Alaskan Malamute vs Husky: Similar Yet Different

There are hundreds of dog breeds around the globe, and some of them are very easy to confuse with one another. If you put a Malamute next to a Husky, this is most certainly the case, although they have quite a few differences.

If you are considering adopting one of these furry friends, this list might help you decide, so keep reading.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky: Similarities and Differences

Both Husky and Malamute are cold-weather dogs bred to work hard, known as spitz breeds. Because both breeds are bred to be energetic and active, they require plenty of exercise during the day if you want to keep them out of trouble.

You should also know that while they both belong to the group of smart and loyal breeds, they are not that obedient. Since they can be pretty stubborn, they require a persistent owner who knows how to introduce healthy discipline.

Both breeds prefer colder climates, and due to their high prey drive, they don’t always get along with smaller dogs, cats, and other small pets.

Interestingly, because both breeds are quite popular, there is even an Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky mix called the Alusky.

Difference Between Husky and Malamute Origins

If we disregard their common spitz heritage, these two breeds come from two separate corners of the world where they were bred for distinct purposes but in similar freezing climates.

Siberian Husky History

Siberian Huskies come from an arctic region in Asia near Russia, called Siberia. There, they were used as the primary form of transportation due to scarce food resources caused by the harsh climate.

Bred by the Chukchi people, these dogs could cross long distances reasonably quickly while managing to go for days with very little rest or food.

Moreover, not only was the Siberian Husky recognized by the American Kennel Club 5 years before the Alaskan Malamute, but nowadays, this breed also ranks much higher on the AKC’s list of the most popular dog breeds.

Alaskan Malamute History

While Alaskan Malamutes are dogs similar to Siberian Husky, they come from Alaska, as their name suggests, and they were developed by a nomadic Inuit tribe called Mahlemut.

As you may also conclude from their looks, these dogs are believed to be descendants of the original wolf dogs who escorted the first travelers over the Bering Strait and into North America about 4,000 years ago.

Although they are one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs used for pulling supplies over large distances, they were mainly used for hunting seals and protecting the tribe from wildlife.

The breed risked extinction during the Alaskan gold rush due to numerous Malamute mixes. However, as the Mehlemut tribe lived in remote areas, the breed survived unaltered, and the American Kennel Club recognized it in 1935.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Size

Size is probably the most apparent difference between the two breeds, since Alaskan Malamute belongs to a group of large breeds, while Siberian Husky is more of a medium-sized one.

This comes as no surprise if we take into consideration what their original roles were — Malamutes were bred to be strong, while Huskies needed to be faster and more agile.

When it comes to their height, Alaskan Malamutes are usually 1–5 inches taller. Naturally, females are slightly shorter than males.

Regarding their weight, a typical Malamute male weighs between 85 and 100 pounds, while the average size of a Husky is between 45 and 60 pounds. With about 75 pounds, even female Malamutes weigh more than male Huskies.

Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Appearance

Apart from the difference in their sizes, there are also a few ways you can tell the two breeds apart solely on their looks.


While both breeds boast thick, double coats to keep them warm in cold climates, the Malamute’s coat is a bit denser than the Husky’s, making it look fluffier.

It also has a slightly rougher texture and is longer in some areas, like the neck and shoulder, while the Husky’s coat is the same length everywhere.

Another Alaskan Malamute vs Husky difference can be seen in their tails. Alaskan Malamutes have a bushier tail they carry over their back along the line of their spine. On the other hand, the Husky’s brush tail is carried low when relaxed and curled up only when attentive.

One notable similarity, though, is that both breeds are heavy shedders. They require frequent grooming and patience, especially in the spring and fall when they shed their undercoat and need to be brushed daily. But, between the two, Huskies require much less maintenance.

So, if you want a dog that doesn’t shed or sheds very little, neither of these two breeds is suitable for you.

Colors and Markings

While Huskies come in red, black, white, agouti, and sable, Malamutes can come in light gray, black, and some shades of red. Both breeds have white underbellies.

But, if we put a Malamute next to a Husky, we will notice the difference in the face markings. Namely, the Malamute is known for the “beanie,” which is a cap of coloring on the top of its head that also covers the ears.

From the forehead’s center, which looks similar to a “widow’s peak,” they may also have a dark stripe extending down the muzzle to their nose..

Some malamutes can also have a blaze similar to a bar but in white, going from the middle of the cap back up the dog’s forehead.

Another difference between Malamute and Husky is that a Husky is more likely to have a mask, represented by a lighter coloring around its eyes, temple, and muzzle, though Malamutes can sometimes have it too.

Lastly, expect to see Huskies with a slightly different color once or twice a year during the shedding months. If this occurs in the fall their color will become darker as it becomes denser, while during late spring, it will lighten.

Eyes and Ears

If you’ve ever seen a Siberian Husky, you must have been dazzled by its striking blue eyes, or you might have also come across one that has one blue and one brown eye. Malamutes, on the other hand, only have brown eyes.

One of the less apparent differences is in their ears. While Huskies have ears that are high on their head and point straight up, Malamutes’ ears point forward, are a bit farther apart, and are set a bit lower.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Personality and Temperament

If you are looking for a guard dog, neither Husky or Malamute is a good option since they are very friendly, even with strangers. Both breeds require consistent training to learn proper behavior, especially Malamutes, infamous for being hard to housetrain.

Huskies are more likely to escape due to their constant desire to roam and explore. So, be careful not to let them slip out of their collars when walking, but also make sure to put up a high and solid fence before getting a Husky, as they will try to jump over.

They both require lots of exercise, but they have different preferences in terms of activities they enjoy. While Malamutes like to have a job while hiking, like carrying something, Huskies would rather spend their time running and jumping.

Both breeds are pack animals, meaning they are incredibly loving and loyal. But, the Malamute temperament is a bit more independent, and they sometimes need space from their families and don’t mind being the only dog in the house.

Moreover, they can also sometimes be aggressive towards other dogs, while Huskies don’t fancy being alone and are friendlier towards other dogs.

Lastly, Huskies and Malamutes are among the most talkative breeds, known to display lots of odd noises, from woofs and barks to grumbles and howls, all the time.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky Health

Of the two breeds, Huskies have a longer lifespan primarily because they have fewer health issues to watch out for. However, the difference is not that big, considering Huskies have an average lifespan of 10–14 years, while Malamutes’ lifespan is 10–12 years.

Since both Huskies and Malamutes are working breeds, they are both at high risk for hip dysplasia.

Regarding Huskies, they are at the highest risk for cataracts, as well as progressive retinal atrophy and corneal dystrophy, which can present at 6–12 months of age, which is why they should have regular exams.

Besides the chances of developing hip and elbow dysplasia caused by their active lifestyle, Alaskan Malamutes can also suffer from day blindness. Some other serious illnesses include blood clotting disorder, severe nerve pain, thrombopathia, and cancer.

Husky vs Malamute Price

No matter which breed of these two you choose, you should be prepared to break the bank. The Alaskan Malamute will cost you a bit more, though.

Since Huskies are more popular, there are more breeders of Huskies in the US than those of the Malamute. This is why when it comes to Malamute puppy vs Husky puppy price, Malamutes are more expensive, typically costing $1,200–$1,700, compared to the $600–$1,300 you should prepare for a Husky.

However, if you’d like to save some money and don’t care about getting a puppy, you can probably find adult dogs of both breeds in shelters, especially Huskies.

According to some statistics, in 2018, Huskies accounted for the highest returned breed at the Riverside County shelter, at around 13%. Unfortunately, people who were encouraged to buy or adopt these dogs weren’t prepared for the amount of dedication this breed requires.

Indeed, some stats show that a quarter of pets ending up in shelters have been abandoned by their owners.


Are Alaskan Malamutes calmer than Huskies?

Alaskan Malamutes are usually calm dogs and are less energetic than Huskies. Unlike Huskies, Malamutes have an independent side and love their alone time every now and then.

Are Malamutes friendlier than Huskies?

Both Malamutes and Huskies are very friendly towards people. Still, Huskies are considered friendlier because, unlike Malamutes, they don’t like being left alone.

What’s more, Malamutes sometimes tend to be more aggressive towards other dogs, while Huskies tolerate them.

Is an Alaskan Malamute a good family dog?

Alaskan Malamutes are known as gentle giants, meaning that they are suitable for living with children. However, due to their size and high energy, they can accidentally hurt small children, so you shouldn’t leave kids alone with a Malamute, nor allow them to walk it.

Moreover, small children often make lots of high-pitched sounds, which doesn’t go well with the fact that Malamutes have a high prey drive.

Besides, as mentioned earlier, Malamutes also love some alone time every now and then, so children need to learn to understand the pet’s boundaries and give them space when needed.

All of this only shows that while Malamutes can be great family dogs, you also need to consider your child’s age, maturity, and temperament.


Hopefully, these Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky differences and similarities will help you make a decision and get yourself one loveable pet.

They both have pros as well as cons in their favor, but one thing is for sure — whichever you choose, you will get an energetic, friendly pet that will love spending time with you!


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