Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: The Important Similarities And Differences

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky

When we look at pictures of the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky side by side, it can be difficult to tell them apart.

So, is the Malamute just a giant Husky, or is this a completely different dog with different traits and personality quirks?

In this guide we will look at the difference between Husky and Malamute dogs in terms of physicality and personality. Why are they both such good working dogs and do they differ in any significant way?

We will look closer at their breeding to see why these dogs are so similar, as well as the genetics of some of the different types of Huskies. In addition to this, we will look at the potential of cross breeds. What is a Malamute Husky and are they desirable?

The first thing to look at here when determining the difference between the Husky vs Malamute is the physical difference

There is no doubt that these breeds are similar looking dogs, with just a few tell-tale signs between them.

The most striking is the fact that the Malamute has a tail curling over the back while the Husky has one that hangs down.

Huskies are also slightly longer lived on average, at around 12-15 years compared with 10-12 years for the Malamute. However, this all depends on the care and health of the individual animal.

Another key difference to note here is their eye color, as the Malamute never has those blue eyes people love in Huskies.

alaskan malamute dogAlaskan Malamute

This focus on physicality also means that we have to look at the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky size. Just how big do Alaskan Malamutes get compared to the Husky, if at all?

The Malamute is noticeably larger than the Siberian Husky. The height is an average of 26’’ compared to 23.5’’ with the Husky, but they can grow taller.

The Malamute is also seen a stronger animal compared to the faster, leaner Husky. Therefore, the Husky can have greater exercise needs and will like a fast paces regime with jogging, running and long hikes. Those that cannot commit to this level of activity on a regular basis should avoid owning the Husky.

Husky with brown and white coatSiberian Husky – Image Source

Another concern here is with the coat of the Malamute vs Husky and issues with grooming and shedding

The Husky and Malamute both have a double coat to keep them warm in the cold climates they originate from.

The typical Malamute colors are black, grey, sable or red. There is much more variety in the Husky, with browns, creams, silvers and pure white coats.

The coat of the Malamute can be longer, so may be more noticeable when shedding and require more careful grooming to keep it in good condition. Either way, this type of coat means plenty of time spent grooming and dealing with shedding. These dogs are heavy shedders at the change of season so be prepared! Owners will need to set enough time, and space, aside to deal with the pile of fluff.

This also raises questions about the relationship between the Malamute and different breeds of Huskies

There is more than one type of Husky out there, and some may not immediately look at the Siberian.

Many turn to Alaskan Huskies when looking for similar breeds to these two working dogs. However, it is not as it appears. There are different Husky breeds out there that have been bred to suit the needs of different communities and regions.

The Alaskan is a bit of a hybrid of different animals, and not recognized as its own breed. There is in fact an odd, uncertain genetic mix that makes her the ideal sled dog.

Some people may ask what is the biggest Husky when looking at those size comparisons for the Husky and Malamute. Some will be convinced they have seen Huskies that are comparable to Malamutes.

The biggest Husky breed is this Alaskan Husky, and it is as large as the Alaskan Malamute. This dog has a similar shape and look to the Siberian. It is a shorter coat, but it is still a double coat with the same shedding issues. The eyes are usually brown not blue – perhaps another reason why Siberian is more popular.

Also, this is seen as the faster and calmer dog, making it a little more desirable as a working dog that the Siberian Husky. Otherwise, the personalities are pretty similar.

alaskan huskyAlaskan Husky – Image Source

The personalities of Malamutes and Huskies

With such a strong connection between these type of northern working dogs, it is no surprise to also see similarities in the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky temperament.

They are good with children, pretty good natured generally and sociable, energetic and playful. Unfortunately there are also potential behavioral issues with these dogs. All three animals mentioned so far have a high prey drive, which can make them difficult to control and makes them a potential threat around livestock.

Another potential issue is the dog escaping its boundaries. The Malamute could dig its way out, while the Husky may jump a fence. Be prepared! Huskies are also pretty hyper while Malamutes can struggle to get along with dogs of the same sex.

Another key similarity here is their stubborn trait, which can mean that they are a little difficult to train. This is a problem for those looking for an easy-going breed for their first pet. Still, their intelligence can make up for this. The Husky tends to be smarter than the Malamute, both are pretty sharp. This also means that there are plenty of opportunities for these dogs as working dogs when trained well with a patient owner.

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It pays to find a good breeder for these dogs, whether Husky or Malamute

The final consideration here with the subject of Alaskan Malamute vs Husky is where buyers can get them.

As with all breeds, you need to find a breeder that puts the best interest of their animals ahead of profits. This relates to the parents as well as the pups.

The best will allow you to spend time with the dogs and learn more about their linage and health. This is a great chance to see the adults and any strong behavioral traits that may come through. Some will find that Malamute puppies are more expensive, but cost depends on location, availability and breeder.

Beware of those charging more for unusual colors of Huskies or focusing on the blue eyes in the descriptions. They may be putting appearance over health and selling based on a false rarity.

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On the subject of breeding, there is the option of a hybrid between the two

We can’t forget here that there is also the option of the Malamute Husky – also known as the Alusky.

Often buyers will go or a cross breed because there is a very different dog with an interesting look and the best parts of the parent dogs.

However, the similarities between the parent dogs here means that the offspring don’t fall too far from the tree in terms of their good and bad traits.

Pictures of Malamute Huskies show a dog that could be mistaken for either parent. They are strong, energetic, attractive and good natured, but there is still the chance of them being stubborn, hard to train and mischievous when it comes to their boundaries.

Alusky - Siberian Husky Alaskan Malamute MixAlusky Puppy

Alternatively, you could look into adopting either a Malamute, Husky or Husky Malamute mix. The size, behavioral issues and other problems of this demanding trio of breeds means that many homes will not be able to cope with them. Many got a fluffy puppy with good intentions, but don’t realize what it takes to train and care for these animals – or how big they will go. This is where a responsible new owner can come in and rescue one.

alaskan malamute siberian husky mixSiberian Husky Alaskan Malamute Mix – Image Source

What have we learned from this Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky comparison?

So what is the difference between Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky?

The most interesting thing about this breed comparison is perhaps the amount of similarities between the two, rather than the differences.

It is clear that the two have more in common than the obvious physical elements with that people-friendly demeanour and energetic nature.

The main difference is that one is much calmer, stronger and adaptable than the other.

This guide also shows why the Alusky is perhaps a little more appealing. They share many of the physical and personality traits, but there is the chance that the worst characteristics of the Siberian Husky – the stubbornness, kill drive and hyperactivity could be diluted a little – while retaining the shape and look.

It is easy to see why those needing sled dogs went for the powerful, clam and intelligent mix of the Alaskan Husky. Here it is all about finding the best family dog, and there are pros and cons to all three.

They are people-friendly, fun animals, but they do require a lot of space, attention and patience from an experienced owner. If you have any doubt about your potential as a Husky or Malamute owner, it is probably best to go for a less demanding breed.


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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