Any dog, purebred or not, is a huge responsibility, especially if you’ve never had one before. So you need to do your research properly.
Some of the most beautiful and popular dogs, also close relatives to the wolf-dog, are the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky. They share many traits but are far from the same.
If you cannot decide where you stand on Husky vs Malamute debate, explore the breeds’ characteristics with us and find out the main difference between them. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Appearance and Grooming
- Exercise Needs
- Training Challenges
- Common Health Issues
- Nutrition & Feeding Habits
- Buying or Adopting a Puppy
About the Origin of These Cold-Loving Dogs
Both breeds are working sled dogs. These are dogs that look like wolves, and that’s not a coincidence.
As you can guess, the Alaskan Malamute originated in Alaska, North America. And Northern Asia is the home of the Siberian Husky.
Now, let’s see how the Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute debate started.
The Alaskan Malamute was among the first sled dog breeds in the Arctic and likely a descendant of the first wolf dogs tamed by Northern travelers. Malamutes were bred to transport heavy loads over long distances at a steady pace.
Siberian Huskies also worked with sleds, but they were used for lighter and faster hauls. They were essential for people and food transportation and needed very high endurance. In the 1900s, they became popular at sled racing events and proved that they could outrun the Samoyed, the Norwegian Elkhound, or the Canadian and American Eskimo dog.
Husky vs Malamute Appearance
The Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky are similar in appearance, but they also have enough differences that make them easy to distinguish.
The Malamute stands taller at 25 inches for males, while the Husky reaches 21–23.5 inches. But the bear-like Malamute can be almost twice as heavy at 85 pounds for male dogs, compared to the Husky at 45–60 pounds.
Overall, Malamutes are much bulkier as they were bred for strength. They have thicker legs and feet, broad shoulders, and even bigger muzzles. When it comes to the Husky vs Malamute tail, the latter has a bushier fluffy tail that often curls up over the back, while Huskies have brush-like tails.
The fluffy Malamute ears are lower on their heads and point forward. In contrast, Huskies look more alert, with ears that stand straight up higher on their heads.
The Malamute has brown eyes. While Huskies are famous for their piercing blue eyes, they can also have brown eyes, or one blue and one brown eye. Any color combination is acceptable for purebred Huskies, while only brown is fine for Malamutes.
Husky and Malamute Coats
Both breeds have thick, double coats, perfect for cold climates. Still, Malamutes typically have longer fur, especially on their tail, neck, and shoulders. They look very fluffy, but their fur is coarser than the Husky coat. The colorings of both breeds have subtle differences and can range from white to gray, black, or shades of orange-brown.
Both breeds shed seasonally twice a year. They shed heavily, fully replacing their undercoat. You can help with daily brushing, but you’ll still have to deal with a lot of hair. Luckily, we have some tips for dogs that shed.
In terms of grooming, the wooly Husky vs Malamute comparison benefits the former. While both need care, long-haired Malamutes are the definition of high maintenance. Their coats tangle and mat, and hot spots may also appear. So, we recommend daily brushing (or at least a few times a week). Bathing every six to eight weeks is necessary, too.
In contrast, you can brush Huskies only once a week and bathe them only a few times a year. That’s due to their coats not accumulating dirt like the Malamutes’. Huskies are “self-cleaning” because of their fur’s dirt-repelling quality.
Energetic and Affectionate Temperament
Both breeds are loving, playful, and loyal. Still, pitting the Malamute vs Husky personality and traits against each other reveals some differences.
Malamutes and Huskies are very friendly, even to strangers. That makes them bad guard dogs. They’re affectionate and open, but it’s still best to supervise them around kids.
A Malamute can be reserved or even aggressive towards other dogs. So, it may prefer to be the only dog in the house. Malamutes can be more stubborn, independent, and need some “alone” time. In contrast, Huskies need company pretty much all the time. They’re a bit more suitable for families with kids.
And what about Husky vs Malamute voices? Huskies are definitely the more vocal dog breed and produce various noises. Malamute voices are soft like their coat. They’re not dogs that tolerate spending many hours alone, even if well-trained.
Alaskan Malamute vs Husky Exercise Needs
Both breeds are powerful workers. They need to spend all their energy sufficiently to be happy. That will also help to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.
These dogs have a lot of energy, especially the speedy Husky that was bred to travel fast across great distances. It can expend most of its energy just by running in a big backyard.
Yet, Malamutes need more complicated exercises. They used to pull sleds with heavier loads, making them more heavy-lifters than runners.
Malamutes can benefit from swimming or hiking. You can get them a special doggy backpack on Amazon to help them carry provisions comfortably.
While both Malamute and Huskies are very athletic, Huskies certainly take the cake for energy levels. Their desire to run can make them jump over fences or try to slip out of their collars. They may escape from home, and Miniature Husky puppies are even more prone to causing chaos.
If you’re worried about losing sight of your pet, you can find all types of GPS tracking devices for dogs on the market.
Both breeds are intelligent and assertive, so they can also be stubborn, especially Malamutes. That’s one of the reasons why training should start as early as possible. Their smarts make them simultaneously fast learners and rebels. They need a lot of consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement.
During training, you’ll notice a few differences in the Malamute vs Husky temperament during training. As pack animals, Huskies need to understand that their owner is the leader from a young age. But you should do this without aggression or shouting.
The same rules apply to Malamutes. But house training might be harder for them, and you may need to try various approaches before you succeed. The Alaskan Malamute should also socialize with other dogs and pets as early as possible to avoid aggressive behavior toward other animals.
You should teach Huskies not to run away and Malamutes — to stop digging. But if your dog remains prone to mischief, consider using a sturdy training harness for large dogs and never give up on training.
Husky and Malamute Health Concerns
If you want a purebred dog like the Husky or the Malamute, it’s crucial to find a reputable breeder who can provide all necessary medical tests and certificates.
Both breeds have a similar life expectancy, on average a bit higher for the Husky at 12–14 years. For the Malamute, it’s between 10 and 14 years.
Malamute and Huskies are generally healthy breeds.
Typically, the Siberian Husky is healthier. Still, it’s a working and highly active dog prone to hip issues (hip dysplasia and arthritis) in its senior years. Huskies also commonly develop eye issues like cataracts or glaucoma, so they need regular check-ups. They may also be affected by some cancers and epilepsy.
Besides hip dysplasia, the big and heavy Malamutes are also prone to:
- Elbow dysplasia — It’s common in large dogs, and it can lead to limpness.
- Hypothyroidism — Imbalanced thyroid hormones
- Day blindness — Cone degeneration disease
- Hereditary polyneuropathy — Neurological disorder
- Thrombopathia — Hereditary blood cells disorder
- Von Willebrand’s disease — The blood isn’t clotting.
Siberian Husky vs Alaskan Malamute Feeding Habits
For active dogs like the Husky, you should look into quality nutrient-dense foods that are high in protein and about average in fat. That would also depend on your dog’s age and activity levels. Overall, arctic dogs can benefit most from a mix of poultry and fish protein. You can also change the protein base every season.
Huskies and Malamutes need a relatively small amount of food for their size and have a fast metabolism. Huskies, in particular, usually stop eating once they’re full. However, Malamutes tend to pile pounds.
Malamutes also need dog food formulated for a large breed to prevent them from growing too quickly, harming their muscle and bone development. Don’t forget that a Husky or Malamute puppy or a senior dog would have different nutritional needs.
Getting a New Puppy
When buying or adopting a puppy, you should get it as young as possible. That’s optimal for socialization and training, especially for these two breeds.
If you’re buying, finding a trustworthy breeder who can provide all the parents’ medical documents is crucial. But you should consider the price, too.
Husky Puppy vs Malamute Puppy: Prices
The Husky is a very popular dog breed, so it’s easy to find reputable breeders. That’s also the main reason why it’s cheaper than the Malamute. The Husky cost is about $500–$1,400. In contrast, the much rarer Malamute can be around $1,000–$2,200. You should also consider additional grooming expenses and possible medical bills.
Buying or Adopting?
When you buy a puppy from a regulated breeder, you can ensure that it hasn’t inherited any diseases from its parents and that it’s a purebred dog. Also, you’ll have a lot of time to train and socialize a newborn puppy.
In contrast, by adopting a Husky or Malamute, you’re saving money while helping a dog find a home and happiness again. But sometimes, you won’t have access to the dog’s documents and medical history. Also, the dog will likely be an adult. This may pose challenges in adapting to a new home and training, especially if the dog comes from a bad family.
Although the breeds are similar, depending on which side of the Husky vs Malamute debate you end up on, you’ll have different responsibilities as a dog parent.
Huskies are noisier and incredibly energetic, while Malamutes require much more grooming. Malamutes are also much heavier and bear-like, and they’re prone to more diseases. Plus, they’re expensive.
Both breeds require much care and patience in training (especially the Malamute). But if you’re a dedicated and responsible dog parent, your new arctic dog will respond with affection and loyalty.