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Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 14, 2018
Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

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Many people have doubts before getting a dog, especially with there being so many breeds of dogs and cross breeds in the world. It will be crucial to focus a little bit on the temperament and requirements of certain dog breeds in order to work out if the dog is compatible with your lifestyle.

In this case we'll be discussing the differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky; both breeds are large and beautiful dogs that both belong to Group 5 of the FCI, that of Nordic sledge dogs. Malamutes and Huskies have high energy levels and are very active, so you should be prepared to give them long and fun walks.

At first glance you may think that they are the same dog breed. However, we at AnimalWised will help you by giving a detailed analysis of the features which set them apart.

You may also be interested in: Do Siberian Huskies Shed?

Origins of the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute has its origins in Western Alaska. It was raised by Inuit tribes like the Iñupiat in the nineteenth century and was considered as an essential and valuable member of the tribe, owing to the fact that it enabled the Inuit to survive in these very remote and cold places.

Their obedient and highly resistant nature, coupled with their qualities as a sled dog, helped villagers to move around and transport food from particular areas back to the camp. Alaskan Malamutes were also excellent for big-game hunting.

Later, during the time of the Klondike Gold Rush, many people discovered the amazing Alaskan Malamute and their multiple qualities for the first time. This was when the breed's popularity started to spread throughout the United States.

Siberian Husky

It isn't known exactly when this breed started to develop, but it certainly goes back hundreds of years. The Chukchi people have inhabited the cold and remote areas of Siberia since prehistoric times. Each of them were proud to raise and develop a breed of dog. Most of these tribes bred dogs; the Chukchi people relied on the Siberian Husky.

For centuries, the Siberian Husky was used to watch over the camp, care for children and hunt for food and bring it to the camp. It was also used for trade with other villages. But despite what you might think, the Siberian Husky wasn't used for dragging heavy loads. Rather, it was used for its ability to last for long journeys.

The Chukchi people cared for and respected the Siberian Husky. They lived with the dogs and fed them with care. The great confidence they had in this noble animal led them to allow them to sleep indoors with their families, especially by the children's side, as they loved the heat emitted from their bodies and helped them withstand freezing temperatures.

Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky - Origins of the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

Physical differences between the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute

Firstly, you'll be able to notice a difference in size and weight between both species. The Siberian Husky is noticeably thinner and lighter, and somewhat smaller, whilst the Alaskan Malamute is somewhat larger and more robust:

Siberian Husky:

  • 50 to 61 cm (19.5 to 24 in) at the withers
  • 15 to 30 kg (33 to 66 lb)

Alaskan Malamute:

  • 58 to 65 cm (22.8 to 25.6 in) at the withers
  • 34 to 38 kg (74 to 83 lb)

You'll be able to see how the Siberian Husky moves lightly and quickly, whereas the Alaskan Malamute walks with greater power and solidity.

Differences in the cranial structure

Both species can have white faces with dark vertical lines or mask-like coloring. On a structural level, you'll notice that the Siberian Husky has a finer, thinner face than the Alaskan Malamute, whose head is wider.

On the other hand, the dog's ears also give away the breed. Both breeds have medium-sized ears, but the Husky's are significantly bigger. The Alaskan Malamute's ears, on the other hand, are small in proportion to its enormous head.

Eye differences

One highly appreciated feature of the Siberian Husky is their commonly showing the genetic condition of heterochromia, that is, they often haveeyes of different colors. Siberian Huskies can have eyes of different colors, while the Alaskan Malamute's eyes are always brown.

Coat differences

The coat of both dogs is somewhat different: Whilst both breeds have a double layered coat that can come in different colors, the Siberian Husky's outer coat is usually soft and medium or long in length. The Alaskan Malamute's fur is longer, and it can reach up to 5 cm (2 in) long. Moreover, the Malamute's coat is somewhat rougher.

Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky - Physical differences between the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute

Temperament differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a dog that enjoys the company of different people; it is not a dog that only has one master, as it is usually very obedient with the whole family and doesn't pick favorites. It is very loyal, quiet and dedicated, and will never disobey an order if trained rigorously through the use of positive reinforcement. Overall, the Alaskan Malamute is a very noble dog.

Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky stands out as being a very extroverted and friendly dog, usually gentle and affectionate with those it lives with. While it might sometimes show alertness at home, in no way is this a guard dog that will become aggressive with strangers.

The Siberian Husky is an intelligent and docile dog, able to be a loyal and hardworking member of what it considers to be its "pack". Huskies love to be mentally stimulated, so intelligence games and active exercise will be very beneficial for it. For example, agility training is a very good option for a Husky.

Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky - Temperament differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

Which breed do you like the most?

Both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are dogs with a strong prey drive and high activity levels; they can adapt to living indoors, but they will need quite a lot of exercise. Luckily, they are very clever and loving, and they love to learn.

Now that you know what are the differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky, don't forget to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on each one!

If you want to read similar articles to Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

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2 comments
peter dykstra
No one has asked how or why?I am very disappointed. It is not about excersize or lack of-sorry administrator.Ask yourself what is the BIG difference between dogs kept indoors or those in nature?
That's right-no direct sunlight indoors is there?UV vit D-only from the sun-works together with Vit C to metabolise Calcium to a form for bone building.
Not the only cause of CHD, but very important,and real simple to grasp if one studies a bit.
peter dykstra
I am alarmed when people mention dogs living indoors ,as you do here.It is (living indoors),another major cause of osteo problems such as hip dysplasia.
Millions of dogs affected every year,and totally preventable.
Peter
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Peter,

Due to climate, family issues, space, etc., many dogs will spend most of their time indoors. This doesn't mean they don't get enough exercise when they needed it. Some dogs will not need as much energy as others, much of this depending on the breed and health of the individual dog.

You are correct that dogs which aren't given the opportunity to get sufficient exercise will be more prone to joint and bone problems as well as muscle wastage. It is very important to know the needs of a dog and to meet them appropriately.

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Differences Between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

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