In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

Who doesn’t love a fluffy dog with a happy smile? That’s the Siberian Husky. They are beautiful dogs that make you want to hug them. Many people confuse them with Alaskan Malamutes, their larger relatives. Huskies are smaller than Malamutes with different markings.

There’s so much more to the Husky than just a good looking dog. They are the ultimate working dog. They belong to the Spitz group of dogs which includes the Malamute, Samoyed, and American Eskimo. Huskies originated in the Siberian territory of Russia, bred to pull sleds. Very closely related to the wolf, Huskies are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds.

Huskies were brought to Alaska in the early 1900s to help with the gold rush. Because Alaska has so many remote villages, difficult to get to by land vehicles, sleds were the most effective means of travelling and bringing supplies. The Husky’s ability to endure the cold and pull sleds over long distances made them invaluable assistants to humans. When their abilities became known throughout the U.S., Huskies were brought to New England and used for the sport of competitive dog sledding. In 1930, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Huskies have very thick, dense coats consisting of an undercoat and a top coat. Twice a year, Huskies shed their undercoats. The fur comes out in large clumps. If you don’t like dogs who shed, a Husky is definitely not for you! In addition to the bi-annual coat-blowing, they shed all year long. Because of this dense coat, Huskies do not tolerate the heat very well.

The Husky personality is loving and intelligent. They are friendly to all people, so don’t count on them being watchdogs! They are good with kids (with early socialization). Huskies can be very sensitive and eager to please, but they also have an independent streak.

Huskies are very social dogs. They were bred to work in a pack, cooperatively to pull the sleds. As a result, they tend to adhere to the pack mentality more so than most dogs. You will find that many Huskies have strong personalities and want to be the “lead dog” pulling the sled. If their humans are not good leaders, then they certainly will be happy to assume that position! Early socialization and obedience training are strongly encouraged.

Because they are so social, Huskies do best when living with other dogs and many people. It is not recommended that a Husky be left alone all day! They are very smart and will be bored and lonely. That means possible destructiveness and barking. And for obvious reasons, Huskies require a great deal of exercise. They were bred to run all day and need an outlet for this instinctual characteristic.

Speaking of running, Huskies should never be off leash unless in a highly secured area. They WILL run away, despite extensive recall training. Stories abound of Huskies titled in obedience who have run away when given the opportunity. They have a very high prey drive and, combine that with the need to run, the Husky must be kept on-leash at all times. Huskies can be escape artists as well. Make sure that you have a very secure fence.

If you are considering a Husky as a pet, it is imperative that you provide your dog with an outlet for his energy and need to pull. Find a local club to do some sled pulling. A daily walk or romp at the dog park simply is not enough for most Huskies.

As with all breeds, please, please know what you are getting into. Do lots of research and be ready to make a lifetime commitment to your dog.