Huskita

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
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The Akita Inu and the Siberian Husky are not at all unalike. In fact, these two ancient breeds share many of the same physical characteristics, meaning that breeding them together to create the Huskita has been very successful. Both parent breeds are strong and athletic with thick, double coats to keep them warm in harsh, cold weather.

Personality wise, the Akita tends to be fiercely loyal and protective, while the Husky is known for being alert and friendly. Thus, the temperament of the Huskita can vary from one individual to another. When it comes to activity levels, most breed members take after their Husky parent and require a good deal of varied exercise to keep them happy.

About & History

Huskitas were likely first developed towards the end of the 21st century, when the designer dog movement was at its peak. Breeders all over the world were competing to find the next big thing and were breeding together a variety of purebreds, hoping to hit on the next Labradoodle! The Huskita was bred to be a companion animal and was not created with a specific task in mind, as is true of most hybrids.

The Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is a visibly stunning breed that is best known for its unparalleled abilities as a sled dog. Experts believe that the very first Husky type dogs were established around 3,000 years ago in the Soviet Arctic where they lived among a tribe known as the Chukchi Indians.

They were invaluable to the people, providing them with a source of protection and warmth, as well as pulling their loads and assisting them when hunting. Amazingly, they continue to be bred by the current population of Chukchi Indians who prize their good nature, stamina and willingness to work.

Throughout the ages, they gradually made their way over to Alaska, Canada and North America and are now found throughout the world. Nowadays, the Siberian Husky is a popular pet but has got a bad reputation for being ‘problematic’ and is often found in rehoming centres. Realistically, these are not the right dog for everyone, as they will almost certainly develop bad habits if under-stimulated and not provided with substantial exercise each day.

The Akita Inu

Akita Inus are large and handsome Spitz dogs that have pointed ears and muzzles, as well as an elegant tail that curls over their back. Originating in the north of Japan, these dogs were developed in relative isolation so their pedigree has remained pure throughout the ages. A brave and fearless hunter, the Akita Inu has worked alongside the people of Japan for centuries in the pursuit of prey, including bears, boar and deer.

Incredibly, this honorable breed came very close to extinction during the Second World War when times were incredibly tough and people were unable to feed themselves let alone their animals. At the same time, the local government issued a ruling that all non-military dogs be killed, in an attempt to reduce the occurrence of canine disease outbreaks. Thankfully, Akita Inus somehow managed to survive and breed in remote areas, ensuring they live on today.

Appearance

Huskitas are undeniably attractive dogs with their well-muscled bodies, wide chests, thick necks and blocky heads. They have a powerful frame and a confident stance, highlighting their all-round noble appearance. Their large ears stand erect in symmetrical triangles, affording them good hearing, which can detect noises from great distances. Their eyes, which can be brown or blue, are not particularly large and portray a calm and serene expression.

They have a square muzzle, which should be in good proportion to their large skull. Their front limbs are straight, while their hind limbs are incredibly powerful with substantial muscles. Their paws are well padded, allowing for walking long distances over mountains and through snow and ice. Their well-plumed tail is carried proudly over their back.

Medium to large sized dogs, the Huskita will measure from 56cm to 61cm at the withers, with males often reaching greater heights than females. As they are heavily-muscled they typically reach weights from 23kg to 30kg, which makes them quite a lot lighter than their Akita Inu parent.

The fur of the Huskita is one of their most endearing features. They have a luxuriously thick double coat that should be straight and not overly long. There are quite a few coat colour possibilities with most dogs having two or three colours. White, black, brown, grey and sable are the most commonly seen. Many will have a facial mask that is darker but this is not a breed necessity.

Character & Temperament

Though the Akita Inu and the Siberian Husky may look alike in some ways, they are actually two quite different dogs when it comes to their temperament. Due to this, predicting the Huskita’s personality can be problematic and even those from the same litter can behave completely differently. As a general rule of thumb, they retain the loyalty of the Akita Inu and can be highly protective of their property and family. However, they are usually more affectionate and loving, thanks to the genes passed on from the Husky.

The Huskita can be highly strung and they are always keenly aware of their surroundings; on the lookout for any new arrivals. They make superior watch dogs and will be the first to know if a stranger is nearby. Some are prone to anxiety and may develop aggressive tendencies if this is not addressed from a young age.

With adequate socialisation, most Huskitas can be taught to get along well with other dogs but some are intolerant, particularly if not introduced positively to them from a young age. Most retain a high prey drive and simply cannot be trusted around small, furry animals.

Trainability

Remarkably intelligent and never lazy or work-shy, the Huskita can make a star pupil in their training classes. Trainers must be aware of the breed characteristics and ensure that their potential hyperactivity is channelled appropriately. As they can pose a challenge, they are not typically a good choice for first time owners or those unable to dedicate enough time to their training.

Many individuals will be stubborn and strong-willed, requiring extra patience. Trainers should avoid trying to ‘dominate’ them and assert leadership, instead focusing on the creation of a strong bond and encouraging desired behaviour through positive reinforcement.

Health

As the Huskita is a relatively new breed with a small population size, it is paramount that we prioritise their health and prevent animals being bred unscrupulously for a quick profit. Those seeking to purchase a Huskita should ensure they come from good stock and their parents have had the relevant veterinary health checks.

Hip Dysplasia

An abnormal hip socket can result in crippling pain and arthritis as a dog ages. This is particularly problematic for larger, heavier dogs who find it more difficult to cope than their smaller counterparts. Signs may first become apparent as young as six months old and can include an altered gait and a reluctance to run and jump.

Hip Dysplasia is easily diagnosed on X-ray and the sooner the diagnosis is made, the better as there are interventional treatments available that can improve prognosis but are only available to younger dogs.

Hypothyroidism

Dogs with an underactive thyroid can develop a myriad of symptoms ranging from weight gain and sluggishness to heat-seeking behaviour and a ‘tragic’ facial expression. The diagnosis is not always straightforward as while a low thyroid hormone level is always present in those with hypothyroidism, it can also be found in clinically ‘normal’ dogs. Typically, several blood tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While Akitas are relatively lazy, the opposite is true of the Siberian Husky and Huskitas tend to take after their more active parent. Due to this, they benefit from a solid 90 minutes of exercise every day. On top of this, they require plenty of mental stimulation, which can take the form of puzzle toys, agility training, obedience and many other outlets.

Not surprisingly, failing to meet the exercise requirements of the Huskita tends to result in a frustrated and destructive dog who can become difficult to live with.

Grooming

While the straight coat of the Huskita is not prone to matting, they do require quite a lot of brushing in order to remove all of the fur they shed. This is especially true in warmer months when their shedding can become excessive and they may need to be brushed twice a day to keep on top of things.

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