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Every dog is unique, but centuries and even millennia of carefully selected behaviors and personality traits create very strong natural tendencies. Dogs such as the Chow chow are specifically bred for their regal and aloof nature, German Shepherds are known for their stoic, loyal ways, and bulldogs are beloved for their gregarious personalities.
But what about huskies? Why do they show so many weird behaviors and confuse even experienced dog owners? Why are huskies so weird?
Huskies are considered weird due to the strange behaviors they display due to their origin as sled dogs and their desire to get attention from people. This naturally curious and playful breed is often willing to do all sorts of bizarre things, especially if they are bored or full of energy.
In this article, we’ll dig into how and why huskies are such a strange breed and answer a few questions about this quirky breed’s behavior.
How Are Huskies Weird?
Plenty of people call huskies weird, but not a lot of people go into depth on what that means. While there are many things that make huskies weird, we’ll discuss four significant ways.
They Make Strange Noises
As one of our previous articles covers in-depth, huskies make a variety of noises, and they make them a lot. The tendency to howl, groan, bark and whine is one of the weirdest things about huskies.
Most famously and peculiarly, huskies are able to mimic human speech by mimicking human intonations. The reason huskies are so vocal and can even “talk” has a specific and unique origin, which we’ll discuss below.
They Argue and Throw Tantrums
While plenty of breeds are stubborn as a mule, most will just ignore commands rather than actively protest. Huskies, meanwhile, will argue tooth and nail for whatever they want by stomping, barking, growling, flopping, and any number of odd behaviors to get their point across.
On top of knowing what they want and when, many huskies don’t want to do things simply because they are being asked.
The stronger their conviction, the louder and more intense a husky’s arguments and tantrums will be. This behavior comes down to a combination of how communicative huskies are and how stubborn they are. Many of the videos that have given huskies their reputation as weird dogs are of their infamous tantrums and arguments.
They Have Contradictory Personalities
It’s very difficult to explain a husky’s personality without contradicting yourself a lot. Huskies are very noisy, but they don’t bark very often. Huskies thrive off of human interaction but have no drive to please. Huskies are full of energy but can also be very lazy at times. The list of contradictions goes on and on.
All of these nuances make the husky very unusual and unpredictable in comparison to, say, a gentle and easy-going Labrador retriever.
They Just Do Strange Things
There are a lot of things individual huskies do that can’t be explained as breed-specific behaviors, typically to entertain themselves. For instance, my husky regularly chews on her toys when she’s lying upside-down and likes sleeping with her feet below. As we’ll discuss below, the intelligence, energy, and curiosity of a husky predispose them to try strange things to entertain themselves, and there’s no telling what behaviors will become self-reinforcing and “stick.”
But Why Exactly Are Huskies So Weird?
Now that we’ve identified the ways that huskies are weird, it’s time to answer the million-dollar question: why are huskies so weird?
They Have a Unique Origin
Huskies are a unique breed, even among the sled dog group. As opposed to more recently created sledding breeds such as Chinook or Alaskan huskies, Siberian huskies are one of the most ancient breeds in existence, with ancestors reaching back as far as 10 millennia.
A 2015 study comparing DNA analysis results of 48 breeds showed that more than any other breeds, Siberian huskies and the rare Greenland dog had the most DNA in common with the extinct Siberian Taimyr wolf. The Taimyr wolf diverged from the modern gray wolf more than 35,000 years ago, and many scientists argue that the close genetic link between these two canines shows how unaltered huskies are from that point of divergence.
Even the behaviors they were specifically bred for– such as pulling, being highly communicative, and being a steadfast pack animal– are still pretty strange in the doggy world.
They Are Naturally Social
As a pack animal bred to thrive in a group environment throughout their different jobs, huskies are incredibly social. The Chukchi bred the husky as such a close and integral member of the family that they were allowed to sleep indoors with the family, an incredibly unusual honor for ancient dog breeds.
In more modern times, huskies work in sled groups where they are expected to get along and communicate with as many as 18 dogs on a team.
Much of the time huskies interact with others with affection (the AKC ranks huskies 5 out of 5 in affection for a reason!) or playfulness, but more peculiar actions can also result.
By behaving strangely, a husky is able to get plenty of attention from their pack-mates, either in the form of amusement or annoyance.
They Communicate Vocally
Canine communication is a surprisingly complex combination of body language and even scents, but huskies have an extra means of getting their point across– vocalizations. While all dogs have the ability to howl by tapping into their wolf ancestry, huskies implement this natural behavior into day-to-day life.
The need to communicate with one another over long distances is a requirement for huskies to be successful sled dogs, and vocalizations are able to cut through the air much more efficiently than other forms of communication. This highly social species is instinctively driven to communicate their desires and emotions by howling, yipping, and making any noise that can get their thoughts across. While that works when they’re pulling a heavy sled, it can make them quite the sight at the dog park.
For many of the same reasons that huskies are so weird, they’re also very dramatic! More technically, huskies can be described as a reactive breed, meaning they react more strongly to stimuli than other breeds. In some breeds, this refers primarily to behaviors such as barking and pulling on their leash, but the friendly husky is more likely to be reactive in an excited or scared way.
Seeing a strange person might make an easy-going breed wag their tail and approach their new friend, but the intense husky may find themselves overwhelmed with joy and consequently, very noisy and excitable. On the flip side, an uncomfortable event like a simple nail trim can result in a screaming, wriggling nightmare of a pooch.
The tendency to react so intensely to everyday things and the audible ways that huskies react make for an amusingly strange household pet, and strong, negative reactions can be reduced with counter-conditioning and discipline.
They’re Intelligent and Energetic
Throughout the majority of their history, huskies were not house pets. Instead, they spent hours on end carrying light loads across long distances. This job required several major traits for huskies, including energy, endurance and the intelligence to communicate with one another and make rapid changes on a dime.
Even though modern huskies spend most of their time in our homes and apartments, they still retain the high-energy and intelligence from their sledding days. Instead of working in the tundra, our household pets find a variety of ways to entertain themselves and get out their energy. Often, this involves unusual and playful behaviors that satisfy their curiosity. On the flip-side it can involve destructive behaviors such as excessive hole digging or scratching the walls or the floor.
Either way, this clever and mischievous breed can get into some strange antics in the name of fun.
They Try To Talk
Although other breeds have been known to “talk” on occasions, huskies easily hold the crown as the most talkative breed. Of course, this breed doesn’t instinctively mimic human speech. That said, intentional or unintentional rewards, such as attention or treats, can result in their normal vocalizations taking on distinctly human-like intonations.
Below is an adorable compilation of huskies trying their best to talk. As you can see, these pups respond to prompting as well as circumstances to know what to mimic.
It Makes Us Laugh
Most of us enjoy making our loved ones laugh, and huskies are no exception. It has been proven that dogs are able to detect and comprehend many human emotions, as well as that dogs can laugh in the sorts of situations young children laugh in.
Given their ability to understand that us laughing means we are happy and this intelligent dog’s ability to easily connect the dots, it only makes sense that huskies would want to do a strange or funny behavior the more it makes us laugh.
Something Is Wrong
This applies to an individual husky rather than the breed itself. An unfortunate reason a husky may be acting strange is if there is a potential issue, such as being sick or bored. Usually, this weirdness will come seemingly out of nowhere, but there’s almost always a cause.
Should I Be Concerned If My Husky Is Acting Weird?
Whether or not you should be concerned if your husky is acting weird depends on exactly what you mean by weird. Huskies are known to do plenty of strange things, from their vocalizations to general goofiness in the name of attention and fun, so odd behaviors are to be expected.
But if your dog is acting very unusually, moving strangely, or seems uncomfortable in any way, you should look into potential reasons your dog is acting weird and contact a vet if necessary.
As backward as it sounds, it’s normal for a husky to be weird! Huskies have a unique and specialized past that predisposes them to take on some strange behaviors, and this reactive and social breed will gladly do whatever it takes to get attention and laughs. These cute and dramatic weirdos aren’t for everyone, but husky lovers embrace the bizarre tendencies of this beautiful breed.