Dogsled huskies at rest after racing

A husky is a sled dog used in the polar regions. One can differentiate huskies from other dog types by their fast pulling-style.[citation needed] Modern racing huskies (also known as Alaskan huskies) represent an ever-changing crossbreed of the fastest dogs[1] (the Alaskan Malamute, by contrast, pulled heavier loads at a slower speed).[2] Humans use huskies in sled-dog racing. Various companies have marketed tourist treks with dog sledges for adventure travelers in snow regions.[3] Huskies are also kept as pets, and groups work to find new pet homes for retired racing and adventure-trekking dogs.[4]

Labrador huskies being fed by Inuit men


Nearly all dogs' genetic closeness to the gray wolf is due to admixture.[5] However, several Arctic breeds also show a genetic closeness with the now-extinct Taimyr wolf of North Asia due to admixture: the Siberian Husky and Greenland Dog (which are also historically associated with Arctic human populations) and to a lesser extent, the Shar Pei and Finnish Spitz. An admixture graph of the Greenland Dog indicates a best-fit of 3.5% shared material; however, an ancestry proportion ranging between 1.4% and 27.3% is consistent with the data and indicates admixture between the Taimyr wolf and the ancestors of these four high-latitude breeds.

This introgression could have provided early dogs living in high latitudes with phenotypic variation beneficial for adaption to a new and challenging environment, contributing significantly to the development of the husky. It also indicates that the ancestry of present-day dog breeds descends from more than one region.[6]

Further information: Origin of the domestic dog

A Siberian Husky with heterochromia


Huskies are energetic and athletic. They usually have a thick double coat that can be gray, black, copper red, or white.[7] The double coat generally protects huskies against harsh winters and, contrary to what most believe, they can survive in hotter climates. During the hotter climates, huskies tend to shed their undercoat regularly to cool their bodies. In addition to shedding, huskies control their eating habits based on the season; in cooler climates, they tend to eat generous amounts, causing their digestion to generate heat, whilst in warmer climates, they eat less.[8] Their eyes are typically pale blue, although they may also be brown, green, blue, yellow, or heterochromic. Huskies are more prone to some degree of uveitis than most other breeds.[9] Hunting instincts can still be found in some of this breed today[10]


Husky-type dogs originally were landrace dogs kept by the Arctic indigenous peoples.[11]

An Alaskan husky

Alaskan husky

The most commonly used dog in dog sled racing,[12] the Alaskan husky is a mongrel[13] bred specifically for its performance as a sled dog.[14] The modern Alaskan husky reflects 100 years or more of crossbreeding with English Pointers, German Shepherd Dogs, Salukis and other breeds to improve its performance.[15] They typically weigh between 18 and 34 kilograms (40 and 75 lb) and may have dense or sleek fur. Alaskan huskies bear little resemblance to the typical husky breeds they originated from, or to each other.[14]

Labrador huskies

Labrador Husky

The Labrador Husky originated in the Labrador portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The breed probably arrived in the area with the Inuit people who came to Canada around 1300 AD. Despite the name, Labrador huskies are not related to the Labrador retriever, but in fact most closely related the Canadian Eskimo Dog. There are estimated to be 50–60 Labrador huskies in the world.[16][17]

MacKenzie River Husky

The term Mackenzie River husky describes several overlapping historical populations of Arctic and sub-Arctic sled dog-type dogs, none of which constituted a breed. Dogs from the Yukon Territory were crossed with large European breeds such as St. Bernards and Newfoundlands to create a powerful freighting dog capable of surviving harsh arctic conditions during the Klondike Gold Rush.[18]

Sakhalin Husky Memorial in Japan

Sakhalin Husky

The Sakhalin Husky, also known as the Karafuto Ken (樺太犬), is a breed of dog formerly used as a sled dog, but now nearly extinct. As of 2015, there were only seven of these dogs left on their native island of Sakhalin.[19]

Siberian Husky

A black and white Siberian Husky

Smaller than the similar-appearing Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky pulls more, pound for pound, than a Malamute. Descendants of the sled dogs bred and used by the native Chukchi people of Siberia which were imported to Alaska in the early 1900s, they were used as working dogs and racing sled dogs in Nome, Alaska throughout the 1910s, often dominating the All-Alaska Sweepstakes.[20] They later became widely bred by recreational mushers and show-dog fanciers in the U.S. and Canada as the Siberian Husky, after the popularity garnered from the 1925 serum run to Nome.[21] Siberians stand 20–23.5 inches, weigh between 35 and 60lbs (35-50 for females, 45-60 for males), and have been selectively bred for both appearance and pulling ability.[22] They are still used regularly today as sled dogs by competitive, recreational, and tour-guide mushers.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Schultz, Jeff (28 January 2003). Dogs of the Iditarod. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. p. 41. ISBN 1-57061-292-7.
  2. ^ D. K. (2013-10-01). The dog encyclopedia. Dennis-Bryan, Kim, Baggaley, Ann, John, Katie, DK Publishing, Inc. (First American ed.). New York. p. 103. ISBN 9781465421166. OCLC 859155647.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ Neary, Kathleen (2008-01-14). "How Sled Dogs Work". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  4. ^ Keith, Christie (18 February 2011). "Lessons from a sled dog massacre". sfgate. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  5. ^ Freedman, A. H.; Gronau, I.; Schweizer, R. M.; Ortega-Del Vecchyo, D.; Han, E.; Silva, P. M.; Galaverni, M.; Fan, Z.; Marx, P.; Lorente-Galdos, B.; Beale, H.; Ramirez, O.; Hormozdiari, F.; Alkan, C.; Vilà, C.; Squire, K.; Geffen, E.; Kusak, J.; Boyko, A. R.; Parker, H. G.; Lee, C.; Tadigotla, V.; Siepel, A.; Bustamante, C. D.; Harkins, T. T.; Nelson, S. F.; Ostrander, E. A.; Marques-Bonet, T.; Wayne, R. K.; Novembre, J. (2014). "Genome Sequencing Highlights the Dynamic Early History of Dogs". PLOS Genetics. 10 (1): e1004016. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004016. PMC 3894170. PMID 24453982.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unflagged free DOI (link)
  6. ^ Skoglund, P.; Ersmark, E.; Palkopoulou, E.; Dalén, L. (2015). "Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds". Current Biology. 25 (11): 1515–9. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.019. PMID 26004765.
  7. ^ The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2009 online
  8. ^ "Eating Habits of Siberian Huskies". Pets - The Nest. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  9. ^ Uveodermatologic syndrome, Archived 2012-06-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Agouti Husky Breed Informations And Images". pet animal world. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  11. ^ Little Wolf, Stephanie. "A Deeper History of the Origins of The Alaskan Husky". Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic ~ About | Nature | PBS". Nature. 1999-11-21. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  13. ^ "Sled Dogs in the North | Yukon Quest". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  14. ^ a b Cary, Bob (2009). Born to pull : the glory of sled dogs. Internet Archive. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-6773-4.
  15. ^ Brown, S K; Darwent, C M; Wictum, E J; Sacks, B N (December 2015). "Using multiple markers to elucidate the ancient, historical and modern relationships among North American Arctic dog breeds". Heredity. 115 (6): 488–495. doi:10.1038/hdy.2015.49. ISSN 0018-067X. PMC 4806895. PMID 26103948.
  16. ^ Hoyles, Samantha (Summer 2017). "The Great Labrador Husky". Inside Labrador: 60–64.
  17. ^ Losey, Robert J.; Wishart, Robert P.; Loovers, Jan Peter Laurens, eds. (2018-06-13). Dogs in the North: Stories of Cooperation and Co-Domestication.
  18. ^ MacQuarrie, Gordon (December 1997). "Kenai, Dog of Alaska". The Gordon MacQuarrie Sporting Treasury: 98–99.
  19. ^ "Desperate effort to save Sakhalin Laika from extinction on its native island". Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  20. ^ Thomas, Bob; Thomas, Pat (2015). Leonhard Seppala: the Siberian dog and the golden age of sleddog racing 1908-1941. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-57510-170-5. OCLC 931927411.
  21. ^ "Siberian Husky History". Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  22. ^ "The Siberian Husky Standard". Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  23. ^ "Do many Siberian Huskies run the Iditarod? If not, why? – Iditarod". Retrieved 2021-07-26.