Malamute vs Husky: All 10 Differences Explained

The Siberian Husky is a very popular dog breed. They are so popular that almost everyone has seen one. We see them at dog parks, in hilarious videos online and in dog sled races.

But, how certain are you that these dogs are Huskies? Could they be an Alaskan Malamute?

When comparing a malamute vs husky there are some very obvious differences that many people are not aware of. For example, Malamutes are much bigger and Huskies are a much better family dog.

In this article, we share ten differences between Malamutes and Huskies. These differences can change your decision on which breed to adopt. So, if you plan on welcoming one of these fluffy, wolf dogs into your home, then keep reading…

What Is The Difference Between A Malamute And Husky?

malamute vs husky side
Malamute (top) and husky (bottom)

At first glance, most people will see a malamute and husky and not be able to tell the difference. Yet, although less well-known, the Malamute is a very different dog breed. There are many recognizable differences between these two breeds.

The Alaskan Malamute is much larger than the Siberian Husky. In many cases they can weigh twice as much too. Fully grown they can weigh 100 pounds compared with just 60 pounds for a Husky. These giants are stockier and more muscular.

Malamutes also have longer fur that is much fluffier. Their fur comes in the same color, but, Huskies have a white mask on their face and Malamutes have a white cap on their head. Malamutes almost always have brown eyes while many Huskies have blue eyes or have one blue eye and one brown eye (i.e. heterochromia).

Another obvious difference is their ears. Malamutes have ears that point forward, while Huskies have ears that are on the top of their head and point straight up!

As well as physical differences, there are also differences in their temperaments.

Huskies are highly social and love being around other people or dogs at all times. They make great family dogs but are pretty stubborn during training and can be overly vocal. They also have a tendency to escape if given the chance!

Malamutes can be affectionate, but they need their time alone. They can be independent at times and often do not get along well with other dogs. For these reasons, they are not as suited to families with young children as Huskies are.

Alaskan MalamuteSiberian Husky
Weight75 to 100 pounds30 to 60 pounds
Height23 to 25 inches23 to 25 inches
ColorGray and whiteBlack and white
CoatLong fluffier furMedium length fur
GroomingDaily brushingWeekly brushing
PersonalityIndependent, stubborn and loyalHighly affectionate, friendly, stubborn and loyal
PurposePull heavy sleds alonePull light sleds in packs
OriginAlaskaSiberia
Price$1200 to $1700$600 to $1300
Lifespan10 to 12 years10 to 14 years
EyesBrown eyesBrown or blue eyes
EarsPointed forward and on side of headPointed upward on top of head

Both dogs were bred for pulling sleds in the snow and artic climates, but that is where their similarities end. Their appearance, size, grooming, personality, and health are all different.

The Malamute Is Bigger

Malamute
In many cases a Malamute dog (pictured) can weigh twice as much as a Husky!

When looking at the difference in size between the breeds, it is very clear that the Alaskan Malamute is much bigger. They were bred for strength, so they needed to be stockier and more muscular. Huskies were bred for speed, so needed an athletic, lean build.

A typical male will weigh 85 to 100 pounds, while a male Husky weighs between 45 and 60 pounds. The average for a female is 75 to 85 pounds compared to 35 to 50 pounds for a female Husky.

Malamutes definitely fall into the large dog breed category while Huskies are more of a medium sized dog breed.

Alaskan MalamuteSiberian Husky
Male85-100 pounds45-60 pounds
Female75-85 pounds35-50 pounds

Both dogs are very similar in height and stand about 23 to 25 inches tall.

However, because Malamutes are so much heavier (and share the same height), they look much stockier and broader. They also have larger heads, wider shoulders and huge paws that make them much heavier.

This size difference can be a deciding factor for many dog owners as some individuals are not ready to care for a dog that is as large and strong as a Malamute.

Huskies Are Cheaper

Husky Side

The Husky is a very popular dog breed that currently ranks 14th on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds. Because of this, there are many breeders in the U.S. and it is easy to find a puppy. They are not classified as a rare breed and many breeders regularly have litters.

On the other hand, Malamutes rank 58th on the same list. They are not as popular and they are considered a rare breed. This means there are not as many breeders and some owners import their puppies.

A Malamute will cost much more than a Husky.

Puppies typically cost $1200 to $1700 compared to $600 to $1300 for a Husky puppy.

A rare breed is much more expensive than a common dog.

As well as being more expensive to purchase, owning one will also be more. Huskies do not need professional grooming and are a healthier breed so will not need as much vet attention or medical insurance. Malamutes often need to visit the groomer and are not as healthy.

Malamutes Have White Caps

Malamute Face

Malamutes can come in a variety of colors but are rarely just one solid color. They are typically one color in addition to white. For example, many are: gray and white, sable and white, black and white, or red and white.

A Husky’s coat color will be similar to Malamute’s as they are not typically just one solid color either. The most traditional coat color is black and white. They can also come in: red and white, agouti and white, and sable and white.

Both dogs have white underbellies and white faces. But, the Malamute is known for their white cap. This is a white circle on the top of their head that gives them the appearance of wearing a tiny white hat. Huskies do not have this cap, but they do have a “mask”.

The Husky has a white face, but they have coloring around their eyes and nose. This makes them look as if they are wearing a white face mask.

Interestingly as a Husky ages their color fades. This means an adult Husky’s coat appears as one solid color because they lose so much of the pigmentation in their fur.

It is easy to distinguish between adult malamutes vs huskies because Malamutes will keep their dual coloration and Huskies will not.

The Siberian Husky Is More Energetic

Husky

The Malamute and Husky were both bred to work. They both were even bred for the same type of work; sled pulling! These dogs would pull sleds through the snow and artic climates as a means of transportation for goods and people.

Siberian Huskies were bred for long-distance running and speed. They were responsible for taking light loads over long distances in packs. Their incredible speed also made them excellent at sled dog racing. They were built to be incredible athletes and began winning races in the early 1900s.

An amazing example of the Husky’s speed is the sled dog Balto. Balto carried antibiotics all the way across Alaska to treat children’s diphtheria to save a village from a lethal disease. He covered over 1,000 kilometers in six days!

The Alaskan Malamute was built for a different purpose. They were bred to haul heavy loads over short distances. They are much slower than Huskies, but they pulled their sleds dutifully at a slow pace.

Think of a Malamute as a body builder rather than a long-distance runner.

Both breeds have the temperament for work. They are dedicated to their work and have the heart of champions. They will work until their hearts stop.

When these dogs were originally bred for sled-pulling, Huskies worked in packs. This meant they spread out the weight of the load they were pulling over 10 dogs rather than one. Malamutes worked solitarily and had to be able to pull heavy loads on their own. This resulted in different pack habits.

Huskies Are More Likely To Escape

Husky Dogs

The Siberian Husky is more energetic. These dogs were bred for speed, so it is not a surprise they have more of a desire to run and escape than a Malamute.

Husky owners have reported many difficulties keeping their dog contained, especially puppies! They try to run out of their homes, hop over fences, and can sometimes slip out of their collars.

Malamutes are less likely to run away, but still have that drive to run and are highly athletic.

Both dogs will need plenty of exercise throughout the day, but their workout routines will vary slightly:

  • Huskies were built for speed so they will want to run around, go on brisk jogs and chase other dogs around.
  • Malamutes were built for strength and would much rather go for a hike wearing a doggy backpack.

If you fail to provide them with proper outlets for their energy, they will likely become destructive! Huskies are known for chewing and Malamutes are infamous for digging deep holes in their owner’s backyards.

Malamutes Are More Independent

Two Malamute Dogs

Both breeds are highly affectionate to their family members. They are friendly dogs with big hearts. But, there are some differences in their personalities that set them apart.

Malamutes can be very independent and sometimes need space from their families. Huskies are the exact opposite. They need to be with family members, or other dogs at all times. They do not like being left alone.

Both dogs are infamous for their stubbornness too.

They are highly intelligent breeds, but have a mind of their own. They will need positive and consistent training to learn how to behave. Malamutes in particular are an extra challenge because they are notorious for being difficult to housetrain.

Malamutes can also show protective and territorial behavior. This may result in aggression towards other dogs. Because Malamutes can sometimes be aggressive, they are less suited for families with children than Huskies. In addition, if you choose to bring one home, they should be the only dog in your home.

The final difference between them is noise levels.

Malamutes are known for only letting out soft howls, while Huskies are known for being one of the chattiest breeds. They have a whole array of strange noises they are known for making when they are trying to tell you something! Expect howls, barks, woofs and everything in between.

Both Dogs Are From Different Countries

Alaskan Malamutes are originally from Alaska, as their name indicates. The Mahlemut tribe in Alaska first developed this breed and it is believed they are one of the oldest artic sled dog breeds. They are a descendant of the original wolf dogs.

During the Alaskan gold rush the Malamute almost went extinct. Working dogs were in such high demand that locals began breeding Malamutes with other breeds. There were plenty of Malamute mixes, but purebreds were disappearing quickly. Thankfully, the breed survived and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Siberian Huskies are from Siberia, not Alaska. Siberia is an artic region in Asia near Russia that is bitterly cold. Food resources were scarce in Siberia so Huskies were used as the main form of transportation for food and people.

Huskies had to be extremely durable and could go for days on end without eating.

Siberians quickly realized that Huskies were the perfect breed for sled racing and started racing these magnificent dogs. These dogs can easily beat Samoyeds, Greenland Dogs and Canadian Eskimo Dogs. Siberian Huskies have traveled the world and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930.

Alaskan Malamutes Have Fluffier Coats

malamute vs husky
When comparing the malamute (top) vs husky (bottom) it is hard to not compare their coats!

Both dogs are known for their fluffy coats that give them a wolf-like appearance. Their fur is concentrated in a very thick, double coat. They also both have lots of fur between their toes to keep their feet warm while running in the snow.

Because these dogs were bred to work in cold, artic climates, they needed thick fur that could keep out freezing temperatures for long periods of time. This is one of the reasons they share similar behaviors such as curling their tail over their nose when lying down in the snow to warm the air they are breathing.

Despite their similarities, there are differences in their coats.

Alaskan Malamutes have longer fur than huskies. Their fur is especially long around their rear end, tail, neck and shoulders.

This adorable, cloud-like coat is irresistible and everyone will want to touch it! Much to their surprise, they will realize this fur is not as soft as it looks. It has a much coarser texture to it than a Huskies.

The Siberian Husky has a medium length coat. They are fluffy, but not quite as fluffy. However, their fur is very soft and is pleasant to pet.

Despite the difference in coats both dogs will be heavy shedders! They are not a hypoallergenic breed and their fur will completely cover your home. This extreme shedding will require lots of grooming and patience.

Malamutes Need Brushing Daily

Malamute Side
The grooming routine of a Malamute is more demanding.

Malamutes will need daily brushing because their long, voluminous fur has a tendency to tangle. An owner will need to carefully, and gently, comb through these knots each day to avoid mats. You will also need to look out for hot spots. Hot spots are areas of skin irritation that are caused by itching, biting, and scratching of the skin.

Some owners prefer to take their Malamute to a groomer every few months to have any stubborn tangles removed.

Huskies are much more low maintenance when it comes to grooming.

These dogs only require weekly brushing, rather than daily. Also their fur does not mat and tangle, so they will not need to visit a groomer.

A Husky is a “self-cleaning” dog as their fur seems to repel dirt rather than hold it in. Because of this, they only need a bath every four months or so. Malamutes will need a bath every six weeks. Their long fur can accumulate dirt quickly and you will want to keep them clean to avoid hot spots.

Huskies Live Longer

Huskies have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, while Malamutes have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. The Siberian Husky is generally considered a healthier dog breed and this is reflected in their average lifespan.

The reason for this difference in lifespan is that Siberian Huskies are prone to less health issues.

Huskies are known for developing eye related issues including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and corneal dystrophy. These conditions often lead to partial or complete blindness, but the dog can still live a very long, fulfilling life.

In comparison, Malamutes have a much longer list of serious health risks.

Like Huskies, they can develop hip and elbow dysplasia because of their highly active lifestyle. They can also suffer from eye issues such as day blindness. This is a unique condition in which dogs lose their ability to see during the day but can see at night.

Unlike Huskies, Malamutes are at risk for a number of more serious illnesses including: thrombopathia, von Willebrand’s Disorder (i.e. blood clotting disorder), polyneuropathy (i.e. severe nerve pain) and dwarfism.

Malamutes Have Ears That Point Forward

alaskan malamute vs siberian husky face

There are many physical differences between the malamute vs husky that can help you tell them apart. To start with, a Malamute’s shoulders will be broader, their arms and legs will be thicker and even their muzzle will be larger.

One of the most obvious differences in the appearance of these two breeds is their ears:

  • Malamutes have ears that point forward and are lower on their head.
  • Siberian Huskies have ears that point straight up to the sky and are situated high on their head.

The best way to think of their ears is that the ears of a Siberian Husky are like that of a rabbit. They are on the top of their head and point straight up. The ears of a Malamute are more like a human. They are closer to the side of their head and stick out, rather than up.

Another physical difference is Malamutes normally have brown eyes. It is very unlikely you will ever see one that does not have brown eyes.

The eye color of both dogs is often brown. However, many Huskies have blue eyes or even have one blue eye and one brown eye. This condition of two different eye colors is known as heterochromia. Having blue eyes for a Malamute would be considered a fault.

The last physical difference between these two breeds is their tail:

  • Huskies have a “brush” tail that points downward and hangs like many normal dog tails.
  • Malamutes have a peppy tail that happily curls over their back in a beautiful curl. Their tails are extremely fluffy too.

Summary

There are many similarities between these breeds.

Both dogs were bred to pull sleds and are energetic. They need plenty of exercise throughout the day to keep them out of trouble. They both also have dense, double coats of fluff and a stubborn will.

Despite these similarities, there are differences between the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky.

Owners who bring a Malamute into a home with other dogs or children may discover that their Malamute acts aggressively. Likewise, owners bringing home a Husky may not realize that they have a strong desire to escape!

Malamutes owners will need to spend more time grooming and Husky owners need to spend more time training out excessive vocalization. Otherwise a Husky will fill your home with constant noise!

Whatever dog breed you decide to bring into your home, you will be gaining a loyal, energetic new best friend.

Share a comment and let us know which breed is your favorite below.

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