Husky is a general name for a type of dog
Dog type
Dog types are broad categories of dogs based on function, with dogs identified primarily by specific function or style of work rather than by lineage or appearance....

 originally used to pull sleds in northern regions, differentiated from other sled dog types by their fast hard pulling style. The Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog originally bred for use as a utilitarian dog and later an Alaskan sled dog. They are sometimes mistaken for a Siberian Husky, but in fact are quite different in many ways...

 was used for heavier loads and is generally slower in long-distance dogsled racing against smaller and faster Husky type dogs.
Huskies are still used in sled racing, and in recent years companies have been marketing tourist treks with dog sleds for adventure travelers in snow regions as well. Huskies are also today kept as pets, and groups work to find new pet homes for retired racing and adventure trekking dogs.

Name origin

The Arctic word Husky was contraction of Eskimo
Eskimos or Inuit–Yupik peoples are indigenous peoples who have traditionally inhabited the circumpolar region from eastern Siberia , across Alaska , Canada, and Greenland....

, "...known as Huskies, a contraction of Huskimos, the pronunciation given to the word Eskimos by the English sailors of trading vessels." Use of Husky is recorded from 1852 for dogs kept by Eskimo people.


Husky type dogs are energetic and athletic. They usually have thick double coat. Huskies are known for pale blue eyes, although they may also have brown eyes. Huskies commonly have different colored eyes, called heterochromia
In anatomy, heterochromia refers to a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin...

 of the eye. Huskies are more commonly affected with some degree of uveitis
Uveitis specifically refers to inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, termed the "uvea" but in common usage may refer to any inflammatory process involving the interior of the eye....

 than other types of dogs.


"Many different types of dogs are commonly called huskies...the term husky is popularly used to refer to all manner of snow dogs or northern breeds as they are also known."

Husky type dogs originally were landrace
A landrace is a local variety of a domesticated animal or plant species which has developed largely by natural processes, by adaptation to the natural and cultural environment in which it lives. It differs from a formal breed which has been bred deliberately to conform to a particular standard...

 breeds kept by Arctic indigenous peoples. DNA analysis has found that that Huskies are one of the oldest types of dog, although one researcher "questioned the assignment of dogs to the ancient breed group, saying that any recent crossbreeding with wolves, as has happened with malamutes and Siberian huskies, could make a breed look primitive."

Examples of these landraces in modern times have been selectively bred and registered with various kennel clubs as modern purebred breeds, including the Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a medium-size, dense-coat working dog breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia. The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family...

, Alaskan Husky
Alaskan Husky
The Alaskan husky is not a breed of dog rather it is a type or a category. It falls short of being a breed in that there is no preferred type of and no restriction as to ancestry; it is defined only by its purpose, which is that of a highly efficient sled dog...

 and Greenland Husky.
The Mackenzie River Husky
Mackenzie River Husky
The term Mackenzie River Husky describes several overlapping local populations of arctic and subarctic sleddog type dogs, none of which constitutes a breed. Most prominent and current of these are the sleddogs of Donna Dowling and others in the interior of Alaska. These dogs are described as...

 is a subtype referring to different dog populations in the Arctic and subarctic regions of Alaska and Canada. The Sakhalin Husky
Sakhalin Husky
The Sakhalin Husky, also known as the , is a breed of dog used as a sled dog.-Appearance:This breed is a spitz type, related to other Japanese dogs such as the Akita Inu...

 is a Japanese sled dog related to the Japanese Spitz and Akita Inu.


Purebred working dogs are often deliberately crossbred
A crossbreed or crossbred usually refers to an animal with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. Crossbreeding refers to the process of breeding such an animal, often with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages, or producing...

 with other breeds to enhance working abilities such as speed in a sled-racing dog. Joe Runyan (former Iditarod winner) describes Husky sled dogs as "an ever changing concept". Working ability is more important than keeping a breed "pure" so that it can be registered with a kennel club.

In addition crossbreeding is popular for pets, combining characteristics of the parents in unique ways. Crossbred pets are often given whimsical "breed" names made up of syllables of the breed names of both parent dogs such as Huskimo, a Siberian Husky and American Eskimo cross. Cross-bred working dogs are not given such whimsical identifiers and are just called "Huskies".

Alternate activities

Since many owners now have Husky dogs as pets in settings that are not ideal for sledding, then other activities have been found which are good for the dog and fun for the owner.
  • Skijoring
    Skijoring is a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog or a motor vehicle. It is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring meaning ski driving.- Dog skijoring :...

     is an alternative to sled pulling, but mainly used in somewhat the same environment as sledding with the exception that the owner (cross-country skier) does not need a full pack in order to participate.
  • Dog hiking
    Dog hiking
    Dog hiking refers to a form of hiking in which dogs travel alongside their owners. Several companies manufacture packs in various sizes, so that the dogs may carry their own food and/or bowls...

     is an alternative for owners who live closer to woodland trails. The owner travels with their dogs along trails in the wilderness. This activity allows the owner and dog to gain exercise with out using the huskies strong sense of pulling. Some companies make hiking equipment especially for dogs in which they may carry their own gear including water, food, and bowls for each.
  • Carting
    Carting is a dog sport or activity in which a dog pulls a Dogcart filled with supplies, such as farm goods or firewood, but sometimes pulling people. Carting as a sport is also known as dryland mushing and is practiced all around the world, often to keep winter sled dogs in competition form during...

    , also known as dryland mushing or sulky driving, is an urban alternative to dog sledding. Here, the dog can pull a cart which contains either supplies or an individual. These carts can be bought or hand-made by the individual.
  • Bikejoring
    Bikejoring, is a dog mushing activity related to skijoring, canicross, and dog scootering. It is a recreation or sport where a harnessed dog or team of dogs attached to a towline, pull and run ahead of a cyclist. Bikejoring is a non snow season activity...

     is an activity where the owner bikes along with their dog while they are attached to their bike through a harness which keeps both the dog and owner safe. The dog or team of dogs can be attached to a towline to also pull the biker.
  • Dog scootering
    Dog scootering
    Dog scootering is a sport where one or more dogs pull a human riding an unmotorized kick scooter. It is similar to mushing, which is done in the winter, but generally with fewer dogs and with a scooter instead of a dogsled. The dogs wear the same harnesses that sled dogs wear, and are hooked to...

     is a mushing activity which relates to bikejoring and carting, where the owner rides a scooter that is pulled by the dog.

Huskies in popular culture

The phrase "Three dog night" meaning it is so cold you would need three dogs in bed with you to keep warm, originated with the Chukchi people
Chukchi people
The Chukchi, or Chukchee , ) are an indigenous people inhabiting the Chukchi Peninsula and the shores of the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea region of the Arctic Ocean within the Russian Federation. They speak the Chukchi language...

 of Siberia who kept the Siberian Husky landrace dog that became the modern purebred breed of Siberian Husky.

Huskies are the mascots of a few prestigious universities in the United States, including the University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut
The admission rate to the University of Connecticut is about 50% and has been steadily decreasing, with about 28,000 prospective students applying for admission to the freshman class in recent years. Approximately 40,000 prospective students tour the main campus in Storrs annually...

, the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as Bloomsburg, BU or Bloom, is a public university in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, United States...

, Northeastern University, Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University is a public research university located in Houghton, Michigan, United States. Its main campus sits on on a bluff overlooking Portage Lake...

, and Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University is a state university and research institution located in DeKalb, Illinois, with satellite centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, and Oregon. It was originally founded as Northern Illinois State Normal School on May 22, 1895 by Illinois Governor John P...

. They are also the mascot for Saint Mary's University
Saint Mary's University
St. Mary's University is the name of several universities:In Canada:*St...

, Saint Cloud State University and the University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan
The University of Saskatchewan is a Canadian public research university, founded in 1907, and located on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. An "Act to establish and incorporate a University for the Province of Saskatchewan" was passed by the...

 in Canada.

The Allied invasion of Sicily was called Operation Husky.

Huskies have been the subject of several motion pictures, particularly in the context of sledding, including Balto
Balto was a Siberian Husky sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska, by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease. The run is commemorated by the...

, Eight Below
Eight Below
Eight Below is a 2006 American adventure film directed by Frank Marshall and written by David DiGilio. It stars Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood and Moon Bloodgood...

 and Snow Dogs
Snow Dogs
Snow Dogs is a 2002 American live-action comedy film that was released in the United States on January 18, 2002 by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Brian Levant, and stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. and James Coburn...

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