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Labrador Husky

The Labrador Husky is a spitz type of dog that was bred for work as a very strong, fast sled dog; it is a purebred originating from Canada. Although the breed's name may be baffling, it is not a mix between a Labrador Retriever and a Husky. The breed is very little known, and there are no breed clubs that currently recognize it.

Appearance The Labrador Husky is a fairly large dog that can weigh between 60 and 100 pounds and can grow to 20 - 28 inches. Thick, double coated fur protects these dogs from the bitterly cold temperatures that come with Labrador's long winters. The husky's head is broad and has a long, narrow muzzle. The chest is wide and heavy boned. The husky's muscular and stout body is a unique physical trait, especially when compared to a Siberian Husky. Coat colors include solid white, solid black, black and white, red and white, and grey and white. There are two rare coat colors that can also be found in this breed: wolf grey and solid grey. Any coat color can appear in any litter; the most common colours are black and white, gray and white, and solid black. This breed has existed for hundreds of years, and has become a unique breed due to its isolation from other northern dog breeds over this time. Labrador Huskies were used for transportation for many years, until the advent of the snowmobile. They are now often kept as loving pets. However, there are Labrador Inuit and Metis who still use them for recreational dog sledding and some even prefer the dog team to a snowmobile. Sled dog racing continues to be a winter pastime in Labrador, with long races similar to the Iditarod still happening today. Today, in isolated communities in northern Labrador, spaying and neutering is extremely expensive and logistically difficult. Dog breeding is therefore largely unmonitored and uncontrolled. This has resulted in a great variety of Labrador Husky mixes. It is unclear how many "purebred" Labrador Huskies are left in their region of origin, but many of the mixes retain that distinctive wolf-like facial shape. Of all the northern dog breeds, the Labrador Husky is one of the rarest, with less than an estimated 50-60 purebred Labrador Huskies currently identified in Labrador.. As a result, the breed is not well understood by many dog breeders.

Temperament The Labrador Husky may have a somewhat different temperament from other Northern breeds. The breed can be friendly and not aggressive with strangers and is well behaved if socialized properly. These dogs often do well with children, especially if reared with them. Being with other dogs always makes them happy, because they are bred to work well in a pack. Training is easy and fun because they are an intelligent breed. Unlike the Siberian or Alaskan Husky, the Labrador Husky is not well known. The breed has many wolf-like characteristics owing to its ancestry; however, the Labrador Husky has been a loyal and trusted companion to the Labrador Inuit for centuries. It rarely barks but does tend to howl. Labrador Huskies have a combination of strength, intelligence and stamina, properties that are good for virtually any breed. They are not as fast as their Siberian or Alaskan cousins because they have been bred for endurance and strength.

Health There are no known ailments specific to this breed; special care has been taken in their breeding and this may be the reason few health problems exist. Any health problems the Labrador Husky may have are common to most other breeds. While the exact life expectancy of these dogs isn’t known, a healthy Labrador Husky should live for approximately 10 to 13 years.

Origin The Labrador Husky originated in the Labrador portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Labrador is the northern and mainland portion of the province. The breed probably arrived in the area with the Inuit people who came to Canada around 1300 AD. Although they were once very closely related to other Northern breeds, such as the Siberian Husky, they became isolated in Labrador and continued to develop on their own. Their history of being bred with wolves does not mean that they are wolf-dogs, nor do they have any recent wolf ancestry. However, they still retain some of their wolf-like physical features. Although they have been isolated, some Labradorian people have introduced the blood of the Alaskan Malamute and later for trainability purposes, the German Shepherd Dog. This has created a larger sled dog that looks strikingly similar to the Siberian Husky, but is much larger and more wolf-like.

Grooming and Living Area Grooming is something to consider when choosing this breed because of the thick double coat. The Labrador Husky probably needs plenty of brushing as any double coated breed would. This dog sheds continuously, but has a major shed twice a year. During the twice yearly shedding time, these dogs should be brushed every day to remove loose hair. Sometimes baths are necessary to fully clean the coat. Exercise is another thing to consider before getting one of these dogs, especially if you are not an active person or family. This sled dog requires a lot of exercise and a large yard is a good idea. Long walks and ample exercise will go a long way towards keeping this dog calm and non-destructive. Giving the dog some sort of work to do such as agility or flyball will keep them both exercised and happy. Cold climates are obviously best for this breed.

Rescue Due to largely uncontrolled breeding in some isolated communities, many Labrador Huskies and Labrador Husky mixes are homeless. Often these street dogs are malnourished and in poor physical condition. Rescued Labrador street dogs tend to be extremely friendly and well mannered. Currently, 3 organizations regularly rescue Labrador Huskies and Labrador Husky mixes: The Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA, Heavenly Creatures and Litters 'n Critters.