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Can Huskies be service dogs?

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Can Huskies be service dogs?

Huskies are a highly popular dog breed in the US and abroad. Their beautiful eyes, outgoing nature, goofy temperament and wolf-like appearance convinces many families to welcome a Husky puppy to their home.

But can any kind of Husky be trained beyond being a family dog? Specifically, can they become a service dog? 

Unfortunately, most Huskies are not idea candidates for service dog work. Today we will look in detail at why a Husky may not qualify to be a service dog.

Table of Contents

Will my Husky be a good service dog?

Not every dog has the potential to become a service dog, regardless of their breed. While there are breeds that are more suited to this job, the dog itself also will need specific characteristics and requirements to fulfill his task. A service dog is not created by putting a service dog vest on!

Service dogs should have an even temperament, be non-reactive towards any humans and dogs and be able to work concentrated even in distracting settings. They should be able to train for longer periods of time and food-motivated.  Service dog training takes years and will require consistency and commitment.

Huskies have some of the required characteristics:

  • They are generally friendly and outgoing and unlikely to bite.
  • They get along well with most other dogs, people and children
  • They are an active breed that enjoys to visit new places and spend time with his owner.

Unfortunately, Huskies also are very independent dogs with little will to please. Contrary to herding dogs or retrievers, they were not bred to work together closely with their human.

A Husky was mainly bred for one purpose: To run tirelessly next to his teammates, in any conditions, over long distances.

This makes them at times difficult to motivate in training and rules our most Huskies as a service dog.

husky service dog

What is a service dog?

Many dog owners want their dogs to become “service dogs” so that they will be able to accompany them into stores or on airplanes. However, this is not the accurate definition of a service dog. A true service dog is a highly trained animal that performs specific tasks to assist their owners with a disability.

The ADA specifically states:

“[A] dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability.”

That means that simply “providing comfort” or “accompanying their handler into a store” is not a task for a service animal. A true service dog would for example alert his owner with diabetes when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A service dog for a person with epilepsy would alert the owner to the onset of a seizure.

In order to make your Husky a true service dog, you need to 

  • have a disability 
  • train your Husky to specifically assist with this disability through trained tasks
dog with open mouth

Why Huskies are not a good service dog choice

A service dog needs to work tirelessly for his owner in a variety of environments. He needs to have a strong work ethic and understand that as long as it is work time he cannot run off.

Service dogs get trained over long periods of time (sometimes as long as 18 months) to ignore all distractions around them and focus solely on their owner. You have probably experienced you Husky not being able to ignore distractions at the park and pay attention even for 5 minutes – now image requiring him to stay by your side for hours!

Service dogs have to “withstand” the temptation to greet bystanders, go to play with other dogs, chase small animals (such as cats) and of course never run away, even if off-leash. Of course, a service dog must never pull on leash.

All of these skills are ones that Huskies typically struggle to learn. This is not a sign that Huskies are not smart – rather it is against their original breed purpose and temperament. Their ancestors were born to run, to be highly excitable and to pull sleds in their harnesses

Trying to make a Husky into a service dog is going to be an extremely difficult and probably futile task. Even dogs that were bred to stay by their owners, pay attention to them perfectly, not run away and not pull on leash often “flake out” during the service dog training process. A dog that was bred to literally do the opposite is most likely not going to succeed.

You will probably frustrate both yourself and your dog by trying to turn your Husky into a service dog. However – there is another option. He can be a fantastic emotional support animal!

Are they good emotional support dogs?

If your puppy does not work out as a service dog or you do not have a specific disability that requires assistance, your Husky can still become an emotional support animal (ESA)!

Huskies are fantastic emotional support dogs. They know exactly when their owners are sad or anxious and how to help them feel better. They will gladly give you as many kisses as you need to cheer up again!

ESAs vs service dogs

Emotional support animals have less stringent requirements than service dogs. They do not need to be trained to perform a specific task to assist their owner. Less intense training and exposure is required.

Pretty much all Huskies are more suitable to become ESAs than actual service dogs. This is especially true for first-time dog owners who might not have the time to invest into true service dog training.

husky and girl on a blanket

The Bottom Line

Most Huskies are not suitable to be service dogs. Their original breed purpose and independent character makes service dog training very difficult.

Unless you already have plenty of experience in training service animals, a Husky is a poor choice. Even dogs that were bred to work closely with their owners do not always succeed in service dog training.

Already starting out with a dog who is likely to fail is a very poor idea that will lead to frustration on part of owner and dog.

Having your Husky be an Emotional Support Animal is a much better choice that is likely to be more successful!