Are Huskies Smart? What to Know About This Independent Dog Breed

By John Martin - August 12, 2021

Smart Husky shaking hands with owner

Siberian huskies are amazing dogs and one of the most popular breeds in the world. They are gorgeous looking, affectionate, loyal and bond with people very quickly. Huskies are the most aware and sharpest dogs and are capable learners with high intelligence. And, they make excellent pets.

So, are huskies smart? Huskies are very independent dogs and as mentioned earlier, they are quite intelligent. Bred as working dogs, Siberian huskies are generally known as quite an intelligent breed. Huskies may be a bit difficult to train and this not because they do not understand what you are telling them to do, it is because they can be quite stubborn.

When it comes to intelligence and personality, huskies can be a rather complex breed. So, read on to know more about huskies, their temperament and intelligence.

Are Huskies Intelligent?

Huskies are among the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. However, they are not your regular pets with average intelligence that are obedient, willing to listen and easy to train. They are a different type of “intelligent” and the thing that differentiates huskies from other dog breeds is that they are very independent. They can take care of themselves and can navigate their way around very well.

Since huskies are so intelligent, they can be quite stubborn too, which makes it quite difficult to train them. It is not that the dogs are not sufficiently smart to understand what you want them to do, but they are so smart that they will decide whether they want to obey you or not. They are smart enough to decide if what you’re telling them is worth their time and if it is not, then they will not bother doing it.

This is the main reason why some people may find it difficult to own huskies as pets. Huskies can be quite unpredictable, especially if it’s something that you want them to do or not. Sometimes, they may come running up to you when you call your pet, while at other times he could completely ignore your commands and run the opposite way, which can be rather frustrating to some people.

Also, huskies tend to act on their instincts, which can be quite annoying at times. However, almost all their actions have a purpose, owing to their intelligence. Huskies were originally bred to survive by taking care of themselves. These dogs love digging, which they do for shelter, to catch an animal or to hide things.

Huskies do not require a lot of food in order to survive and are quite capable of finding their own food, which makes them quite bad for cats and other smaller pets around your home. While they are not very aggressive, huskies can prey on and eat cats, even when they have lived with them for a very long time. So, it’s better to keep your husky away from smaller pets or not have any at home.

Huskies are made for running and were bred to run for miles, pulling sleds in icy conditions. But when you confine your husky, he will do anything to escape – digging holes under gates, hopping over fences and find other ways to escape confinement. And several times, they escape and run until they do not want to anymore and the more you chase them, the more they will run and return only once they are ready to do so.

Fortunately, huskies are excellent navigators. The intelligence of huskies enables them to navigate very well and this mainly comes from the fact that they were bred as sled dogs. They can pull sleds even without any training and this needs a special kind of intelligence. And, even without a driver, they can find their way back, even when they are very far away from home. Huskies are very attentive and aware of things around them.

Huskies have boundless energy, which makes them useful for several jobs. For instance, during World War II, Huskies were used by the army a search and rescue dogs. Huskies were also trained for communication, transportation and freighting.

Related: When Do Huskies Stop Growing?

Temperament and Personality of Huskies

As pets, Huskies are extremely popular. And, although they have an independent streak and can be stubborn at times, they are not bad dogs. In fact, according to AKC (American Kennel Club), the huskies are ranked 14th in terms of the popularity of breeds. And it is mainly their personality and temperament that makes them a lovable and loving pet.

The main thing about huskies is that they are not protective, aggressive or suspicious towards strangers. In fact, they treat even strangers as part of the family and are not shy or cautious towards people they are not familiar with. And, because of all these reasons, huskies are not great guard dogs.

Huskies are extremely sociable and mischievous. They love people and other dogs too. Huskies are generally pack animals and sometimes they may even prefer being around dogs rather than humans. It is not advisable to have more than two huskies in your home at a time, because their mischievous nature causes them to get into greater trouble when they’re in a pack.

Huskies are extremely energetic and active and carry on their puppy-like behavior even when they are adults. They love to run around, play and need plenty of exercise. Huskies have a quirky temperament and they are quite goofy and funny and their antics can be quite a pastime for your family. These dogs have a great love for life and always have a good time.

While huskies don’t bark a lot, they are not very quiet animals. They moan, whine and howl a lot to get your attention and often, they make sounds as if they are sighing. Overall, huskies are extremely affectionate and loving dogs that make fantastic pets. They are an excellent breed and are often used as therapy dogs because of their intelligence, affectionate personality and tendency to be good with strangers.

Working with Husky Intelligence

As we discussed earlier, huskies are extremely energetic and active dogs and if you don’t give them sufficient exercise that they require, they can become destructive. And, since huskies are pack animals, they have an innate need to socialize and if you don’t give them the attention they crave, take them out and socialize with other dogs, they can become unhappy.

Adopting huskies when they are very young, spending time with them, training them and ensuring that have active lifestyles and loads of exercise can ensure that these dogs make fantastic pets.

Training Your Husky

It is a very good idea to start training your husky early on. While you can also train your older husky, you’ll find that they learn more quickly when they are young. Older dogs may be free spirits that are harder to work with. And, if you have other pets at home, then it’s definitely a good idea to familiarize your husky to them very early because when huskies grow up, they become quite big and you will find it quite difficult to control them if they are hostile to your other dogs and cats.

Also, avoid keeping your husky cooped up inside because they have a natural desire to run free and it is not fair to them not to give him a chance to burn off his extra energy.

Living with a Husky

Huskies are originally bred for harsh conditions and are quite easy to keep. They thrive in freezing cold temperatures; however, if you live in a place with a warm climate, then a husky may not be the best choice as a pet.

If overfed and not regularly exercised, huskies can become overweight and obese. Huskies are running, working dogs and should have a good run at least twice a week. A home that has a garden or yard is the best for huskies, although, your local park will also work quite well. Huskies are hardy dogs and easily have a lifespan of around 14 years.

However, early training and socialization are needed so that the Husky can be good pets. They love company and like doing stuff with you, even just going for a run. While huskies may not be good watchdogs, they ‘alarm bark’ and if left alone by themselves, they will dig, chew or sit and howl.

Huskies tend to shed a lot, all through the year. They are clean dogs and do not have a smelly odor. Although the coat of the husky is shorter compared to other breeds of northern dogs and does not get matted, you should groom your husky 1-2 times a week. However, during the shedding season, you may have to groom more often.

Huskies are excellent and loyal pets; however, you must always remember that can be quite stubborn and headstrong. So, when bringing a husky home, rather than checking if huskies are smart, you should check if their personality and temperament match yours. And, if you feel that all the traits of the dog are right for you, then it’s a great idea to get one home.