Siberian Huskies vs. Alaskan Malamutes: What’s the Difference?

Ever wondered what the differences are between the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute? Read more about these wolf-like dogs and their differences below!

Apr 24, 2024By Nikita Hillier
siberian huskies vs alaskan malamutes difference

In the world of furry, arctic canines with double coats, two breeds stand above the rest for their remarkable athletic abilities, striking appearance, and so much more. The Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute at first glance may look similar with their thick fur and wolf-like features, but they are actually very different breeds.

From size and grooming needs to their historical origins and temperament, each breed has very unique characteristics. In this article, we will examine the world of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, unraveling key differences.

Huskies Are Smaller Than Malamutes

siberian husky dog standing in snow
Image Credit: Amanda Panda on Unsplash

One of the most noticeable distinctions between the beautiful Siberian Husky and the gorgeous Alaskan Malamute lies in their size differences. Siberian Huskies are usually much smaller, finer, and lighter in general than Alaskan Malamutes. On average, they only stand between 20 to 23.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 35 to 40 pounds.

In contrast, Alaskan Malamutes are usually much larger, thicker, and more robust than Siberian Huskies. The males usually stand around 25 inches tall and weigh between 85 to 100 pounds. The females will be slightly smaller in size and weight for both breeds.

As you can tell, this is a rather large difference and sets these two dog breeds apart. However, there may be some canines from each breed group that are larger or smaller than the usual breed standard. If you’re unsure whether your dog is a purebred Husky or Malamute, consider getting a dog DNA test!

Malamutes Have More Grooming Requirements

alaskan malamute playing in snow
Image Credit: Photo Nic on Unsplash

Both Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes have very dense double coats. These unique coats have been designed to protect these dogs from harsh arctic climates. However, their grooming needs tend to differ slightly. Siberian Huskies have a much shorter, sleeker coat that requires way less maintenance (but still more compared to the average dog).

Huskies shed moderately throughout the year and shed much heavier during seasonal changes. By regularly brushing your dog, you can remove their loose fur quickly and minimize shedding. On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes have a much thicker, longer coat that requires quite in-depth and extensive grooming.

They shed quite heavily only twice a year, and this is referred to as “blowing their coat.” During this time, they shed their undercoat in very large and unmissable quantities. Daily brushing is absolutely essential during this period to prevent mats and tangles. By finding the right dog brush for your canine, you can minimize shedding and keep your dog feeling (And looking!) their best.

Malamutes Are More Independent Than Huskies

siberian husky looking up at camera close up
Image Credit: Monika Stawowy on Unsplash

While both Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are known for their kind, friendly, and sociable nature, they exhibit very distinct personality traits shaped by both their historical roles and breeding.

Siberian Huskies are very well known for being outgoing and mischievous in their temperament. Huskies are also known for being “escape artists”! They’ll climb fences, jump over gates, and do just about anything to explore their surroundings (or capture a squirrel).

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, are known for being gentle giants. They have a very gentle and affectionate nature. While they are very intelligent, they generally stay close to home—unlike a Husky that will do anything to avoid boredom.

However, it is important to remember that even though they are intelligent and eager to please, they can also be extremely stubborn and strong-willed.Early socialization and consistent training are absolutely essential to channel their intelligence and prevent any undesirable behaviors. If not properly stimulated and socialized, these dogs can get destructive.

These Dogs Have Similar but Distinct Origins

alaskan malamute dog in snow up close
Image Credit: Benjamin Brunner on Unsplash

Despite their similar Arctic origins, both Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes have very distinct historical backgrounds. Siberian Huskies originated in northeastern Asia, where they were bred specifically by the Chukchi people as sled dogs for both hunting and transportation. These resilient and agile dogs played a huge role in the survival of the Chukchi tribe in very harsh Arctic conditions.

Alaskan Malamutes, as the name suggests, go all the way back to the native Inuit people of Alaska’s Arctic regions. Bred for their innate endurance and strength, these amazing dogs were used as freight-hauling sled dogs. They can pull heavy loads over long distances.

Their name derives from the native Mahlemiut tribe who developed the breed for their nomadic lifestyle. So, while Huskies and Malamutes may be similar at first glance, they come from very different places!

Huskies Are More Popular Than Malamutes

siberian husky puppy running on grass
Image Credit: Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

Today, both the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute have captured the hearts of dog lovers all over the world. Per the American Kennel Club (AKC), out of the 201 registered breeds, Huskies rank 21st in popularity. Alaskan Malamutes are less common than Huskies, ranking at 67th in popularity. Needless to say, both are beloved dog breeds.

However, their popularity has also led to some issues, such as unethical breeding. Puppy mills and backyard breeders prioritize profits over adhering to breed standards and doing proper genetic testing.

Many Huskies and Malamutes are also rehomed because their owners didn’t do the proper research beforehand. This isn’t because they’re “bad” dogs. These dogs need a lot of exercise, lots of mental stimulation, and a lot of love. Some owners can’t provide that.

If you’re planning on welcoming a Husky or a Malamute into the pack, think about the breed’s temperament, exercise needs, and grooming requirements. Just a few minutes of research can ensure you get a dog that’s suited to your lifestyle.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!