Huskies

A husky silhouetted by a coloured sunset in Antarctica
Vida the husky in Antarctica, 1980 (Photo: Tony Everett)
A small husky puppy nurses on the mother, who looks tiredA husky completely covered by snow, appears to be sleepingA male expeditioner bathes a husky at Davis stationMan in snow with husky, his beard icy, leans on the dogHusky team on a snowy plateau, lead a sled and are surrounded by expeditionersAn expeditioner holds two large husky pupsAn expeditioner in profile holds a husky pupA large husky lays down in a crate on the deck of the Aurora Australis icebreakerHuskies resting together in the snow while one hooded expeditioner attends to themTaken from the sled, the back of six huskies is visibleSpread out on the helicopter landing pad of a ship are crates with huskies in front

The term husky is usually used to refer to snow or northern hemisphere dogs and can include a wide range of breeds.

Huskies were first used in the Antarctic by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1898–1900. They were strong and willing workers.

Coming from Greenland and Labrador they were familiar with snow, ice, cold and wind. Their thick double-layered coats provided excellent protection against the extremely cold conditions. The huskies wore harnesses and could haul 50–90 kilograms. Normally working in teams, the number of dogs used varied depending on the weight of the load to be hauled.

In 1954 when Australia established its first permanent Antarctic station at Mawson, huskies were introduced. This continued to be their home for almost 40 years.

In addition to being a reliable form of transport, the huskies provided companionship, love and loyalty to the Antarctic expeditioners. This loyal and hard working animal continues to evoke strong emotion in young and old alike.

The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty banned all introduced species, except humans, from being taken into the Antarctic. It was with a great deal of sadness that in 1993 the last six remaining huskies left Mawson and the Australian Antarctic Territory. The older dogs lived out their days in Australia, the younger, working dogs enjoyed a new life in Minnesota, USA.

This page was last updated on 28 February 2003.