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Is a Malamute a Husky: Same Same But Different?

As a Malamute owner and a dog enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the similarities and differences between Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.

At first glance, these two breeds may seem almost identical, but upon closer inspection, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of Malamutes and Huskies to unravel the mystery of their similarities and differences.

is a malamute a husky

Is a Malamute a Husky?

No, a Malamute is not a Husky.

Although they share some similarities, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are two distinct breeds with different origins, appearances, and characteristics.

As we’ve seen, they were developed by different indigenous peoples in different regions, have varying sizes and coat types, and exhibit differences in temperament and activity preferences.

Why Do Malamutes Look So Similar to Huskies?

Malamutes and Huskies share a similar appearance due to their common ancestry and similar functions in their respective environments.

Both breeds have their origins in Arctic regions, where they were bred for their endurance, strength, and ability to withstand extreme cold. Their shared physical characteristics can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Arctic Adaptations: Malamutes and Huskies have evolved to survive in harsh Arctic conditions. Their dense double coats provide insulation against the cold, while their wolf-like facial features, including their pricked ears and elongated snouts, help to retain heat more efficiently. These adaptations give both breeds a similar appearance, as they share a common environment and purpose.
  2. Spitz-type Ancestry: Both Malamutes and Huskies belong to the Spitz family of dogs, which are characterized by their thick fur, pointed ears, and curled tails. Spitz breeds originated in cold climates and were developed for various tasks such as herding, hunting, and sled pulling. This common ancestry contributes to the similarities in appearance between Malamutes and Huskies.
  3. Sled Dog Heritage: Malamutes and Huskies were bred for their sled-pulling abilities, which required a strong, sturdy, and athletic build. Both breeds have muscular bodies and powerful legs, allowing them to pull heavy loads across long distances. Their similar body structures contribute to their overall resemblance.

Despite these similarities, it’s important to remember that Malamutes and Huskies are distinct breeds with unique characteristics, as we’ve explored throughout this article. While they may look alike at first glance, a closer examination reveals differences in size, coat type, eye color, and other features that set them apart.

A Brief History of Malamutes and Huskies

To understand the differences between these two breeds, it’s essential to know a bit about their history:

  • Alaskan Malamutes were bred by the Mahlemut, an Inuit tribe in Alaska, for heavy load pulling and as companions. They are one of the oldest Arctic sled dog breeds and have been used for transportation and hauling for thousands of years. For more information about the history of Alaskan Malamutes, visit the American Kennel Club (AKC) website.
  • Siberian Huskies originated in Siberia and were bred by the Chukchi people for sled pulling, herding, and companionship. They were brought to Alaska in the early 20th century and gained fame during the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy. To learn more about the history of Siberian Huskies, check out the AKC’s Siberian Husky page.

Physical Appearance: Malamutes vs. Huskies

Although both breeds have a wolf-like appearance, there are some key differences between Malamutes and Huskies when it comes to physical characteristics.

  • Size: Malamutes are generally larger and more robust than Huskies. Adult male Malamutes typically weigh between 85-100 pounds and stand 25 inches tall at the shoulder, while adult female Malamutes usually weigh between 75-85 pounds and stand 23 inches tall. In contrast, adult male Huskies weigh between 45-60 pounds and stand 21-23.5 inches tall, while adult female Huskies weigh between 35-50 pounds and stand 20-22 inches tall.
  • Coat: Both breeds have a dense double coat that protects them from harsh weather conditions. Malamutes have a thicker and longer coat than Huskies. Their fur colors can range from light gray to black, sable, and red, with white markings. Huskies have a shorter coat that can come in various colors, including black, gray, agouti, sable, red, and white.
  • Eyes: One of the most noticeable differences between Malamutes and Huskies is their eye color. While Malamutes usually have brown eyes, Huskies can have blue eyes, brown eyes, or even one blue and one brown eye (heterochromia).
  • Ears: Malamutes have larger, more rounded ears compared to Huskies, whose ears are smaller and more triangular.

Temperament and Personality: Comparing Malamutes and Huskies

Though both breeds are known for their intelligence, energy, and loyalty, there are some differences in their temperament and personality traits.

  • Malamutes are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They are usually great with children and make excellent family pets. Malamutes are also known for their strong work ethic and can be quite independent. They may not be as vocal as Huskies but will still communicate with their owners through various vocalizations and body language.
  • Huskies are also friendly and affectionate but can be more mischievous and independent than Malamutes. They are highly energetic and can be quite vocal, often making unique sounds like “talking” or howling. Huskies are known for their curious nature and may be more likely to wander off if not properly contained.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Both Malamutes and Huskies are high-energy breeds that require daily exercise and mental stimulation. However, there are some differences in their exercise needs:

  • Malamutes are built for endurance and can excel in activities like weight pulling, hiking, and long walks. While they enjoy playtime, Malamutes are more likely to prefer structured activities that involve a purpose or a task.
  • Huskies are highly energetic and agile, making them perfect for activities like running, agility training, and dog sports like flyball. They love to play and can be more exuberant than Malamutes when it comes to outdoor activities.

Training and Socialization

Both breeds are intelligent and eager to learn, but their independent natures can make training a challenge. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are essential when training Malamutes and Huskies.

  • Malamutes can be stubborn and may require a firm but gentle approach to training. Early socialization and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals are crucial for well-rounded Malamutes. They can sometimes display dominance towards other dogs, especially of the same sex, so proper socialization is key.
  • Huskies are known for their mischievous and clever nature, which can make training interesting. They respond well to positive reinforcement and need consistent boundaries. Like Malamutes, early socialization is essential for Huskies to develop into well-adjusted pets. They are usually more sociable with other dogs than Malamutes and may be better suited for multi-dog households.

Grooming and Maintenance

Both breeds have similar grooming requirements due to their dense double coats:

  • Malamutes and Huskies should be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and prevent matting. This is especially important during shedding seasons when their undercoat is blown. Grooming tools like slicker brushes, undercoat rakes, and de-shedding tools are helpful in managing their fur.
  • Both breeds are relatively clean and do not have a strong odor. They do not require frequent bathing, and doing so can strip their coats of essential oils. It is recommended to bathe them only when necessary.

Health and Lifespan

Malamutes and Huskies are generally healthy breeds, but they can be prone to certain health issues:

  • Malamutes may be susceptible to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and chondrodysplasia (dwarfism). Their average lifespan is 10-12 years.
  • Huskies can be prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). They have a slightly longer average lifespan of 12-14 years.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help maintain the overall health of both breeds. For more information on breed-specific health concerns, visit PetMD or consult with your veterinarian.

In Conclusion

While Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies may look similar at first glance, they have distinct differences in size, appearance, temperament, and activity preferences. It’s essential to consider these differences when deciding which breed is the best fit for your lifestyle and family.

Both breeds require regular exercise, mental stimulation, and consistent training to thrive. If you’re looking for a larger, more robust dog with a strong work ethic, an Alaskan Malamute may be the perfect companion. If you prefer a more playful, agile, and sociable dog, a Siberian Husky could be an excellent choice.

Before bringing a Malamute or Husky into your home, it’s crucial to research the breed, talk to breeders or rescue organizations, and consider the commitment required for these high-energy dogs. For more information on each breed, visit reputable websites like the American Kennel Club or consult with pet experts and veterinarians. By understanding the unique traits and needs of Malamutes and Huskies, you can make an informed decision and provide the best home for your new furry friend.


The advice given in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice in any context. Before making any decisions that may affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. For the FULL disclaimer Visit Here

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