Alaskan Huskies are beautiful dogs. They are often confused with Siberian Huskies because they both have pointed ears, fluffy tails that curl over their backs, and that wolf-like bearing. But more than their appearance, Alaskan Huskies are known to be highly efficient sled dogs.
To start, you should know that Alaskan Huskies are technically not a recognized breed of dog. Unlike the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Husky isn’t recognized as a purebred by kennel clubs. Instead of looks and pedigree, it is recognized for its purpose as a sled dog.
This article will talk more about the Alaskan Husky's origin, physical characteristics, selling price, and personality and temperament. We will also share some care guidelines, and talk about what you need to be able to properly care for one. So, if you plan on getting an Alaskan Husky (or simply want to learn more about them), read on.
How Alaskan Huskies Came to Be
The Alaskan Husky originated from the intentional cross-breeding of many other dog breeds. Breeders had wanted to come up with the best possible working dog, so they used breeds or bloodlines that are known for the specific qualities they want.
Usually, these are breeds that are known for their endurance, excellent sprinter speed, ability to run long distances, good feet, particular gait, and team player qualities. Breeders would also look for a particular coat type or a particular size.
Originally, the Alaskan Husky was created by people who joined dog sled racers. These people are called mushers, and, in their quest to produce the best racing sled dog, they carefully cross-bred different bloodlines of native Inuit dogs. They mainly used Eskimo dogs, Siberian Huskies, German Shorthaired Pointers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Greyhounds.
In 2015, a heredity study found that the Alaskan Husky has similar genetic markers as the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky and that, despite their differences, they are all relatives of the Chukotka sled dogs of Siberia.
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Since it is a product of cross-breeding, there are no restrictions regarding its ancestry, and there are no published Standard of Perfection, the Alaskan Husky is not recognized as a purebred. Instead, it is defined by its purpose, which is as a working dog.
As such, the Alaskan Husky is not currently accepted for registration with the American Kennel Club. It is, however, registered with the Dog Registry of America Inc.
Physical Characteristics of Alaskan Huskies
Alaskan Huskies are large dogs that look very similar to Siberian Huskies.
However, Alaskans are generally larger and leaner, growing to a height of up to 20-24 inches (51-61 cm) and with males typically weighing anywhere from 18-27 kg (40-60 lbs) and females weighing 16-22 kg (35-48 lbs).
Compared with Siberians, Alaskans have a more pronounced tuck-up, which is the part where a dog's rib cage and hind legs connect when viewed from the side.
Moreover, while Siberian Huskies have blue eyes or a combination of brown and blue, Alaskan Huskies have brown eyes.
Also, since they are not considered a strict breed like Siberians, Alaskan Huskies come in any color, most commonly white, black, and gray. They also sport any marking or pattern. And while Siberians have a medium-length coat, theirs can be short to medium length, with a very heavy undercoat.
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Alaskans also boast good vision and a strong sense of smell. This is because they have sighthound genes in their genetic code.
Sighthounds are a group of dogs that hunt using sight and speed. And while Alaskans are not naturally good swimmers and retrievers, they are high jumpers. They can jump up to six feet even if they are from a sitting position.
Personality and Temperament
Just like its looks, the Alaskan Husky’s temperament varies.
Generally, Alaskans are playful, affectionate, and cuddly, be it with humans or other dogs. They are full of energy and, even as adults, they stay a puppy at heart. And even if they jump at you, it is more out of excitement than a display of dominance.
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Alaskans are loyal and are fond of their family. They are also independent and adventurous. This means that if you take their leash off, they will go off exploring instead of staying close to you.
You may have a hard time housebreaking Alaskans because they are clever, willful, and mischievous. They only obey commands if they see the point.
However, this won't be anything a firm pet owner can’t fix. They are trainable and docile once you show leadership and authority. Needless to say, you’d have to spend a great deal of time and patience with your Alaskan Huskies to establish that you are the so-called leader of the pack.
If you have children, you don’t have to worry about keeping an Alaskan Husky as a pet. These dogs are very gentle and good with kids. But if you need a watchdog, Alaskans wouldn’t be a good choice because they are sociable and friendly with strangers. And while they like to give out a huge howl, they bark very little.
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Alaskan Huskies get bored easily, and they hate being left alone for a long period. If they get lonely and without enough physical and mental exercise, they could become destructive and anxious. As such, if you are not sure you can spend as much time with your Alaskan as you need to, you may want to consider getting a second dog as a companion.
Common Health Issues
An Alaskan Husky is generally a healthy breed and can live up to 12 to 15 years. However, it could fall victim to certain genetic health defects, just like purebreds. These common health problems include hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy, which could lead to blindness.
Alaskans are also prone to congenital deformation of the larynx, which makes them wheeze while breathing. This is the reason why Alaskan Huskies are nicknamed wheezers.
How to Make Sure You Are Getting a Healthy Alaskan Husky
So, if you are getting an Alaskan Husky, go for a reputable breeder who would guarantee that the puppy is 100 percent healthy and has zero known problems. Any respectable breeder would disclose any health issues in a puppy's bloodline.
You can ask the breeder for evidence that the puppy's parents have Excellent, Good, or Fair hip scores from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, as well as a certification that its eyes are healthy from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
Taking Care of an Alaskan Husky
When you get an Alaskan Husky as a pet, there are a few important things you need to know to make sure you are giving it the kind of care it requires.
Because Alaskan Huskies are extremely active and energetic, they are not the ideal pets to have if you are living in an apartment. You need to make sure your home is spacious, and preferably with a fenced yard, so your dog can exercise.
This type of dog also prefers cool climates because they have a heavy coat and a thermal underlayer. So if you are living somewhere where the weather can get warm or hot, you need to make sure you have adequate air conditioning and shade.
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And because Alaskan Huskies thrive in packs and love contact with people and other dogs, they are not highly recommended pets for those who spend most of their time away from home and leave their pets alone.
If your Alaskan Husky doesn’t get enough physical or mental stimulation, he is likely to develop problem behaviors. They are known to have a calmer disposition when their exercise requirements are met.
Alaskan Huskies need daily physical exercise, including long walks. You should also allow them to run around your fenced yard or in open spaces outside if it's safe. But remember to keep a good eye on your dog while you are out for an exercise because they are known to have a penchant for escaping.
You also need to be careful about excessive exercise in warm weather. Avoid taking your Alaskan Husky out for an exercise if the temperature is above 21°C (70°F).
During the summer months, it is recommended that you take your dog out early in the morning or the evening when temperatures are low. You should also make sure that your dog has plenty of water and that it doesn't move too fast if you notice signs of dehydration or overheating.
Aside from physical exercise, Alaskan Huskies also need plenty of mental stimulation so that they don’t get bored. Here are some recommended activities that will challenge your dog's mind:
Give Your Dog Interactive Toys or Games
There are puzzles and interactive toys specially made for dogs. Some toys allow you to hide treats inside and engage them to figure out how to get these treats. One example is the SPOT Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Toy Puzzle, which also serves as a training device.
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Work on a New Trick
Give your dogs new tricks and stunts to work on during training.
If your dog has already mastered basic commands, teach it to do more advanced tricks. You can search the internet for new training ideas or check out books like 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog.
Give Your Dog a Job to Do or Run Errands Together
Alaskan Huskies are bred to work, so if they are not able to fulfill this duty, they become restless. If you cannot go dog sled racing, for instance, you should engage your dog in some other activity, whether you’re skiing (skiijoring), skateboarding, or biking (bikejoring) or a simple game of frisbee might do the work.
You can also do errands together, like go for a run to the mailbox, take the trash out, drop your laundry at the washer's, stop at a friend's house, or get groceries. Alaskan Huskies love car rides, and they love interacting with people, so exposing them to different sights, sounds, and faces requires their brain to work as they take it all in.
Alaskan Huskies are highly energetic, so they need food rich in calories to sustain their energy levels.
Adult Alaskan Huskies, in particular, need at least 1,100 calories daily. Active Alaskans, or those who particulate in races or pull sleds regularly, require at least 1,800 calories daily.
A diet containing at least 22 percent protein will help promote healthy muscle development and will keep your Alaskan Husky's joints healthy.
There are commercial dog food products like the Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein, Grain-Free, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, which contain real chicken to help build and maintain lean muscle mass for your dog. A bit of fat (at least 8 percent of their diet) will also help maintain your dog's energy levels.
A healthy Alaskan Husky diet should have a balance of meat, vegetables, fruits, and fish, especially salmon. However, you should avoid giving your dog raw salmon as it has small bones and parasites. Instead, you can opt for dog food containing salmon like Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain Salmon Meal and Sweet Potato Dog Food.
You should also try to avoid feeding your Alaskan Husky puppy these food items:
- Foods rich in wheat, whey, milk, and skim milk powder
- Salty food
- Macadamia nuts
- Raisins and grapes
To know more >>> Food To Avoid Feeding Your Husky Puppy
The Alaskan Husky’s coat is self-cleaning, so they are easier to groom than other furry breeds of dog. This also means that Alaskans don’t get stinky, so bathing should be kept at a minimum.
Bathing them once a month will be enough. When giving your Husky a bath, make sure you use vet-approved hypoallergenic, deodorizing, and anti-itch dog shampoo. And in case of skin-related issues, you can try veterinary-grade medicated products like Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Dog Shampoo.
Alaskans shed hair moderately, so they need only two to three brushings in a week. However, they do experience heavy shedding during the shedding season, which takes place once or twice a year.
During this time, you can expect massive blow-outs and large clumps of fur falling out. For this, you would need to brush or comb their hair thoroughly every day using a high-quality metal pet comb. That also means you need to vacuum your place more often during shedding season, too.
More importantly, you should never shave your Alaskan Husky's hair. Even if you think it will help your dog deal with the heat during the summer, shaving will put it at risk of sunburn. Shaving will also take away the Alaskan Husky's ability to regulate their body temperature, so it could end up doing them more harm than good.
Teeth, Nails, and Ears
You will need to brush your Alaskan Husky’s teeth once a day, or at least twice a week. You should start the habit of brushing their teeth while they are still puppies and as part of their training. This way, they get used to it, and it becomes a part of their routine.
Clipping your Alaskan Husky’s nails can be done once a month. You may clip them yourself using dog nail clippers and trimmers with a safety guard to avoid cutting too deep and hurting your pet.
Meanwhile, your Alaskan Husky’s ears should be checked every week for signs of wax buildup, infection, irritation, and redness. To clean your dog’s ears, use vet-approved cleaners like the ZYMOX Ear Cleanser Solution. And in the case of ear infections, there are safe ear treatment solutions such as the ZYMOX Pet King Brand Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone.
How Much Is an Alaskan Husky?
The Alaskan Husky is not a purebred, but it is a top racing dog, so it is still worth a lot. A healthy Alaskan Husky puppy is typically priced anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the breeder you buy it from.
Should You Get an Alaskan Husky?
Alaskan Huskies are great dogs to have if you have space and if you can commit to their physical and mental needs. Their overall temperament makes all the work you need to put in worth it. They are loyal, very affectionate, protective, and highly trainable, so they would make great companions.
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They are also the perfect pets if you have kids at home. They are playful yet gentle. And with children around, the huskies would never get bored.
These dogs may require a lot in terms of physical exercise, mental stimulation, and interaction, but they are relatively more low-maintenance in terms of grooming compared to other dogs. For one, they have self-cleaning coats and don’t require frequent baths. They also don’t shed a lot of hair, unless it is shedding season.
Alaskan Huskies are also your best option if you are into dog sled racing. They have the agility, speed, and endurance needed to compete.
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Not to be confused with the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Husky is more of a mix of sled dogs rather than a pure breed in its own right.
For hundreds, if not thousands of years, the Alaska region was home to native dogs. The Alaskan Husky has a varied genetic history that descends from these native dogs, as well as other breeds such as the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. Neither the AKC nor UKC recognises the Alaskan Husky as a breed. Rather, the Alaskan Husky can be thought of as any mixed breed of dog bred primarily for sledding. For more information on the history of the Alaskan Husky, we recommend visiting Sled Dog Central where you can find out more about how the Alaskan Husky came to be.
Compared to the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Husky will grow around the same height or a little larger than Siberians but tend to weigh a little less. Their leaner body is perfect for the endurance of sledding, and you will find them running longer distances than a pure Siberian Husky. They are a working dog in all respects. Because of their varied genetic makeup, there is no particular coat or eye color, marking, or coat texture consistent between Alaskan Huskies. They will live to a similar age of the Siberian, 12 to 15 years old.
If you thought Siberian Husky puppies were difficult to train and keep exercised, the Alaskan Husky is even more challenging. Their true work-dog nature means they are full of energy from an early age and need a lot of activity to keep them entertained. For this reason, the Alaskan Husky is not recommended for new dog owners. Owning an Alaskan Husky has been described as “like having a 2-year-old child for 15 years”. However, if you have the lifestyle to match their up-tempo behavior and patience to train, they can be as rewarding as any other canine companion.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the Alaskan Klee Kai. The AKK is a smaller dog, often mistakenly referred to as a miniature Siberian Husky, when in fact they are a different breed in their own right. Their genetic history includes influence from Alaskan Huskies, but in a smaller, more manageable package. They are a fairly exclusive breed and waiting lists can belong. For more information check out our information on smaller Husky breeds.