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Alaskan Husky


Alaskan Husky

Alaskan Husky Puppy

Photo courtesy of and Kirsten
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An Alaskan Husky is also known as a sled dog. Sled dogs pull sleds. They also pull freight and people, but they are most well known for pulling a sled. The Alaskan Husky is not a true breed of dog. They are a compilation of several working dog breeds including hounds and pointers. It is not known exactly how this type of dog got started, but there are ideas which include tamed wolves, dogs brought over from shipping boats, and military dogs. Huskies were used for travel to and from Alaskan Villages long before races such as the Iditarod gave them fame.
Typically an Alaskan Husky is bred for three styles of pulling. These include mid-distance (100-300 miles) and long distance (1000 miles) races. Sprint races which include sprints of 30 miles or less, and freight pulling. A freight dog pulls an amount of weight and its measured distance. As these sports become more refined, the dogs become more refined in their particular sport. Long and mid distance dogs have become more sleek and yet retain their mental durability for the long haul. Sprint dogs have enormous competitive drive. Freight dogs have incredible bursts of strength.
An Alaskan Husky can come in many color combinations. Usually sled dogs have dense thick double coats, but the more hunting dogs are mixed into the breed the less that will be true. The eyes can be any color also, and they can have one blue and one brown eye. The Alaskan Husky is not a registered breed of dog. The most basic reason is that the needs of each Musher are different and therefor a dog standard is hard to establish.
The Alaskan Husky can have 4 puppies in the first litter. This is higher than the average dog breed. Often, a husky will live to be 15 years old or older.

When we talk about medical issues the Alaskan Husky has very few. This is most commonly due to the fact that breeding is done for performance and not conformation. The sled dog needs to perform well under stressful circumstances and dogs with medical conditions hindering performance are not bred.
The sled dog personality is as varied as the background. One striking similarity is a high prey drive. Prey drive is the drive to chase and catch prey. Prey can include rodents, cats, and small or downed dogs. This does not mean they cannot live with other animals, but extra care must be taken if they do to ensure the safety of other household animals.
Another Alaskan Husky quality is focus. The ideal learning environment for a husky is one that includes exercise. Since a husky is a working dog bred for pulling a sled they need constant stimulation. This is what gives them the stereotype of a runaway or escape artist. They are easily bored and look for stimulation. They do not connect with humans as quickly as other types of working dogs because they need to believe you will fulfill the work ethic in them. If a husky owner does not fulfill this need a husky will develop behaviors humans call destructive or bad.
This work ethic is also what earns them the unfair title of being dominant. The are not necessarily more dominant than other breed, but they can out perform most humans on many levels. Mushing is the sport where sled dogs pull a sled and a dog team can cover hundreds of miles in a single year. This is what makes keeping an Alaskan Husky in an urban environment such a challenge.
From the Author: "I have been involved with Alaskan Huskies for several years. My first experience was adopting a sled dog named Kyra from a long distance dog musher in Alaska. What I learned from adopting Kyra, was that the Alaskan Husky was a different kind of dog. I had spent time raising my pet dog (a german shepherd mixed with a beagle), but when I got Kyra it was back to the drawing board. She did not respond in the same way as my pet dog. She was sweet, but focused. She seemed to only care about me when I had food in my hand.

After adopting Kyra, I realized I had better get some knowledge about this breed, and fast. I became a dog handler for long distance mushing races such as the Copper Basin 300 and the Yukon Quest. I also learned how to mush dogs. I became a member of Second Chance League sled dog rescue. I worked at an Emergency Veterinary Clinic as a technician. I also got a job at my local animal shelter in Alaska where our team helped evacuate hundreds of dogs from forest fires. After 8 years I finally tipped the iceberg of sled dog knowledge."
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