Any husky owner will tell you that these dogs… are not really dogs. Their intelligence outstrips that of almost all of their canine brethren, excluding only perhaps the border collie. Their propensity to solve problems, stoically ignore commands they do not agree with and get into all sorts of mischief continues to baffle and amuse even the most experienced husky owner.
So let’s take a look at what a husky actually looks like. A dog’s appearance, whether or not it meets breed standards, is called its conformation. Breed standards are a set of agreed upon criteria used to judge an animal’s physical structure. The closer the dog is to the breed standard, the better it will place in a professional dog show.
In the early days, breed standards helped to ensure that dogs could do the job they were bred for – a hound with short legs, for example, was not going to be able to keep up with its fellows on a hunt.
However, as the professional showing circuit began to focus more on appearance rather than function, breed standards have similarly become more focused on appearance rather than what a dog’s physique can allow it to accomplish. This is particularly relevant for toy breeds but the reality is that few working dogs today would meet a kennel club’s breed standards.
The American Kennel Club says the following about what a husky should look like:
- The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog, quick and light on his feet and free and graceful in action. His moderately compact and well furred body, erect ears and brush tail suggest his Northern heritage. His characteristic gait is smooth and seemingly effortless.
- He performs his original function in harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances. His body proportions and form reflect this basic balance of power, speed and endurance.
- Neck medium in length, arched and carried proudly erect when dog is standing. When moving at a trot, the neck is extended so that the head is carried slightly forward.The shoulder blade is well laid back.
- The upper arm angles slightly backward from point of shoulder to elbow, and is never perpendicular to the ground. The muscles and ligaments holding the shoulder to the rib cage are firm and well developed. Forelegs – When standing and viewed from the front, the legs are moderately spaced, parallel and straight, with the elbows close to the body and turned neither in nor out.
- Viewed from the side, pasterns are slightly slanted, with the pastern joint strong, but flexible. Bone is substantial but never heavy. Length of the leg from elbow to ground is slightly more than the distance from the elbow to the top of withers. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed.
- Feet oval in shape but not long. The paws are medium in size, compact and well furred between the toes and pads. The pads are tough and thickly cushioned. The paws neither turn in nor out when the dog is in natural stance.
- Expression is keen, but friendly; interested and even mischievous. Eyes almond shaped, moderately spaced and set a trifle obliquely.
- Eyes may be brown or blue in color; one of each or parti-colored are acceptable.
- Ears of medium size, triangular in shape, close fitting and set high on the head. They are thick, well furred, slightly arched at the back, and strongly erect, with slightly rounded tips pointing straight up.
- The coat of the Siberian Husky is double and medium in length, giving a well furred appearance, but is never so long as to obscure the clean-cut outline of the dog.