Maybe you saw one in a movie as a kid and it struck you how gorgeous he was. Maybe you’ve always been fascinated by wolves howling in the moonlight and want a bit of that magic in your life.
Maybe you want a pet that can keep up with your active lifestyle. Maybe you need a sled dog to add to your team.
Maybe you were not even actually looking for a pet but this dog chose YOU. His eyes are just so soulful and he sleeps curled up, tail over eyes, at the foot of your bed. Now you need to know how to take care of him (because all you know is dogs like bacon).
Whatever your reasoning for falling in love with wolf dog hybrids, one thing is for sure : an Agouti Husky is the perfect choice.
What Is An Agouti Husky?
A Husky is a medium-sized dog best known for its soft, furry coat and active, intelligent mind.
Huskies are genetically related to the now-extinct taymyr wolf of extreme northern Asia and Russia. These animals were tamed in the high latitudes of Siberia over 1500 years ago.
Other active, athletic modern wolf dog breeds (such as malamutes and akitas) share similar characteristics and have a similar history.
They are working dogs, bred in the arctic circle to pull a sled in the winter and a cart in the summer, and are agile, energetic, and playful. They are gentle by nature, loyal, and affectionate, and love to include humans in their “pack”.
Agouti huskies in the Americas can be traced back to the Alaskan gold rush. They were trained in groups to pull light sleds quickly over the snow and ice. They also guarded herds of reindeer that were used for food and chased away predators from human camps.
Now huskies have traditionally been bred as sled dogs for racing! They are ubiquitous in the teams at the Iditarod. The mushers very lives depend on their dog’s ability to trudge through the arctic and the relationship they build with their team. Huskies make the cut every time.
Modern huskies are bred in two different lines: competition show dogs and working dogs most similar to those used generations ago.
The huskies traditionally bred for appearance are typically purebred. They have pure-colored coats (white is the rarest and is highly prized in the competition circuit) and bright, clear, light-colored eyes.
Agouti huskies are not primarily show dogs. They have a distinct appearance that makes them appear “dirty”. It is closer to the wild genes of a wolf and are evidence of their history as being bred for function. They may be born gray but tend to develop certain features as they age.
‘Agouti’ is a term that is colloquially used to denote a specific line of breeding. It refers to a series of genes controlling the expression or inhibition of certain colors in a dog’s coat and skin. Agouti genes affect cells that produce eumelanin, which is the black pigmentation in mammals.
It is variation in the individual strands of hair instead of stripes on the entire animal.
This is different than brindle coloring, which is also recessive, but not at all rare in domestic dog breeds. Brindle means all over body-wide stripes of tan or brown. Not only is the entire streak of hair colored, but each strand of hair in that stripe is all one universal color.
Agouti is one of the oldest color scheme phenotypes in the natural world.
Agouti huskies have fur characterized by bands of color within each hair itself. It is a form of camouflage that several other wild animals showcase, including rabbits, rodents, and deer. It is rare in modern domesticated dog breed but is very common in wolf populations.
Of course, each animal is different because of individual genetic expression, but the bottom band of color is generally darker (it provides better skin protection, especially from UV rays reflecting off the snow). The tip of each hair tends to be darker too.
The several bands between them can be a number of colors including tan, red, and cream. You likely will not find much pure white in agouti coloring as it is a rarely-expressed genetically recessive trait.
Agouti huskies tend to have dark faces, with a dark nose bar, and dark eyes.
They, like all huskies, have a bushy brush tail. Agouti huskies generally have a black-tipped tail.
All breeds of Husky generally have perky triangular ears. Agouti huskies do, too.
Huskies are not generally barkers, but they ARE very vocal animals. A Husky howl can be heard for miles. They also have a tendency to make a noise that sounds like a rolling chirp when they want to play!
Training Your Agouti Husky
Like all dogs bred for work, you will notice your agouti Husky has a ton of energy. They walk confidently, with a smooth, effortless gait, and can jump tall obstacles and suddenly run at breakneck speed with seemingly little effort.
If you live an active lifestyle and enjoy running and hiking and swimming, a Husky will enjoy those activities right along with you!
The flip side of this athleticism is boredom. If your dog, especially while he is young, gets left to his own devices you may find he becomes destructive. He may dig at inappropriate times (like in the carpet padding of your home), bark and annoy your neighbors, or tear things up (like your favorite pair of shoes!).
You can avoid this undesirable behavior by making sure your agouti Husky (both as a puppy and as an adult!) has plenty to do- and plenty to chew.
Organized games and tasks can help. Tug of war, fetch, and agility courses are all good bets for working dogs. Make sure to follow up with lots of praise and affection.
When your dog is at rest, ensure his mind and body are occupied with safe things to gnaw on. Tough, thick rubber balls with small holes for snacks, for instance, are great options.
You would think all this excess energy combined with an intelligent mind would make an Agouti Husky easy to train.
Most owners and trainers find that, while training huskies, their patience is constantly tested!
Huskies are fiercely independent and free-spirited. They tend to realize very quickly that they can choose whether or not to obey your commands and respond to training.
Because they can be troublemakers and have a great sense of humor, they may consciously decide to ignore you!
Most pet owners have better luck with shorter, more frequent training sessions. Start out with five minutes once a day with your puppy. His attention span is very short. Work right away on basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘come’, and ‘drop it’.
When he is a little older, you can work your way up to fifteen minutes two or three times a day. He can learn more difficult commands as well as behavior modifications like not jumping on people or lying still while you cut his nails.
It is important to discipline your agouti Husky when necessary. When your dog does something wrong, avoiding physical or overly harsh reprimands will go a long way toward cementing your relationship with him!
Catching your dog in the act is helpful, but showing him evidence after the fact is sufficient. Make sure to connect the dots for him. If you are upset about a specific incident, reprimand him in that space.
Immediately lower your voice and sharpen the tone. Add a little harsh edge to your voice. Tell him firmly NO, then remove him from the situation and provide a suitable distraction or substitute.
Then it is essential to provide lots of positive reinforcement when he makes the right choice. Make sure when you are praising him make your voice a little higher, almost sing-song, and use exciting-sounding words. Physical affection in conjunction with proper verbal reinforcement should be all the discipline your dog needs.
For instance, if you see your Husky chewing on a shoe, tell him NO, remove the shoe, then give him a toy he CAN chew on. When he does, tell him he is a good boy and you’re proud of him!
Be aware that Agouti huskies are also escape artists! They can jump high fences easily. They can quickly dig their way to freedom. They will even chew their way through a chain link fence.
When you discover they have gone missing, they enjoy the game of chase that ensues - and can likely outrun you with no effort.
Your Husky’s stamina and athletic ability far exceeds even that of human endurance athletes, so it makes good sense to train your dog early to stay close to home.
Make sure your fences are secure and at least six feet high. You can dig into the dirt a bit and install paneling or chicken wire at the bottom. Then fill the trench with the dirt, then layer small decorative stones along the bottom edge of the fence. This can discourage digging through the bottom.
An emergency recall word, used judiciously, is an important part of dog training. This is a command, spoken in a staccato, tense, heavily-accented voice, that triggers your dog to immediately return to you and sit at your feet. Is it very useful in times your dog may be in danger when running from you, such as in busy traffic or around a hungry predator.
Make absolutely certain your agouti Husky (especially since they may look wild and scare people that are not familiar with their breed) is always wearing his collar with identification and rabies tags. Keep shot records handy and register him where locally required.
Because of this, agouti huskies often need extra effort from you. This starts with building a close relationship with your dog from the very start and then slowly building on his desire to please you.
Socialization is a necessary facet of any solid training plan. Your dog needs to know how to behave - around humans, around other dogs, and around other types of animals.
Make sure you train your dog to walk calmly on a leash. Use a chest harness instead of his collar to attach the lead to him.
Introduce him to a variety of people. Once he is less jumpy on a lead, take walks through crowded places. Allow him the opportunity to stop and smell things, but do not let him jump on people.
Open-run dog parks can contribute to his ability to handle other dogs well.
A key aspect with training ANY dog, but working dogs in particular, is to make sure they know immediately that you are in charge. They should see you as the alpha of their pack. This will ensure that your dog respects and loves you enough to want you to be happy with them.
Keeping Your Agouti Husky Healthy And Safe
As a loving, responsible pet owner, you are determined to keep your dog as healthy as you can.
Luckily there are MANY things you can do to keep your dog in top shape!
Paramount in importance is regular veterinarian check ups. This includes getting all his vaccines on time. Also make sure your dog is taking medicine to avoid heartworms and fleas and ticks. Following up on any medical conditions (joint inflammation, for instance) and following your vets recommendations are essential.
Nutrition is another key aspect of your maintaining your dog’s good health. Huskies are not generally gluttons and are not prone to overeating. Because they are so athletic, they will efficiently use every calorie they consume. It is your responsibility to ensure those calories are high quality.
Your dog, if possible, should be on a dog food specific to his breed and size. From there, supplementing with quality wet food or human foods can help make certain that his diet is varied and nutrient-rich.
Because an Agouti Husky is genetically closer to feral wolves, he may enjoy a primarily raw-food diet that mimics what he would consume in nature. There are many safe commercial options available. Your veterinarian or an employee at a pet store can offer guidance.
There is a shift in some pet care circles towards so-called ‘ancestral’ foods for dogs.
One version of this is referred to as the “whole prey model” of feeding. In their natural environment, wolves would consume an entire prey animal - a whole duck, or a whole rabbit, for instance - to make sure he was getting the full range of calories and nutrients his body needed to sustain his activities.
Some animal researchers argue that most wild dogs, while attempting to hunt, regularly end up as scavengers. There have been feral dog packs that have followed nomadic human populations for centuries, eating what they leave behind when they pack up camp. This still occurs in many parts of the world today.
Because of this intertwined history between dogs and humans, many experts believe feeding your dog healthy whole human foods is the best way of ensuring adequate calorie intake and nutrition.
This is good news for you! Most pet owners are MUCH more comfortable feeding their domesticated house pets animal food (mixed with some human food) instead of tossing them a whole dead deer.
Dogs enjoy a number of healthy human food options including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin and squash
- Cooked whole grains like rice and quinoa and oats
- Meats like fish, beef, and chicken
- Dairy products like cheese and yogurt
- Blueberries and cranberries
Human foods to avoid feeding your dog include cherries, avocados, chocolate, raisins and grapes, and nuts.
A quick internet search or a call to your vet can help you choose safe and nutritious human foods for your agouti Husky.
Of course, it is also absolutely vital that your dog have enough clean water.
Your agouti Husky is, overall, a very healthy breed of dog. They have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and have relatively few concerning health conditions.
He is, unfortunately, predisposed to a couple potentially serious health concerns.
Eye problems in particular are very common in huskies. Cataracts affect about ten percent of the breed. Other eye conditions that can affect your dog are corneal dystrophy and progressive retinal atrophy. These can be treatable if caught at an early stage by your vet. Genetic testing for these conditions also exists and can help you plan for your dog’s health-related expenses and options for treatment as he grows.
Huskies also may experience hip and joint problems, like hip dysplasia, which can make their naturally athletic bodies painful to move around in.
Grooming will need to become a regular part of your dog’s life. Start at a young age and make sure it becomes a regular habit.
Huskies, like all other dogs originating from cold climates, have a double coat. It has many important uses, including keeping the animals warm.
The bottom layer, or undercoat, is a thick and soft layer and functions like down. The individual hairs are often crimped to trap warm air. A husky’s skin secretes oils that keep its skin and undercoat healthy and clean.
The visible layer is the top coat. These are made up of guard hairs. The top coat very efficiently repels water and snow, keeping the dog warm and dry. It also helps trap in body heat while protecting the skin from harmful UV days. The hairs are generally straight and course.
The Husky undercoat sheds completely twice a year in the spring and fall as the weather changes. It may fall out in large clumps (you may see them and worry your dog will be bald!) but it grows back quickly. The top coat sheds significantly less, but all year round.
Shedding is normal for these breeds. As long as the hair coming off of them is not dull, there is no skin flaking, and your dog is not relentlessly itching, there is nothing to worry about.
If he IS scratching more than normal, or the hair he is shedding looks different than his typical undercoat, check for bugs. Fleas, ticks, and lice can be hiding in their soft undercoat. Make sure to check for skin conditions and rashes too.
If there is no evidence of pests or bumps, a quick call to your vet could help explain the behavior. Stress, hormonal shifts (in particular around heats or pregnancy), food allergies, and lack of nutrition can all be responsible.
These breeds do not get dirty easily because of their undercoat. They are naturally clean, with little to no odor. They do require at least weekly grooming to control the massive amount of hair. There are a number of special brushes and tools to choose from.
It is also a good idea to invest in a quality vacuum made for homes with furry pets.
Be careful to not bathe your agouti Husky too often. It can strip his skin of essential sebaceous oils and cause bald spots and uncomfortable skin conditions. If your Husky smells outdoorsy, or musty, or otherwise less than fresh, there are non-bathing options like dry shampoo and lightly scented wipes.
When grooming your agouti Husky pay extra care to their feet. As working dogs, huskies rely on their foot pads for safety and stability on rough and slick surfaces. They also protect the tissues and joints of his feet from shock with each step. You can find lotion for the pads of their feet in pet stores and online.
Keeping their nails (and the hair between them) trimmed can contribute to his paws being clean. If the hair between his toes gets too long it can interfere with his ability to flex his feet. This can affect his balance.
If your dog is limping, check the pads of his feet. There may be a thorn or rock embedded in his flesh. They may also be tender and blistered if it is too hot outside and your Husky has been walking on concrete. Also check his nails - if they are too long he may not be able to put his feet down all the way. Then move to his ankle joints.
Improper paw care can affect your dog’s gait and ability to walk and can contribute to joint and hip problems later in life.
Getting Your Agouti Husky
Getting an Agouti Husky can be somewhat difficult. There are two main options : find a breeder specializing in Agouti dogs or find one by chance at a shelter.
Thanks to the ability to search online, you can find a breeder focusing on any type of dog you want.
You may have to be willing to travel- a number of wolf-dog breeders purposely live in colder climates so their dogs will be more comfortable (and so they can train sled dogs themselves!).
You also need to be willing to pay. A well-bred Husky can run you into the thousands of dollars.
If you choose to find one available through a breeder, make certain you acquire as much information about the parents (sire and dam, in breeder language) as possible. Not only can you check coloring, but also disposition and intelligence. Ask about specific health problems.
Some agouti huskies get left in the care of animal shelters. They may be more work than an unqualified owner can handle. Others are not as cute as the owners were hoping, so they are abandoned.
Most rescues and shelters take good care of their charges. They should handle shots and deworming, and may even spay or neuter your pet. Many microchip animals as soon as they are taken in.
Look for a shelter with lots of open play space for the animals to socialize in.
When adopting or buying a new dog, take your home and yard into consideration. Slowly introduce the animals already in your life to your new addition. Make sure children understand body language. Reiterate the importance of respecting a dog’s need for space.
If possible, have a trial run with your new agouti Husky before committing. It will give you time to fix any major issues with bringing home a new pet.
Immediately contact a vet for a thorough physical. Catching health problems early can be the key to saving your dog’s life.
An Agouti Husky can be an amazing companion dog. They are smart and funny and independent. If you are considering getting a Husky, do not be turned off by the amount of work training them can be! They are beautiful and strong and intensely loyal. They will absolutely adore you if you treat them well!
Image Source: husky-owners.com