The Alaskan husky is not so much a breed of dog as it is a type or a category. It falls short of being a breed in that there is no preferred type and no restriction as to ancestry; it is defined only by its purpose, which is that of a highly efficient sled dog. more...
That said, dog drivers usually distinguish between the Alaskan husky and â€śhound crossesâ€ť, so perhaps there is informal recognition that the Alaskan husky is expected to display a degree of northern dog type.
The Alaskan is the sled dog of choice for world-class dogsled racing competition. None of the purebred northern breeds can match it for sheer racing speed. Demanding speed-racing events such as the Fairbanks (Alaska) Open North American Championship and the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous are invariably won by teams of Alaskan huskies, or of Alaskans crossed with hounds or gundogs. Hounds are valued for their toughness and endurance. Winning speeds often average more than 19 miles per hour over three days' racing at 20 to 30 miles each day. On the rare occasion when purebred teams are entered in such races, they nearly always finish last.
Alaskan huskies that fulfill the demanding performance standards of world-class dogsled racing can be extremely valuable. A top-level racing lead dog can bring $10,000-15,000. Conversely, dogs that fail to perform effectively are worth nothing, and the high levels of culling practiced in many kennels are strongly condemned with animal rights activists.
The Alaskan husky is basically a mixed-breed dog, in which northern or husky-type ancestry, such as the Siberian Husky or the traditional Alaskan village dog, predominates. Many other breeds have contributed to its genetic makeup, from staghound and foxhound to greyhound and Dobermann, which accounts for the Alaskan's great variability of appearance.
Alaskan huskies (at least those used for speed racing) are moderate in size, averaging perhaps 46 to 50 pounds for males and 38 to 42 pounds for females. They often resemble racing strains of the Siberian Husky breed (which is undeniably a major component of the Alaskan husky genetic mix) but are usually taller and leggier with more pronounced tuck-up.
Colour and markings are a matter of total indifference to racing drivers; hence the husky may be of any possible canine colour and any pattern of markings. Eyes may be of any colour and, as in the Siberian Husky, are often light blue. Coats are almost always short to medium in length, never long, and usually less dense than the coats of northern purebreds; coat length is governed by the need for effective heat dissipation while racing.
In very cold conditions, Alaskans often race in â€śdog coatsâ€ť or belly protectors. Particularly in long distance races, these dogs often require â€śdog bootiesâ€ť to protect their feet from abrasion and cracking. Thus the considerations of hardiness and climate resistance prevalent in breeds such as the Siberian Husky and Canadian Inuit Dog are subordinated in the Alaskan husky to the overriding consideration of functional capability. The Alaskan huskies lack the dense coat required to keep them warm, and they are not as hardy as Siberians, often requiring extra care on the trails. Andre Nadeau says this is the reason his Siberians did so well in the 1998 Yukon Quest, where he led nearly the whole race until being passed by a team of Alaskan huskies.
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