By Jags Goldie Last updated: 27th October 2022

Sakhalin Husky


Jags Goldie
Last updated: 27th October 2022

The Sakhalin Husky is a breed of medium-sized dogs that are nearly on the brink of extinction. Since it is well-suited to harsh snowy climates, it was initially used for pulling carts and sleds. The Sakhalin Husky shares a common ancestry with the Siberian Husky and Akita and is quite similar to them in appearance.

Sakhalin Husky Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesKarafuto-Ken
CoatFine, thick hair, very dense undercoat
ColorBlack, russet, biscuit, cream
Breed TypePurebred
GroupSled Dog Breed
Lifespan12-14 years
Weight66-88 lbs
Height22-26 in
TemperamentIntelligent, devoted, alert, patient
Good with ChildrenYes
Country Originated inJapan, Russia
Competitive Registration/ Qualification InformationNot acknowledged by any kennel clubs or breed organizations

Video: Sakhalin Dogs Pulling Sled


Although not much is known about the origin of the Sakhalin Husky, it is believed to have been developed by the indigenous people of Sakhalin, a Russian island situated in the Sea of Okhotsk. In 1949, the Japanese ethnic people relocated to Hokkaido and took their dogs with them.

Because it is well-suited to cold weather, explorers to northern Alaska, Franz Joseph Land, and the South Pole used the Karafuto-Ken. The Red Army used these dogs as pack animals during the Second World War but had to stop keeping them as military dogs because feeding these canines proved to be quite expensive.

After the World War, the Sakhalin Huskies were killed massively, causing a decline in their population. The breed became famous after the unfortunate 1958 Japanese expedition to Antarctica. The research personnel made an unplanned evacuation, leaving 15 Sakhalin Huskies tied up outside as the researchers thought they would come back shortly for retrieving the dogs. However, bad weather prevented the team from returning to the research station. A year later, a new group of explorers arrived at the research station and found two of the 15 dogs, Jiro and Taro, had survived.

In 2011, two purebred Sakhalins (Hana and its brother Kuma) were reported to be alive in Japan whereas only seven dogs remained on its native island in 2015. The local breeders are now trying to save the breed from extinction.

Temperament and Behavior

Known for its loyalty to its owner, the Sakhalin Husky is affectionate with its people but not overly anxious to please them. Being an active dog that loves to work, it does not like spending time alone. It is a naturally alert, intelligent, and independent dog that does well in a family with children and other dogs.

Interesting Facts

  • After its death in 1970 at the Hokkaido University, Taro (one of the Sakhalin Huskies that survived the 1957-1958 expedition) was stuffed as an exhibit at the university’s museum. The other dog Jiro died in 1960, and its remains are kept at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Ueno Park.
  • The Sakhalin Husky became quite popular after the release of the 1983 Japanese film Nankyoku Monogatari (Antarctica in English),  based on the 1958 Japanese expedition and the rescue of Taro and Jiro.
  • A 2006 Disney movie, Eight Below, is a remake of the 1983 film Antarctica. However, it does not reference the 15 Sakhalin Huskies and features six Siberian Huskies and two Alaskan Malamutes.
  • Three statues are placed adjacent to Nagoya Port, near Wakkanai, Hokkaido, and under Tokyo Tower to honor the ill-fated expedition and the Sakhalin Huskies.
  • The names of 15 Sakhalin Huskies stranded during the expedition are Taro, Jiro, Shiro, Kuro, Jakku, Pochi, Moku, Goro, Deri, Pesu, Aka, Kuma from Furen, Anko, Kuma from Monbetsu, and Riki.

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