Mackenzie River Husky Dog Breed Information

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Mackenzie River Husky as a dog lover or a pet parent scouting the internet for a new breed to raise.

While several pictures you’ve seen have impressed you, there are still some things about this dog breed you need to be sure of.

With a close resemblance to other types of huskies, a husky parent can hazard a guess about specific behavioral characteristics common to the Huskies.

However, the name “Mackenzie River Husky” has been subject to confusion concerning what it actually denotes.

In this article, we’ll demystify everything you need to know about this dog breed, its history, behavioral traits, and other important facts and information.

Mackenzie River Husky Dog Breed Information

Height26–29 in (66–74 cm)
Weight63–104 lbs (29–47 kg)
Lifespan12–14 years
CoatThick, straight
ColorsBlack and White and Gray, Black and White, Gray and Sable, Tan, Red, Blond
TemperamentTrustworthy, independent, dominant, intelligent, eager
Ideal ForGuarding, sledding, working
Recognized ByNo kennel club recognition
Puppy Price$1000–$1500

Mackenzie River Husky Puppy — Before You Get One

Grooming NeedsMedium
Energy LevelHigh

What is a Mackenzie River Husky?

Mackenzie River Husky Resting on Snow Wearing Harness

It is important to note that the Mackenzie River Husky is a term that describes various populations of sled dogs around the arctic, meaning it’s not a dog breed but a dog type.

The name was coined by outsiders that saw these freight huskies and didn’t know what to call them.

While the Mackenzie River Husky is a dog type, it’s a hybrid of freight huskies and native sled dogs like Newfoundlands, Staghounds, and St. Bernards, revealing why many view it as a dog breed.

Mackenzie River Husky History

The emergence of freight huskies below and around the arctic circle in the nineteenth century brought about the Mackenzie River Huskies.

Although the Huskies were scattered around the arctic, villagers bred them based on their needs.

The distance between the villages and how these dogs were bred is responsible for their distinctiveness despite their genetic similarities.

These huskies were identified by the name of their villages, leading to names like Old Crow dogs, Red Mackenzie River Husky, Ft. McPherson dogs, Hay River Dogs, Arctic Red dogs, and Porcupine River Dogs, amongst others.

Thanks to outsiders, these variants were generalized by the name “Mackenzie River Husky” in the 1960s.

However, their population started declining those years due to several factors, including the Canadian government’s mass killing of dog teams in the 1950–1960s to stop native sovereignty and the introduction of snowmobiles.

Does AKC & Other Kennel Clubs Recognize the Mackenzie River Husky?

Sad to say, the Mackenzie River Husky is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), or Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Also, there no availability of any record of breed recognition by any kennel organization.

Little Known Facts About the Mackenzie River Husky

1. Mackenzie River Husky refers to a dog type

While many people might confuse the River Husky as a breed, they’re a mixture of freight huskies and native sled dogs.

The Mackenzie River Husky were freight huskies bred with native sled dogs, including Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and Staghounds.

2. The name was a loose term

Perhaps, we know the “Mackenzie River Husky” is a dog type today, but breeders used the name as a catchy expression to promote their business.

The term was an effective sales tool to sell mutts or unwanted litter until the 1960s when Alaskan outsiders began to generalize various populations of sled dogs around the arctic with that name.

3. They were distinctly developed

Nineteenth-century breeders in villages surrounding the arctic groomed their sled dogs with respect to their needs.

Thanks to the distance between these villages, the huskies were distinctly developed as small working teams and were often identified by their villages’ names.

4. They lost their populace to snowmobiles

In the 1960s, the Mackenzie River Huskies began to decline.

While the Canadian government’s mass killing of dog teams to stop native sovereignty significantly contributed to their depopulation, snowmobiles replaced them as sled dogs.

5. These Husky types are pretty rare

Compared to sled dogs like the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, the Mackenzie River Husky is quite rare.

The Siberian Husky ranks amongst the most popular dog breeds, while the Mackenzie River counterpart bottoms the hierarchy of popular dog breeds.

The Donna Dowling Huskies seem to be the most popular among Mackenzie River sled dogs.


Mackenzie River Husky Dog Sitting on Road
(Photo by @mikkitrott)

Listed under the sled-dog group, you might have thought that this dog breed looks like the Siberian Husky.

How far are you from being correct?

Well, let’s see what the Mackenzie River Husky appearance looks like.

General Appearance 

There’s almost no reason why the phrase “the mythical best northern sled dog” doesn’t suit the Mackenzie River Husky.

They stand tall with a deep-chested build, long legs, erect ears, a long, bushy tail, and wolf-like colors.

These dogs have long legs, deep chests, and a rangy built body that aids their mobility.

As such, they were favorites for sledding and hauling heavy loads through the deep snow around the Arctic’s mountains and hills. 


The Mackenzie River Husky is a large to giant-sized dog type. It can grow up to 26–29 inches tall and weigh between 63 and 104 pounds.

Colors & Coat Type

Originating from the Arctic region of Alaska, the Mackenzie River Husky has a thick coat to shield them from the stinging cold.

They don’t have a wooly or curly coat but straight and wolf-like coats.

They come in black and white, black and white and gray, gray and sable, tan, red, and blond.

Temperament, Behavior & Intelligence

Placed side by side, you might misidentify the Mackenzie River Husky for a Siberian Husky — its Russian sled-dog relative.

However, you’ll notice distinctive traits raising both dogs.

While the Siberian Husky seems reserved, the Mackenzie River Husky is friendlier. 

The Mackenzie River Husky was a reliable sled dog for 19th century Alaskans and is known for its trustworthiness.

Thanks to their independence, these Huskies could fend for themselves even when food sources were limited.

They pull sleds in packs and establish dominance as leaders. They are also intelligent and often willing to learn.

Are Mackenzie River Huskies Good Family Dogs?

From their time in the snowy wilderness of Alaska to this day, these Huskies have been known for their companionship.

Although they were used for hauling loads across mountains in the heavy snow, they formed an excellent relationship with their masters, who they view as the ultimate pack leader and alpha dog.

Modern-day Mackenzie River Huskies love their masters and their families.

While they are protective of their families and enjoy children’s company, they are also stranger-friendly dogs.

They’re neither aggressive nor temperamental towards strangers, except they sense danger. 

They’re energetic, playful, lively, and outgoing, making them excellent canine buddies.

Are They Good with Other Dogs and Pets?

Mackenzie River Huskies have no problem with dog meetups in parks or making new canine friends at the vet’s or salon.

However, these dogs do best when they’re the only pet in the family.

We cannot say the same about cats and other smaller pets.

Because of their high prey drive, these Huskies would require a lot of training and socialization to be able to get along with other smaller animals.

How Much Does a Mackenzie River Husky Puppy Cost?

If you fancy getting this dog breed, you can be sure that it isn’t going to come cheap.

Mackenzie River Husky puppies cost between $1000 and $1500.

Getting a pup from a responsible, reliable, and renowned breeder is crucial to reducing the risks of getting an unhealthy puppy whose parents have a terrible medical record.

However, a breeder’s reputation might influence their price, implying that you must prepare for the high-end price if you’re buying from a reliable breeder.

Animal lovers encourage rescuing and adoption.

Why buy a pup when you can save a life?

While deciding to get a new dog is based on preference, choosing to adopt isn’t a bad idea.

Adoption might cost a little less, but breed familiarity and adaptation skills are essential for a dog’s survival and temperament in a new home since some rescued dogs are adults.

Some rescue organizations request an adoption fee, while others charge an all-inclusive price for adoption and professional training to aid the adaptation process.

Caring for a Mackenzie River Husky

Mackenzie River Huskies Sitting on Ice
Meet @addie.and.indy

You’ve read about this Husky’s thrilling history, awe-inspiring facts, and laudable traits.

You might have also seen some beautiful pictures on the internet, and you’ve finally decided to own one.

Remember that there is an additional responsibility for each new achievement.

Therefore, you need to be aware of certain things before paying the breeder.

We’ll consider some tips that’ll guide you while raising this pup below.

Food & Diet 

Feeding is essential for survival come hell or high water.

Ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates showed the importance of food when he said: “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”

Considering the fact stated above, your Mackenzie River Husky must be well fed to ensure it maintains good health and proper welfare.

An adult dog should be fed twice daily with about two to two and a half cups of high-quality dry food per meal.

Beware that many human foods are not suitable for dogs.

Therefore do adequate research or check with your vet before giving your canine any human food.

These huskies have an average tendency to gain weight.

It’s best to find the balance between food consumption and energy exhaustion to save your dog from the risk of getting obese.

Top 10 Best Dog Food For Huskies (Review & Feeding Chart)


A little slumber and too much napping, and this husky is no longer a reliable sled dog.

Recall that these dog breeds were used for mobility in the harshest weather conditions, implying that they’re built to be energetic, with anatomy that supports an active life.

These pups doesn’t view exercise as a means to keep fit the way an athlete views gym sessions, but they desire to be active.

They can be psychologically affected if denied the opportunity to dissipate their energy.

That’s why we recommend daily walks and outdoor games to keep your doggy healthy and happy.

Always keep your dog on a leash at all times when on the road or on public property because huskies have a high wanderlust potential.

Training & Socialization 

Everyone wants a well-behaved dog, but that can only be possible if they’re willing to put in the effort in training.

Mackenzie River Huskies are very sensitive.

While you establish firmness during training sessions, be careful not to be harsh as these dogs don’t handle punishment positively.

Fortunately, huskies are easy to train if you establish yourself as the pack leader.

They’re willing to listen to commands and act accordingly without delay. 

These huskies are intelligent dog breeds and can memorize commands within 15 to 25 repetitions.

However, they’re not suitable for first-time pet parents.

These Huskies tend to exhibit wolf-like traits.

They can decide to rely on their intelligence if you haven’t established yourself as the alpha dog.

A pet parent to a husky must be firm, fearless, and composed — qualities first-time owners might lack.

While the Mackenzie River Husky is friendly towards strangers, remember that they’re animals that could act instinctively.

Therefore, the need to socialize. A well-socialized River Husky has a lower biting potential and attacking urge.

Early training and socialization helps your dog understand its limits in public.

Socialize your dog by introducing them to people, dogs, and other pets at a very early age.

They’re less likely to attack when they don’t see the third party as a threat.

Grooming Needs

While you might not break the bank to groom your Husky, you’ll put in significant efforts to keep your dog in shape.

Mackenzie River Huskies shed above average, requiring regular brushing to reduce shedding.

Professional grooming isn’t necessary, but a professional groomer’s expertise can make your dog look like it just stepped out of a bandbox. 

These huskies don’t require regular bathing, but you should bathe your dog at least once in six to eight weeks.

You can look out for bumps, scratches, fleas, and other skin-related conditions as you bathe your dog.

Remember to clean your dog’s eyes, ears, paws, and nails regularly.

These body parts have corners and holes that hold dirt, causing infections in the long run.

Mackenzie River Huskies are hairy, and hairy dogs attract fleas.

Therefore, seasonal flea treatment is an important practice.

Health & Conditions

With proper care, Mackenzie River Huskies are healthy dog breeds that can live out their full lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

However, they are prone to specific health issues you need to watch out for. These conditions are:

  • Cataracts: This is a vision impairment that affects the eye lens, symptomized by a whitish or grayish overlay in your dog’s eye.

    While the condition is common to older dogs, it can start developing as early as six months.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition that displaces the ball portion of a dog’s hip joint from its socket, causing lameness.

    Pain and reluctance to move are the most notable symptoms of hip dysplasia.

    Hip dysplasia might be the worst health condition for an energetic, lively dog like the Husky.
  • Hypothyroidism: While this condition is rare amongst other species, it’s a relatively common endocrine disorder in dogs.

    Hypothyroidism slows down metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, and other body functions.

While you may consult your vet for a complete check-up at least once a year, do well to check regularly with them for these conditions.

Male vs. Female

Gender is one of the foremost concerns of getting a new canine companion.

Fortunately, you’ll have a wonderful experience raising either a male or female Mackenzie River Husky.

Both River Husky genders grow 25 to 29 inches and weigh 63 to 104 pounds.

However, sex hormones influence behavioral patterns.

Males are more likely to be territorial, while females might be more caring and protective.

Related Questions

Are Mackenzie River Huskies hypoallergenic?

No! Mackenzie River Huskies are not hypoallergenic dogs and are above average shedders.

As such, you shouldn’t raise one if you’re allergic to dog fur.

Do Mackenzie River Huskies bark a lot?

Mackenzie River Huskies bark occasionally but might be unusually loud depending on their emotional level.

They bark for different reasons, including separation anxiety, greeting, alertness, and attention-seeking.

Are Mackenzie River Huskies good watchdogs?

Mackenzie River Huskies are average watchdogs but make excellent guard dogs.

You can rely on them to alert you when something is amiss, but they do better protecting you. 

Do Mackenzie River Huskies have a high prey drive?

Yes! Mackenzie River Huskies trailed the snowy wilderness of Alaska, where they developed a high-prey drive, looking for food in the thick snow.

You can expect such hunting instincts from modern-day Huskies chasing and preying smaller animals.

Final Thoughts: Is a Mackenzie River Husky right for you?

Raising the best mythical northern sled dog can be a dream come true.

Nevertheless, effort and finances are required for your dog’s welfare.

Mackenzie River Huskies are healthy, trainable, social, and friendly dogs, but they can also be too sensitive, demanding, attention-seeking, and quite challenging to housetrain.

If you wouldn’t be spending much time with your dog, the Mackenzie River Husky isn’t a suitable choice.

We do not recommend these dogs to first-time pet parents and those that work round the clock.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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