What is the difference between a Husky and a Malamute? (5 key differences)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
comparison of a husky and malamute

A question that every Malamute owner has heard at some point on a walk – ‘Is that a Husky?’.

Whilst the differences between the two breeds are clear to those who own them, the similarities in their appearance often render them indistinguishable to the untrained eye with both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky having a distinct wolf-like appearance. Both originate from Arctic climates and were bred as working dogs to pull sleds but despite this, there are several differences between the two breeds in both appearance and temperament that make them entirely unique from each other.

If you’re looking to adopt one of these impressive-looking breeds, their differences may have an impact on which is the most suitable for your home. In this guide, we’ll talk you through the key physical and behavioural differences between the Malamute and Husky to help make your decision– or simply to aid you in identifying them on your next outing!

 

The size difference

Husky on the left and Malamute on the right sitting side by side in the snow
This image was originally posted to Flickr by randihausken here. It was reviewed on 15 February 2009 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

Whilst Malamutes and Huskies are both classified as large dog breeds, there is a considerable size difference once fully grown and when side-by-side there is no comparison.

Adult Huskies will grow to be a healthy 40-60lbs on average (20-30kg) but adult Malamutes can easily reach up to 100lbs (45kg) and some so-called ‘giant’ Malamutes have been known to reach 140lbs!

Despite the added weight, Malamutes only stand a couple of inches taller than Huskies with adults typically reaching up to 25 inches (65cm) in comparison to the still impressive 23 inches (60cm) for a grown Husky.

Size plays an important part in determining the suitability of a dog for your home, so make sure you have the right space available (and enough food to feed their large appetite!).

 

Eye colour

Husky sitting in the snow and looking towards the camera operator

When thinking of a typical Siberian Husky one of the first features to come to mind is their striking ice-blue eyes.

Whilst it is possible for a Husky to have the same deep brown eyes that are associated with Malamutes, a purebred Malamute will NEVER have blue eyes.

In fact, having blue eyes is the only disqualification in the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for an Alaskan Malamute!

When looking to adopt a Malamute you should be aware that some Mals may have been bred with other blue-eyed breeds like the Husky to produce offspring with icy eyes, but a purebred Malamute’s eyes will always be some shade of brown. Of course, this doesn’t mean they are any less worth adoption!

Don’t forget to check out our in-depth article on whether Alaskan Malamutes can have blue eyes here.

 

Living with other dogs

Both the Malamute and the Husky were bred to live in social situations for the purpose of work, and are generally very friendly towards other people and dogs when out on walks due to their pack nature.

Despite this are there are still some differences in their temperaments that need to be considered if you are planning on bringing one of these breeds into your home, the most notable being their ability to live with other dogs.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to introducing an Alaskan Malamute to other dogs here.

The Husky is typically a more adaptable breed when it comes to living with other dogs in the family home, and they are usually accepting of others into their ‘pack’. In contrast, Malamutes tend to be less tolerant of living with another family dog ESPECIALLY if it is of the same sex as their dominant instinct may arise causing them to act aggressively.

Whilst there are plenty of examples of Malamutes living happily with other family dogs, these behaviours should be considered before potentially adopting the breed in order to prevent any difficult scenarios down the line.

Check out our article of whether Alaskan Malamutes are good family dogs here.

 

Required exercise

Alaskan Malamute walking through the snow

As previously mentioned, both the Malamute and the Husky are working breeds that require a lot of time dedicated to tiring them out each day and it is an absolute MUST to have a yard when considering adopting either of them. Both breeds, however, have different energy levels that require different types of attention due to their differing breed purposes.

The Husky was bred to pull light loads at a fast pace and as a result, they are very high energy breeds requiring both mental and physical stimulation in the form of walks, runs and toys every day. Huskies are particularly known to be cunning escape artists and will make easy work of an unsecured yard to fulfil their instinct to run. They usually need more attention during the day than a Malamute and greatly benefit from having a human or another dog to play with.

In comparison, the Malamute was bred to pull much heavier loads over long distances at a slower pace and are typically not as energetic. They are known for their immense stamina and will walk for miles if you’ll take them, but once at home Malamutes are generally more content to sleep and play by themselves. Whilst a Malamute loves to run just as much the Husky, they are less likely to try to escape a yard especially if they are getting the necessary exercise elsewhere.

The commitments required to take care of either one of these breeds should not be taken lightly when considering adoption but the exercise can be just as rewarding for you as it is for them!

Make sure to check out our article on how much exercise an Alaskan Malamute needs here.

 

Attitudes towards humans

Siberian Husky sitting and looking away from the camera

Regardless of whether you have a Malamute or a Husky you’re guaranteed to have a loving pet, but there are differences in their temperament which may affect how they behave around you once at home. As both breeds were bred to work with humans, they both benefit from social interaction and live very happily alongside their owners.

The Malamute in particular is known to be extremely loyal and needs to spend more time around their owners compared to Huskies. You may find that leaving them for long time periods on their own distresses them, especially if there are humans in the house that they could be with, resulting in howling and potentially destructive behaviours to get your attention.

In contrast, Huskies are generally more independent and can happily live in their own spaces away from humans if necessary. In fact, it is not uncommon for a Husky to leave a social situation and isolate themselves for a period of time as a way to relax!

It should be noted that regardless of breed, individual behaviours and preferences may still vary and the easiest way to have a happy dog is to respect their personal boundaries.

 

Final thoughts

So there you have it, whilst the differences may be minor they can still have a big impact on which breed is the right one for you and regardless of which you end up choosing you’re guaranteed to have a loving and loyal dog! Remember that irrespective of breed, individual dogs will have their own personalities and behaviours that make them unique so no two Mals are alike!

If you’re still unsure on which breed is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact us here or read some of our other articles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *