When it comes to cold-weather dogs, Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies often come to mind. These Spitz breeds, characterized by their pointed features, are perfectly suited for chilly climates. Both breeds were raised by humans for the purpose of sledding and assisting hunters in finding game. Their wolf-like appearance, thick double coats, and pricked ears show their strong adaptations to harsh conditions.

Although Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies share striking similarities and have evolved to perform similar tasks, several key differences set them apart. In this article, we will delve into eight essential distinctions that differentiate these stunning Arctic dogs.

Comparing Alaskan Malamutes vs Siberian Huskies

In this section, we will explore the differences and similarities between Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. We will also briefly discuss other husky breeds, including the Alaskan Husky, Labrador Husky, MacKenzie River Husky, and Sakhalin Husky.

Alaskan Husky

The Alaskan Husky is a mixed breed, specifically developed for sled racing performance. This breed resulted from crossbreeding with various other dogs, including English Pointers, German Shepherds, and Salukis. Unlike other huskies, they generally lack a wolf-like appearance.

Labrador Husky

Contrary to what the name suggests, the Labrador Husky isn’t a mix of Labrador and Husky breeds. Instead, they originated in the Labrador region of Canada and were used as working dogs by the Inuit people for centuries. The breed is closely related to the Canadian Eskimo Dog.

MacKenzie River Husky

The MacKenzie River Husky consists of multiple overlapping populations of sled dogs from the Yukon Territory. These dogs were crossbred with St. Bernards and Newfoundlands to create powerful dogs that could pull sleds in harsh cold-weather conditions.

Sakhalin Husky

Also known as “karafuto ken” in Japanese (meaning “Sakhalin dog”), the Sakhalin Husky is an almost extinct sled dog breed from Japan. They originated on Sakhalin Island and became famous through a tragic Japanese expedition to Antarctica in 1958.

Alaskan Malamutes Siberian Huskies
Size 23 to 25 inches tall, 75 to 85 pounds 21 to 23.5 inches tall, 45 to 60 pounds
Lifespan 10 to 14 years 12 to 15 years
Origin Arctic tundra, bred by the Malemiut Inuit tribe from Alaska’s Norton Sound region Arctic tundra, from Northeast Asia, bred by the Chukchi people of Siberia
Coats and coloring Double coat, longer hair, colors ranging from black to gray with shades of red, brown, and sable, brown eyes Double coat, shorter hair, colors include red, black, gray, sable, white, and agouti, brown or blue eyes
Body Curled tail on the body, heavier bodies, offset ears, peaked forehead, broad chest, shorter legs Straight tail, leaner bodies, ears on top, striped forehead, narrow chest, longer legs
Energy level Medium to high High
Temperament Friendly, confident, intelligent, generally quiet Friendly, independent, highly intelligent, more vocal
Socialization More people-oriented, can show aggression towards other dogs Natural pack animals, enjoy spending time alone and with their owners

While Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies share similarities as sled dogs with a wolf-like appearance, they differ in their physical traits, temperament, and socialization preferences. Both breeds are working dogs, capable of pulling sleds for long periods of time and enduring harsh conditions.

The 8 Key Differences Between Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Size Differences

Alaskan Malamutes are generally larger than Siberian Huskies. Male Malamutes stand between 23-25 inches tall and weigh 75-85 pounds, while male Huskies stand between 21-23.5 inches tall and weigh 45-60 pounds. Female Malamutes and Huskies also exhibit similar size differences.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Lifespan Comparison

Alaskan Malamutes have a shorter lifespan of 10-14 years, whereas Siberian Huskies commonly live between 12-15 years. The difference in lifespan may be attributed to Huskies’ smaller size and fewer health issues.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Origins

Malamutes were bred by Alaska’s Norton Sound region’s Malemiut Inuit people. They were used to pull heavy sleds over short distances, and gained popularity during the Klondike Gold Rush. Siberian Huskies have their roots in the Chukchi Peninsula in eastern Siberia and were introduced to Nome, Alaska, in 1908 as working and sled racing dogs.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Coat and Coloration

Both breeds have double coats, but Malamutes have a thicker and longer coat compared to Huskies’ thinner and shorter coat. Though both breeds exhibit colors ranging from black to grey with white markings, Siberian Huskies have a wider color range, including all-white and red shades. While Malamutes generally have dark brown eyes, Huskies can have brown, blue, or even a mix of both eye colors.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Body Structure

Malamutes have broader chests, shorter legs, offset ears, and a peaked forehead. By contrast, Huskies have a more narrow chest, longer legs, and ears atop their head, with a less pronounced forehead. The most distinctive difference is the tail shape; Malamutes have a curling tail, while Huskies possess a straight, hanging tail.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Energy Levels

Both breeds are high-energy dogs, but Siberian Huskies are known for their seemingly endless energy. Malamutes, on the other hand, eventually tire out. This is likely due to their adaptation to pulling heavier loads for shorter distances, compared to Huskies pulling sleds for longer distances.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Temperament Traits

Malamutes and Huskies are generally friendly toward people, with Malamutes being more confident and Huskies exhibiting increased independence. Although both breeds are intelligent, Siberian Huskies show superior problem-solving abilities. In addition, Huskies are more vocal than Malamutes.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Socializing with Other Dogs

Malamutes can show aggression towards other dogs, which could explain their lesser use as sled-racing dogs compared to Huskies. On the other hand, Huskies generally have good relationships with other dogs. While both breeds may struggle to get along with other animals, Huskies tend to have better interactions with same-sex dogs than Malamutes.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Differences Between Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies

Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are both intelligent, energetic breeds that require a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation. However, there are some key differences between the two that potential dog owners should be aware of.

  • Pets Compatibility: Both breeds have a high prey drive, and while Huskies might fare a bit better with other dogs, neither breed is highly recommended for households with small pets.
  • Popularity: Siberian Huskies rank 14th among dog breeds by the American Kennel Club, while Alaskan Malamutes rank 58th, indicating that Huskies are more popular in the United States.
  • Origins: The term “husky” is derived from a word used by English sailors to describe Arctic aboriginal people, while “malamute” originates from the Inupiat people, called the Malemiut, who bred these dogs.
  • Training and Behavior: Both breeds are known for their stamina, but Huskies are more mischievous and prone to escapism, while Malamutes can be more independent and destructive if not properly exercised and engaged.
  • Family Life: Despite their potential challenges, both breeds can make affectionate and loyal family dogs if properly socialized and given consistent training. They typically enjoy the company of family members and are tolerant with children.
  • Exercise: Malamutes are better suited to short-distance running and pulling heavier loads, while Huskies excel at racing long distances. Both breeds love to dig and are adept at escaping if not properly monitored.
  • Grooming: Both breeds require regular grooming, especially during their biannual “blow,” when they shed their undercoat.
  • Health Issues: Siberian Huskies tend to have fewer health concerns than Alaskan Malamutes, so potential owners should be mindful of any breed-specific issues when choosing a pet.

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