Alaskan Malamute vs Husky

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky [What is the difference between a husky and malamute?]

The Alaskan Malamute and Husky are often confused as the same but they are different dog breeds and vary in several ways. Malamutes are larger and heavier than the Husky. Both are Arctic sled dogs but the stronger Malamute can pull heavier loads. Huskies are pack dogs where the Malamute will bond more with their owner.

The Husky vs Alaskan Malamute debate is a fun one and if you cannot decide which you like best you are not alone. 

Alaskan Malamute or Husky
Alaskan Malamute or Husky?

 These dogs are not small animals and with wolflike appearances, they may look a tad bit intimidating, but their personalities are quite the opposite. 

These two loving, friendly and intelligent dog breeds are adored all over the world but depending on your lifestyle is how you will choose the best one for you and your family. 

Both dogs are amazing and different in many ways beginning with their origins.

History of the Alaskan Malamute and Husky

Husky History

The Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They were first bred by an ancient tribe called the Chukchi, in the northeastern regions of today’s Russia. 

husky history
Husky History

The Chukchi people used Huskies as sled dogs to quickly haul light loads in sub-zero temperatures, but they were also considered family members and slept with their children to keep them warm. 

A Russian fur trader by the name of William Goosak, introduced the Husky to Nome, Alaska in 1908 during the Nome Gold Rush as sled dogs. 

The breed has changed slightly from the original Huskies from the Chukchi tribes.           

Alaskan Malamute History

The Malamute has a similar history to the Husky, but the Alaskan Malamute is considered one of the most ancient breeds

The breed was brought to Alaska thousands of years ago by the Mahlemuts tribe. Now you know where they got their name!

They were needed for survival in the harsh arctic lands, and were used for hunting, carrying heavy loads over long distances, and if you can believe it, scaring away polar bears!

Like Huskies, Malamutes were treated just like family and were allowed to cuddle up to the kids to keep them warm. 

Alaskan Malamute History
Alaskan Malamute History

Who wouldn’t want a big warm fluffy pillow in the freezing cold!

What is a Basal Dog Breed?

You may hear someone refer to these dogs as a basal breed. This simply means they are a breed that helped create the modern-day breeds we see today. 

Malamutes and Huskies are known for their confidence and curiosity and are one of the strongest basal breeds. 

There are sixteen different basal dog breeds:

  • Afghan Hound   
  • Akita   
  • Alaskan Malamute   
  • American Eskimo   
  • Basenji   
  • Canaan   
  • Chow Chow
  • Dingo   
  • Eurasier
  • Finnish Spitz 
  • New Guinea Singing Dog
  • Saluki   
  • Samoyed
  • Shar-Pei   
  • Shiba Inu
  • Husky

Malamute Compared to Husky

While they are similar dogs, the Alaskan Malamute and Husky are different breeds.

The Alaskan Malamute and Husky are both strong dog breeds built to withstand the severe Arctic cold weather.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Size

If you stand a Husky and Malamute next to one another it is easy to notice the differences in size between the two. 

The Alaskan Malamute is built like a freight train with a strong and muscular build and deep chest that was originally bred for their strength and endurance. 

Whereas the Husky is more like a speedy race car that is strong and gracefully quick on its feet, meant to haul lighter loads quickly.

Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard Size

A female Malamute stands around 23 inches tall and weighs about 75 pounds full grown. 

The males stand at around 25 inches tall and weigh up to 85 pounds. 

We also have the Giant Malamute; they are more like your beefed-up freight train weighing up to 100 pounds. 

Husky Standard Size

Husky females stand about 20 to 22 inches tall and can weigh between 35 to 50 pounds. 

Males stand about 21 to 23 ½ inches tall and can weigh from 45 to 60 pounds.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Appearance

Yes, these two dogs have a somewhat different look.

What Does a Alaskan Malamute Look Like?

The Malamute has an adorable fluffy tail that curls up towards its back, erect ears, and beautiful almond-shaped eyes that are brown, dark brown, and it is rare to find one with striking blue eyes. 

What Does a Alaskan Malamute Look Like
What Does a Alaskan Malamute Look Like?

They have a long, fluffy thick, double-layer coat more so than a Husky. This coat is waterproof and perfect for arctic weather.

 It is best to use caution if you live in warmer climates because over-exposure to heat with such a thick coat can cause overheating very quickly. 

With Malamutes it is like wearing a winter coat in the hot summer sun.

Colors of Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute’s coat colors come in six different combinations:

  • White and Chocolate
  • Blue Belton
  • Gray and White
  • Sable and White
  • Red and White
  • Seal and White

What Does a Husky Look Like? 

The Husky has beautiful almond-shaped brown eyes just like the Malamute. Their eyes can also be a striking blue and interestingly, they could have one eye of each color! 

Huskies have a double coat with a compact body, erect ears, and thick hook-shaped tail.

Colors of Husky

Their coat comes in a variety of colors.

  • Agouti & White
  • Black
  • Black & White
  • Black Tan & White
  • Brown & White
  • Gray & White
  • Red & White
  • Sable & White
  • White

Do Huskies Need to be Groomed?

Huskies are always self-cleaning. These dogs usually only need a few baths a year even though they have that dense undercoat. 

Do Huskies Need to be Groomed
Do Huskies Need to be Groomed?

Malamute Grooming

One convenient aspect of grooming a Malamute is that they can go six to eight weeks between baths.

We all know the battle of doggie bath time can end in success or just a huge mess left to clean up. Both dogs have a thick double coat, however, with a little planning, they are not too hard to maintain.

Both breeds shed their undercoat during spring and fall so regular brushing is a must to get the old coat out and reduce mats.

But these dense double coats should not scare you as during the nonshedding seasons brushing only twice a week or so will do.

Husky Dog Characteristics

Huskies are known for being very independent. They have an “I love you but do not need you” mindset with people. They are also infamously difficult to train and can get bored easily. 

Huskies are escape artists! With a strong prey drive when it comes to squirrels, rabbits, and cats so leashing them is particularly important. 

Malamute Dog Characteristics

Malamutes are extremely loyal, affectionate, devoted, and playful dogs. Malamutes are highly intelligent, independent, and willful but can be stubborn. 

Did I mention Malamutes are diggers! They are just as mischievous as Huskies and love digging holes, and routing through garbage cans. 

Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are highly energetic dogs that need lots of exercise. Both have a high prey drive and are very intelligent but there are significant differences. 

Don’t worry though, either a Malamute or Husky can make a great family pet with proper supervision.

Malamute Dog Characteristics
Malamute Dog Characteristics

If you love gardening, you must be careful because they both love to dig and can cause chaos digging up plants or even destroying furniture in the house if left unsupervised for too long. 

Both are very social and full of energy, but because of their high intelligence level, they become bored easily without frequent mental stimulation or exercise. 

Are Huskies Hard to Train?

Huskies have a reputation of being hard to train. They can be stubborn and head strong.

This probably comes from being a pack dog. If they are an only pet in your family they may feel isolated.

Are Malamutes Hard to Train?

Malamutes can be very hard to train. Because of their large build, they can become dominant over you if they do not respect you.

It is common for Malamutes to develop separation anxiety, boredom, same sex aggression, food aggression, and can have destructive behaviors. 

Aggression towards other same-sex dogs can be eased by only having one male dog in the home or raising the two as puppies together in the home.

To reduce separation anxiety and destructive behavior large amounts of mental and physical stimulation are suggested. Exercise and attention are great.

It can be challenging to train them both, so having experience will help you set boundaries. Socialization is recommended as young as three months of age for both breeds.

Do Huskies Make Good Guard Dogs?

A big factor for many people when getting a dog is will it protect the home and family? The Huskies wolf-like appearance might scare some away so you have that!

Because of the Husky’s friendly and loving nature, they do not tend to make great guard dogs.

Do Malamutes Make Good Guard Dogs?

Malamutes are big and strong but their calm nature is not suited for being a protector. However, they can be suitable guard dogs if trained properly.

One quality of good guard dogs is to bark at strangers. Neither of these dogs bark much though. Instead, they howl just like wolves do at the moon on occasion. 

Exercise Requirements

Because both are pack animals, they will love participating in family activities and playing. If you love outdoor activities both will make a great addition to the family. 

Husky Exercise Requirements

Huskies are high energy dogs, and love intense exercise ranging from 30-60 minutes each day. Some great activities to do with your huskie are:

  • Hikes
  • Long walks
  • Long runs

Malamute Exercise Requirements

Malamutes also need a lot of exercise to prevent boredom. If you love outdoor activities here are a few your Malamute will love to do with you:

  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Swimming 

Some additional activities made for your Malamute are:

  • Agility and obedience trials.
  • Weight pulling competitions.
  • Backpacking. Yes, they make backpacks for dogs!
  • Recreational or competitive sledding.
  • Skijoring. Pulling you on skis. How about that one!

Are Huskies Good Family Pets?

Huskies are great family dogs and love children and flourish in homes with them. They can also work well with other dogs if raised with them as puppies. 

Are Malamutes Good Family Pets?

Malamutes are also great family dogs and love children, however because of their large size and energy levels they can overpower small children. 

They are best suited in families with older children. Like Huskies, they can thrive well with other pets if raised with them as puppies.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Health Issues

For the record, I am not a medical expert, and if you think your Husky or Malamute is experiencing any kind of medical problems, go see your veterinarian right away.

Both Malamutes and Huskies have health issues they are particularly susceptible to.

Do Huskies Have Health Problems?

Huskies have a lifespan of 11-14 years and can live normal healthy lives when properly cared for but they do have some health problems. In particular their eyes.

They should have annual eye exams as they are prone to developing eye problems such as:

  • Cataracts

    Opacity in the lens of the eye, seen in young dogs as early as three months of age. They can cause a decrease in eyesight or complete blindness in some severe cases.
  • Corneal Dystrophy

    Affects the cornea or the outer transparent portion of the eye. It is usually seen in young adult dogs and may affect females more than males. Vision is rarely affected.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

    Affects the retina which is the inner lining of the eye. It will cause a loss of night vision followed by loss of day vision and eventually blindness.

Malamute Health Problems

Alaskan Malamutes have a little shorter expected lifespan compared to Huskies which is usually between 10-13 years. 

Malamutes can also suffer from cataracts but are also prone to some other issues due to their larger build.

Some common health issues with Malamutes are:

  • Hip Dysplasia

    This is an inherited disease that causes the hip joints to improperly form and leads to arthritis.

    You may notice weakness in the hind legs or having difficulty getting up from lying down.

    Arthritis can be treated with therapies and medications, and surgery is sometimes done in severe cases.
  • Hypothyroidism

    This is a disease caused by the body’s inability to make enough thyroid hormone. Some signs to look for are dry skin and hair coat, hair loss, and weight gain.

    A blood screening test should be done annually that screens for the disease. Treatment is usually a replacement hormone given in the form of a pill.
  • Von Willebrand Disease

    This is a hereditary bleeding disorder caused by a protein deficiency needed for blood to clot.

    Some common symptoms of Von Willebrand Disease are:
    • Spontaneous bleeding from the gums mouth or nose
    • You may see a lot of bleeding from the vagina when they are in heat
    • Skin bruises easily
    • Prolonged bleeding of small wounds
    • Excessive bleeding during nail clipping

The disease can lead to excessive bleeding and even death. Sadly, there is no cure for Von Willebrand Disease, only long-term management.

  • Chondrodysplasia

    Often occurring in Siberian Husky puppies, this genetic disorder produces deformities such as abnormal shape and length of the dog’s limbs.

    You may hear of pups having this disorder being called “dwarf puppies”. Be advised that while there is no cure for Chondrodysplasia, dogs can live normal lives.

Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Information Sources

If you want to find other people or learn more about the differences between Huskies and Malamutes there are some great clubs to investigate.

American Kennel Club

This is a great organization dedicated to all types of dogs.

Siberian Husky Club of America

In 1938 the Siberian Husky Club of America was founded and is the AKC breed club for the Siberian Husky.

Alaskan Malamute Club of America is the AKC breed club for the Alaskan Malamute.

These clubs can help you find reputable breeders and other resources for training and different dog owner activities. 

Related Questions

Alaskan Husky vs Siberian Husky

Many people don’t know these are two different dogs. Alaskan Huskies are hybrid dogs whereas Siberian Huskies are purebreds.

They are both great sled dogs with the Alaskan variety excelling at the longer-distance sled races. 

You often see the purebred Siberian in dog shows.

Are Alaskan Malamutes Aggressive?

Yes, they can be aggressive in certain situations such as being around other smaller animals or strangers. 

I would not suggest that they have aggressive tendencies but because of their physical traits (large dogs) and breeding as a hunting dog (they were used to hunt polar bears!), it is possible.

In general, they are friendly dogs but you always need to be cautious and aware especially if they are around young children.

Can an Alaskan Malamute Kill a Wolf?

Absolutely they could kill a wolf. As we mentioned before this is a big, strong powerful dog with the instincts of a hunter. 

Remember though, wolves travel in packs and that gives them an advantage if they encounter a single Malamute.


One thing we know for certain is that both of these breeds are beautiful dogs and with proper training would make a loving pet in most homes.

The debate of the Alaskan Malamute vs Husky continues! 🙂

alaskan malamute vs husky

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