What’s the difference between Alaskan and Siberian huskies? Many aren’t even aware of the “Alaskan husky”. This article covers everything you need to know about these two “same-same but different” huskies…
Siberians are extremely popular household dogs and are currently the 16th most popular dog in America according to AKC. The Alaskan Husky is nowhere near as popular, which is why not many people know about them.
Quick fact: The Alaskan Husky is not considered a separate breed. They’re considered a type of Husky.
Origin Differences of the Alaskan and Siberian Husky
It’s best to start by clearing up some history about where each of these Huskies came from and their origins.
The Siberian Husky is said to be thousands of years old, actually making them one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They originated in Eastern Siberia and were bred by a nomadic group of people called the Chukchi Tribe.
Alaskan Huskies have an interesting history of their own, although it doesn’t stem back as far as the Siberians. Alaskan Huskies are a mixed breed (not an actual breed), created by Canadians and Alaskan mushers to help them with their daily tasks.
The Alaskan’s were used solely as hard-working sled dogs, and their appearances were not worried about, this resulted in a huge amount of cross-breeding with the Alaskan Husky and other randoms sled dogs, in order to produce the best sled dog possible. Technically the Alaskan Husky comes from a mix of different breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Greyhounds, Malamutes, and German Shorthaired Pointers.
The Siberian Husky is registered with the American Kennel Club under the Working Group category. The Alaskan Husky, due to it being crossbred is not actually registered with any breed organizations.
Alaskan Husky Vs Siberian Husky
The main question people want to know is what exactly are the differences between the Alaskan Husky and the Siberian Husky.
The main difference between Alaskan and Siberian huskies is how they are used today. Nowadays, Siberian huskies are mostly domesticated pets, whereas Alaskan huskies are still used primarily for working purposes.
Siberian Huskies are now a very domesticated, family pet, that happens to be the 14th most popular dog in America, and most of the world. They are friendly, social, and extremely affectionate. They’re intelligent and can be trained to a high level, although they are notoriously stubborn and mischievous. Nowadays most Siberian Huskies are family pets and aren’t sled dogs
Alaskan Huskies are not typically family dogs and are still mainly used today for working sled dog purposes. They were created and bred with only one purpose and that was to be a hard-working, reliable sled dog. Due to the way they were originally raised, Alaskan Huskies are usually not as friendly or family orientated like Siberians, therefore they are still mainly used for work.
This doesn’t mean to say there aren’t friendly, affectionate Alaskan Huskies, but it comes more naturally to Siberians.
The main difference between the two Huskies is that Siberians are now typically household pets, whereas Alaskans are still primarily working sled dogs.
Appearance Differences Between Alaskan & Siberian Huskies
|Differences||Alaskan Husky||Siberian Husky|
|Size & Height||20-25.5 inches|
Medium Size Breed
|Colors & Markings||ALL WHITE or ALL BLACK||White, Agouti, Black, Gray, Red.|
|Eyes||Typically brown but heterochromia can happen||Blue, Brown, Green, Bi-Colored, Particolored|
When it comes to size and height, Alaskan Huskies have a wider range than Siberian Huskies. You find some reports that Alaskans are taller than Siberians and vice versa, the truth is that height can vary and this is due to the wide variety of genetics within the Alaskan Husky lineage. Siberian Huskies are usually always within 20-24 inches tall. Alaskan Huskies can be shorter or taller than this.
The Alaskan Husky is usually a little slimmer than the Siberian Husky, this is due to their work-orientated lifestyle. Siberians Huskies have been domesticated to the point that most of them do not follow their sled-dog heritage and naturally weigh more with the lack of continuous intense exercise.
The colors and markings between the two Huskies remain somewhat similar. Although, something you can see with the Alaskan Husky is an all-white coat OR all-black coat. This is something you do not see with Siberian Huskies.
The coat of the Alaskan Husky can sometimes be a little shorter. Siberians seem to have a fluffier coat. Both Huskies have double-coats that shed continuously, with two big blowouts before each seasonal change.
Alaskan Husky vs Siberian Husky Temperament
The temperament of each of these Huskies comes from how they were bred.
The Alaskan Husky was bred solely for work purposes and due to this, did not play a big “family pet” role.
This doesn’t mean to say Alaskan Huskies are not capable of being a family pet today, but keep in mind they are not an overly loving or affectionate family dog. It’s more about work, less about the play, with Alaskan Huskies.
For Siberian Huskies, it’s a little different. The Chukchi Tribe who originally bred the Sibs used them as working dogs BUT they were extremely loving towards them, they kept them inside their tents, shared their food and this is why Siberians are very affectionate and loving of their owners and family.
Neither Husky is usually aggressive, they are not suspicious and both Huskies would make terrible guard dogs. Despite their “scary wolf-like” looks, they’re one of the nicest breeds.
Do Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies Shed?
When it comes to Huskies, shedding is a hot topic and with the amount of funny husky shedding memes on the internet, I’m sure it will remain to be one.
Both Huskies have double-coats that will shed somewhat all year round with two big blowouts before summer and winter. Depending on where you live, this may be just one time or not at all.
Alaskan Huskies due to their crossbreeding history and various genetic differences can sometimes have shorter smoother coats and will typically shed less than a purebred Siberian.
Regardless of which Husky you have, you should have a solid grooming routine and brush them once or twice per week.
Keep in mind, that because Alaskan Huskies are not purebreds, they are not allowed to be in show competitions. Siberians as they’re purebred, are allowed to take part.
If you’re not ready for Husky hair on your floor, you’ll want to consider a different breed.
Common Health Issues in Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies
There has long been debate on whether purebreds or crossbreds are more susceptible to health issues.
For a very long time and still, to this day many people believe that purebreds are not as healthy as mixed breeds. There is SOME truth to this, but it’s actually not as dooming as many people make it out to be. Here’s a great article on this if you want to find out more information.
No matter what dog breed you choose, the risk of health problems is always there and unfortunately, this cannot be avoided.
There’s one issue that stands out, in particular, that affects ONLY Alaskan Huskies. That is Encephalopathy (AHE). This is an incurable brain disease that causes neurological issues due to thiamine (from food) not being properly processed by the Huskies body.
Common health issues you find in both the Alaskan Husky and the Siberian Husky include:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Corneal Dystrophy
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Follicular Dysplasia
- Zinc Deficiency
What you, as responsible dog owners can do is ensure you’re giving your dog a healthy active lifestyle and regular check-ups at the vets. Apart from this, nature will take its course.
It also helps to check the proper documentation of each parent before purchasing your pup. This will give you an idea of any potential hereditary health issues to expect.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Husky Intelligence
Both Huskies are technically considered of average intelligence, but once you get past their stubbornness and natural desire to be mischevious, we’re left with highly intelligent dogs.
It’s important to stress the point of being stubborn. A lot of people do find Huskies to be very hard to train and it’s quite true. They love to test their owners and have a mind of their own “I do what I want when I want” is how they live their lives.
But don’t let this fool you, with the correct positive reinforcement-based training, these two Huskies can be trained to a very high level.
The Siberian Husky will prove to be smarter in the long run compared to an Alaskan Husky. This is likely due to the Siberian Husky being domesticated more than their Alaskan cousins.
Training should start from puppyhood and If you have a Siberian Husky or Alaskan Husky, I have a complete husky puppy training guide that should serve you well. You can check that out here ^^
Diet Requirements: Alaskan Husky vs Siberian Husky
The Alaskan and Siberian Huskies would have both originally started off on a raw food diet.
As it happens, Amazon.com didn’t exist several thousand years ago so commercial dog food was a no go! (LOL shameless joke)
Jokes aside, Huskies would have eaten raw meat, bones, organs and other parts of wild game they and their human owners caught.
Nowadays, commercial dog food is much more popular and used. However, because Huskies ate raw food for such a long time, they have developed very sensitive stomachs, ever since they were domesticated.
Most Siberian Huskies today have sensitive stomachs and we have to adjust to them, this means closely monitoring how they eat and being careful when we choose a dog food brand.
Most of the population of Alaskan Huskies are still strictly working sled dogs, which likely means they sleep in packs, outside. This type of lifestyle also lends itself to a raw food diet, which most Alaskan Husky owners will follow. It’s highly unlikely that these Huskies used for working purposes are fed commercial dog food.
If you’ve read this article because you are considering getting one of these Huskies. I’ll give you an easy way to make the decision.
What’s your reason for getting one of these Huskies? If it’s primarily going to be your family pet, get a Siberian Husky. If it’s going to be a working dog, pulling sleds, get an Alaskan Husky (or a pack of Alaskan huskies!)
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If you would like to support My Happy Husky directly and have an easy to read and entertaining guide for training your husky puppy, check out my book The Husky Puppy Handbook on Amazon. All purchases are greatly appreciated.
DisclaimerThe advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice in any context. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here
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