It can be difficult to compare the Alaskan malamute with the Siberian husky against a snowy landscape. But you can do it because huskies have pointed, upright ears and a striped forehead, whereas malamutes have larger, curlier tails.
Despite differences in appearance, both working breeds are very active, albeit huskies have a little greater endurance. They typically live longer than malamutes as well, however malamutes tend to be a little more people-oriented.
Of course, both Arctic varieties engage in mischievous behavior and have some common lineage, making it difficult to distinguish between the two. So let’s chat with three professionals:
What Makes an Alaskan Malamute Different from a Siberian Husky?
Visual breed identification is frequently a crapshoot, but depending on where you look, differentiating between huskies and malamutes becomes simpler. Prior to addressing the ears, forehead, and tail, considers the size of the entire animal. You ought to have a good idea after reading that.
Let’s start with the size, which might be a dead giveaway as to which pup you are looking at.
- Malamutes are stout and powerful dogs that weigh between 70 and 85 pounds and reach over 2 feet tall at the shoulder.
- Huskies, despite what their name suggests, are lean animals that weigh between 35 and 60 pounds and stand slightly less than 2 feet tall.
Build: If you ever see a husky and a malamute side by side, it’s much easier to observe the husky’s larger legs and the malamute’s wider chest. A malamute’s ears, especially when she’s feeling peaceful, angle slightly more alongside her head, but a husky’s ears are narrower and set higher on his head.
Facial markings: The majority of Siberian huskies have a stripe that runs up the middle of their foreheads, which may be an extension of the muzzle color, which is often dazzling white. Both dogs appear to have permanently raised eyebrows. Alaskan malamutes, on the other hand, have a forehead color that frequently travels from black towards their white snouts, resembling an arrow.
Tails: While the tails of both breeds are fluffy, the malamute’s tail is coiled and the husky’s tail is fashioned like a brush.
Eyes: Malamutes often have brown eyes, although Siberian huskies are more likely to have eyes in a range of colors, including amber, blue, and brown. Additionally, huskies can have half-blue and half-brown eyes, or even one brown and one blue.
Fur coloring: Look closely to see the differences between the Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute, who both have stunning double fur coats that “blow” twice a year.
- The topcoat of a malamute comes in a variety of colours, including black, blue, brown, grey, red, sable, seal, and silver, and it is completely white from the chest to the tip of the tail.
- In addition to snow white and varieties of red and white, black and white, and grey and white, huskies can have entire coat patterns that include red, grey, black, and snow white.
The lifespan of an Alaskan malamute and a Siberian husky differs only somewhat. As long as pet parents only give goodies in reward for exceptional training achievements and honourable dog deeds, they enjoy themselves for 10–14 and 12–15 years, respectively, and maintain a fairly decent level of health.
According to Pam O’Connor, president of the Delaware County Siberian Husky Rescue, Siberian huskies are susceptible to inherited eye conditions like cataracts. According to her, they can show up between 6 and 12 months of age and may need surgery. They could also be at risk for progressive retinal atrophy and corneal dystrophy.
Epilepsy and polyneuropathy (PN) are two conditions that Alaskan malamutes can get. Testing, which is a requirement for ethical breeders, can detect PN, but epileptic episodes are more difficult to track down and are typically inherited. According to Alexis Smith, an employee of the Minnesota Malamute Club, and Julia Berquist, the public education chair for the Alaskan Malamute Club of America.
Both working breeds are usually susceptible to the developing disease hip dysplasia.
Young puppies should only go shorter distances on natural surfaces, according to Berquist and Smith. Although they can start harness labor at a young age, they shouldn’t lift heavy objects until they are around 2 years old because their joints have not yet fully developed.
They advise speaking with a reputable breeder who has undergone hip testing by the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals to maximize the possibility of mature dogs having good hips and joints.
Temperament and Personality
More parallels between huskies and malamutes can be found here. Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are both independent thinkers, according to O’Connor. Training with positive reinforcement and appropriate socialization are essential.
When training your husky or malamute, pet parents “need to be patient, have a sense of humor, and be able to think outside the box,” according to O’Connor.
Prospective pet parents must be able to keep up with all the running, carting, skijoring, trekking, snowshoeing, and bicycling because they have inherited special endurance abilities. Thankfully, they can frequently transport their own water bottles and other trip essentials.
Malamutes do, according to Berquist and Smith, have an off-switch that is not as easily flipped as it is on a husky. “A person who is looking to enjoy the scenery, rather than a continuous adrenaline rush, is going to be a better match for a malamute,” they advise.
Both of these dogs anticipate receiving lots of individualized care, especially from outdoors-loving, energetic humans. Both dogs should never be left alone at home for extended periods of time due to this. They are capable of being destructive if bored.
Although huskies may at first seem a little more distant, according to O’Connor, they make fantastic companions and frequently accept dogs of both sexes into the household equally.
According to Berquist and Smith, malamutes tend to be more sociable and eager to roll over for endless belly rubs. They might object if dogs of the same sex compete for attention on the couch.
Both breeds have no trouble expressing their emotions to you through sound all the time. According to Berquist and Smith, Alaskan malamutes are renowned for their characteristic “woo woo” (as demonstrated by Waya in this video). Huskies, on the other hand, have a higher tendency to scream, howl, and chuff.
But huskies and malamutes do exhibit some similar traits:
- High prey drive
- The ability to bond with kids
- An intense desire to dig
These Houdini hounds, who have a history of rushing after food and tunnelling for cover, can dig or jump their way out of your yard. Always keep them on a leash in public, and make sure your fencing is safe and that your microchip is current.
Both dogs have a tendency to leap up on people when they become very enthusiastic.
History of the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute Dog Breeds
Their wild calls are reminiscent of those made by the spitz-like forebears who once roamed the vast tundra’s of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America. Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes both have a Paleolithic wolf progenitor in common, but their histories diverge after that.
In order to carry heavy goods on their nomadic expeditions across the Kotzebue Sound, which is now a portion of northwest Alaska, the ancient Mahlemiut Inuit tribe bred malamutes. The Chukchi, a native tribe of Russia who live in far northern Siberia, created a cold-resistant dog that could drag sleds and make fine family pets across the Bering Strait.
According to O’Connor, malamutes were bred to carry larger loads over shorter distances while huskies were developed to pull lighter loads over longer distances. They move at various speeds.
“Huskies move quickly. They are regarded as the sports cars of the musher community, according to Berquist and Smith. “Freight trucks are malamutes. One will observe that malamutes instinctively prefer the “malamute plod,” or that slow, steady tempo, to dashing while they are running.
Which Dog Breed Is Best for You: Husky or Malamute?
Regardless of the breed you choose, Berquist and Smith advice being an outdoors, energetic person who doesn’t mind shedding. They also note that having a sense of humor will help you get along with these occasionally mischievous puppies. These dogs aren’t couch potatoes.
Research the breed and speak with other owners before bringing a dog into your home, advises O’Connor. Because their owners were unprepared to deal with the breed’s qualities, many dogs wind up in rescue or shelters.
Contact a local breeder or rescue organization and arrange to meet the dogs in person if you really don’t have a preference. Your decision can be made for you if you fall in love with your new dog or puppy.