Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky

Differentiating between an Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky isn’t an easy job. These wolf-like breeds are almost identical. Both originated from the Arctic region and have thick double coats. Both are also involved in the business of pulling sledges. Then how are we supposed to distinguish between them?

Most people will find it very confusing to differ one from the other. But, certain differences can help you identify which is which. This has to do with their height, behaviour, physical appearance and several other features. 

Given below are all the characteristics under which an Alaskan malamute and a Siberian husky can be differentiated. 

Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky: How to distinguish between them?

For some, these breeds can be identical twins. But there are ways to distinguish between them. An Alaskan malamute is a descendant of the wolf-dogs who were the first companions of travellers moving from Bering Strait to North America. The Siberian husky on the other hand was from Northern Asia.

Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky: Difference between Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute
(Source: Husky Advisor)

Another major difference between an Alaskan malamute and a Siberian husky is that the Malamute is a controlled dog breed. The Husky on the other hand has always been a part of the family pack. Therefore, its actions can be uncontrollable if left alone. The shedding, grooming, training, exercise and handling issues are mostly the same for both breeds with a few differences in them.

Comparing an Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky

We all know that sometimes appearances can be deceptive. This is a common factor for both these breeds. However, they both can be of sweet and loving-kindness. The basic differences between an Alaskan malamute and a Siberian husky are given below:

Origin and History:The Alaskan malamute is an ancient breed that originated before the 19th century.  
The breed was raised in Northwestern Alaska by the Mahlemut Tribe. It is almost a4000 years old dog breed.

This breed was mostly used by people to pull heavy weights for longer distances. 
The Siberian husky is a modern breed that arrived in the 20th century.
This breed arrived in Alaska and was raised by the Chukchi people in Siberia.
This breed was mostly used for sledge racing. However, it could pull loads faster than the Alaskan malamute.
Size:The size of an Alaskan malamute is 65-85lbs.The size of a Siberian husky is 44-60 lbs.
Height:The Alaskan malamute has a height of 23-27 inches.A Siberian husky has a height of 22-26 inches.
Weight:Malamutes weigh about 34-43 kg. The weight of a male and a female Malamute is almost the same. The Huskies weigh about 14-30 kg. The female Husky (14-20 kg) is much lighter than a male Husky (20-30 kg).
Coat colour and type:Malamutes have a coarse double coatwithlonger hairs
The colour of their coat is available in black, light grey and shades of red. 
Husky has adense double coat with medium length hair.
The colour of their coat includes red, sable, grey, black and white.
Price:The cost of an Alaskan malamute is $1,500-$2,000.The cost of a Siberian Huskyis $1,700-$10,000.
Lifespan:The average life expectancy of a Malamute is 12 years.The average life span for Siberian huskies is 12-15 years.
Speed:The speed of  Alaskan Malamute is 28 mph.The speed of a Siberian Husky is 30 mph.
Power in PSIAlaskan malamute has a high power of 540 PSIThe power of a Siberian Husky is 320 PSI.

The Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky: Difference in Appearance

Both the Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky are intelligent dogs. While the Alaskan malamute was bred to be a working dog, the Siberian husky belonged to the sledging group. Malamutes are larger compared to Huskies. Although they are quite similar, they have some very prominent differences in appearance.

Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky: Difference between Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute
(Source: Dog Discoveries)

The Alaskan malamutes have a coarse coat, unlike the Huskies. This makes them look fluffier. They have a bulky heads with erect ears and medium-shaped almond eyes. The colour of their eyes is mostly in shades of brown. The tail of an Alaskan malamute is bending over its back.

The Siberian husky, on the other hand, have a dense coat. They have a medium shaped head and similar erect ears. The eyes of a Siberian husky are large almond-shaped with colours ranging from brown to blue, black and green. The tail of this breed is mostly saber.

Alaskan malamute vs Siberian husky: Personality and Temperament

A great difference between Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky is their temperament. As working dogs, Alaskan malamutes are quite energetic. They have confident and playful personalities.  However, on the other hand, the Siberian husky is more of a mischievous kind.

Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky: Difference between Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute

Alaskan malamutes love to stay with families and grab their attention. However, they are not so open when it comes to strangers. The Siberian husky on the other hand is easily sociable. They can easily accept humans and other pets, much the same way. Both dog breeds tend to develop separation anxiety when left alone. However, Huskies can get more destructive due to their way of socialization. 

Another basic difference between Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies is that Huskies are not good guard dogs as Malamutes. The prey drive for Malamutes is more compared to Huskies. Siberian Huskies also tend to have a low tolerance level, making them more uncontrollable. The Malamutes on the other hand have a great tolerance level. Also, Huskies are quieter than Malamutes. Malamutes tend to bark and growl, while Huskies prefer to chatter.

Health Issues of both breeds

Just like any other dog breed, both Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky also fall sick. Sometimes they tend to undergo severe health conditions. Given below are the health issues faced by the breeds.

Alaskan malamute health issues:-

The health issues faced by the Malamutes include:

  • Bloating: This breed is a patient of bloating, also known as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus. In this case, the chest of the dog breeds becomes narrow and deep. 
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: In this case, the breed becomes a victim of neural diseases followed by poor reflexes and weakness.
  • Genetic Predispositions: The breed faces several genetic predispositions. One of them is dwarfism where the bones and cartilage of the bred start growing abnormally. 

Siberian husky health issues:-

The health issues faced by the Siberian husky include:

  • Corneal Dystrophy: This disease affects the cornea of the Huskies. You will understand if your dog is facing the same problem if small white dots appear on its cornea. 
  • Zinc deficiency: There can often be a shortage of zinc in the body of a dog or a human. However, for a Siberian husky, it may mean loss of hair from their elbow, eye chins or lip areas. 
  • Follicular Dysplasia: One of the common problems experienced by the Siberian husky is follicular dysplasia. Here, huskies with 3-4 months of age can experience abnormal hair growth or infectious skin.

There are a few diseases that are common for both breeds. Both the Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky are prone to obesity. Other health issues like Hip Dysplasia and Hypothyroidism are also common for both breeds .Another common disease found in both Malamutes and Huskies is the VKH syndrome. Also known as uveodermatologic syndrome, here the cells attack the immunity system that develops the pigment for the skin and ear.   

The alaskan malamute and Siberian husky: Feeding, Grooming and shedding

The Alaskan malamutes require a proper diet for maintaining their nutrition. However, for both Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies very small amount of food is required. Due to their high metabolism, nutritious food in small amounts will fulfil their needs. Malamutes should be given food twice a day. But for Huskies, food should be given three times a day.

The coarse coats of Malamutes require daily brushing. The Siberian husky on the other hand requires considerably low maintenance.  Daily brushing for Malamutes is required to check for hot spots and mats. Huskies however can be brushed once a week. They are more of a self-cleaning kind. Therefore, they require bathing a couple of times every year. Unlike the Huskies, the Malamutes require bathing 6-8 times a week

Grooming and shedding in Husky n Malamute
(Source: K9 of Mine)

Both the Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky breeds have a certain period where they completely shed their undercoat. This process is known as ‘Blowing the coat’. In this situation, the shedding moves to the extreme. You can still control their shedding by brushing them frequently.

Alaskan malamuteand Siberian husky: Difference in puppies

There isn’t a remarkable difference in the puppy face of an Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky. As a puppy, huskies present a bold colour with contrasting tints. On the other hand, Malamutes show subtle colouring

As puppies, Malamutes may have distinguishable face markings. But for Huskies, particular face markings symbolize the white marks of their face. They also develop colouring around the eyes and nose of their face.

Alaskan malamute vs. Siberian husky: Training and Exercise

Both Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky are smart and loyal dogs. Therefore, it is easier for an owner to train them. The first step to training them is socialising them at an early age. Being obedient dog breeds, they will grasp any training you provide them. Being bulky dogs, they also require dominance. But unlike the Huskies, the Malamutes are stubborn. Therefore, they may cause a bit of a problem.

Exercise needs for husky and Malamute
(Source: Siberian husky training)

Being working dogs, both the Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky require adequate exercise to release their pent up energy.  However, both have different ways to proceed. 

Malamutes are bred to carry heavy loads for longer distances. Therefore they do not require frequent intervals to release their energy. The Huskies on the other hand are meant to carry lighter loads. Therefore, they may require longer intervals for releasing the stored energy. 

Malamutes are good when taken on hikes and for swimming. While for Huskies, running serves as the best exercise. One thing that an owner must realise that for both these breeds, exercise is a must. The breeds can develop habits like digging or chewing if they are not made to do adequate exercise. 

Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky: Which is best for apartments?

Malamutes are good family dogs. They survive on human attention and can play with children for hours. However, they can be wired when it comes to strangers. The Siberian husky on the other hand, is also one of the social kinds. They are open with everyone, be it an aged woman, a stranger or even a kid. This character trait makes them one of the best family dogs.

Siberian Husky as pet dog
(Source: Siberian Husky Training)

But, when it comes to living in apartments, Huskies are more appropriate. Malamutes are bigger in size. This makes it difficult for them to move around is small spaces.  Therefore, they must be kept in open backyards. However, Huskies are apartment dogs. Also, their size acts as a plus point for living in apartments.

Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky: The basic similarities

 These two breeds have much more in common than they have differences. Some of the basic similarities of Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies include:

  • Both are very energetic dogs
  • Both can get destructive if not paid attention
  • Both have many health issues in common
  • Both have the same shedding time every year
  • Both are mostly from Alaska
  • Both are highly adorable!


If you are thinking of adopting either of these two breeds, make sure you have a good bank balance. Both breeds are expensive in their way. You must also have proper knowledge about training either of these breeds. These purebred breeds can be troublesome for you if not trained properly.

In case you want a guard dog, you can surely choose Alaskan malamute. Their size is sure to scare strangers away. But, if you want a companion for your daily, you can trust Huskies blindly for that job. 


Q. Who is a better guard dog?

Both have the same type of temperament. But, Malamutes will act as better guard dogs rather than Huskies. 

Q. Which dog has a larger size?

Alaskan malamutes are comparatively larger than Siberian huskies.

Q. Can Huskies be good family dogs?

If proper training is provided; both the dog breeds can be good family dogs. However, Huskies are more suitable for being family dogs. 

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