Are you thinking about offering a home to a dog? While there are lots of great purebred dogs to consider, there are also some fantastic mixed breeds looking for forever homes. These mutts can make wonderful pets, but, despite this, they often end up waiting for homes in rescue shelters longer than the dogs that are a recognizable breed.
A Husky Lab Mix is one example of a mixed breed that could make an excellent pet for the right family. They are also sometimes referred to as a ‘Huskador’, and even as a Siberian Retriever.
When you are taking on a hybrid dog, it can be helpful to consider the traits of both the breeds within the mix, as you will likely end up with a dog that shows characteristics from both.
Huskies are thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds around, and they originated from the vast Arctic expanses of Siberia. Similar to the malamute, huskies were companions and working animals that helped with transportation and provided warmth and companionship for tribe families.
In the early 20th century Huskies began to be brought over to Alaska, where they were predominantly used as sled dogs by prospectors in the gold rush era.
They gradually started to grow in popularity and numbers, and they were recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 1930. They were initially often referred to as the Arctic Husky, before being renamed the Siberian Husky.
While they continue to be used as working and competitive sled dogs, they have grown in popularity over the decades as a companion animal, and in 2017 they were ranked as the 12th most popular breed in the United States by the AKC.
The Labrador Retriever, like the Husky, is one of the most popular companion animals. So much so that they have consistently ranked as the most popular breed in the United States for the last few years.
Originally they were bred as working dogs. They are often associated with being from England but, although this is where the breed was developed for its skills as a waterfowl retriever, they originally came from Newfoundland (not the nearby Labrador as you would think the name would indicate). Here they worked on fishing boats and assisted the men with the hauling of nets and catching fish that escaped the lines.
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1917, and their popularity grew over the decades. Their temperaments and intelligence mean that they not only appeal as a companion, but they also make fantastic service dogs and are often used as support dogs, scent detection dogs and for search and rescue, amongst other working roles.
With a Husky Lab Mix, you are not going to be entirely sure how one dog is going to look in comparison to the next as each dog will take on different characteristics from both breeds. The appearance will differ when compared to when a Husky is paired to a smaller breed, like the Pomeranian which creates the pomsky.
You can expect a medium to large dog though. Huskies usually weigh anything from 40 to 60 lbs, and Labs tend to be a little bigger going up to about 80lbs for the males. You will also have a dog with a short, dense double coat as both dogs sport this coat type.
The color will vary from dog to dog. Labs tend to come in three solid color options; chocolate, black and yellow. Huskies are commonly a white grey mix, but they can come in black or white solid colors and other mixed color combinations too, including brown and white, red and white, and sable and white.
Huskies have pointed prick ears, and Labs have drop ears, so you could end up with either, or an unusual shape or position that is somewhere in between. Appearances may vary though depending on the dog, similar to other labrador mixes like the aussie shepherd & lab mix. Huskies are also commonly mixed with other dogs, like the husky golden retriever mix.
While both breeds are known for generally being affectionate, they do generally have quite different personalities, and you should be prepared for your dog taking on temperament traits from either of the breeds. It is also important to remember that every dog is an individual, and they will not always comply with what is expected of a breed. Early and ongoing socialization and training can have a huge influence on shaping your dog’s personality too.
Labradors are known for being incredibly smart, exceptionally friendly and eager to please dogs. If someone asks which breed would make a good family pet, this breed is one that is often suggested as being top of the list.
They usually love the company of people, and often other dogs too, and are energetic and playful.
Huskies are another very social breed. They can be very affectionate, with people and other dogs. They can be intense characters, though, and they like to roughhouse. They should be taught good manners around people and other dogs; not all dogs love having an over exuberant dog up in their face!
Huskies are extremely energetic and driven, and they are not a dog that is generally suited to apartment living. They also often have a high prey drive, so they may not be best suited to living with other small furries.
Neither breed is known for being guard dogs or territorial, so if you are looking for a dog that will be a good watchdog, you are not likely to get this in a Husky Lab Mix.
Both breeds are very smart dogs that enjoy working. Without appropriate enrichment and direction, problem behaviors can manifest.
Because they are both dogs that thrive on company and, if they are left too much on their own, they can be prone to developing separation anxiety. Huskies are often a very vocal breed and, if left on their own, may drive your neighbors to distraction with their howling. Training may be required to encourage them not to vocalize so readily. They should always be rewarded for quiet behavior and, no matter how cute you think it is, you should not encourage your dog when they howl.
Labradors, in particular, are renowned chewers. You should make sure that there are plenty of tough, interactive chew toys available for them, and they should be redirected anytime you notice them showing interest in a table leg or slipper.
Huskies are not known for having a reliable recall. If you do want to be able to let them off the leash, then you should expect to have to put a lot of groundwork in to achieve this.
They are also often referred to as Houdinis. Their scaling and digging skills are exceptional. You may need to have a high fenced garden and make sure that they are not able to dig underneath the fence to escape.
The intelligence of both breeds means that any training you do will be extremely worthwhile. They are both fast learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training. The Lab, in particular, is extremely eager to please and very food motivated.
With their working histories, both breeds are generally very active and high energy dogs. You are not likely to end up with a lazy couch potato, and you should expect to have to provide them with good daily walks and plenty of extra enrichment around the home and garden. Huskies especially are very high energy, and they really do benefit from living in an active household where they can get the opportunity for long walks or runs regularly.
They are both breeds that may excel in competitive dog sports. Labs are frequent winners on the agility circuit and Huskies make excellent Canicross dogs (the sport of running with your dog pulling out front).
With this mix, you are going to need a vacuum cleaner that is designed to be effective at lifting out dog hair from carpets. They are both prolific shedders, particularly when they are having their seasonal molt. If you are exceptionally house proud and don’t want to be continually cleaning hair from your clothes and soft furnishings, then this is probably not a mix for you.
You will also need to invest in a good de-shedding tool, like the Furminator, and they will need daily brush outs during molting season and at least a weekly groom at other times. This will not only help to minimize the number of hairs left around your home and car, but it will also help to keep their coat in good condition.
Labradors are known for their love of the water. They can quickly develop that infamous ‘wet dog smell’, so they may need more regular bathing. Care should be taken not to bath too regularly though, ideally not more than once a month, as this can strip the natural oils from the coat.
Huskies, on the other hand, are known for their fastidious cleanliness, and their coat does not harbor dirt and odors the way a Labs coat does. You may hope for the Husky side to come out more when it comes to the coat for this reason.
When it comes to your Husky Lab Mixes health, much of this will depend on making sure they have a good quality diet and the right amount of exercise. Some things can be out of your control when it comes to inheritable conditions. You should be aware that your dog could be susceptible to developing health conditions that either breed are known to be prone to. It is, therefore, useful to understand what these conditions are.
If you are buying a Husky Lab Mix from a breeder, you should make sure they have done the relevant health screens on the parents, and this can help minimize the risk of your dog developing some of these genetic conditions.
Labrador Retriever Health
Musculoskeletal and Joint Problems: Arthritis is one of the biggest health conditions that Labradors are associated with. While this may not be avoidable, there are things that you can do to help reduce the risk and slow down the development. Using a joint supplement containing glucosamine and fish oils may help, as can making sure they don’t over exercise as a puppy and not encouraging high impact exercise regularly. They can also be prone to Elbow and Hip Dysplasia and surgery can sometimes be required to help manage these conditions. Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) is another common condition in Labs, especially in their elbows. This impacts on how the cartilage is growing in the joints and, in extreme cases, it can stop the elbow from being able to move.
Eye Problems: Labs are also associated with developing cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is not treatable, and it will lead to eventual blindness. Parents can, however, be health screened for this condition.
Bloat: Also known as Gastric Torsion or, by its medical name, Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV). This can be potentially fatal if immediate veterinary treatment is not sought. The condition results in the stomach expanding and twisting, and it can lead to a whole host of internal complications, and extreme pain and distress for your dog. While the exact causes are still not fully understood, it is widely recognized that larger breeds with deep chests are more likely to be at risk.
Labs also face an increased risk of developing epilepsy, heart problems and a muscle weakening condition called hereditary myopathy.
Hypothyroidism: This condition causes a dog to have a decreased metabolic rate as a result of a thyroid that is underactive. This can mean that the dog will start to gain weight more rapidly, their coat and skin condition may deteriorate, and they could become listless and fatigued. The disease cannot be cured, but it can be well managed after diagnosis through medication.
Follicular Dysplasia: This is a condition that occurs at an early age, around 3 – 4 months. It is one that is commonly associated with huskies, and unfortunately there are no effective treatments. It can result in a change in the condition and color of the dog’s coat, and they can suffer from hair loss.
Like Labs, Huskies are also more prone to developing cataracts, PRA and hip dysplasia.
As with any dog, it is important that you feed a high-quality food to your Lab Husky Mix.
Labs are prone to obesity; not only are they infamous gluttons, but there may even be a genetic link to their weight gain problems. You should be very careful not to overfeed them, and this is especially relevant when they are a puppy as this can contribute to an increased chance of them developing Osteochondritis Dissecans when they mature.
Because of their increased risk of bloat, it is better to feed them smaller meals more often rather than one large meal a day. If they hoover their food down very quickly, they may also benefit from being fed from a slow feed bowl.
If you do have an exceptionally active dog, perhaps they have the Husky trait of loving to run and you regularly take them on Canicross sessions, you need to make sure that they are getting an appropriate food that can support their additional energy requirements.
Finding a Husky Lab Mix (Huskador)
There are lots of really wonderful mixed breed dogs, including Husky Lab mixes, waiting to find their forever home in rescue organizations across the country. We would always encourage you to consider dog adoption, it can be a truly rewarding thing to do, and you will be providing a much-needed home to a dog in need.
If you do want to buy a puppy, it is vital that you do your research. Because a Husky Lab Mix is not a recognized breed, there will be no accredited breeders. You should make sure that whoever you are considering buying from allows you to come to visit mum and her litter, and they should be in a home environment with access to an appropriate whelping pen. The breeder should have gotten the puppies an initial vet check, and they should not be allowed to go to their new homes until they are at least eight weeks of age and they have been fully weaned from their mother’s milk.
Because of the rise in popularity of certain mixed breed dogs, often referred to as ‘designer’ breeds, this has seen a surge in the number of unscrupulous backyard breeders and puppy mills that are cashing in on the trend. Not only can you end up with a sick, undersocialized puppy, but you are promoting a practice that sees the breeding dogs often kept in cruel, inhumane conditions.
If you are looking for a mixed breed that is likely to be very affectionate, a smart cookie, generally good with other dogs, and also enjoys plenty of exercise and an outdoor lifestyle, then a Husky Lab Mix could be the dog for you.
Don’t forget that you may have to do some extra training when it comes to time off the leash, and you may have to make sure that you are extra strict with their diet to avoid an expanding waistline. You will also have to be prepared for a lot of cleaning up of dog hair too!