Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
If you're set on a sled dog, come and learn about the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky to see what makes them so unique. Read on and discover to see how they manage to survive high temperatures.

Ever seen a Husky-like dog but you couldn’t tell for sure it was a Siberian? If you ever experienced this the chances are that you were looking at one of its cousins, an Alaskan Husky or an Alaskan Malamute. This is a common confusion, because to the untrained eye, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between dog breeds. Knowing the difference between breed is more challenging when the breeds share the appearance and ancestry.

The Origin Of Malamutes

The Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Alaskan Husky are dogs whose appearance can easily confuse anyone. Their wolf-like appearance makes them quite similar. You would think that they have the same background, but you would be mistaken.

After all, each breed is unique and has its history. In 2013 one study identified the Alaskan Malamute as a basal breed. At one moment in history, a deep genetic split happened between old-world and new-world wolves.
A 2012 study confirmed that the split was real and even listed the breeds that were marked as the Basal breeds, as opposed to ancient breeds. People believe that Malamutes have existed, just like Shiba Inu and Basenji, before modern dog breeds emerged in the 19th century. The breed got its name from the nomadic Inuit tribe called Mahlemuts.

Originally, Malamutes were bred to be hunters able to take down seals and even bears. The breed becomes extremely popular during the ‘gold rush’ in 1896 because these dogs were able to pull heavy freight. So, people started crossing the Malamute with other dogs in hope to replicate the strength of this breed, but the interbreeding became uncontrollable and it came to the point that the ancient DNA of first Malamutes almost disappeared.

Luckily, Robert J.Zoller a breeder, became involved in the breed’s revival, creating the Husky Pak line of dogs. That being said, it’s important to note that all modern Malamutes are descended from early strains of this line.

The Origin Of Siberian Huskies

Originally, Siberian Huskies have roots in Eurasia. They are directly descended from the original sled dog, and they are originally developed by the Chukchi tribe in eastern Siberia. Also, they were bred to endure long travels in extremely cold weather.

Huskies were not only sled dogs, but they also helped in hunting prey and with the herding of livestock. Many of them helped explore new territories and help tribes look for potential settlements. The Siberian Husky was always raised in a family setting and that’s the main reason why they have such friendly and gentle temperament.

First Siberian Huskies came to the States in 1909, to compete in the All Alaska Sweepstakes, at the time a famous sled-dog race. Also, this competition cemented the Huskies reputation when they finished in third place.

Soon after, many competitors started having the dogs compete in the race because of their unbelievable endurance and speed. In 1925, the breed’s popularity skyrocketed when a team of Huskies completed the Great Race of Mercy. That race covered more than 600 miles of Alaskan territory.

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute

The first thing that people notice about these two breeds is their physical appearance. They share a quite similar look. Also, their coat and facial markings are similar.

Interestingly, their tails are identically fluffy, which they tuck over their noses to keep their bodies warm. After all, they are both from colder areas and similarity is inevitable. But, if you take a closer look you’ll be able to spot a few differences in each breed.

Malamutes Are Bigger Than Siberian Huskies

There’s a noticeable difference between these dogs when it comes to size because the Malamute is usually much bigger than the Siberian Husky. This difference is best spotted when they are side by side.

After all, Malamute’s were bred because of their strength and they can be classified as a large to giant breed. The height of male Malamutes ranges from 24 to 26 inches (63 to 66 cm) and they can weigh as much as 95 lbs (43 kg). There are also bigger Malamutes that can stand up to 35 inches and weight more than 100lbs.

On the other hand, Siberian Huskies tend to be more slender. After all, they were bred for faster movement and maximum stamina and that’s why they range only from medium to large size. Siberian females can measure between 20 to 22 inches (50 to 55 cm) in height and weigh between 31 to 51 lbs (14 to 23 kg). Furthermore, male Siberian can reach up to 24 inches (63 cm) tall and weigh anywhere from 44 to 60 lbs (19 to 27 kg).

They Have Different Eye Colors

Siberian Huskies are known for having unique eyes, in terms of colors. Their eyes are one of their most famous traits. But, what about Malamutes and their eyes? Malamutes and Huskies both have almond-shaped eyes that seem that they are looking right through you or your soul. Owners say that this is the trait that makes them even more captivated.

Malamutes have eyes that are different shades of brown, while Siberians’s have eyes in more colors, including brown, black, blue, or green. Some Siberians have particolored eyes (two colors in one eye) or bi-colored (each eye is a different color) eyes. This later is known as heterochromia.

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute: Personalities

When it comes to their temperament, there are only a few differences and several similar traits. Both, Malamute and Huskies are pack-oriented dogs, meaning that they share a highly sociable nature. In general, both are friendly around people and surprisingly love to be in the center of attention. They love to cuddle and they will demand to cuddle time from each family member. Furthermore. they’re highly intelligent canines, highly independent and resourceful.

Training them is at least an interesting experience because as being independent they can be rather stubborn. So, don’t expect them to follow your commands all the time, because they will easily get bored. In addition to their stubbornness, they will have problems staying calm around smaller animals because of their high prey drive. That being said, if you are a feline owner as well, you should re-think one of the species or try to introduce them one to another while they are still a puppy and a kitten.

Also, Malamute tends to show a certain level of aloofness or even aggression around other dogs, especially of the same sex. This trait is caused by the breed’s strong pack nature.

They Might Be Challenging For First-Time Owners

The truth is that having any of these two dogs will be challenging for a first-time dog owner. If you’re looking for a breed that is more eager to respond to commands or be easy to train, maybe you should re-think adopting any of these two breeds.

Both Huskies and Malamutes are pack lovers and they love to have a pack leader. If they don’t see you as a pack leader they will put themselves above you and that is something that you want to avoid.

Your dog needs to see you as an alpha to obey a simple command like ‘sit’. That being said, it’s up to you to establish yourself as the pack leader as early as possible. Therefore, your positive reinforcement techniques, and start training your puppy as soon as he turns 8 weeks.

They also have high energy levels, so they will expect regular and intense outdoor exercise. Plan at least one to two hours of daily activity. Don’t forget about mental stimulation. Make training interesting and fun. Don’t leave them alone for too long, because they will demonstrate destructive behavior like chewing shoes or furniture. This is something that you can expect from White Husky as well – no matter the fur type, these dogs will have identical personalities.

They Are Not Good Guard Dogs

Long story short, no. These breeds are not great guard dogs. They are not even good guard dogs. They’re too friendly to have a protective instinct. Furthermore, they will greet strangers with a happy expression and an excited wagging tail. Basically, they will greet every stranger as if he or she is a family member.

They don’t like to watch or guard. They love to be active and to get belly rubs from anyone. Whoever gives them some attention is their new best friend. Luckily, their wolf-like appearance and Malamute’s impressive size makes them effective as a visual deterrent for intruders, and that’s the maximum of their guard dog abilities.

They Are Suitable Family Dogs

The Siberian Huskies and the Alaskan Malamute are suitable pets for the family. After all, they are pack-oriented dogs, so they crave for the company and love spending time with their family. Moreover, their gentle nature makes them perfect for spending time with children. They are just amazing around older children, toddlers, and even babies.

However, if you have more than one dog around Malamute, you should introduce them at an early age, because early socialization may prevent aggression-related issues. Just a heads-up, though: Malamutes are slightly better with older children. Due to his size, he can easily knock down a small child unintentionally or cause accidents during playtime.

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute: Grooming

Grooming your Husky or Malamute is quite similar. They have a double-layer coat made of an undercoat and a topcoat. Their coat is designed to protect them during the hard winters and freezing temperatures.

Their coat also reflects heat in the summer. Siberian’s fur is usually short to medium-length, while the Malamute will have significantly thicker and longer fur. Moreover, they all have similar shedding pattern. They will blow their coat twice a year, with a major season change. Also, their intense shedding period can last up to 3 weeks, during which the dog’s undercoat will fall off in large clumps.

You will have to brush your dog once to thrice daily to remove loose fur from the coat. Supply yourself with proper grooming material, good vacuum cleaner and high-quality brushed if you don’t want a house covered in fur.

Keep to your brushing schedule and you will have a Siberian or a Malamute with a healthy and glossy coat. Also, the great thing about these dogs is that their coats are essentially self-cleaning. Also, they don’t develop odor or accumulate dirt like other double-coated breeds usually do. You may expect to bath your dog only once a year.

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute: Nutrition

Huskies and Malamutes are by nature sled dogs, so they share the same dietary requirements. Being bred to work hard they can easily survive and work of little food. Moreover, they are usually given food rich in protein and fat, and small amounts. This diet keeps the dogs’ muscles and bones strong. Even more, this diet helps them sustain their energy levels throughout the day.

They will be fine with 2 to 4 cups of dry kibble daily, divided into 2 meals. This type of diet is possible thanks to their unique metabolism that enables them to get by with less food compared to other breeds their size.

Dogs are known for loving to eat, but this may shock you – Huskies will stop eating once they are full. With them, you can try the concept of ‘free-feeding‘ if you find it relevant.

On the other hand, the same doesn’t apply to Malamute. Actually, Malamutes are popular for their kind of greedy appetite. A Malamute will keep eating as long as you keep giving him food. This makes the breed prone to obesity, so you need to stay on top of proper feeding plan.

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute: Health

Nowadays, Huskies and Malamutes are known for being some of the healthiest breeds. They are equally healthy, especially compared to dogs their size. But, they will have some health issues, most of which are genetic.

In most cases, Huskies and Malamutes will suffer from hip dysplasia and eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. The Siberian Husky can live up to 14-15 years, while an Alaskan Malamute can live up to 12 years.

A comparison table of the Alaskan Husky vs the Siberian Husky

TraitsSiberian HuskyAlaskan Malamute
SizeUp to 24 inches (63 cm)

44 to 60 lbs (19 to 27 kg)

24 to 26 inches (63 to 66 cm)

Up to 95 lbs (43 kg)


Eye colorBrown, blue, green, parti-colored, bi-coloredAll shades of brown
CoatDouble coat, short to medium-lengthDouble coat, long
Good with kids?YesYes (supervision needed because of his size)
Friendly with people?YesYes
Good guard dogs?NoNo
Gets along well with other pets?YesNeeds more socialization with other dogs
Prey driveHighHigh
Energy levelsHighHigh
LifespanUp to 14 yearsUp to 12 years
Average price per puppy$800 to $2500$1000

Siberian Husky vs. Alaskan Malamute: Summary

So, will it be a Siberian Husky or a Malamute? There is no clear winner here, as each dog is unique in its way. Husky will be loyal to his pack, while Malamute will be loyal to his owner. They are all individual, just as humans are. But the important thing here is that you be properly prepared to meet his needs, especially when it comes to exercise and training.

They have a few things in common and the most dominant is that they’re high-energy breeds, so they will need plenty of physical activity. Moreover, they are also smart dogs, so you should plan training on time and forming a good routine. The biggest difference here is that Malamutes are significantly larger than Siberian, so think on time about dog’s living space.