Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky Which is Better? Dog vs Dog
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It’s not always easy to tell the difference
between two dog breeds.
Understandably, the Siberian Husky and Alaskan
Malamute are often confused.
They share some physical characteristics and
well, of course, they’re both sled dogs
bred to strive in cold climates.
However, there are differences between these
two furry dog breeds and as we’ll find out
they may not be for everyone.
Let’s get to know these fabulous dogs.
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Both breeds are what are known as Spitz breeds,
making them some of the oldest breeds we have
The Siberian Husky is believed to have originated
among the Chukchi, a tribe of nomads from
the Siberian region.
The breed’s history is relatively unknown
but DNA tests confirm that the Siberian is
among the oldest dog breeds.
The Chukchi used the dogs as transportation
and the dogs interacted with the Chukchi as
family companions, often sleeping with the
children and providing warm comfortable beds
The Siberian Huskies were imported to Alaska
in 1908 and were used as sled dogs during
the gold rush.
The last Siberian Husky was exported from
Siberia in 1930 when the borders were closed
by the Soviet government.
However, the breed continued to thrive in
And although they have changed slightly from
their Siberian foundation dogs, they still
maintain many of the wonderful qualities of
the Chuchki Sled Dogs.
One of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan
Malamute’s forebears crossed the Bering land
bridge from Siberia to Alaska with native
peoples thousands of years ago.
One tribe, known as the Mahlemuts, settled
in the northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula
and it’s there that the modern Alaskan Malamute
The dogs were used to hunt seals, chase away
polar bears, and pull heavy sleds loaded with
food or camp supplies.
The native people treated their dogs well
and valued them highly.
The gold rush of 1896 brought a great influx
to Alaska of dogs of many sizes and breeds
who could survive the weather.
Many native dogs to Alaska were interbred
with other dogs brought to the area with prospectors
and pure types were lost.
But, the Mahlemuts were a relatively isolated
tribe, and so the Alaskan Malamute survived
the incursion better than some other breeds.
Through successful breeding programs to keep
the Malamute true to its origins, we have
the Malamute we know and love today.
According to the American Kennel Club Standard,
the Siberian Husky “does not display the possessive
qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly
suspicious of strangers or aggressive with
Their exotic, wolf-like appearance makes Siberian
Huskies appealing to many people, and their
even temperament, love of other dogs and indifference
to strangers makes them ideal family dogs.
Huskies have a zest for life that is unmatched
by few breeds.
They may seem like a good family dog for first-time
dog owners, but Huskies can often be “too
much dog” for the novice owner.
But avid Husky owners agree, you get out of
a Siberian Husky what you put into it, and
these reliable dogs are worth the effort.
Hardy working dogs, Alaskan Malamutes are
really just big puppies.
Though they take their jobs pulling sleds
or searching out lost humans very seriously,
they love to run, romp and play and have a
never-ending energy reserve.
Their playful, easy-going nature and friendliness
toward strangers also makes them a great family
Alaskan Malamutes will win you over with their
playful, outgoing dispositions.
They greet everyone as a friend—even strangers
and first-time house guests—so they don’t
make good watchdogs, but they are extremely
loyal to their family.
A word of caution, a male Alaskan Malamute
may not get along well with other male dogs,
including other male Malamutes.
Both breeds are pack animals and enjoy spending
time with their human pack, insisting on being
included in all family activities.
Neither is big on barking.
Both breeds do have a high prey drive, so
living with other non-dog pets may not be
an option, but they can be trained to get
along with the family cat.
Both breeds share a well-insulated warm double
Hence, neither should be kept in warm climates.
Both breeds shed a lot.
Regular brushing is required most of the year,
but even that won’t be enough when the dogs
“blow their coat” when their hair falls
out in large clumps.
This happens usually twice a year.
If you decide to have one of these dogs in
your life, invest in a good vacuum cleaner,
and lint rollers.
And you’re just going to have to be comfortable
with dog hair everywhere, perhaps including
your breakfast cereal.
Dog hair is a way of life for the Husky or
The Malamute is a larger, stronger dog.
The breed is considered a large dog breed.
Males stand 25 inches high at the shoulder
and should weigh about 85 pounds; females
tend to stand 23 inches high and weigh about
However, it’s not unusual for a well-muscled
adult male to weight over 100 pounds.
In rare instances, so-called “giant” Malamutes
top 140 pounds, but the Malamute body is not
designed to carry that excess weight.
Considered a medium-sized dog, an average
male Siberian Husky stands between 21 and
23.5 inches high while the female averages
20 to 22 inches.
The male weighs between 45 and 60 pounds and
the female 35 to 50 pounds.
Exercise needs and shedding aside, the Siberian
and Malamute are small enough for apartment
life and do quite well there.
As pack dogs, both breeds need a firm leader.
Overall, the Siberian Husky is more intelligent
than the Malamute, but this may or may not
be a helpful trait when it comes to training,
as your Husky will try to outsmart you.
This breed is notoriously difficult to train
and are generally not well suited for first-time
Huskies require firm leadership and 100% consistency
when it comes to boundaries and rule enforcement.
Their expressive eyes can be used to manipulate
the softies of the house, so all family members
must also be “trained” to be consistent
with rules and leadership.
Though they instinctively love to work, Alaskan
Malamutes are also difficult to train in the
Independent and willful dogs, a patient, consistent
hand is needed when working with this breed.
They like to be in charge, so the moment they
see an opening to manipulate a situation,
Malamutes will take it.
Needless to say, if you’ve never trained
a dog, neither breed is probably a good choice.
Both breeds love to run.
That’s what they were bred for.
And by run, we don’t mean just sprinting
around like your average dog.
These dogs are distance runners with almost
The Alaskan Malamute is, however, a calmer
breed indoors than the hyper Siberian Husky.
The Siberian Husky is a faster runner and
needs a lot more vigorous exercise than the
While you need to exercise both, the Husky
needs hiking, jogging, even sled pulling in
its life on a regular basis to be a truly
happy and healthy dog.
Either dog will become unhappy, bored and
most likely destructive if not exercised on
a regular basis.
If you don’t want to get off the couch,
again, probably not the breed for you.
Health and Lifespan
The Siberian Husky has a bit longer lifespan,
living on average 12-15 years compared to
an average lifespan of 10-12 years for the
Common ailments affecting the Siberian Husky
are numerous including epilepsy, hip dysplasia,
hypothyroidism, juvenile cataracts, basal
cell tumor, perianal gland adenoma, chronic
superficial keratitis, progressive retinal
atrophy and a lot of other stuff I just can’t
The Malamute’s list is similarly large.
Breed health concerns may include autoimmune
hemolytic anemia, bloat, cancer, dwarfism,
diabetes, epilepsy, eye problems, hip dysplasia,
hypothyroidism, and skin problems.
Malamutes also can have a genetic defect causing
malabsorption of zinc, which leads to skin
lesions despite adequate levels of zinc in
Along with shedding hair and a stubbornness
to training, vet bills are probably going
to be a big concern when getting into either
of these breeds.
I’m not trying to be overly negative about
these breeds, because they are overall wonderful
But, also we do have to realize that all people
are not suited to all dogs.
These are tough dogs to own, not for novice
owners and we don’t want these dogs ending
up in shelters due to an owner being overwhelmed.
But, remember, if you’re considering one
of these awesome dogs and you are up to the
task, there are breed specific rescue organizations
all over the world that are usually a simple
Google search away.
So, which of these amazing sled dog breeds
do you think is the most awesome?
Let us know in the comments.
If there are other breeds you’d like us
to compare, shout them out, we’ll give them
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