Show Husky VS Working Husky: What Are The Differences?

Want to learn about the differences between the show husky vs working husky?

Well, you’re in the right place.

Show huskies are bred with aesthetics in mind, whereas working huskies are more capable of physical performance. This usually means that working huskies are more muscular, but it can be hard to tell the two apart.

This may sound confusing at first, but the breed standard used for huskies does focus on their working capability; meaning show huskies and working huskies should actually be more similar than you would imagine.

What Is A Working Husky?

Working huskies are huskies that are used for working purposes.

In the case of huskies, they are used to pull sleds in packs over long distances. Although the majority of huskies today are kept as pets, they are still used for working purposes in some places like Alaska.

What Is A Show Husky?

A show husky is simply a husky that is entered into dog shows.

The majority of show huskies are bred and groomed specifically to compete in shows. They will have very specific nutrition plans and the highest level of care.

Show huskies usually come from long lines of huskies that have competed in shows, especially champion lines.

How Show Huskies Are Judged

Huskies compete in the working group category against other dogs like Boxers or Alaskan Malamutes, and conform to a breed standard.

The breed standard is set by the parent club for the breed that is approved by the American Kennel Club. In this case, the Siberian Husky Club of America set the standard and it is approved by the AKC.

Show huskies are judged according to this standard (full details of the standard here), which specifies everything about how a show husky should look from height and weight to expression and coat condition.

For example, a show husky should have a keen but friendly expression with a skull of medium size in proportion to the body.

The standard for show huskies specifically states that they need to be capable of performing their original function in the harness most capably, carrying a light load at a moderate speed over great distances.

So, working huskies and show huskies are actually more similar than you would expect.

Show Husky VS Working Husky: 3 Key Differences

Let’s take a look at the 3 main differences between show huskies and working huskies.

1. Function

The main difference between the show husky vs working husky is obviously in their function.

Show huskies are bred and cared for to achieve the most optimal appearance according to the breed standard.

Working huskies are kept for working purposes; as long as they are healthy and capable of pulling sleds for long distances that is all that matters.

2. Details

Show huskies, especially those that come from champion lines and breeders, receive the very best care.

They will have access to the best healthcare and food and will be groomed regularly by professionals to maintain their appearance.

Working huskies are obviously still cared for, but they are not going to be looked after in the same way as a show husky.

As long as they are healthy and fit for working, that is all that matters. Working huskies don’t need to be professionally groomed or fed the very best food and supplements to make sure their appearances are absolutely perfect.

3. Fitness

Although the breed standard does want show huskies to be capable of pulling sleds over long distances like a working husky, this is not actually judged in practice.

Instead, working breeds are simply judged by an experienced judge who will look at their overall structure, appearance and health.

It’s safe to assume that working huskies will be much more capable of physical endurance than a show husky.

Show huskies may look the part, and are certainly very healthy examples, but working huskies will have the edge in physical performance.

How To Tell If Your Husky Is A Show Line Or Working Line

There are a lot of different breed standards, but the main standard set by the Siberian Husky Club of America which is backed by the AKC specifically states that huskies should be capable of performing their original function in a harness.

AKA, show huskies should resemble working huskies in terms of performance, which also means they should have a similar build in terms of muscle and overall weight (slim and muscular).

So, technically speaking it should be pretty difficult to tell a husky from a show line apart from those from working lines.

This is in an ideal scenario. In practice, there are lots of breeders who conform to different standards.

Beverly hills dog show photos
Nick The Siberian Husky, Winner Of The Beverly Hills Dog Show PHOTO: STEVEN DONAHUE / SEE SPOT RUN PHOTOGRAPHY

These types of show huskies are typically less muscular as they are not bred with their working background in mind, and the focus is instead based on their aesthetics.

Take Nick, pictured above, for example. A working husky would not be groomed to this level, but in this case, there would be few other differences as Nick is quite muscular and compact.

Other show huskies have less muscularity as breeders focus more on aesthetics over function. It really depends on the breeder and the individual dog.

Are Huskies A Working Breed?

Huskies are a working breed, although the majority of huskies today are kept as pets rather than to serve their working purpose.

This is the reason why huskies need so much exercise; their working background gives them a big requirement for exercise and also means that can get bored easily if they are stuck in the house all day.

In Summary

Show huskies are bred to be the gold standard for the breed, with impeccable features and ideal health.

Ironically, the standard for show huskies aims to capture the essence of a working husky dog, and there is not much difference between the two.

It’s also quite difficult to tell them apart, especially with show huskies that are bred to conform to the SHCA breed standard.

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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