Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: What’s The Difference?

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 20 September 2022
Fact Checked

Do you know the difference between an Alaskan Malamute and a Siberian Husky?

You’d be forgiven for confusing these two dog breeds as they’re relatively similar in appearance.

However, the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are different dog breeds despite being canines that can tolerate the cold.

The Alaskan Malamute is rated as the 68th most popular dog breed in the USA by the American Kennel Club, while the Siberian Husky is ranked at number 19th.

If you’re thinking about bringing home an Alaskan Malamute or a Siberian Husky, you’re probably curious to learn some of the similarities and differences between these two dog breeds.

In this article, we’re going to look at the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky, examining the subtle differences in appearance, temperament, exercise requirements and more.

What Is An Alaskan Malamute?

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Alaskan Malamute is a loyal, playful and affectionate dog breed that make excellent sled dogs. Members of the Working Group, the AKC write:

Everything about Mals suggests their origin as an arctic sled dog: The heavy bone, deep chest, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coat all scream, ‘I work hard for a living!’

What Is A Siberian Husky?

Copper and white Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Copper and white Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky is also a member of the Working Group. These sled dogs are a loyal, outgoing and mischievous breed.

The graceful, medium-sized Siberian Husky’s almond-shaped eyes can be either brown or blue and sometimes one of each and convey a keen but amiable and even mischievous expression.

Are Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies the same?

Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are different dog breeds that have developed over the past century or so. While both breeds are members of the working group and they can excel as sled dogs, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies aren’t the same.

Where Do Alaskan Malamute Come From?

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest sled-dog breeds in the world. According to the AKC, the Alaskan Malamute is thought to be a descendant of the domesticated wolf-dogs. Their name is thought to have come from the Mahlemiut, who were Inuit people who resided in northwestern Alaska.

Their ancestors served as sled dogs for the Mahlemiut people and they would haul heavy loads at low speeds over long distances, the AKC write. Alaskan Malamutes were accustomed to pulling sleds loaded with substantial weight, while the Siberian Husky was used to haul lighter loads across the snow.

As the Inuit culture expanded across the various coastlines of Alaska, a number of different Alaskan Malamute strains appeared. The Kotzebue strain was the first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1935 before the M’Loot and Hinman strains were granted status in 1940s and 1950S.

Where Do Siberian Husky Come From?

Sable Siberian Husky dog standing on top of mountain next to cliff (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Sable Siberian Husky dog standing on top of mountain next to cliff (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Siberian Huskies were originally bred and developed by the Chukchi people in northwestern Asia. They were used to pull light loads as the nomadic people explored that area of the continent. The Chukchi people considered the Siberian Husky’s ancestors as part of their family as well as sled dogs.

The Siberian Husky arrived in the United States in the early 1900s as their racing prowess started to attract significant interest in the dog breed. These athletic dogs earned international acclaim when they led a 658-mile relay to deliver life-saving serum to Nome in Alaska in 1925.

Five years later, the American Kennel Club recognised the Siberian Husky as a breed by the AKC. In 1938, the Siberian Husky Club of America was founded.

Are Alaskan Malamutes Bigger Than Siberian Huskies?

The Alaskan Malamute will grow to an average size of 23 to 25 inches (58cm to 64cm) and weigh between 75 and 85 pounds (34kg to 39kg).

The Siberian Huskies, on the other hand, will have a height range from 20 to 23.5 inches (51cm to 60cm) and 35 and 60 pounds (16kg to 27kg).

As we can see, the Alaskan Malamute is bigger-boned and much heavier than the nimble-footed Siberian Husky. The AKC explain on their website that Siberian Huskies are noticeably smaller and lighter than their burly cousin, the Alaskan Malamute,

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Appearance

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Alaskan Malamute can come in a range of different colors, including black and white, red and white, grey and white, agouti and white, sable and white, seal and white, silver and white and white. They can have a black or brown nose and have big brown almond-shaped eyes. As a Spitz breed, they should have alert, erect ears and a bulky muzzle. The Alaskan Malamute has a dense, thick double coat to protect them against the elements.

Siberian Huskies, like the Alaskan Malamute, have a number of possible coat colors. They can be black and white, brown and white, red and white, black, agouti, red, sable, pied, silver, gray and white. Unlike the Malamute, Siberian Huskies can have blue, hazel or brown eyes, they can have bi-eyes or parti-eye. They should have a brown or black nose, with a dash of pink. Like their Mal cousins, they’ll have erect ears and pointy medium-length muzzle.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Temperament

Siberian Husky running in the snow (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Siberian Husky running in the snow (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The AKC have a stark warning for prospective Malamute owners:

Mals are pack animals. And in your family ‘pack’, the leader must be you. If a Mal doesn’t respect you, he will wind up owning you instead of the other way aroudn.

So it’s important to commit to early training and socialization to lay down a solid foundation to build your relationship with your Malamute. These Alaskan dogs tend to be affectionate dogs that are extremely loyal to the family. They need lots of mental and physical stimulation to prevent destructive or unwanted behaviours. Alaskan Malamutes do have a reputation for being quite stubborn. They can be prone to separation anxiety if they’re left alone for a long time. Their sheer size can make these dogs effective watch dogs, while they’ve got a booming howl to raise the alarm.

Siberian Husky can make excellent family pets seeing as their ancestors were much-treasured members of the pack. They’re usually an outgoing dog breed that will get along with family members, while they’ll enjoy meeting new dogs and new people. Siberian Huskies are an energetic breed so they’ll need lots of mental and physical stimulation like Malamutes. They’ve got a reputation for being escape artists so you’ll need a fenced garden or yard. They can be stubborn and prone to separation anxiety like Mals.

Are Alaskan Malamutes Friendlier Than Siberian Huskies?

The Siberian Husky tends to be a friendlier dog than the Alaskan Malamute, although every dog is different so there could be exception to the rules. The AKC give the Siberian Husky a five-star rating when it comes to openness to strangers, while the Alaskan Malamute gets three out of five. When it comes to meeting other dogs, the Siberian Husky gets a five-star rating, while the Malamute receives three stars.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Exercise

Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Siberian Husky (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamutes will need around 90 minutes of exercise a day to realise pent up energy and get some mental stimulation. They’ll enjoy some playtime in the garden or yard but make sure it’s secured because this breed are prone to find a way to escape and explore much like the Siberian Husky.

Siberians have similar exercise requirements with a suggested hour and a half of exercise a day. This mischievous breed love to run so they could make an excellent jogging companion. You can also work on reinforcing training as a way to engage their minds. As a social breed, they could enjoy meetups with other Siberian Huskies and dogs.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Hypoallergenic

Neither the Alaskan Malamute nor the Siberian Husky are hypoallergenic so if you’re looking for a dog breed that won’t trigger your allergies, it’s best to avoid these sled dogs.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Shedding

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamute (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Alaskan Malamute has a thick, waterproof coat that will shed all year round. They’ll blow out their coat twice a year during shedding season when the hair can easily get out of control if you don’t brush them regularly. You should commit to brushing your Mal a couple of times a week to avoid potential debris or dirt being caught in their coat.

Siberian Huskies will require at least a weekly brush to maintain the health of their coats. They’ve got a dense, thick under coat and a straight, guard outer coat. They’ll blow out their coat twice a year so you’ll need to step up your grooming and vacuuming schedule during this particular time.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Price

The Alaskan Malamute can have an average price range of $500 to $2500 (£400 to £2100) depending on the breeder, the parents and the coat color. Siberian Husky have a similar price range of $500 to $3000 (£400 to £2600) depending on coat color and eye color.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky: Life Expectancy

Alaskan Malamutes have an average lifespan of around 10 to 14 years, while the Siberian Husky will usually live to between 12 and 14 years.

The Difference Between Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky

Alaskan Malamutes walking in winter forest (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamutes walking in winter forest (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The biggest difference between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky is size. The Mal is a much larger dog breed that was accustomed to hauling heavy sleds, while the Siberian Husky was much more lightweight with impressive stamina levels.

The Similarities Between Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky

As sled dog breeds, Malamutes and Siberians tend to have a lot of similarities. They’ve got similar coat and eye colors, exercise requirements, shedding levels and much more.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Siberian Husky – In Conclusion

Alaskan Malamutes pulling a sled (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Alaskan Malamutes pulling a sled (Photo: Adobe Stock)

We’ve reached the end of our Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky comparison article.

They’re two popular dog breeds that can make excellent family pets in the right environment.

Whether you decide to bring home a Malamute or a Siberian, you’ll need to be prepared to commit to training and socialization from a young age because both breeds can be prone to stubborness.

Both breeds require lots of exercise to satisfy their requirements and ability to problem solve.

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