There are a lot of differences between the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute, despite what some people think. Indeed, some people when they think they’ve seen a Siberian Husky have actually seen an Alaskan Malamute! Although there is a likeness in their physical appearance, there are more differences than there are similarities. The purpose of this article is to make those differences clear and highlight those similarities.
Table of Contents
Quick Summary of Differences between the Husky and the Malamute
If you just want to get right to the point, here is a summary of the main differences:
- The Siberian Husky can be traced back a long, long way to the Chuckchi people in Siberia and this is similar to the origins it seems of the Malamute, which also came from the Siberia region.
- The Alaskan Malamute is substantially bigger than the Siberian Husky.
- The fur is longer and thicker on the Malamute than it is on the Husky.
- Alaskan Malamute’s can’t have blue eyes.
- Although neither dog is aggressive, the Siberian Husky is usually more gentle.
- Both dogs usually live for about the same amount of time.
- The Siberian Husky will cost a bit more than the Alaskan Malamute.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Origins
What do we know about the origins of both of these breeds?
The Husky can actually be traced back some 2,000 years to the Chukchi people who lived in the harsh conditions of Northern Siberia. They relied absolutely on their dogs, primarily for transportation but also for companionship, hunting, and trapping. They were required to travel for long distances at high speeds in extreme conditions without taking in that much food. They excelled at this. In the evenings they were respected as family pets and stayed inside, keeping warm themselves as well as cuddling up to the people and helping them to keep warm.
In the summer months though, they were allowed to be wild and they would fend for themselves until it became too cold for them to do so. At which point, they would come home again!
They maintained this role for centuries and although they lived their lives with a pack mentality and had similarities with the wolf, they were not in any way aggressive and very affectionate towards humans.
In the early part of the 20th Century, they were imported into Alaska. Over the next century they started to crop up in locations all over the world but what really accelerated their popularity was social media in the last 10 years.
The ancient Alaskan Malamute has its origins in Siberia also and was a dog used by an indigenous tribe called the Mahlemuts. They were used for transportation (pulling heavy loads), provided protection from animals such as polar bears and also to hunt seals. The ancestor of the Malamute was crossed with other sled dogs (as well as other regular dogs) which almost made the purebred Alaskan Malamute extinct! However, as what was left of them were isolated from other communities (and isolated from other dogs) the Malamute was able to recover and flourish.
Many people believe that the Siberian Husky is a large dog but it really isn’t and some actually confuse the Alaskan Malamute for the Husky and vice versa. The Malamute is a bigger dog than the Husky and by a fair amount too. Many people don’t realize but the Malamute can be twice as heavy as the Husky! This is despite being about the same height.
The height of the male H
The female Malamute has a height of between 22-24 inches (56-61 cm) and a weight of 71-84 lbs. The male Malamute is usually between 24 -26 inches (61-66 cm) and has a weight of between 79-95 lbs.
Summary of Differences
The females of both breeds are slightly smaller than the male but the biggest difference is that the Alaskan Malamute is almost twice the size of the Siberian Husky. Not in height or length, but in weight.
Differences in Appearance
There are, at first glance, similarities between the two breeds but when you look closer, there are obvious differences that allow you to distinguish between them.
- Size – the Alaskan Malamute is usually a bigger dog than the Siberian Husky. Not necessarily height wise but as far as physical mass, definitely.
- Fur length – despite both the breeds enjoying a double coat, the fur on the Alaskan Malamute’s is longer than the Siberian Husky’s.
- Tail behavior – often you will notice the tail on the Siberian Husky hangs down, compared to the tail on the Malamute, that seems to curl back up and over their back.
- Eye color – if you notice they have blue eyes then it can’t be an Alaskan Malamute whereas the Siberian Husky can. In fact, all Huskies are born with blue eyes, they can change color after a few weeks though.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Coat Colors
The Husky can be seen in a wide variety of colors:
- Agouti – coat consists of bands and has more of a cream undercoat than white.
- Black and white
- Copper – a white belly with a darker red (or sometimes brown) elsewhere.
- Grey – a yellow or brown undercoat with a main color of grey.
- Light Red – a white belly with various shades elsewhere from light yellows to oranges.
- Saddleback – in the saddle area (hence its name) the guard hairs are black, which gives the effect you see.
- Sable – a brownish or reddish tint.
- Silver and white – undercoat is grey, instead of white or cream.
White– this is actually more like a pattern than a color but in appearance-wise, it just looks white.
Although there are quite a few varieties of the Alaskan Malamute’s colors, you will notice a lot more white in their coats than in the Siberian Husky’s. Typically, whatever their combination you will notice their paws are kept white. The usual colors seen are:
- Agouti & White – typically the puppy will start out as a deep black before changing.
- Black & White – mostly black but white paws and belly area.
- Blue & White
- Grey & White – usually seen as bands running across their back with a mostly white face.
- Red & White – the reds can vary and often appear more like brown.
- Sable & White – shades may vary through red and peach.
- Seal & White
- Silver & White – seen typically as predominantly white with silver bands horizontally across their backs.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Eye Colors
Unlike some dogs, the Husky doesn’t have a huge range of eye colors. They are always born with blue eyes but after a few weeks, their eye color changes to a grey before changing again to a brown. However, there are many shades of brown and you can also find the Husky with different colored eyes (brown/blue) or even with
The eye color of Alaskan Malamute’s doesn’t have as much variety as the Husky. In fact, you will only see them in different shades or brown and even a hint of orange can be seen but you will not see a Malamute with blue eyes.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Temperament
When looking for a new dog careful consideration needs to be made to understand whether the temperament of the breed is suitable for your family.
The Siberian Husky is a very gentle, sociable animal that thrives with human interaction. It is a mischievous breed that will get itself into trouble at any and every opportunity. It will demand your attention throughout its like and keeps a lot of its puppy-like temperament throughout. It does not have a possessive temperament like some dogs and is not aggressive. They are perfectly accepting of strangers however due to a high prey-drive they are not typically fond of small mammals, such as cats. Therefore, they would not make an ideal breed of dog if you already have a cat in your family.
Due to their lack of possessive and aggressive tendencies, they do not make good guard dogs. They do have a need for regular and extensive exercise however. They are a sled dog and were designed to run at fast speeds for long periods of time. This is still part of their inbuilt make-up and will require you to take them out for exercise at least twice a day and ideally for at least an hour each time.
They are a dog that should not be left alone. If you have a full-time job and won’t be around for most of the day then this is not the dog for you. Even short periods away from you for over around 30 minutes can result in separation anxiety and a destructive personality. For time-frames over this, crating should be considered. However, even with a crate, they should not be left alone for more than around 3 hours.
They are a breed of dog that would benefit from some formal training at an early age.
The Alaskan Malamute is incredibly loyal to its owner, very intelligent and known to be quite independent. They are friendly and make a great breed of dog for children. However, they are larger than the Husky and this increased mass has caused problems for younger children. Their size, combined with their buoyant personality has meant that they occasionally knock the children clean over during play!
Formal training, from the point where you initially bring them home, would be hugely beneficial to the nature of this dog when older. Due to their intelligence and stubborn personality they can be difficult to train and difficult to control when they’re more mature. To be able to control one of these dogs, the owner must be confident and sure of what they are doing. The temperament of the Alaskan Malamute is not typically suited for someone without experience of owning dogs previously.
Unlike the Siberian Husky, which doesn’t usually have problems with other dogs, the Alaskan Malamute does. In fact, it can become quite aggressive to other dogs. They also have a high prey-drive, so shouldn’t be brought up in a home that has cats (or other small mammals).
The Malamute can be very possessive with regard to its food and this is in stark contrast to the Husky. Although they are not naturally aggressive towards people, care (especially with children) should be taken around feeding time.
Like the Husky, the Alaskan Malamute will require extensive exercise and if you’re not prepared to do this every single day, rain or shine, then this is not the breed of dog for you. Also, like the Husky, they are not a breed of dog that should be left alone for any length of time and the same considerations that were made for the Siberian Husky, should be made here also.
Summary of Differences
The main differences in the temperament of both dogs are that the Siberian Husky is less possessive about its things. They both have a high prey-drive but the Malamute is more likely to show aggressive tendencies on occasion.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Health
Is there one breed that has a better history of good health than the other?
The Siberian Husky can suffer from genetic diseases, so care should be taken if you are considering buying through anyone who isn’t a reputed breeder. The known problems that the Husky can experience are:
- Eye problems – such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and Uveodermatologic syndrome.
- Hip D
ysplasia– this is actually quite common for dogs in general but can cause the Siberian Husky some discomfort if they suffer from it. It can be seen at any age and although treatment is usually required, there are exceptions.
- Follicular Dysplasia – typically seen before they reach 6 months this is a condition that can cause problems with their hair growth and even hair loss.
- Hypothyroidism – a common condition that can affect the Husky and is related to their thyroid gland. This is usually managed via medication as there is no cure currently.
The Alaskan Malamute also has its fair share of genetically introduced problems and include:
- Hip Dysplasia – as per the Husky – just a note on this as although it can impact many dogs it’s undoubtedly more of a problem in the Husky and Malamute. They spend so much of their time outside running that this can cause big problems with their mental state if it’s acute enough to prevent this.
- Chondrodysplasia – a form of dwarfism, this can be ruled out if you buy from a breeder as a DNA test that will prove their parents did not carry this.
- Polyneuropathy – a nervous-system disorder that can cause problems with coordination and weakness.
Summary of Differences
Both dog breeds are known to have genetic related diseases but this is common amongst all breeds of dog. What’s of interest is that despite these known conditions, they both still have a long lifespan so they can’t be too common!
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Lifespan
Considering the above known health issues, how do they affect the expected life expectancy of the two breeds?
The lifespan of the Siberian Husky is typically between 12 and 15 years, with the female on average lasting a little longer than the Male.
The lifespan of the Alaskan Malamute is less than the Siberian Husky and you can expect 10-12 years. However, and this is a big point. Studies of the lifespan of the Malamute have been almost non existent. In fact, there has only been one, back in 2004 and this consisted of just 14 dogs! So, you really need to take this life expectancy with a pinch of salt and my belief is that actually, they will last longer than that and more in line with the lifespan of the Husky.
Summary of Differences
The Siberian Husky has an above average expected length of life and I suspect the Alaskan Malamute is not too far from that. The truth is we don’t really know as there haven’t been any definitive studies performed as yet.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Coat Care
The Husky has a two-layered coat. The undercoat is dense and typically blows (falls out) twice a year. Once, just before Winter (where it will grow back thicker) and once, just before the hotter summer months (where it will grow back less thick). The top coat (called the primary coat) consists of guard hairs and acts as an extra layer of insulation to the Husky. It also acts as a protective layer to keep out insects and therefore can prevent infections from related insect bites.
The Husky loses a lot of fur all year round though and unless you vacuum up every single day this can really take over your house!
The Alaskan Malamute also enjoys a double coat. It is, however, noticeably thicker than the Siberian Husky’s coat and the undercoat can be up to two inches in length. The outer coat is similar to the
Summary of Differences
The coat of the Alaskan Malamute is thicker than the Siberian Husky’s but there are more similarities than differences.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Costs
If you buy through a professional breeder, you can expect to pay around £1300-$1500, however, their prices can exceed this. You don’t have to pay this, of course, you can purchase from a rescue center or from social media. For this type of dog
The cost of an Alaskan Malamute through a breeder is slightly less than a Siberian Husky, but still not cheap. You’re going to pay around $800-$1200 on average for one of these breeds.
Summary of Differences
Although these are both expensive breeds of dog to buy from a breeder, the Siberian Husky will cost you slightly more than the Alaskan Malamute.