Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies are similar in numerous ways. They share the same general appearance. Both dogs are energetic, intelligent, and generally friendly around people.
The main differences between the two breeds are their size, color variety, and the intent of breeding them. Modern Siberian Huskies are mostly kept as pets, while Alaskan Huskies are used as working dogs.
Comparing Alaskan Husky vs. Siberian Husky differences reveals tons of interesting facts.
Read on for the whole scoop!
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Alaskan Husky vs. Siberian Husky Differences
According to the AKC, Siberian Huskies are the 21st most popular breed in 2022 in American households, which is pretty good out of 200 breeds! Alaskan Huskies aren’t any less prominent, and they top the list of the most common sled dogs in the whole world!
It’s not a big surprise then that we’d want to place the two overachievers toe-to-toe and see how this comparison plays out.
|Alaskan Husky||Siberian Husky|
|AKC Breed Recognition||No||Yes|
|Purpose||Working dog, sled dog||Pet|
|Height||Up to 23.5 inches tall||Up to 20 inches tall|
|Weight||25 to 50 pounds||35 to 60 pounds|
|Temperament||More wild||Sociable, friendly and gentle|
|Intelligence||Slightly lower intelligence||More intelligent|
|Lifespan||12-15 years||12-15 years|
|Health Issues||Encephalopathy is an untreatable disease that only affects Alaskan Huskies.||Prone to Cataracts, Hip Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism and more.|
1. History & Origin
The names of these two dogs are pretty revealing of their origins!
Siberian Huskies lived with the Chukchee people for hundreds of years in the Arctic and Eastern parts of North Asia. Some scholars claim that this breed is the oldest one in known history.
Siberian Huskies were burly sled dogs that blended well with their surroundings and human friends.
Around the turn of the century, Some Alaskans became interested in the magnificent Siberian Husky. I can’t blame them for that! Around 1930, this dog breed was hugely popular throughout the US, especially when it was granted a purebred status from the AKC.
The fundamental traits of the Siberian Husky were sufficient for sledding and occasionally for moonlighting as rescue dogs.
The most famous was the story of Balto. In 1925, the brave dog brought diphtheria medicine to Nome, Alaska. The Iditarod dog race and the Statue in Central Park commemorate this courageous act.
Alaskan Huskies are successive iterations of the original Siberian Huskies. Canadian and Alaskan mushers took in Siberian Huskies and crossed them with malamutes, greyhounds, and German short-haired pointers.
The ensuing changes in their appearance, size, and temperament are all a direct result of their different role. Being strictly sled dogs, gave them more stamina, extra length, and leaner bodies.
Further reading: Malamute vs Husky
2. Breed Recognition
Siberian Huskies were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930. They have all the typical traits of Spitz dogs, sharing standard features, and they’re considered a pure breed.
The isolated circumstances of the Arctic regions where the Siberian Huskies originated kept their line intact, with very little cross-breeding.
Contrary to that, Alaskan Huskies were consistently crossbred to improve their capabilities as sled dogs. This is the main reason why they’re not officially recognized by the AKC as an individual dog breed.
In general, Alaskan Huskies are treated as a variant, or an off-shoot, of the Siberian Husky breed. They’re not even designer dogs bred according to a genetic map. It’s more like “whatever comes up”, with breeders simply cross-breeding Alaskan Huskies with any suitable Spitz breed.
Siberian Huskies are lovely, gorgeous, and highly affable dogs. That’s why they’re primarily bred as house pets. Back in the day, Siberian Huskies were also used in sled dog racing, which was quite popular around the mid-1930s.
Siberian Huskies are handsome and agile, which makes them perfect for dog shows. In 2020, A Siberian Husky won the first prize in the Beverly Hills Dog Show. Nick, the Husky, topped the list above 165 competing dog breeds.
Alaskan Huskies are usually working dogs that pull sleds over icy roads and assist in similar tasks. They have good looks and a nice demeanor too, but that’s not why their owners keep them.
Must read: How much weight can a husky pull?
There are also a few size differences between Siberian and Alaskan Huskies.
Siberian Huskies typically weigh from 35 to 60 pounds, depending on their gender, age, and lifestyle. Alaskan Huskies usually weigh around 5 to 10 pounds less than their Siberian counterparts.
This is quite common with working and sled dogs, and it’s understandable. They’re constantly running and pulling, often in extremely cold temperatures.
Siberian Huskies can reach a height of 23.5 inches, with the females standing a tad lower than that at 20 inches. Alaskan Huskies have similar stature and height but tend to be leaner. Depending on their specific lineage, Alaskan Huskies could also stand a bit taller than Siberian Huskies.
Further reading: Why is my husky so small?
Siberian and Alaskan Huskies share the same general features, including the unique markings on their faces and often serious scowl. 😂
The coats of both breeds are dense and double-layered, which is a typical trait of Arctic dogs. However, the Siberian comes with a variety of coat colors, like white, grey, agouti, red, and black. In addition, many Siberian husky colors are rare and sort after. So you have breeders breeding rare husky colors on purpose.
This is not something you often see with Alaskan Huskies considering they aren’t usually bred for aesthetic reasons or as pets. Alaskan Huskies are usually only seen in black/gray and white coats. However, it’s possible to see other colors considering they are often husky mix breeds.
Contrary to that, Alaskan Husky’s eyes are overwhelmingly brown. Occasionally, these dogs can exhibit heterochromia though.
This might make them unpredictable at times, but their affectionate side always comes out, and they’re generally sweet companions.
Training a Siberian Husky can be challenging at times. They need a high level of stimulation both mentally and physically. Generally, these dogs respond well to their trainers and learn quickly what’s expected of them.
Alaskan Huskies are tribal dogs that feel very protective of their pack and loyal to their leaders. They tend to be a little on the wild side, considering their way of living. It’s unusual to choose an Alaskan Husky as a pet, but not entirely ruled out.
7. Intelligence and Readiness for Training
Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Huskies are both intelligent dogs. However, it’s often observed that the Siberian Huskies are smarter than their Alaskan peers. That might be due to the cumulative effect of domestication.
When it comes to teaching these dogs how to behave, many dog owners would say that it’s not a walk in the park! Their stubbornness and tenacity make them rather hard to train. It’s best then to start training Huskies as early as possible and stay consistent.
I can attest to the fact that Alaskan Huskies are hard to train after a 2 week volunteering experience with a musher in Alberta, Canada!
8. Lifespan and Health Issues
The lifespan of a Siberian Husky and an Alaskan Husky are both ~12-15 years.
In-breeding is usually mentioned as a cause of various health issues in purebreds. Siberian Huskies are no exception, who can suffer from health problems like cataracts, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.
Alaskan Huskies might have a slightly lower average lifespan due to a metabolic disease that’s unique to this breed. Encephalopathy is a serious and untreatable disease that only affects Alaskan Huskies.
Siberian Huskies lived for thousands of years in the Northeastern regions of Asia and the Arctic. This gifted them with survival instincts and various desirable natural traits.
As the Canadians and North Americans brought the Huskies back to the US, they bred a new variant which became known as the Alaskan Husky.
The Siberian Husky is recognized by the AKC and is usually kept as a house pet, while the Alaskan is used primarily as a sled dog.