthy is to provide them with a top-notch diet. High-quality dog foods will provide them will all the macronutrients they need. It’s best to steer clear of cheaper foods you can find at the grocery store. Typically, they contain unnecessary fillers, poor sources of protein, and a host of ingredients that these dogs just don’t need.
When it comes to finding good food, it’s best to keep things simple. Look for high-quality sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, and a nice array of fruits and vegetables for protein.
For Alaskan Huskies, you will need a dog food that has at least 18 percent. This is the bare minimum according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO. However, we recommend getting something with way more protein than the minimum. Alaskan Huskies are very active. Protein levels of 25 percent or more will ensure that they are getting all the muscle support they need. Keep an eye out for wholesome sources like chicken, beef, turkey, fish, and more. The more meat ingredients the food has, the better it is. This is because different meats provide different muscle-building amino acids, which is always good.
Other things you should pay attention to are complex carbs. Things like sweet potatoes, peas, and oats are all good options. Avoid things like corn, wheat, and soy. They are fillers that many dogs have trouble digesting. Complex carbs are beneficial because they provide a constant supply of energy throughout the day. They convert to glucose slowly, which prevents that unwanted energy crash and lowers your dog’s chances of getting diabetes.
Fat is important, too. Healthy fats like salmon or flaxseed oil are preferred. Not only do they provide energy and flavor, but they have omega fatty acids and antioxidants that will keep your dog’s fur in good shape!
As a good rule of thumb, Alaskan Huskies will need about 30 calories per pound of body weight. On average, most will need roughly 1,600 calories every day. This should be split up into meals to avoid bloat and weight gain.
Best Food for Alaskan HuskiesBUY ON AMAZON
There are tons of great dry dog foods on the market. We recommend Taste of the Wild High Prarie for Alaskan Huskies. This food is designed to mimic the natural diet of a wild canine. It’s packed with 32 percent protein, which comes from good sources like buffalo, lamb meal, roasted bison, venison, beef, and ocean fish meal. There are also complex carbs like sweet potatoes and peas. To top it all off, the food has tons of antioxidants thanks to the inclusion of raspberries and blueberries. It’s a high-protein food that’s great for any active dog.
If you’re not an active person, Alaskan Huskies may not be the best dog for you. As we mentioned earlier, these pups have a lot of energy that they need to get rid of. To stay healthy, you will need to take your dog on long walks that last at least 60 minutes. If you don’t provide this much-needed exercise, your dog could experience several health issues. Not only that, but they may develop some bad behavioral problems.
Grooming an Alaskan Husky
Grooming an Alaskan Husky is a full-time job. There’s no getting around their double coat of fur. You will notice that small pieces of undercoat shed throughout the year. This is normal. To keep your home clean, we recommend daily brushings. This will remove loose fur before it gets all over your floors!
A couple of times a year, the undercoat will blow out. This is a massive shedding that occurs when temperatures change. It might happen during the spring or summer when things start to warm up.
This is a good time to give your dog deep grooming experience. You can get rid of the fur manually with de-shedding brushes. Some owners like to use a gentle air blaster to literally blow that fur away. Either way, removing it will make your dog more comfortable and keep your home much cleaner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Alaskan Huskies get along with other dogs?
Alaskan Huskies do just fine with other dogs. In fact, they are pack dogs that prefer staying in groups. Of course, all dogs are different, so you may encounter some issues with aggression if your pup isn’t properly socialized at a young age.
Do Alaskan Huskies do well around kids?
These dogs make fine family pets and have been known to be rather protective of kids. They love to play and kids are a great source of fun for Alaskan Huskies. That said, you need to be careful and make sure that your child understands his or her boundaries. Many attacks are caused by misbehavior on the child’s part. Teach your child how to act around the dog and always keep a watchful eye.
Are Alaskan Huskies good guard dogs?
Unfortunately, Alaskan Huskies aren’t the best guard dogs. They can be rather trusting around strangers.
Do Alaskan Huskies Shed?
These dogs shed all year long. They also have major shedding periods twice a year, so you’ll need to invest in a de-shedding brush!
How big do Alaskan Huskies get?
On the upper end of the scale, they can be as large as 80 pounds. Though, most will stay around 60 pounds. It all depends on their bloodline. They are generally a bit smaller than Siberian Huskies.
Do Alaskan Huskies need a lot of exercise?
Alaskan Huskies need at least 60 minutes of activity a day to stay healthy.
Whether you’re looking to raise a racer or just want a fun furry companion, Alaskan Huskies are a joy to have. They have distinct personalities and are always down for physical activities. If you lead an active lifestyle, these dogs may be the perfect fit for your family.