Can a Husky Be a Service Dog?

Siberian husky standing in grass beside a foot trail

When it comes to getting a dog, many people have breeds they’ve always dreamed of owning. However, if you require a service dog, not all breeds will be up to the task. So today, we’ll look at the gorgeous Siberian husky.

This breed’s piercing eyes and majestic wolf-like appearance have captivated many. But can this breed take on the role of a service dog?

In this article, we’ll explain what traits huskies have that are either good or bad for service work. We’ll also describe what makes a good service dog and see how the Siberian husky stacks up. If you’ve always wanted a husky but need a service dog, then keep reading.

What Is a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” There are many different types of service dogs, such as guide dogs, medical alert dogs, mobility assistance dogs, hearing assistance dogs, and psychiatric service dogs.

Not only are these dogs trained in complex tasks that directly benefit their users, but they also have to be trained to remain focused while on the job. For example, service dogs have to be able to go into public places and ignore all of the sights and sounds around them so that they are always ready to step in when their handler needs help.

Not only do they need to be focused, but they also need to be well-behaved. A reactive dog would not be able to do their job and could also be a danger to those around them. As you can see, service dogs require a lot of training to become the near-perfect helpers they are known to be.

Because service dogs are vital to their owners’ well-being, they can go almost anywhere with their owners. They can even ride with them in the cabins of airplanes. They are also permitted to live with their owners, free of charge, in any rental, regardless of whether or not pets are allowed.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

Sometimes, people get emotional support animals (ESAs) and service dogs mixed up. This is understandable because both are considered assistance animals; however, ESAs and service dogs are very different.

While service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks, emotional support animals do not have to be trained at all. In fact, ESAs don’t even have to be dogs. The purpose of an ESA is to provide comfort to their owner, and they do so simply with their presence.

Because emotional support animals are not highly trained, they do not have nearly as many rights as service dogs do and are not allowed to enter businesses or ride in airplane cabins. However, they are protected by the Fair Housing Act and can live with their owners even in rentals that don’t allow pets.

Are Huskies Suitable for Service Work?

Black and white husky sits between winter bushes

Just about any breed of dog could make a good service dog. What is important is their personality and behavior rather than their breed. This means a husky can be a good service dog.

However, huskies can also have traits that may make them ill-suited to service work. So let’s look at the husky’s good and bad qualities regarding suitability for service work.

Qualities That Make Huskies Suitable for Service Work

Here are some qualities that huskies have that would help them excel in service work.

Friendliness and Confidence

Service dogs often need to go in public places, so it is important that they are friendly and not reactive toward strangers. Huskies are great with strangers, other dogs, and even children. Since they love people, they tend to be quite confident even in bustling areas.

Intelligence

Huskies are known to be reasonably intelligent; they can even often figure out how to escape or dig themselves out of enclosures. Moreover, because they are so clever, they do indeed have the capacity to learn complex service tasks.

Qualities That Make Huskies Unsuitable for Service Work

Here are some of the qualities huskies have that may be undesirable for service work.

Trainability

Though huskies do have the smarts to learn service tasks, they aren’t always eager to do so. While some dogs are excited to learn and thus easy to train, huskies can be stubborn. If they don’t want to do something, often, they just won’t do it.

Many husky owners complain of a lack of obedience, and those that can get their dogs to listen often speak of their huskies as having an attitude. For example, the dog may lie down on command but will protest vocally.

Energy Level

Siberian huskies were originally bred to pull sleds transporting goods across frozen tundras. As such, they have an incredible amount of endurance and energy. This breed loves nothing more than to run, and many owners have expressed that once their dog is enjoying a run, almost nothing will get their attention back.

Dogs with such a high amount of energy need to work that energy off; otherwise, they will often display problematic behaviors due to boredom. Boredom can easily lead to separation anxiety in a husky or cause them to be destructive.

A Siberian husky that doesn’t get enough mental and physical stimulation will struggle to focus on service tasks, even if they are otherwise suited to service work. Therefore, the owner must be able to provide appropriate outlets for this breed’s excessive energy.

Dependence

With how stubborn huskies can be in terms of training, you might expect them to be rather independent dogs, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, they love their owners and enjoy being around them, so much so that they can develop separation anxiety if they are left alone for too long.
Brown and white husky stands on a path in a forest

What Makes a Good Service Dog?

Now that you know more about huskies let’s talk a little more about what makes a good service dog so you can see how the husky’s traits stack up.

Desire to Work

Service dogs must enjoy their work. Many breeds thrive when they have a job, and these breeds are typically chosen for service work because they are reliable.

A dog that wants to work will remain focused and will happily complete tasks because doing so is rewarding for them. Conversely, a dog that doesn’t want to work will be unreliable, lose focus, and likely be unable to help their owner in an emergency situation.

Ability to Focus

Dog owners worldwide know just how difficult it is to get their dogs to pay attention to them once they have been distracted by something. While training from a young age can help dogs increase their ability to focus and teach them not to get distracted, there is also something to be said about their inherent natures.

Some dogs are naturally more distractable, whereas others are naturally better at remaining focused. Service dogs need to be the latter to do their jobs reliably.

Imagine a medical alert dog getting distracted and failing to alert their owner to a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. Since service dogs can prevent emergency medical situations, they must be able to focus enough to do so.

Trainability

The best service dog candidates are typically those that are easily trained. Dogs that are eager to please and enjoy training are more malleable. On the other hand, stubborn dogs who would rather do their own thing are often unable to become service dogs because they simply aren’t interested enough in training to learn complex tasks, even if they have the smarts for it.

Intelligence

All things considered, most dogs are pretty smart. However, some breeds are smarter than others. When you have an especially smart dog that is also eager to be trained, you can produce superstar service dogs.

These types of dogs tend to learn quickly and are up for any type of challenge. They love being praised and are capable of problem-solving, which can be a very important skill for a service dog to have.

There are actually times when service dogs should disobey, such as when a guide dog refuses to cross a busy street even if their handler is telling them to. Dogs that are unable to problem solve may not be able to perform this type of life-saving disobedience.

Confidence

Dogs that lack confidence cannot become reliable service dogs. This is because they may be timid, fearful, or even reactive while in public settings. Lacking confidence may cause a dog to become distracted or even lash out in public. Therefore, dogs that are not easily spooked by new things and are friendly toward strangers will usually make the best service dogs.
Black and white husky lies in the grass

Are Huskies Good Service Dogs?

Now that we understand what qualities make a good service dog and which qualities huskies have, we’ll discuss whether or not they could actually be good service dogs.

Obviously, dogs are all individuals and will have different traits and personalities. Because of this, there are huskies out there that may be able to excel at service work. However, when we look at the breed’s typical traits, we can see that choosing to train a husky for service work would be a gamble.

Though huskies are typically friendly enough to have the confidence needed to join you in public areas, they can be stubborn regarding training and obedience. They may be clever, but if they’re not interested in what you have to teach them, it’ll be very difficult to get them to apply that intelligence to service work.

Huskies are also big fluffy balls of energy. So if they don’t get enough exercise, they may become distracted far more easily—and they need a lot of exercise.

Even if a husky did have the right qualities to become a service dog, they’d need an owner capable of providing them with the physical stimulation they need, and that’s difficult for most people, especially those who work full-time. Overall, the typical husky will not be the best choice for service work.

Are Huskies Good Emotional Support Animals?

Though most huskies won’t be right for service work, they can be fantastic emotional support animals. This is because they are very affectionate with their owners. They also have big personalities, and though they don’t bark much, they are known for being very vocal.

A husky could certainly brighten one’s day with affection and how silly and talkative they can be. Since they are high-energy and can be naughty if they don’t get enough exercise, they can provide their owners with the motivation to get active and go outdoors, both of which are good for mental health.

How to Get a Husky Service Dog

If you aren’t dissuaded after reading that huskies usually aren’t a good choice for service work and are still determined to have a husky as a service dog, you may be wondering how to get one. Unfortunately, most charitable organizations that train dogs for service work do not bother with huskies for the reasons we have listed already.

Therefore, you will probably not be able to apply to receive a husky as a service dog via a charity. Your best bet is going to be to train the dog yourself. There are a few ways to do this. The first is to do all the training completely by yourself; we would only recommend this if you are an experienced trainer.

Otherwise, you can hire a trainer to guide you through the training process. Alternatively, you can send the dog to a trainer who specializes in training service dogs. These types of trainers typically board dogs at their facilities and train them full-time for about six months.

Training a dog yourself via any of these methods will require you to purchase or adopt a husky. Additionally, most trainers will evaluate dogs for service work before agreeing to train them, and during the training process, dogs can also be deemed unfit for service work.

Something that can help increase your odds of success would be to work with a trainer who has connections to breeders or who will actively help you pick a dog. These trainers can help you analyze pups and pick one with a higher chance of retaining or developing the qualities needed for service work.
Black and white husky standing on a beach

Service Huskies Aren’t for Everyone

Many people are captivated by the Siberian husky’s looks, so there is a fair bit of interest in this breed both as a pet and as a working dog. Unfortunately, most huskies are not well-suited to service work. Though nothing is impossible, trying to train a husky as a service dog is definitely a gamble.

Huskies are far too self-willed and stubborn; even though they’re smart, they want to do their own thing, so they can be difficult to train. They also have boatloads of energy, making them the wrong dog for anyone that can’t dedicate ample time to exercise and enrichment.

While training a husky to be a service dog isn’t completely impossible, it takes a lot of hard work, and only experienced trainers will likely succeed. Those with minimal experience owning and training dogs, much less huskies, would be better off looking for a more trainable breed to use as a service animal.