A husky service dog is often not the first choice, due to perceived stubbornness. With effective training, however, a husky can be a good service animal.
Psychiatric Service Animals

Husky Service Dog - Everything You Need To Know

Susana Bradford
5 minute read
May 20, 2022

Huskies are not typically considered the first choice for a service dog. However, that does not mean a husky is a wrong choice. Good service dogs derive from all types of dog breeds, and in many cases, huskies can make great service dogs.

We did the research to help you better understand what service dogs do (and how they differ from emotional support animals), why we think you should consider choosing a husky for a service dog, and where to find a husky service dog.

The Bottom Line

  • What are service dogs? Service dogs assist their human owners with specific disabilities or mental health diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
  • Why Huskies as service dogs? Huskies are intelligent, strong, and loving dogs that can be trained in many ways that make them a great option for service dogs.
  • How to get a Husky service dog? Huskies, like other dogs, can be trained from their puppy years as a service animal. You will need a recommendation from a professional to get a service dog.
  • What’s the difference between a service dog vs. ESA? Service animals must receive special training for their roles, but Emotional Support Animals help their owners just by their presence.

What Are Service Dogs?

Service dogs can help their human owners cope with a specific disability. One of the most commonly recognized service dogs is a seeing-eye dog. However, other service animals focus on services like psychiatric service dogs receiving substantial training to assist humans with mental disabilities like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions.

Why Huskies Make Great Service Dogs

While huskies are often not the obvious choice for service dogs, they're not the worse choice either. There are several reasons why.

Intelligence

One of the primary reasons to consider Siberian huskies as service dogs is their intelligence. The Smart Canine claims that huskies have below-average dog intelligence by some metrics. However, they are smart where it matters: in their strong ability to communicate with humans.

Huskies have considerable adaptive intelligence and are uniquely independent-minded. In the history of their relationship with humans, they have worked as search-and-rescue dogs, communication-oriented animals, and of course, great sled dogs. In short, they have a diverse set of potential skills, and with training, their intelligence can make them capable and reliable service animals.

Size and Physical Characteristics

The Siberian husky can also make a good service dog due to its particular size. Most huskies weigh between 35 and 60 pounds putting them solidly in the range of medium-sized dogs: not too big and not too small. In other words, most huskies are big enough to effectively support their owners, with a sizable profile sufficient to assist reliably in public. However, they are not so large that they cannot conveniently accompany owners in cars, trains, or other forms of public transportation.

Huskies are also notoriously vocal dogs. This physical attribute can make them more capable of communicating effectively with their owners.

Climate Adaptation

While huskies can make fantastic service dogs, it is essential that they best fulfill this function in climates that are appropriate to their breeding. The classic image of huskies pulling sleds in the Arctic is more than a myth. Huskies are bred for — and are most suited to — cold climates. Their thick coat can become uncomfortable in an excessively hot or humid environment. Aside from being inherently harsh to the animal, this can also undercut dog training and service dog work; after all, if they are more uncomfortable, they will have trouble performing their job.

In short, while a Siberian husky can be a good service dog, don't forget the 'Siberian' part. If you live in a warm climate, you should probably consider an alternative breed as a dog owner.

Love for Humans

Huskies have a reputation for being an independent breed and sometimes uniquely stubborn. However, training can help to correct this — or better yet, redirect it.

Siberian huskies are particularly loving animals and can be especially fond of the humans around them. While this may make them less than ideal as watchdogs, it can be helpful for them to work as service dogs or as emotional support animals. They will develop a strong loyalty to their human owners and a particular affection, expressed as a persistent need for attention.

If an owner expects to be away frequently, this can be challenging. However, if the human owner needs consistent help from a service animal, huskies can be rewarding.

Skilled Sled Dogs

Finally, huskies have skills that stand out from most dog breeds: They are exceptional sled dogs—the original reason for breeding them and remain any husky's intuitive skill.

These traits also mean huskies are particularly useful as search-and-rescue animals. They are sometimes used in cold climates, on ski mountains, in the wilderness, and in similar places where essential search-and-rescue service animals are needed. While using a husky as a sled dog is less common today, this may still be a worthwhile attribute in colder and more remote regions.

Husky Service Dog

What Tasks Can a Husky Perform?

Huskies may not be the most common choice for service dogs (other breeds are often more popular), but they can still train to perform specific tasks.

Search and Rescue

As noted, huskies are famous for their search-and-rescue abilities though this may seem irrelevant to the husky owners of today. However, depending on the climate and setting a dog owner lives, this may be relevant. For instance, a dog owner living in a remote area could benefit from having a husky service dog as a search-and-rescue animal. Huskies can also be essential for local emergency responders— police, firefighters, EMTs, or others — to assist in search-and-rescue cases, particularly in snowy areas.

Guiding Individuals With Visual Impairment

Huskies are good medium-sized dogs and can be helpful as seeing-eye dogs. While considerable obedience training may be necessary to discourage the stubbornness that is often innate in the breed, their size and loyalty can make them a strong candidate for a guide dog over time and develop a strong bond with their owner.

Psychiatric Support Dogs

Huskies' playfulness, attention-seeking, and loving nature can make them effective as psychiatric support dogs. Huskies are great pets despite being a little stubborn and challenging to manage. However, they consistently seek attention. If giving attention is used to train them for tasks appropriate to a psychiatric support dog, they can learn to manage their impulses and provide a supportive bond for individuals with mental disabilities who are in need.

Other Tasks (With Training)

A Siberian husky is not the most common type of service dog. In practice, huskies were primarily bred for running and leading sleds, responding to orders rapidly. Once an immediate activity is over, they may grow bored and become more stubborn.

However, huskies are also trainable and intelligent dogs, particularly with a pet owner devoted to doing the work. A husky can be an effective service dog with consistent training, effort, and patience.

Husky Service Dog

How To Get a Husky Service Dog

Here is how to go about obtaining a husky service dog.

Fill Out Assessment

The first step in obtaining a husky service dog is to fill out an assessment to help clearly outline your situation and needs. You must also determine the type of support animal letter needed — for housing or travel.

Speak to a Mental Health Professional

After completing the necessary paperwork, you need to meet with a mental health professional to determine if you meet the criteria for an emotional support dog.

Secure Service Letter

After a licensed mental health practitioner has determined that an emotional support dog is appropriate for your situation, they will provide a legal letter for you. In most cases, this letter can be expedited.

Can I Train My Own Husky To Be a Service Dog?

In some cases, you can train your own husky to be a service dog. However, you will have to begin this process early. Huskies' independent nature makes them stubborn and sometimes uniquely challenging to train. Consistent and reliable training beginning when your dog is a puppy can help to make this objective more practicable. Professional advice and visits to experienced dog trainers can be constructive if this is your goal.

Where Can I Adopt a Husky Service Dog?

Because huskies are not typically bred to be service dogs, they'll need explicit training to fulfill this role. Your best bet is to begin with a puppy and provide consistent training early on in such cases. Many husky breeders and several husky rescue services can help obtain a young husky. 

What Disabilities Qualify for a Husky Service Dog?

Service dogs are employed to serve both physical and mental disabilities, including:

  • Blindness
  • Auditory disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Mental disabilities including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other conditions

Huskies may be trained to assist with many of these roles, but given the breed's stubbornness, they may be best suited to support individuals with mental disabilities.

Husky Service Dog

What's the Difference Between Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs?

The primary difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs is training. While both provide some level of mental and emotional support, psychiatric service dogs assist and perform unique tasks for which they need training. Emotional support dogs provide support through their presence.

Frequently Asked Questions About Husky Service Dogs

How much does a husky service dog cost?

Huskies are not typically sold to be service dogs. However, a husky puppy may cost around $1,000. This price will likely be considerably less from a shelter (as opposed to a breeder).

How to catch a fake husky service dog?

A service dog must be well-trained and obedient; if a dog is not obeying commands or straying from its owner, they are likely not a real service animal.

Can you get a husky service dog for anxiety? 

Huskies are very loving animals and, when well-trained, can provide reliable support for anxiety.

Can any dog be a service dog?

In theory, any dog can be a service dog, but the service in question is a factor. For instance, small dog breeds are unlikely to make good seeing-eye dogs. In general, breeds like the border collie, standard poodle, German shepherd, and golden retriever make great service dogs.

Do husky service dogs have to be on a leash?

Yes, all service dogs must be on a leash.

Does insurance cover husky service dogs?

No, insurance does not cover the cost of service dogs.

How to get a psychiatric service dog?

To get a psychiatric service dog, you need a diagnosis from a mental health professional of a qualifying mental health disability and a corresponding "prescription" for a service animal.

How long does it take to train husky service dogs?

Huskies are notoriously stubborn and may take two years to become reliable service dogs.

Are husky service dogs allowed everywhere?

Service dogs, including huskies, are allowed in areas where the public can go, with some reasonable exceptions (for instance, sterile environments like commercial kitchens).

How to get a husky service dog for PTSD?

To get a husky service dog for PTSD, you will need a diagnosis from a mental health professional and a "prescription" for a service dog.

Meet the author:

Susana Bradford