Malamute vs Husky: The Key Differences

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To the untrained eye these two breeds look almost identical, so it can be pretty tricky to pick who is who in the battle of Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.

However, there are significant differences between the two, and we’re going to reveal just how diverse (and how similar) these two breeds are.

Want to compare the Malamute vs Husky?

Let’s get started with the key differences!

Malamute vs Husky: How Are They Different?

Is A Malamute A Husky?

husky vs malamute

They certainly look similar!

First things first — despite their similarities a Malamute is not a Siberian Husky — they are two distinctly separate breeds. They originated in different countries.

The name Malamute comes from the Mahlemut tribe of Eskimos in Alaska who developed the native North American breed for hauling heavy loads, whilst the Siberian Husky’s origins can be traced to Northern Siberia, where they were bred as long distance sled dogs by the ancient Chukchi peoples.

Both breeds are recognised by the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club.

How do they compare physically and in appearance?

Appearance Comparisons

Large and powerful, the Alaskan Malamute is built for strength and endurance and can pull heavy loads for miles at slow speeds.

At around 80-100lbs and a minimum 23″ at the shoulder, they are larger and heavier than their Siberian counterparts who reach a maximum weight of around 70lbs.

alaskan husky vs alaskan malamute
A pack of Malamutes

Siberian Huskies are ideally built for pulling lighter loads over short distances at faster speeds, as their angular, more lightweight, frame demonstrates.

Both breeds have dense double coats to protect them from extreme temperatures.

The Malamute’s coat is thicker and longer than that of a Husky, and they have chunky, bear-like heads with slightly rounded ears as opposed to the narrower foxy or wolf-like appearance of the Husky.

Malamutes should always have brown eyes, whereas the Husky’s eyes can be blue or brown or anything in between. The coat of a Siberian Husky can be very varied in colour and pattern, but the breed standard for the Malamute demands that colours and markings be more uniform.

Malamute paws are adapted to slow travel across snow, so are much larger, compact and rounded than the smaller, pointed paws of the quick-footed Husky.

The Husky carries its tail low and sloping like a wolf, whereas the Malamute carries its tail proudly in the air.

See more: our guide to the ‘curly’ husky tail.

Behavior Comparisons

Their easy-going, people friendly personalities make Malamutes ideal family dogs. They love children and being part of a family pack, and they will follow you everywhere.

A Malamute’s energy levels are high compared to other breeds, but they are significantly more laid back than Huskies. They can be a little stubborn at times, and may need to be motivated to work.

That said they do need to keep busy, and their intelligence and problem solving ability means that if they are unhappy (or bored) enough to want to escape, they will find a way to do it.

husky vs malamute
A husky takes a tumble

A more independent breed, huskies are slightly less people-oriented, but still make excellent and loving family pets. They are more sociable with other dogs than Malamutes, and get on nicely with their own kind as well as other breeds.

Like the Malamute they are sharp-witted, but in contrast to the Malamute they are hyper with almost boundless energy and they will definitely get bored if left alone for too long. An unoccupied Husky will find something to do – which could result in him becoming destructive in the home or leaping over the fence to freedom.

Neither Malamutes or Huskies are particularly vocal, but when they are they prefer to howl rather than bark. Neither breed make particularly good guard dogs as they’re so friendly.

Other Husky vs Malamute Differences

As working dogs, both breeds have tons of energy and require a lot of exercise – for the benefit of their brains as well as their bodies.

Although Siberian Huskies are the more independent of the two, they are the easier to train and are usually very obedient.

Generally they are also longer lived with an average life expectancy of 12-15 rather than the 10-12 years of the Alaskan Malamutes.

is a malamute a husky
An Alaskan Malamute

Expect your Husky or Malamute to shed their heavy coat at least once a year (depending on the temperature where you live). Shedding takes about six weeks, but aside from the shedding period the need for grooming is minimal.

Hip dysplasia and cataracts are fairly common genetic disorders in both breeds and prospective owners should take this into account.

Alaskan Malamute vs Alaskan Husky

…And lastly – just to throw something else into the mix – let’s take a look at the Alaskan Husky.

This name generally refers to a cross between a Siberian Husky & Alaskan Malamute.

These pups were primarily bred as working dogs, make very efficient sled dogs and are in high demand for the sport as a result.

Like their Siberian relatives they have bags of energy, and they are intelligent and gentle. Physically they are smaller and leaner than the Alaskan Malamute, and their eye colour and coat colour varies.

They are not (yet!) officially recognised as a breed by the American Kennel Club.

Which Breed Is Best?

So – Malamute or Husky?

These breeds are both winners, and have a lot to offer. Both are well adapted to family life, but both are also best suited to active owners who have the time to spend with them on a daily basis.

Whichever you choose, you can be sure that they will give you back as much – if not more – love, companionship and fun than you give them.

And, if you ever wonder who would win in a Malamute vs Husky fight — check out this video!

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