Alaskan Malamute Vs Newfoundland: A Complete Comparison

If you can’t decide between an Alaskan Maalmute vs Newfoundland then you’ve come to the right place.

Both of these breeds are hard work, but they make incredible family companions. Newfoundlands are larger and more eager to please their owners, whereas Malamutes are more independent and stubborn.

Before we dive into an overview of each of these breeds, here’s a quick summary of the key differences and similarities between the two:

An infographic showing the differences and similarities between the Alaskan Malamute vs Newfoundland

Alaskan Malamute Overview

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the most ancient dog breeds and was originally brought across to Alaska via the Bering Strait thousands of years ago.

The name originates from the Mahlemut people who settled in Alaska and depended on Malamutes for their survival.

Malamutes were used to pull sleds for hundreds of miles, as well as to hunt seals and other mammals. They almost went extinct during the Gold Rush in the 1800s as the demand for working dogs increased, but they luckily survived.

I highly recommend this article if you want to learn more about the fascinating history of this breed.

Fast forward to modern times and the Malamute is a recognised breed by the AKC since 1935 and a popular family pet. They are large in size and retain the ability to exercise for long periods of time.

They can be very stubborn and difficult to train, but they make very loving and caring companions with an independent streak.

Newfoundland Overview

Newfoundlands originate from the Dominion of Newfoundland which would eventually become part of the confederation in Canada.

They were used by fishermen as working dogs to help rescue people from the water, as well as other duties to aid fishermen in their working lives.

Newfoundlands were highly suited for this role due to their massive size and strength, as well as their webbed paws which aid with swimming and their thick double coats that help to keep them warm and dry.

Newfoundlands were recognised as a breed by the AKC in 1886 and have become a popular family pet since that time. They are extremely loyal and affectionate and especially great with children.

They are also quite easy to train as they love to please their owners.

There are still working Newfoundlands that are used specifically for water rescue as well.

Difference In Appearance

Before we get into the intricate differences between these two popular breeds, let’s get the obvious one out of the way – Malamutes and Newfoundlands have very different appearances!

Alaskan Malamute vs Newfoundland custom graphic

Malamutes have the wolf-like appearance common amongst many Arctic dog breeds like the husky for example. This is accompanied by erect ears and a large fluffy tail that curls over.

Newfoundlands have floppy ears and large expressive eyes. They have large noses with big jowls and lips which makes them prone to drooling.

Newfoundlands also have a characteristic ‘full head of hair’ on top of their heads.

Want to find out what happens when you mix these two dog breeds together? Check out our Newfoundland Malamute mix guide here!

More Differences Between Alaskan Malamute Vs Newfoundland

Now that’s out of the way, let’s explore some more of the differences between these two breeds.


Newfoundlands are great family companions. They are very friendly towards people, including strangers, and are eager to please their owners which means they are easy to train.

Newfoundlands are generally very calm and not aggressive whatsoever, but they can be protective of their families when needed.

Alaskan Malamutes are also great family companions and love to be part of a pack.

They are not as eager to please their owners, however, and have more of an independent and stubborn streak which can make them difficult to train.

Malamutes are not aggressive and are more likely to befriend a stranger than be wary of them, but they do have an intimidating demeanor. Malamutes make better watchdogs than guard dogs.

Both breeds are very intelligent.


Alaskan Malamutes are pretty large dogs – they reach around 75 to 85 lbs in weight and 23 to 25 inches in height at the shoulder. They can of course exceed these guidelines as these are the standards issued by the AKC.

Newfoundlands, on the other hand, are a giant dog breed and weigh 100 to 150lbs with an average height of 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder.

A black Newfoundland puppy

There have been Newfoundlands known to exceed over 200 lbs, which shows just how large these dogs can get.

Giant Malamutes, or those bred specifically for height and weight, can reach over 150lbs but these are not considered to be healthy. Whereas Newfoundlands naturally reach this kind of weight without specific breeding.

Exercise Requirements

Due to their background of pulling sleds over extremely long distances, it is no surprise that Malamutes require a lot of exercise; ideally 2 hours or more each day.

Newfoundlands also love to exercise, but they don’t require quite as much. 1 hour per day is usually suitable, with 90 minutes for particularly active dogs.

Swimming Capability

Newfoundlands were bred to aid fishermen both in sea rescues and also with fishing. They have webbed feet and innate strength to save somebody who is drowning.

This means they are very adept swimmers, and should be allowed to swim regularly when kept as pets. Swimming is also a great choice for exercising them as it puts no stress on the joints which is ideal given their large weight.

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, can learn to enjoy swimming but will generally avoid it by instinct. You only have to imagine the repercussions of getting their coat wet in sub-zero temperatures to see why this is the case.

This isn’t to say that all Malamutes hate water though, especially those that are raised and introduced to swimming from a young age, it’s just that Newfoundlands are swimmers by nature.


Newfoundlands are notorious for drooling.

They drool so much due to the formation of their mouths; they have big jowls with loose lips which makes for the perfect combination for drooling.

Alaskan malamutes don’t suffer from this problem as they don’t have loose lips or big jowls.

Similarities Between Alaskan Malamutes And Newfoundlands

Malamutes and Newfoundlands share a lot of similarities, perhaps unsurprisingly considering they are both from a working background and bred to survive harsh conditions.

Let’s take a look at some now.

Separation Anxiety

Unfortunately, both of these breeds are prone to separation anxiety, a condition where dogs struggle to be left alone for periods of time.

Separation anxiety is more prevalent in dogs that have suffered abuse, but it can also affect family pets who have been cared for their whole lives.

Alaskan Malamutes are particularly susceptible as they are pack animals, used to working alongside several other dogs and people for their whole lives.

Separation anxiety usually leads to destructive behaviors like excessive barking and chewing and can be managed with toys and training your dog to be more comfortable with being alone.

Working Backgrounds

Alaskan Malamutes and Newfoundlands are working breeds that were used to fulfil a specific role alongside humans.

  • Malamutes were used to pull sleds over long distances and aid with hunting in the Arctic,
  • Newfoundlands worked on boats alongside Canadian fishermen and aided with rescue and fishing duties.

This gives both breeds a sense of purpose and a requirement to be both physically and mentally satisfied if you decide to get one.

Double Coated

Both breeds are double-coated, which means that their fur has two distinct layers:

  • A dense undercoat made from short hairs that have a woolly texture
  • A top coat made of long guard hairs.

The double coat of these breeds is also waterproof, which is beneficial for Malamutes keeping dry in freezing conditions and Newfoundlands who naturally spend a lot of time in the water.

A wooly brown Alaskan Malamute panting

The downside to a double coat is that they require a lot of maintenance.

You’re looking at daily grooming with both of these breeds, and even multiple times per day when they are blowing coat (the transition from winter to summer coat).


Alaskan Malamutes and Newfoundlands both have a lot of strength due to their working backgrounds and impressive builds.

Malamutes are capable of pulling over 1000lbs on a sled, and Newfoundlands have no problems rescuing fully grown adults from water, which is no easy feat.

Newfoundlands were also used to pull nets for fishermen, which also influences their raw strength in modern times.

Coat Color Variety

Newfoundlands and Alaskan Malamutes come in a wide range of coat colors.

  • Malamutes have a wide range of coat colors from grey and white to red and white to all white. You can learn more about the possible color combinations in our guide here.
  • Newfoundlands also have a wide range of possible coat colors. These include black, brown, brown and white, gray and white and black.

It’s worth noting that certain colors are not ‘accepted’ by the American Kennel Club or different associations, but these matter little if you are not interested in showing your dog.

In Summary

Whether you decide to get an Alaskan Malamute or Newfoundland you are sure to be adding an amazing companion to your life.

Both of these breeds require an experienced owner who is capable of providing them with enough exercise and handling their large size and big personalities. You should use this guide as a starting point in your research into these breeds.

Interested in checking out more Malamute comparison guides? We’ve covered plenty of others:

Photo of author

About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

Read More

Leave a comment