Samoyed Vs Malamute: Key Similarities & Differences

In this article, we’ll stack up the Samoyed vs Malamute to see which breed is more suited for you.

Some of the key similarities between these two breeds include their working background, how difficult they can be to train, and how much they shed. There are some differences as well, including overall size and coat color variation.

Before we get into a rundown of each breed, here’s a summary of the key similarities and differences between the two breeds:

An infographic listing the similarities and differences between the Samoyed vs Malamute

Samoyed Overview

Samoyeds are a super friendly Arctic breed that is known for their long fluffy white coats and endearing personalities.

A Samoyed laid down in the snow

Samoyeds are medium to large-sized dogs and usually reach 19 to 23 inches in height and 35 to 65 lbs in weight.

Samoyeds require a lot of exercise and can be tricky to train, but for the right owner, they are an incredibly rewarding breed to own.

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 recognized 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.

Similarities Between Samoyeds And Malamutes

Let’s take a look at all the similarities between the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute – there might be more than you think…


Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds are quite similar in appearance, largely due to their similar origins.

A Malamute next to a Samoyed on a custom graphic

Both have long, thick coats and other key traits of Arctic breeds, like pointed ears, large fluffy tails, and gentle expressions.

In fact, if you were to see an all-white Alaskan Malamute, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake it for a Samoyed if you ignore the overall size difference.

Double Coated/Shedding Habits

Samoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes are both double-coated and have incredibly long and fluffy coats.

Double-coated simply means that their coats are split into two layers:

  • A dense, short wooly undercoat that insulates against hot and cold weather.
  • A guard layer made of long hairs keeps moisture and dirt away.

Double-coated breeds with long coats, like the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute, shed A LOT. Daily grooming is essential, and you may have to groom them multiple times per day when they are blowing their coat.

Coat blowing is a term used for when they transition from their winter to summer coats and lose a lot of fur in the process. This is one of the reasons why both breeds are not hypoallergenic as well.

Working Background

Both Samoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes have a history as working dogs, and both originate from Arctic areas.

Samoyeds get their name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia, and Alaskan Malamutes are named after the Mahlemuts, an Inuit tribe that settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in Alaska.

Both dogs were used primarily as working dogs, used to pull sleds, and occasionally to help with hunting. This background plays a key role in their personality and exercise requirements to this day.

Exercise Requirement

Both Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds require a lot of exercise – ideally two hours or more every day.

As sled dogs, they spent years refining a high-energy drive which they still have to this day.

Domesticated dogs obviously need less exercise as they are not required to pull sleds all day, but they still need a significant amount each day for the normal person.

Difficult To Train

A lot of Arctic breeds are fiercely stubborn, and Samoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes are no exception.

Expect training to be difficult as these breeds do not have a high drive to please their owners.

This comes from their background as sled dogs – learning tricks for their owners was not part of the daily routine, and instead, they were simply bred to work hard for hours on end.

Prone To Separation Anxiety

Their working background also means that both of these dogs have a pack mentality.

This is natural, given that they would work in packs to pull sleds, but it does also mean they are susceptible to developing separation anxiety.

This is a condition where they will start to show destructive behaviors if left alone for long periods of time, such as excessive chewing or howling.

Both dogs like to be around people and other animals.

High Prey Drive

Although these dogs were primarily used for pulling sleds, they were also occasionally used for hunting as well.

Due to this, both breeds have a pretty high prey drive. This means that they need to be socialized from a young age with cats or other small dogs; otherwise, they are prone to chasing them.

It also means that you need to be careful letting these dogs off their leash, as they are prone to chasing small animals that they see, and it can be very difficult to recall them if this happens.


Both breeds have a similar lifespan:

Given their size, these two breeds are considered to be quite healthy.

Differences Between The Samoyed Vs Malamute

Now that the similarities are out of the way, let’s take a look at the differences.

Overall Size

Alaskan Malamutes have the size advantage over Samoyeds, reaching anywhere from 23 to 25 inches in height and 75 to 85 lbs in weight according to the AKC standard.

There are, of course, variations to this, and lots of Mals can easily exceed 100 lbs.

Color Variation

Alaskan Malamutes have much more variation in their coat colors.

Samoyeds are typically either all white or other colors like cream and biscuit.

Malamutes, on the other hand, can be grey and white, silver and white, red and white, seal and white, and many more.


Alaskan Malamutes are not only larger in size, but they are also stronger as well.

Malamutes were used to pull heavier loads than the Samoyed due to their sheer size and strength. If you don’t teach a mal how to walk properly on a lead, they will happily pull you around without a moment’s notice.

In Summary

Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds are actually pretty similar, which isn’t surprising given how both dogs are Arctic breeds originally bred for work.

Both require a lot of exercise and can be tricky to train, so they are definitely not ideal for first-time owners. They also need a lot of grooming as well, so owning one of these dogs is a big commitment.

Want to check out some more Malamute comparison articles? You can find some of our most recent 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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