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

If you've ever seen a Siberian husky and an Alaskan malamute together, you might not have been able to tell the difference between the two dogs. Rest assured, you won't get your dog-lover license revoked for this. It's a common mistake, and you're not alone! At first glance, these two dog breeds may look a lot alike and can be easily confused. Sharing similar fur patterns and almost indistinguishable face markings, it's no wonder that the Alaskan malamute may be mistaken for its more popular peer. However, their similarities don't end with appearance; both huskies and malamutes are pack animals and high-energy dogs, making them a bundle of spirit and loyal to a fault.

Both breeds were bred as sled dogs and working dogs, have similar coats, and share a love of frigid temperatures—but this is where the bulk of the similarities between the husky and the malamute end. They are indeed two distinct cold-weather dog breeds, with different grooming regimens, exercise requirements, and medical needs. There are also important factors that potential owners need to consider, such as the dog's temperament and how well they get along with other four-legged friends. If you're thinking of bringing home one of these pooches, there are some key differences between the two arctic doppelgängers that you should know about. Understanding a malamute vs. husky may help determine which of these canines you call yours.

Malamute vs. Husky Appearance

Image of a Malamute dog

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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, creating the dreaded 'coat blow', so dog owners should be aware of this when considering either a malamute or husky puppy.

In terms of these fluffy pups' appearances, one of the key differences is their eye color. While the husky is famous for its piercing blue eyes (even though that's not always the case), the malamute always has brown eyes.

The two dogs have extremely similar looks, but their colors may vary. Alaskan malamutes only come in a range of black, light gray, and shades of red, whereas more color variations can be found within Siberian huskies. These beautiful dogs come in black, red, gray, sable, white, and agouti. Both dog breeds possess a white underbelly.

Although malamutes and huskies are both large dogs, when put next to each other side by side, you'll easily see that the malamute is noticeably bigger, even when accounting for the longer coat. A husky's head is also smaller and their ears are closer together than those of a malamute.

Malamutes are a large dog breed, and not just in comparison to the husky. They can weigh up to 85 pounds as adults while huskies will typically only reach about 35 to 50 pounds.

Another surefire way to tell distinguish the two dogs is by their tails. A husky's tail is thin and often droops downwards between its legs like a fox's. A malamute's tail however is bushier, and curls upward and over its back.

Malamute vs. Husky Temperament and Personality

Image of a Husky running

To those familiar with them, huskies have a strong reputation of being stubborn, and as a result they can be difficult to train. On the other hand, malamutes are incredibly eager to please, and are much more receptive to instruction than their strong-willed siblings. Despite this stubbornness, huskies also have a goofy side, and both breeds are known for being very sociable, playful, and affectionate—even with strangers.

As previously mentioned, both these dogs have high energy and thus require lots of exercise. This is due to their working dog nature to pull sleds over long distances. The Alaskan malamute was originally bred to run long distances in a team with a load, while the Siberian husky was specifically bred for speed with lighter loads of gear. This specialization is why Siberian huskies are so well known for their prowess at sled races.

Whether they are helping with an important job or just being a great 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: This Groomer's Hilarious Video Shows Just How Dramatic Huskies Can Be