Malamute vs. Husky: How to Tell These Sled Dogs Apart

Posted by Crystal Long
Bobsled pulled by Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.

Two remarkably similar dogs, the Siberian Husky is most famous for their striking blue eyes, while the Alaskan Malamute is perhaps a little lesser-known.

Let's be honest: if you ever saw a Siberian Husky and an Alaskan Malamute, you might not be able to tell the difference between the two dogs. Hey, we don't blame you. At first glance, these two very similar dog breeds may look a lot alike and are easily (and commonly!) confused. Although they are both sled dogs and both were bred as working dogs, they are indeed two distinct dog breeds. If you are thinking of bringing home one of these doggos, here are some key differences between the two arctic doppelgangers that you should know about.

American Kennel Club (AKC) tells us about one of the differences -- where the two breeds originated from,

"Both breeds originated in climates of extreme and unforgiving cold, but one hails from northern Asia and the other from closer to home. The key is in the name. The Siberian Husky, who ranks 14th among AKC recognized breeds in popularity, comes from Siberia. The Alaskan Malamute, which ranks 58th, originated in Alaska."

Huskies were first bred by the Chukchi people in Siberia, whereas Malamutes originated from Alaska.

Malamute vs Husky: Appearance

While both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky sport a lush, gorgeous, and thick double coat, the Malamute tends to have a longer coat than the Husky. Both of these breeds also have an undercoat that sheds twice a year, so dog owners should be aware of this when considering either a Malamute puppy or a Husky puppy.

In terms of appearance of these fluffy pooches, one of the key differences is their eye color; while the Husky is famous for their piercing blue eyes (even though that's not always the case), the Malamute always has brown eyes.

While the two dogs have similar looks, their colors vary. Whereas Alaskan Malamutes only come in a range of black, light gray, to shades of red, more color options can be found within Siberian Huskies. These beautiful dogs come in black, red, gray, sable, white, and agouti -- both dog breeds have a white underbelly.

Although the two are both large dogs, when put next to each other side by side, you'll easily see that the Malamute is noticeably the larger dog, by far. The Husky's head is also smaller and their ears are closer together than that of a Malamute.

Malamutes can get up to 75 to 85 plus pounds as adults whereas Huskies will grow to about 35 to 50 pounds.

Malamute vs Husky: Temperament

If you are looking for a guard dog, neither breeds will really fit the bill. As both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are sociable, playful, and affectionate -- yes, even to total strangers.

Both these dogs have high energy and require lots of exercise. This is due to their working dog nature to pull sleds over long distances. According to Rover,

"They (Alaskan Malamute) were designed to haul loads, working as a team to move heavy sleds over long distances, often at a slow but steady pace. The Siberian husky, on the other hand, was bred for speed in Northern Asia. They hauled light loads at a quick pace and became more well-known when they started winning sled races in the early 1900s."

Bottom line: whether they are helping with light or heavy loads on your farm, or just being a great furry companion at home, you can't go wrong with choosing the Alaskan Malamute or the Siberian Husky as the perfect four-legged family member.

Do you have a Malamute or a Husky? Tell us about your pooch on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: How Much Do Husky Puppies Cost?

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Malamute vs. Husky: How to Tell These Sled Dogs Apart