Are Huskies Like Wolves?

By Cathryn Whitehead

Siberian huskies are Arctic dogs bred to pull sleds and herd reindeer. They are strong, medium-sized dogs with thick fur, triangular upright ears and powerful legs. Huskies are friendly, outgoing, alert dogs built to run, and many people mistakenly believe they are similar to wolves because of their appearance. Although Siberian huskies often are cast in movies as wolves, they share less DNA with wolves than do some other breeds.

History

According to the American Kennel Club, huskies were bred centuries ago by the Chukchi tribe off the eastern peninsula of Siberia in Northeast Asia. After appearing in dogsled races in Alaska during the early 1900s, teams of Siberian huskies carried a life-saving serum to patients in Nome, Alaska, during the 1925 diphtheria outbreak. One of the sled drivers toured the United States with a team of huskies, entering them in sled races and increasing their popularity. They earned AKC recognition in 1930 and were used as search-and-rescue dogs in the Arctic during World War II.

Personality

Huskies are affectionate, outgoing animals with a mischievous side, according to the Siberian Husky Club of America. They lack possessive and suspicious qualities desired in good watchdogs, but are friendly toward strangers and other dogs. They are gentle and love children; they adapt easily to changes and are eager to work. Huskies are not aggressive, but are intelligent and independent.

Appearance

Huskies come in all colors from black to white and in many patterns. Eyes can be blue, brown, a combination of both or one of each. The double coat consists of a soft undercoat and a smooth, straight overcoat. Fur between the toes helps huskies grip the ice and stay warm. Females weigh between 35 and 50 pounds and are 20 to 22 inches high at the withers, while males weigh 45 to 60 pounds and reach 21 to 23 1/2 inches high, according to the AKC. Furry tails curve up over the back when the huskies are at attention. Interestingly enough, although huskies look very much like some types of wolf, they share less DNA with old-world wolves than the Shiba Inu and Chow Chow--the two dogs with the closest biological relation to their ancestors.

Instincts

Siberian huskies are bred with many strong instincts. They are predators, and though they are friendly to people and other dogs, they may prey on smaller animals such as squirrels, rabbits, cats, hamsters or birds. They have a strong desire to run that can cause them to become victims of cars. Huskies enjoy pulling sleds and carts; they require a lot of exercise daily, preferably doing these activities. They like to dig and are very good at it. They keep themselves very clean and lack the doggy odor common in most breeds.

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References
Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc.: The Siberian Husky
American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Siberian Husky
Dog Breed Info Center: Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky Rescue Site: Is There a Siberian in Your Future?
Next Day Pets: Siberian Husky Breed Information
Just Dog Breeds: Siberian Husky

About the Author
Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.