Huskies – what are they?
History of the Husky
The modern Husky as we know it is actually a mixture of types of sled dogs; mainly Siberian, Alaskan and Malamute. Siberians originate in northern Asia and around the Sakhalin Peninsula – a vast, hostile, icebound region, where horses and ponies don’t do well, and man needs the help of his doggy friends to get around! When Europeans colonized North America, Huskies were brought over to pull sleds for the hardy immigrants of Canada, Alaska and the US. They mixed with indigenous dog breeds that the native folks in these regions already used, and gave rise to the Malamutes and Alaskans that have become widespread. There are also breeds more specific to the Sakhalin region (north of Japan).
What’s in a name?
The name ‘Husky’ comes from ‘Huskimos’, a mispronunciation of Eskimos which refers to the indigenous Arctic people of the world. The word ‘Eskimo’ fell out of favour in modern lingo, but ‘Husky’ stayed.
What do Huskies look like?
Huskies are big, athletic dogs. They usually have a thick double coat that can be grey, black, copper red, or white. They’re well-known for their pale blue eyes, which may have evolved as an adaptation to reflect harsh sunlight in snowy regions. They often also have brown eyes, green eyes, or even have yellow eyes – or a combination of two colours! (‘heterochromia’).
Things you can do with your Husky!
As not all of us live in Arctic regions and have sleds for Huskies to pull, there’s a host of activities that your energetic Husky would love to do with you.
- Skijoring: a cross-country skier is pulled across the snowy landscape by two or more Huskies.
- Dog hiking: this is an alternative for owners who don’t live in snowy regions. It’s a great way for adventurous Huskies to get exercise. Some companies even make hiking equipment especially for dogs, so they can carry their own gear including water, food, and bowls!
- Carting is a fun urban alternative to dog sledding. The Husky pulls a bought or hand-made cart containing either supplies or a person. Remember, your Husky has been bred specially to pull, and enjoys it immensely.
- Bikejoring: the dog owner attaches his Husky to his bike, with a special harness, and is pulled by the dog or dog team.
- Dog scootering is very similar to bikejoring and carting, but the owner rides a scooter that is pulled by the Huskies.
The Chukchi people of Siberia (who, incidentally, originally bred the Siberian Husky was a predecessor to the modern purebred breed of Siberian Husky) coined this phrase. It refers to a night so cold, you’d have not one or two, but THREE dogs in bed with you!