Alaskan Huskies

The Alaskan Husky is a sled dog bred for working ability, not looks or pedigree, and there’s no set formula for creating him. He is usually bred from various spitz-type dogs and has their characteristic prick ears, but in all other respects his looks vary widely. His usually short to medium-length coat can be any color or pattern, and he may have the wedge-shaped head of a spitz breed or a face with a longer muzzle. He is usually a medium-size dog, weighing 38 to 50 pounds. Alaskan Huskies are built for different types of sledding: some are freighters, pulling heavy loads; some are sprinters, going quickly over short distances; and some are long-distance runners.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Alaskan Husky is more often seen as a working or competitive dog than solely as a family companion. He is an active dog and is best suited to a home where he has an opportunity to run on a daily basis. An athletic owner who can fulfill his strong desire to run and pull will make this dog happy, but one who leaves the dog in the home or backyard with nothing to do will come home to a scene of epic destruction.

Alaskan Huskies are great companions for hikers and backpackers and of course are naturals at such dog sports as sledding and skijoring. You will also see them performing well in agility, herding, obedience and rally

With his heritage as a hard-working sled dog, the Alaskan Husky is intelligent and easy to train with positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards. That said, he likes to do things his own way. Be firm, and keep training interesting.

The Alaskan Husky is an escape artist and can be a digger. Confine him to a yard with a fence that can't be dug under or jumped over. An underground electronic fence will not stop an Alaskan Husky if he really wants to leave the yard.

The Alaskan Husky is easy to groom. Brush him once or twice a week to remove dead hair. He'll shed heavily twice a year, and during that time you'll want to brush him more often to keep the loose hair under control. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental hygiene.

The people-loving Alaskan Husky needs to live in the house with his family. It's an unhappy Alaskan Husky who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship. If you do so, his barking and howling will be the least of your concerns.

The Alaskan Husky is a working breed. There are no breed clubs promoting the dogs, so finding a breeder is a matter of getting to know people who race sled dogs. You may also find an Alaskan Husky through an adoption organization.

Health Issues Common to Alaskan Huskies

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

The Alaskan Husky has some health problems that can be a concern, especially if you aren't careful who you buy from. They include hip dysplasia; various eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy; and autoimmune hypothyroidism. At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or a PennHIP score, as well as certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Alaskan Husky Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Alaskan Huskys aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, a Alaskan Husky can live 10 to 12 years or more, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Alaskan Husky to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Alaskan Huskies

Pet insurance for Alaskan Huskies costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Alaskan Huskies are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Alaskan Huskies are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Alaskan Husky is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.