Alaskan Malamute vs Rottweiler: A Full Breakdown

You’re in the right place if you want a full rundown of the Alaskan Malamute vs Rottweiler.

This guide will take you through every similarity and difference between these two large and popular dog breeds, including how they compare in temperament, size, obedience, and much more.

If you want a quick summary, check out the infographic below; otherwise, let’s get straight into the comparison.

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

Difference In Appearance

Before we get into the more specific differences between the Alaskan Malamute vs Rottweiler, let’s address the most obvious one – appearance.

Malamutes have a wolf-like appearance, with thick, fluffy coats and several Spitz features like a fluffy curled tail and pointy, alert ears.

The expression of the Malamute is welcoming and excitable despite their potentially intimidating appearance.

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

Rottweilers have much more of a Mastiff-type appearance, with a thick, large skull and floppy ears.

A Rottweiler laid down on the floor with its mouth open

Rottweilers have a short coat that does little to hide their muscular body and broad shoulders.

Other Key Differences Between The Alaskan Malamute Vs Rottweiler

It’s clearly not a challenge to tell these two dogs apart, so let’s explore some of their less noticeable differences.


Alaskan Malamutes are one of the oldest sled breeds in the Arctic, and their name comes from the Mahlemiut tribe, who settled in Alaska long ago.

Their ancestors were brought across the Bering Strait thousands of years ago, and the Mahlemuit tribe bred the Malamutes to pull heavy loads over long distances.

Rottweilers are also an ancient breed, descending from the Roman Army’s mastiff-type dogs, becoming the breedstock for many German breeds today.

After many years, they settled in the cattle town of Rottweil, where they were used mainly as farm dogs to protect and herd livestock. When the cattle car was introduced in the 1800s, the Rottweiler shifted from farm work to various other roles in the police and as personal protectors.

Guarding Instinct

Rottweilers naturally have a high guarding instinct, thanks to their background in protection and guarding roles. They are still used as guard dogs to this day, and their presence alone is enough to deter strangers from their territory.

A Rottweiler up close

Alaskan Malamutes are very much the opposite and have very little guarding instinct. This comes from their social nature; Mals would rather make friends even with strangers than be suspicious of them.

Exercise Requirements

Rottweilers need a lot of exercise – more than many other breeds at 1 hour to 90 minutes per day – but Malamutes need even more.

Malamutes thrive with lots of exercise and need around 2 hours a day or more. This is thanks to their background as powerful sled dogs capable of pulling sleds for miles at a time.

There’s no denying that both breeds are active, but Mals are definitely more work in this regard.


Malamutes and Rottweilers have very different trainability levels.

Malamutes are notoriously hard to train, but not because they lack the intelligence.

Mals are known for being stubborn and having a mind of their own, so they’ll often refuse to listen to you entirely if they feel like it, clearly making obedience training challenging.

Rottweilers, on the other hand, are very receptive to obedience training and like to please their owners. They’re pretty intelligent, too, which helps them to learn new tricks pretty quickly.

If you want a dog that will learn tricks and commands and actually listen to you reliably, Rottweilers are the better option.

Coat Color Variation

Coat color variation is another area where these two breeds differ considerably.

According to the AKC, Rottweilers have three accepted coat colors: black and rust, black and mahogany, and black and tan. Other colors are possible outside of the standard, but the base coat is very often black.

Alaskan Malamutes have a much wider variation in their coat color. The ‘classic’ Mal is black and white but can also be red and white, silver and white, all white, and more. If you’re interested, you can find out about all the possible colors in our article here.

Grooming & Shedding

Mals are a lot more work in terms of grooming and shedding.

They have a medium to long thick double coat designed to keep them warm in sub-zero temperatures (and cool in hot weather as well).

A double coat means that there are two layers to the coat: a short, dense wool undercoat and a longer guard layer that protects the skin and fur below from moisture and debris.

Wooly Malamute
Some Mals have an even woolier coat than others.

Due to this, Mals need grooming properly a few times per week and will shed year-round; they’ll also shed excessively when they’re blowing their coats, which is seasonal shedding to prepare them for the warmer (or colder) months.

Rottweilers also have a double coat, but their coat is much shorter, so it doesn’t require as much grooming. This also means they will seasonally shed as well, but as their fur is shorter, it isn’t as much of a problem.


Rottweilers are typically larger than Malamutes both in height and weight:

  • Malamutes reach 23 to 25 inches in height at the shoulder and 75 to 85 lbs in weight, although they very regularly exceed this weight.
  • Rottweilers are larger and reach 22 to 27 inches in height at the shoulder and 80 to 135 lbs in weight.

There isn’t much difference in the height, but Rottweilers are generally much heavier. Some Malamutes, known as ‘Giant Malamutes,’ can exceed 100 lbs easily, but this does come with health risks, and it’s better for Mals to stay within the healthy range of the breed standard.


Despite the many differences between the Alaskan Malamute and Rottweiler, there are quite a few similarities between these breeds, and a lot you wouldn’t expect at first.

Working Background

Although the origin of the Malamute and Rottweiler is very different, both dogs have a working background.

An Alaskan Malamte laying on some grass panting

Working dogs tend to have a higher requirement for exercise, which is true of both of these breeds, and they’re also generally more intelligent.

These differences become more noticeable if you get a working-line version of either breed.


Alaskan Malamutes are freight dogs, which means they were bred specifically to haul heavy loads over long distances.

With this came a natural strength that hasn’t left them; Mals can easily pull you over if you aren’t expecting it, and it’s why on-leash training is important with this breed.

Rottweilers are also incredibly powerful thanks to their large and muscular physiques, and can also easily pull you over if you aren’t suspecting it.

Prone To Separation Anxiety

Another similarity between these two dog breeds is that they are both prone to separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a condition where a dog may exhibit destructive behaviors when left alone for periods due to stress.

Malamutes and Rottweilers are prone to this condition, which can become a big issue due to their size.

Require Socialization

Socialization is a requirement for the Alaskan Malamute and Rottweiler. All dogs benefit from socialization, but it impacts the Malamute and Rottweiler in slightly different ways.

Malamutes benefit from socialization specifically because it teaches them to contain their excitement and behave correctly around new people rather than jumping up at them.

Socializing Rottweilers can help calm their guarding instinct and help them interact with strangers without hesitation. The guarding instinct of the Rottweiler is often beneficial, but they must be friendly to other people when needed.

In Summary

Alaskan Malamutes and Rottweilers are both incredible dogs that specialize in different things.

Rottweilers are suited for guarding roles and are naturally suspicious of strangers; they’re also larger than the Malamute in both height and weight.

Alaskan Malamutes, although smaller, are still large dogs and are highly energetic and friendly. However, they’re more difficult to train than Rottweilers due to their stubborn personalities.

When it comes down to choosing between the two, it all depends on which traits you value.

Feel free to check out some of our other Alaskan Malamute comparison articles 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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