Although wolf-like in appearance, huskies are no more closely related to wolves than poodles and bulldogs are. While they're all dogs, some huskies may be crossed with wolves, producing a wolf hybrid. That's an entirely different animal from a purebred Siberian husky or its cousin, the Alaskan Malamute.
The adult Siberian husky stands between 20 to 23.5 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 35 to 60 pounds. Males are larger than females. Double-coated for protection from the cold, the blue-eyed Siberian husky's fur may be any color. These coats "blow" out twice a year, so be prepared for major shedding in the spring and fall. The American Kennel Club notes the presence of many striking patterns on the head, found only in this breed.
According to the AKC, the Siberian husky probably originated as a sled dog within the Chukchi tribe, near the eastern Siberian peninsula. The tribe depended upon these dogs for transportation and survival, as the sleds took hunters through the vast, barren areas of Siberia in search of game. Siberian huskies arrived in Alaska at the turn of the 20th century, appearing in the All Alaska Sweepstakes race for the first time in 1909. The dogs achieved worldwide fame in 1925 when diphtheria struck Nome, Alaska, and huskies helped save the day by delivering precious antitoxin via sled.
Certainly not wolf-like in temperament, the husky is friendly with people. In fact, although he may appear fierce, he's not much of a guard dog. He is smart and a hard worker, given his sled dog ancestry. While he gets along with most other dogs, he's prey-driven, so watch him with cats and other small pets. Huskies need room to run, so they aren't suited for apartment living.
If a husky is crossed with a wolf, the result is a wolf hybrid or wolf dog. Unfortunately, some of these crosses may look like huskies, but they are not completely domesticated animals. Unlike huskies, the wolf hybrid is suspicious of strangers and may attack. If you're thinking of buying a wolf hybrid, make sure your local zoning allows for the keeping of such animals. It's also a good idea to check with your home insurance company.
Huskies are relatively healthy dogs, but like all purebred canines are prone to certain genetic ailments. With the huskies, problems primarily concern the eyes and hips. Eye issues include cataracts and corneal dystrophy. The latter condition does not cause blindness. However, another common husky malady, progressive retinal atrophy, does lead to loss of vision. Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint found in many breeds, also affects huskies.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.