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What is a Husky?

The word ‘Husky’ can be used to refer to any dog native to the arctic. The first dogs to be referred to as a Husky were the dogs belonging to the Inuit of Greenland.

husky (n.)

“Eskimo dog,” 1852, Canadian English, earlier (1830) hoskey “an Eskimo,” probably shortened variant of Ehuskemay (1743), itself a variant of Eskimo.

“The moment any vessel is noticed steering for these islands [Whalefish Islands], the Esquimaux, or ‘Huskies’ as the Danes customarily term them, come off in sufficient numbers to satisfy you that you are near the haunts of uncivilized men, and will afford sufficient information to guide any stranger to his anchorage. ‘Husky’ is their own term. I recollect the chorus to a song at Kamtchatka was ‘Husky, Husky.’ ” [Last of the Arctic Voyages, London, 1855]

Greenland Dogs the original “Husky” the photo by Carsten Egevang

As time moves on, the meaning of words change and today many people think of the Chukchi dogs known in the west as Siberian Huskies when referring to a Husky. However, there are many types of arctic dog which can all fall under the term, here are a few of them.

Sakhalin Husky

Mckenzie River Husky

Alaskan Malamute

Canadian Eskimo Dog


Labrador Husky

Alaskan Husky

Yakutian Laika

Siberian Husky

Greenland Dog

Excepting the Alaskan Husky (which is a mix of dogs bred for long distance races in Alaska) all the other dogs are types of dogs endemic to areas or people of the arctic, some of which have been recognised as breeds by various Kennel Clubs, others are sadly either extinct or verging on extinction.

Greenland Dogs are my personal favourite having previously owned Alaskan Malamutes and currently having Canadian Eskimo and Greenland Dogs, all of which benefit hugely from an active life and love activities such as backpacking, dog scootering, bikejoring as well as working as a Sleddog on a team. At sporty paws there is a great range of products to suit any active husky dog.

By Matt Hodgson