Alaskan Malamute Vs Poodle: Key Differences And Similarities

The Alaskan Malamute and Poodle are two very different breeds, with different appearances, temperaments, exercise requirements and much more. In this article, we will compare and contrast these two breeds to help you decide which one is right for you.

Before we get into an overview of each breed, here’s a quick comparison of the two breeds including the major similarities and differences:

An infographic detailing the similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute vs poodle

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 survival.

Wooly Malamute Toews - Sent in by one of our readers.
Wooly Malamute Toews – Sent in by one of our readers.

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.

Poodle Overview

Poodles were originally used for hunting ducks in Germany, and are the national dog of France where they are called Caniche, which is French for ‘duck dog’.

Poodles are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world and come in many different sizes. They are easy to train and are great companion dogs, loving nothing more than to please their owners and spend time with them.

A small white poodle with a green harness

Poodles can have many different haircuts, including teddy bear, continental and many more.

Difference In Appearance

The most obvious difference between the malamute and the poodle is how they look.

Malamutes have a wolf-like appearance and are much larger in size. They have pointed ears, powerful shoulders and fluffy tails that curl over, with an affectionate demeanor.

An alaskan malamute next to a poodle on a custom graphic

Poodles are much smaller, with miniature and toy poodles being tiny in comparison to the malamute.

They have short curly hair that is often trimmed into many different styles, with a docked tail that waves as they move. Poodles are well-proportioned no matter their size and have long straight muzzles.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a deep dive into some of the other differences between these two dog breeds.

Other Differences Between The Alaskan Malamute Vs Poodle

There are a lot more differences than just their appearances…

Size Variation & Overall Size

Poodles come in a lot of different sizes:

  • Toy Poodle – No taller than 10 inches at the shoulder and 4 to 6 lbs in weight.
  • Miniature Poodle – No taller than 15 inches at the shoulder and 10 to 15 lbs in weight.
  • Standard Poodle – Taller than 15 inches at the shoulder and 40 to 70 lbs in weight.

The sizes above are those recognised by the American Kennel Club.

There are poodles that are even larger, known as giant poodles or royal poodles, but the AKC does not recognise these specifically, and these would instead be known as standard poodles.

Malamutes, on the other hand, don’t come in different sizes. Malamutes usually reach 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and 75 to 85 lbs in weight, so they are much larger than most poodles.

There are so-called ‘giant malamutes’, which are malamutes bred specifically for size that have been known to reach well over 100 lbs, but these are not recognised and should be avoided as they are more prone to health issues.

There are also ‘wooly malamutes‘, which are bred for thicker and longer fur. These are not more prone to health issues like the giant malamute (health issues like hip dysplasia are more common with greater weight) and are not recognised as a separate malamute type.

Trainability & Overall Temperament

In terms of temperament, the Alaskan Malamute and poodle couldn’t be further apart.

Malamutes are quite independent and are not particularly interested in pleasing their owners. They can also be pretty stubborn and will take over a household if you aren’t prepared to handle them correctly.

They require a lot of exercise (more on this later) and mental stimulation to keep happy and are often very independent and enjoy their own space.

Don’t get me wrong, they are great companions for families but they also like their own space from time to time.

Poodles, on the other hand, are very eager to please. This means they are easy to train and will follow commands without much practice.

Poodles are also great companion dogs and love to be with the family at all times, and despite their hunting origins they do not need much exercise or mental stimulation to be happy in modern times.

Double Coat Vs Single Coat

Malamutes and poodles have different types of coats.

Malamutes are double-coated, which means their fur has two layers; a short woolly undercoat with a long layer of guard hairs.

Double-coated breeds like the malamute require daily regular grooming year-round and even multiple times per day when they are blowing coat.

Two Alaskan Malamutes together

Blowing coat is when double-coated dogs transition from their winter coat to their summer coats, losing a lot of fur in the process.

Poodles don’t actually have a double coat, instead, they have a single coat, made from short and dense curled hairs.

Their fur is prone to matting due to this and requires regular grooming and maintenance to keep it in good condition.


Malamutes shed a lot more than poodles due to their double coats. They require daily grooming and even multiple times per day when they’re blowing coat.

Poodles don’t actually shed that much, as a lot of the hairs that fall out get caught in the fur due to how dense it is.

This does mean, however, that they need regular grooming and bathing, ideally by a professional or somebody who knows what they’re doing.

This is also very important to consider if you suffer from dog allergies, as poodles shed much less which means they are more suited for people who suffer from them.


Another key difference that stems from their different coats is how often these two breeds need bathing.

Poodles need to be bathed once every two to three weeks due to the way their coat works.

Once they are bathed, oil begins to accumulate that moisturizes and protects the skin, but after a few weeks, the oil starts to trap dirt and block their pores.

Malamutes naturally keep their own fur clean, both through self-grooming and due to oils on their skin and coat.

Malamute should only be bathed when needed if they are too dirty and can’t clean themselves.

A good rule of thumb is to bathe your malamute 2 to 3 times per year.


Malamutes have a respectable lifespan when you consider their size, living 10 to 14 years on average.

Standard and miniature poodles are pretty similar with a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, but toy poodles enjoy an even longer lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 18 years, with reports of some living over 20 years old.

Exercise Requirements

Poodles typically need anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of exercise depending on size and age.

Alaskan Malamutes have a much higher demand for exercise given their background of pulling loaded sleds for miles and miles at a time. With malamutes, you should aim for at least 2 hours of exercise every day.


Let’s be real, the poodle and malamute are two very different dogs.

There are some similarities between the two breeds though, but they are greatly outweighed by the differences.

Separation Anxiety

One of the main similarities between these two breeds is that they are both prone to separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a condition where a dog becomes stressed when left alone for long periods of time. This can lead to destructive behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing or scratching.

A white fluffy poodle

Poodles love to be around people all the time, and they struggle when left alone for extended periods of time.

Although malamutes are more independent, they still like to be part of the family and can develop separation anxiety as well, especially due to how much mental stimulation they require meaning they get bored very easily.

Working Background

You wouldn’t think it at first, but poodles actually originate as duck-hunting dogs used in Germany.

This is why poodles have certain areas of their bodies shaved (legs, neck and tail) while others were left, to keep vital areas warm while providing a free range of movement in the water.

Since those days, the poodle has gone on to become the national dog of France, where they are known as Caniche, which is French for ‘duck dog’.

Malamutes were also used for working purposes, specifically to aid with pulling heavy sleds over long distances in Alaska. Malamutes were also used to aid in hunting and other tasks.

Lack Of Guarding Instinct

Poodles and malamutes are both pretty terrible guard dogs and are both very unlikely to be aggressive towards any strangers or potential threats.

In fact, both breeds are much more likely to befriend a stranger than act aggressively towards them. They definitely make better watchdogs than guard dogs, as they will often alert you if somebody is on their territory.

Great With Children

Poodles and malamutes are great with children, due to how patient and caring they are with their families.

The only potential issue is size, as malamutes and standard poodles can sometimes knock into children without realising which can be harmful.

In Summary

Malamutes are much more of a commitment than the poodle, especially if you are considering one of the smaller variations such as the toy or miniature. They need more exercise and mental stimulation and are much larger dogs in general, and they’re also a lot harder to train.

Both of these breeds make fantastic companions for families, it just depends on your lifestyle and what you want out of a dog when deciding between the two.

Want to read more Alaskan Malamute comparison articles? Check out some of our most recent posts below:

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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.

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