Malamute vs Husky – Which Dog Is King of Winter?

The pet hate of any sled dog owner, “oh is it a Husky?!” through gritted teeth, holding back the rolling eyes, the owner replies, “no it’s a Malamute”.

To most, sled dogs all look the same, those thick white coats, those piercing blue eyes.

But for those who love them, there are Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies and the Alaskan Malamutes. Thrown in for good measure, the Samoyed and Akita often get confused too! So, what are the actual differences between these breeds?

In this article we will focus on the two pure bred sled dogs; the Siberian Husky vs the Alaskan Malamute. Standing slightly smaller, the Siberian Husky is cheeky and mischievous, the Malamute, strong and dignified is an affectionate and loyal companion. Both fastidious workers; similar in many ways.

Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences in our Malamute vs Husky guide.

Malamute and Husky Comparison Table

Alaskan Malamute Siberian Husky
Breed Type Working Working
Purpose Working and Companion Working and Companion
Suitable For Active families with experience of large breeds Active families with experience of large breeds
Size Up to 25″ (male) or Up to 23″ (female) 21 to 23” (male) or 20 to 22” (female)
Weight Up to 85 pounds (male) or Up to 75 pounds (female) 45 to 60 pounds (male) or 35 to 50 pounds (female)
Lifespan 10 to 14 years 12 to 14 years
Color Variations Light grey, white with black shadings All colors from black to white including a range of markings
Temperament Affectionate, playful and loyal Mischievous, outgoing and loyal
Daily Exercise High – Upwards of 60 minutes High – Upwards of 60 minutes
Daily Food Consumption On average 20 calories per pound of body weight On average 20 calories per pound of body weight
Known Health Issues Hip dysplasia, Obesity and Hypothyroidism Juvenile cataracts and Hip dysplasia

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Breed Overview

Malamute vs Husky
The Alaskan Malamute (left) and the Siberian Husky (right) are both purebred sled dogs.

Both purebred, the Malamute and Husky are working dogs. In terms of energy, Malamute vs Husky, it doesn’t matter – they are both high energy and fatigue-proof.

Despite their similarities, the Siberian Husky is more popular than the Alaskan Malamute, coming in number 12 of 192 for popularity according to the American Kennel Club.

For a Siberian Husky puppy you can expect to pay anywhere between $600-$1300, whereas an Alaskan Malamute comes in slightly more expensive at between $1200-1700. Could the pricing be a reason more people tend to choose the Husky, or is it personality? Let’s look at their origins to understand a little more about them.

History of the Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute Standing

The name Malamute, derives from Mahlemiut, an Inuit tribe which settled in Alaska many years ago. The tribe needed a sled dog which could carry weight over long distances; they bred the Malamute.

A strong and muscular freighter, A telegram boasted how much was expected of these dogs and how they would be the “main brace” to depend upon. They are tireless and very efficient.

First recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1935 to this day they have retained their muscular definition and dignified demeanor.

History of the Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky

The Chukchi people of Northeastern Asia are responsible for what we now know as the Siberian Husky. Requiring an endurance sled dog who could travel miles at speed, carrying light loads, the Siberian Husky was an efficient, fatigue-proof racer.

Their popularity soared and hasn’t lessened to this day. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930, the Siberian Husky now ranks 12 out of 192 for popularity.

Siberian Huskies are loved for their cheeky nature, their athleticism and their utter devotion to their family.

If we were to sum up the historical differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky, Malamutes are freighters and Huskies are racers. For those reasons, Mals are larger and more muscular, Huskies are smaller and light on foot.

Malamute vs Husky Temperament Difference

Characteristic Malamute Husky
Friendliness 4 Star Rating for Friendliness 5 Star Rating for Friendliness
Ease of Care 3 Star Rating for Ease of Care 3 Star Rating for Ease of Care
Trainability 3 Star Rating for Trainability 3 Star Rating for Trainability
Exercise Requirements 2 Star Rating for Exercise Requirements 2 Star Rating for Exercise Requirements
Social Tendencies 4 Star Rating for Social Tendencies 5 Star Rating for Social Tendencies

Both sled dogs, as you would expect, have certain similarities. Both Malamutes and Huskies are incredibly high energy; miss their daily quota of exercise at your peril. Both breeds can get very bored, very quickly. Upwards of 60 minutes walking per day is a must with some mental stimulation thrown in for good measure.

Malamute vs Husky Comparison
Historically, they were working dogs. They have not forgotten this and they also have not forgotten that they ran in packs; they are used to having others around them.

The Siberian Husky is more sociable than the Alaskan Malamutes, neither of them cope well with being away from their owners. They dig and they chew. You know we mentioned they were fatigue-proof? Left alone for long periods of time you will see exactly what we mean as your house will look like it has been burglarized.

A Husky will generally tolerate other animals in the home, but socialization with small furries from a young age is essential. Their high prey drive can make harmonious cohabiting difficult. Malamutes are less tolerant of other pets in the home, but in some cases have been successful if introduced from a young age.

Husky vs Malamutes are both quite vocal, but you may notice more howling than barking, especially if the ice cream truck drives past or your son plays the violin.

Both temperaments are playful, you will certainly never have a dull moment with either of them and their prey drives means they love to chase in the yard. This can become boisterous with young children, and Malamutes can be especially overpowering if over-excited. For this reason, an experienced owner is essential, as are children who understand the needs and behaviors of mischievous spirited dogs.

Despite them historically being outdoor dogs, both the Mal and the Sibe love nothing more than curling up on the sofa with you – it just depends if you have room for the larger, more dignified Malamute or more petite and cheeky Husky.

How to Care For These Sled Dogs

When comparing the Malamute and Husky you will notice the Malamute is a bigger dog.

When comparing the Malamute vs Husky, both dogs are large with high energy; their daily care requirements are similar, but, demanding. Both breeds require an experienced owner, who understands the need for a consistent routine, early and continued training and socialization.

Feeding a Malamute and Husky: Does a Malamute Eat More?

There is a risk of bloat in the Husky and Malamute, for this reason, as puppies both should be fed 4 meals per day, reducing to 2 for their adult life. This general rule of thumb applies if you are feeding dry kibble, wet, raw or dehydrated.

Protein and fat content is the key to getting the nutrition right in these high energy breeds. As a puppy, you should be feeding 22% of their diet in protein from, this should reduce to around 18% of their diet when fully matured.

During puppyhood, 8% of their diet should come from fat sources and this can reduce to 5% when fully matured.

Protein is responsible for the function, structure and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Fat is a source of energy in the dog’s body and also contributes to temperature regulation.

Check labels on dog foods to ensure you are meeting your Malamute’s or Husky’s nutritional requirements.

How much he eats will depend on age, activity level and climate. On average, large breeds will eat 20 calories per pound of body weight, but this can increase if activity levels are high or if you live in a particularly cold climate. Dog food labels will usually indicate how much to feed your dog, based on their ideal weight.

Malamutes are prone to obesity, so ensure you are feeding your pooch the correct amount. Monitor his weight through regular weigh-ins at the veterinarian’s office. Keep an eye on his waistline and you should be able to feel his ribs.

When comparing a Malamute vs Husky; Huskies are naturally smaller in size so it is usually a little easier to monitor their weight. Avoid feeding table scraps as these all add up. Fruits and vegetables are easy, healthy treats, take a look at which are safe to feed your sled dog.

Exercising a Husky vs Malamute: Are Huskies Faster?

Husky Dogs Pulling A Sledge

The Malamute, when compared to a Husky is a more powerful dog. However, both are high energy breeds, the Mals and Sibes are happy with upwards of 60 minutes exercise per day; they are in their element free-running and hiking.

A word of caution, neither breed is particularly renowned for their recall and due to their high-prey drive, are frequently lost in the woods chasing those squirrels. For this reason, it is advised to walk both breeds on leash.

Due to their skeletal development, as puppies they shouldn’t be walked for longer than 5 minutes per month of age. So at six months old, head out for a 30 minute walk. When they have fully matured around the 18 month – two year old mark, it is safe to walk as your lifestyle warrants.

Huskies love having a job to do, so if agility or flyball floats your boat, this energetic breed is perfect.

Both sled dogs are highly intelligent so thrive on brain games, if you manage to hit their daily exercise quota, spend some time working through some mental stimulation.

Comparing the energy of the Husky vs Malamute both are high energy and require long walks exceeding 60 minutes daily.

Training A Sled Dog

Malamute vs Husky, which dog is easier to train? Just like every other dog, the Malamute and Husky respond best to reward based training and positive reinforcement. Avoid the use of punishment at all costs – aversive techniques are well known for creating problematic behaviors in dogs.

Both are independent dogs, which is basically a nice way of saying incredibly stubborn!

Malamutes will often respond well to food based treats and Siberian Huskies will usually respond to toy rewards. This isn’t set in stone however and as an owner, you will soon find out what works best for your dog.

Start training from a young age, if you are expecting your Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamutes to live with other pets, or in a neighborhood where cats rule the block, introduce them from a distance, reward and praise and slowly get closer. The idea is to desensitize him to those small furries so chasing them doesn’t even cross their mind.

Malamutes can get a little over-powering with kids, so again, introduce them to kids in a safe environment from a young age. Also teach kids how to behave around the dog too.

Known Health Problems For the Breeds

It may be the health problems which seal the deal on which breed to choose, unfortunately, whilst having similar health conditions, both Siberian Huskies and the Alaskan Malamutes have their own individual issues too:

Shared Health Problems

Both the Malamute and Husky, like all large breed dogs, are predisposed to suffering with hip dysplasia. When it comes to Malamute vs Husky they both have abnormal developments in the hip joint. We know that nutrition, the environment and genetics all play a part in the development of this condition.

Husky Health Problems

Huskies are predisposed to juvenile cataracts. A cataract is an opacity of the lens in the eye, causing loss of vision and eventually blindness. When it occurs between 6 months and 6 years of age, it is called a juvenile cataract.

Malamute Health Problems

Malamutes are known for suffering from hypothyroidism – this is when the thyroid gland doesn’t secrete the amount of hormones it should. This results in a slowed metabolism and whole range of symptoms including weight gain, hair loss, fatigue and lethargy. Malamutes are also prone to obesity so monitoring their daily food intake and ensuring they are getting sufficient exercise is essential.

Difference In Appearance: Malamute vs Husky

Difference in Appearance - Malamute vs Husky
Malamute (top) vs Husky (bottom) the biggest difference between these two breeds is their appearance.

The Malamute is a strong, muscular and dignified warrior. They are powerful, balanced and athletic. The Malamute is a heavy boned dog with a deep chest and broad shoulders. His coat is thick and coarse, and come in mostly white and grey with shadings of black.

Their stockiness and build can be mistaken which is why they are so prone to being over-weight. Their size should be muscle and bone – not fat. Their erect ears catch a lot of dust and dirt, so regularly check and clean these, along with their teeth and eyes. Handling from a puppy will make these checks as least stressful as possible.

The smaller of the breeds, the Siberian Husky is more nimble and petite. His gait is smooth and effortless.

Huskies are often recognized for their well-furred tail. Again, found in a range of colors from black to pure white. Various markings are also acceptable in the breed standard. Also boasting a double coat, regular brushings are a must. These guys shed just as much as the Alaskan Malamute too. A pet friendly vacuum is a staple in any double coated breed’s home.

Malamute vs Husky Size

Malamutes will grow to around 25” in height whereas Huskies are smaller and will grow up to 23” in height. A male Malamute will weigh up to 85lbs; a male Husky will between 45-60lbs. Remember, the Mal is the freighter, the Sibe is the racer.

Summary of Malamute vs Husky

Both being highly energetic breeds, it is easy to see how people get them so confused. The Malamute stands taller and more muscular, whereas the Siberian Husky is petite and nimble.

Both are independent and stubborn, needing an experienced owner.

Both are super family dogs if socialized from a young age and can tolerate other pets in the home. The Alaskan Malamutes is renowned for being more aloof, whereas Siberian Huskies love everyone.

Think of the Malamute as the wise older brother and the Husky as the young cousin who comes around on holidays to run amok!

Both intelligent sled dogs, they love to be active; they are in their element playing in the yard or hiking in the hills. When all is said and done, they are sled dogs and they haven’t forgotten they ran in packs.

You are their pack and they both, whether you choose the Malamute or Husky, will be a playful, loyal and devoted family member. Let us know your favorite in the comments below.

John Woods Headshot
John Woods is the Founder of All Things Dogs and leads our editorial team as our Editor in Chief. A member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, he has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old. John is parent to Nala, a working lab retriever. John has also volunteered at multiple animal shelters, where he gained firsthand experience of rehabilitation and force-free positive reinforcement training methods.

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