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Siberian Husky vs. Labrador Retriever: Which is Better For Your Family?

Are you considering a Siberian Husky and a Labrador Retriever for your next family pet? Both of these breeds frequently earn a spot on the list of most popular dog breeds, so how to choose? Find out what you can expect from each breed!

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: June 21, 2021 | 10 min read

Siberian Husky vs Labrador Retriever

When it comes to looking for a dog, many people often ask which breed is the better dog. But in most cases, no one dog is better than any other. It is simply a question of which dog is better for you and your lifestyle.

The Siberian Husky and the Labrador Retriever are energetic dogs, but they prefer different types of exercise. They also have different energy levels in the home, with the Husky being more hyper and the Labrador much calmer.

The best way to decide which breed is better for your family is to look at your circumstances and lifestyle. And then decide which one will slot better into your family. Because, ultimately, a dog should fit in with your lifestyle, not the other way round. So, without further ado, let’s look at the factors that might affect whether the Siberian Husky or the Labrador Retriever is the better dog breed for you.

Breed Comparison

Siberian Husky

  • Height 20-24 Inches
  • Weight 35-65 Pounds
  • Temperament Mischievous, Loyal, Loving
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Above Average
  • Grooming 2-3 Times Per Week
  • Lifespan 12-14 years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Labrador Retriever

  • Height 21-25 Inches
  • Weight 55-80 Pounds
  • Temperament Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly
  • Energy Intense
  • Health Average
  • Grooming Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 Years
  • Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up

Breed History

Both of these guys are known to be great family pets. Looking at a dog’s history can go a long way to telling you what they might be like as family pets. People often underestimate this part of the research process. But learning about a dog’s history will help you to better understand the dog breed as a whole. So, let’s see how their histories compare.

Siberian Husky

Handsome Dog Walking in the Snow
Siberian Huskies were bred as sled dogs in Siberia. 

The Siberian Husky falls into the working group, whose purpose was to assist their master with pulling sleds across the Arctic. The breed goes back some 3,000 years, making them an ancient dog breed. The Chukchi tribe from Siberia is closely linked to the breed. Because they are isolated from the rest of the world, they kept the breed a close secret until the 1900s.

Travelers saw how great they were pulling sleds in treacherous conditions with minimal sustenance. But they became really famous in 1925 when a bunch of Huskies led by Balto (possibly the most famous Husky of all time) saved a community from a deadly epidemic. The breed was officially recognized in 1930 by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and we have loved him ever since.

Labrador Retriever

Brown Dog Playing on a Sunny Day
Labrador Retrievers were bred to help fishermen on their boats.

The Labrador Retriever is a much newer breed than the Husky, and his forefather is thought to be the now-extinct St John’s Water Dog. He originates from Newfoundland (not Labrador, even though it would make much more sense!). English nobles saw how fantastic he was assisting his master and took him back to England. This is where his popularity began to climb steadily.

The Labrador Retriever falls into the sporting group, whose purpose was to assist his master in hunting or catching their prey. He was also used to drive fish into his master’s nets, using his thick otter-like tail and webbed feet. This guy has ranked as America’s number one dog breed for over three decades. And according to the AKC, no other breed has come close to knocking him off the top spot!

Appearance

Dogs Looking Slightly Right
These two breeds have very little in common as it pertains to their appearances.

Both breeds have completely different looks. Huskies were bred for working, sledding, and has a thick coat to handle the snow. Meaning that they also require more grooming and shed more due to the amount of fur they have. If you live in a warmer climate, having a husky may not be the best choice due to their long coat.

The Lab was bred for sport. There are field and bench Labs, which both have slightly different purposes and looks. They can have three different colored coats, which are yellow, chocolate, and black. This also includes a red coat, which is technically a deeper yellow, and there are also controversial silver Labs. His coat is much shorter and lies closer to his body, and he doesn’t look anywhere near as fluffy as the Husky.

Huskies have the typical northern canine appearance. Which is a compact body, fluffy coat, small erect triangular-shaped ears, and a sickle-shaped tail. They are often compared to Alaskan Malamutes and even mistaken for wolves. They also tend to inherit the heterochromia gene, meaning that they can have different colored eyes. Labs are more stocky and bulkier. Making them look more powerful and less agile. Labs are well-proportioned dogs but square in overall shape.

Temperament

Handsome Dogs Looking at Camera
Huskies tend to have more energy than Labs.

The Siberian Husky and the Labrador differ slightly in their temperament. As such, this could determine what breed is better for your family. The Husky is hyperactive; he is always on the go and is always running and bouncing around. This may not be ideal if you have younger children. In contrast, the Labrador is much gentler and calmer and will lay down with young children while watching a film or having a snooze.

However, if you have older children and like to travel and go hiking or biking across mountains, while the Labrador would be happy enough to join you, the Husky will be in his element. And will only stop when your family wants to stop. So, if you have older and more active children, then the Husky will probably make for a better exploring partner. They also fare better in colder weather.

Both breeds are known to get on perfectly well with other dogs and family pets as long as they are properly socialized from a pup. The only viable concern to have is if you are rehoming an older dog into your family setting. Still, as long as they get along well during pre-meets and trial runs, they should slot into your family just fine. The only animal that a Lab shouldn’t live with is anything with feathers, as his innate hunting drive will probably kick in!

Overall, Huskies do not have an exercise limit, they are hyperactive, and their energy knows no bounds. Whereas the Labrador, while he needs a good hour of exercising every day, is more partial to a snooze between play sessions. This will determine what they will be like in the home, and it makes the Husky a much more intense dog to live with.

Exercise

Puppies Playing in Snow
Labs need about 60 minutes of daily exercise whereas Huskies need around 90 minutes.

Both dog breeds both require significant amounts of exercise compared to the average pooch. The Labrador needs at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, and the Siberian Husky needs even more than that. The average Husky needs at least 90 minutes of exercise a day. But he could go on for hours and hours if you’ve got the time (and energy!).

The Husky is the original race car. He is built for pulling sleds as fast as he can for as long as he can. So, this guy would appreciate long brisk walks or jogging. Of course, you can mix this up with a round of fetch in the local park, but you would do well to remember his original purpose, as this is what will keep him most happy.

The Labrador is a hunting dog that retrieves prey from the water. So, the ideal exercise for this guy would be to play fetch or ball in the local park where there are fields and lakes. Not only will this keep him physically fit, but it will also keep him mentally stimulated, as this is his favorite pastime.

If you don’t exercise these guys appropriately, they will become destructive. Don’t be fooled by their puppy dog eyes. The Labrador is known to eat through sofas, and the Husky is known to dig gardens up and jump 6-foot fences with ease. If you want a happy pup, then exercise and energy outlets are key for these guys!

So, if your family likes long adventurous hikes or you are after a jogging partner, then the Siberian Husky may be a better option for your family. If you are after a playmate who likes to fetch and swim in the lake for an hour every day, complete with chill time, the Labrador may be the perfect companion for your family.

Training

Dogs Looking Up
Both breeds are highly intelligent and can be easily trained.

Both breeds are very intelligent pups who love to be trained by their master. They both require early socialization, and they both respond well to positive reinforcement training. They are both used in working professions, such as search and rescue and drug detection. This is a testament to their incredible intelligence. The Labrador is more known as an assistance dog for the blind and is a therapy dog, as he has a calmer temperament than the Husky.

However, the Husky is known to be more independent and stubborn. As such, he is harder to train than the Labrador. Additionally, as he originally comes from a pack setting, he needs a dominant pack leader. If he feels as though there is no hierarchy in the family unit, he may try to assume the role of top dog.

This will not only create behavioral issues, but it will also cause an unhappy household. As long as his main caregiver is dominant and firm with him, he will thrive and be an awesome family pet. But he is definitely not for the meek and mild owner. Huskies also need toys to keep them busy, or they can get into trouble.

Overall, they are both very intelligent and trainable and will thrive in almost any training event that you enter them into. However, if you are a first-time dog owner or don’t think you can be an authoritative pack leader, the Labrador will probably be the better breed for you.

Health

Dogs Playing in Snow
Both the Lab and the Husky are prone to genetic health concerns.

Both the Husky and the Labrador are generally healthy pups who are both prone to suffering breed-specific health issues. While their health is what it is, and you haven’t got a crystal ball to predict what is in store for them, it is sad for children to have to watch their best friend become ill. So, their health is definitely something that should be scrutinized on a higher level if you have children.

While they are both generally healthy pups, the Husky has fewer major health complaints. He is the more robust roomie who, on average, lives two years longer than the Labrador. The main complaints of the Husky are hip dysplasia and eye problems, mainly progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

The Labrador is also prone to hip dysplasia but also elbow dysplasia. Good quality breeders will test their Labs for something known as exercise-induced collapse (EIC). Eye problems are also found in the breed, including PRA and cataracts. Heart disorders and hereditary myopathy, which is muscle weakness, should also be screened.

The Lab is probably the most prone dog breed to obesity. This guy is a forever-hungry hippo who will eat everything in sight (edible or not!). Obesity leads to a whole bunch of other health problems, so be sure to keep him trim.

Nutrition

Close Up of Dogs Faces
Around three cups of high-quality kibble should be fed to your Lab or Husky each day.

The Siberian Husky and the Labrador Retriever both eat around 3 cups of food a day. This is different for every dog. And it depends on lots of different factors such as age, size, lifestyle, and brand of food you feed. Whatever you do, do not free-feed or overfeed them, especially the Labrador. You’d be hard-pushed to find an overweight Husky, but stranger things have happened!

Always feed your pup the best nutrition that you can afford. It can be the difference between average and best health. Make sure the kibble is age-appropriate. If you expect your Husky to be on the smaller side, he can eat all-breed kibble. But the Labrador should always eat a kibble that is specifically designed for larger breeds. If your Husky or Lab is a working breed, there are plenty of performance kibbles to meet their higher energy needs.

Overall, Labs should eat dog food heavy in Omega 3’s to support their skin and coat health, but you’ll need to watch their calorie intake. A Husky’s dog food should support a very active working dog. When it comes to the monthly food bill, both the Lab and the Husky will cost roughly the same.

Grooming

Dogs Getting Bathed
Both breeds shed quite a bit, so lots of brushing is required to maintain a healthy coat.

Both the Siberian Husky and Labrador have a thick double coat designed to protect them against the elements. As such, they are both heavy shedders. During shedding seasons, they will need brushing every day to keep their coat manageable.

Husky fur may be easier to notice because most have some form of white fur that sheds frequently. If dog hair offends you, neither of these breeds will be the best choice.

It is believed that around 10% of the American population suffers from dog allergies. While there aren’t any 100% hypoallergenic dogs, there are breeds that shed a lot less, and therefore much better for allergy sufferers. So, if your family has dog allergies, you should consider another breed, as both the Husky and the Labrador will get you sneezing!

Puppy Prices

Small Puppies Sitting Outside
Expect to pay around $1,000 for either breed as puppies.

The price of a Siberian Husky and the Labrador cost about the same in terms of the initial price of the pooch, with $1,000 being the average cost of a puppy from a reputable breeder. As long as you purchase him from a recognized breeder, the pups are most likely guaranteed to have had the best start to life.

A reputable breeder should never sell a puppy who is ill or has displayed vicious or aggressive tendencies. This is particularly important if you are a family with young children or other pets in your household.

Anyone who tries to sell you a pup for much less than this might be part of a puppy mill. These people have no care for the health of their puppies and will not socialize them in any way. So, please avoid them at all costs if you don’t want any future problems.

Final Thoughts

The Siberian Husky is currently ranked by the AKC as the 14th most popular dog breed in America. In contrast, the Labrador is the most popular dog in America. So, this makes him the better family pet, right? Well, not necessarily. Despite the Labrador being the most popular pup of the two, it comes down to which breed better suits you and your lifestyle better.

While the Labrador appears to be the better choice for a family pet, as shown by popularity rankings, if you can offer the Husky what he needs in terms of input and effort, he is known to be as equally rewarding and great as a family pet.

The Siberian Husky will entertain your whole family with his talkative vocal nature. If you are an energetic family, then his athleticism and feats of endurance and strength will keep you company for the long journey. And while he is more difficult to train, if you can crack his training, his unwavering loyalty and protectiveness will make up for it.

However, the Labrador is indeed America’s favorite family pet, and there are plenty of reasons why this is. He is gentle and calm, but at the same time, he will offer you hours of entertainment and cuddles. And obedience in abundance!

Alternatively, if either of these breeds sounds like they could slot into your life perfectly and you still can’t decide between the two, then take a look at the Huskador. This is a cross between a Siberian Husky and a Labrador Retriever, and this pup is the best of both worlds!

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