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Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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If you’re considering adding a new furry member to your family and can’t decide between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky, this article is here to help! Choosing between these two beautiful and majestic breeds can be a tough decision, but understanding the key differences can make the choice much easier. Whether it’s the size, temperament, or exercise needs, each breed has its unique qualities that may better suit your lifestyle. So, let’s explore the differences and help you make an informed decision on which adorable pup to bring home!

Physical Appearance


When it comes to size, the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are both breeds that command attention. The Malamute is generally larger, weighing in at around 75 to 100 pounds, while the Husky is a bit smaller, weighing between 35 and 60 pounds. Both breeds have a sturdy build, with strong muscles and a well-balanced physique.


The Malamute and the Husky both have double coats that are designed to protect them from extreme weather conditions. The Malamute’s coat is thick and luxurious, with a dense undercoat and a longer, coarse outer coat that helps to repel water and keep them warm. The Husky’s coat is slightly shorter and softer, but still offers excellent insulation.


In terms of coloring, both breeds come in a variety of shades and patterns. The Malamute typically has a wide range of colors, including shades of white, gray, black, and sable. Some Malamutes even have striking mask-like markings on their faces. The Husky, on the other hand, often has a more limited range of colors, with black, gray, and white being the most common. Many Huskies also have beautiful blue or multi-colored eyes, which adds to their distinctive appearance.


Energy Level

Both the Malamute and the Husky are energetic breeds that require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. However, the Husky is known for being more high-energy and active, while the Malamute tends to have a more moderate energy level. This makes the Malamute a great choice for those who want a dog that is active but not overly hyper.


In terms of trainability, the Husky can be a bit more independent and stubborn compared to the Malamute. Huskies are known for their intelligence and quick thinking, but they can also be quite willful and may need consistent and patient training. On the other hand, the Malamute is generally more eager to please and can be easier to train, especially with positive reinforcement techniques.


Both the Malamute and the Husky have a certain level of independence and can be somewhat stubborn at times. However, the Husky tends to be more independent and may have a stronger desire for freedom. This means that they may be more prone to wandering off or escaping if not properly contained. The Malamute, although independent, generally has a stronger bond with their human family and may be more inclined to stay close.

Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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Exercise Needs

Daily Exercise Requirements

Both the Malamute and the Husky are active breeds that require a good amount of daily exercise. The Husky, with their higher energy level, typically needs more exercise than the Malamute. Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are essential for keeping these breeds happy and balanced. Without enough exercise, they may become bored and resort to destructive behaviors.

Activity Preferences

The Husky is known for its love of running and is often happiest when engaging in activities like jogging, hiking, or participating in dog sports such as agility or obedience. The Malamute, although still enjoying physical activities, may prefer a more laid-back approach. They are often content with leisurely walks and exploring their surroundings at a slower pace.

Suitability for Apartment Living

While both the Malamute and the Husky can adapt to living in an apartment, it’s important to note that they are active breeds that require ample exercise and mental stimulation. Providing a spacious and secure outdoor area for them to explore is highly beneficial. If living in an apartment, regular walks and visits to dog parks become even more important to ensure that their exercise needs are met.


Interactions with People

Both the Malamute and the Husky are typically friendly and sociable breeds that enjoy interacting with people. They are often affectionate and form strong bonds with their human families. Early and ongoing socialization is important to ensure that they are well-adjusted and comfortable around a variety of people, including strangers.

Interactions with Other Animals

When it comes to interactions with other animals, both the Malamute and the Husky can have a high prey drive. This means that they may have a strong instinct to chase and potentially harm smaller animals. Proper socialization from an early age, along with consistent training and supervision, can help mitigate this behavior and promote positive interactions with other animals, including other pets in the household.


While the Malamute and the Husky are both generally friendly and outgoing, they are not typically known for being highly protective. They may alert their owners to potential threats but are not usually aggressive without reason. These breeds tend to have a trusting nature and may not make the best guard dogs in terms of protective instincts.

Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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Brushing and Shedding

Both the Malamute and the Husky have thick double coats that shed seasonally. During shedding periods, they will require more frequent brushing to help remove loose fur and prevent matting. Regular brushing, at least once or twice a week, is recommended to maintain the health and appearance of their coats. Additionally, both breeds “blow” their coat, meaning they shed their undercoat in large amounts, usually during spring and fall.


Both breeds have a naturally clean coat and don’t require frequent bathing. Regular brushing and occasional spot cleaning should be sufficient to keep them clean and odor-free. It’s important to use a dog-specific shampoo when bathing to avoid irritating their skin. Over-bathing can strip their coats of natural oils and lead to dry skin.

Coat Maintenance

Both the Malamute and the Husky have self-cleaning coats and are generally low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. However, they do benefit from regular coat maintenance to keep their fur healthy and free from tangles or matting. This includes regular brushing, occasional bathing, and periodic trimming of nails and cleaning of ears.


Common Health Issues

Both the Malamute and the Husky are generally healthy breeds with few breed-specific health problems. However, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, and gastrointestinal issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can help minimize the risk of these health issues.


On average, both the Malamute and the Husky have a similar lifespan of around 10 to 12 years. However, with proper care, some individuals of both breeds have been known to live even longer. Providing a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, routine veterinary care, and a loving environment can contribute to a longer and healthier lifespan for these breeds.

Responsibility for Veterinary Care

As a responsible dog owner, it is important to prioritize your dog’s health and well-being. This includes providing regular veterinary care, such as vaccinations, check-ups, and preventative measures for common issues like fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Being prepared for the financial responsibility of veterinary care is essential, as unexpected medical expenses can arise. Remember that your dog’s health is your responsibility, and proper care will ensure a happy and healthy life for your Malamute or Husky.

Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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Suitability for Families

Compatibility with Children

Both the Malamute and the Husky are generally good with children and can make excellent family pets. However, due to their larger size and sometimes playful nature, supervision is essential when young children are interacting with them. Teaching children how to properly interact with and handle dogs, along with early socialization and training, can help ensure a harmonious and safe relationship between your dog and your children.

Ability to Tolerate Noise and Chaos

The Malamute and the Husky are generally adaptable and can tolerate noise and chaos to a certain extent. However, it’s important to provide them with a calm and structured environment, especially during times of heightened activity or excitement. Dogs of both breeds may become overwhelmed or stressed in chaotic environments, so it’s important to create a peaceful and secure space for them to retreat to if needed.

Interaction with Elderly or Disabled Individuals

Both the Malamute and the Husky can be gentle and affectionate with elderly or disabled individuals. However, their larger size and moderate energy level may be a consideration when choosing a breed for these situations. Both breeds require regular exercise and may be too strong or active for some elderly or disabled individuals to handle on their own. It’s important to assess individual circumstances and ensure that the dog’s needs can be met before making a decision.

Outdoor Activities

Cold Weather Tolerance

Both the Malamute and the Husky are well-suited for cold weather due to their thick double coats and innate ability to withstand freezing temperatures. They have a high tolerance for cold climates and can be seen enjoying outdoor activities even in the snow and ice. However, it’s important to provide them with appropriate shelter and monitor them in extreme weather conditions to ensure their safety and well-being.

Pulling and Sledding

Both the Malamute and the Husky have a strong working heritage and excel in pulling activities, such as sledding or carting. They have a natural instinct for pulling and can be trained to participate in various dog sports or recreational activities that involve pulling. These activities help to fulfill their physical and mental exercise needs while also tapping into their innate skills and instincts.

Hiking and Camping

The Malamute and the Husky both make excellent companions for outdoor enthusiasts. They thrive on physical activity and will eagerly join you on hikes and camping trips. These breeds are particularly well-suited for rugged terrain and harsh environments. They have strong endurance and can handle long hikes, making them the perfect partners for those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors.

Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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Living Conditions

Climate Requirements

Both the Malamute and the Husky are well-adapted to cold climates and can handle harsh winter conditions. However, they may struggle in extremely hot climates due to their thick coats and the risk of overheating. If you live in a hot climate, it’s important to provide them with plenty of shade, fresh water, and a cool environment. During hot summer months, it’s crucial to exercise them during cooler times of the day and avoid exposing them to excessive heat.

Yard Size

Both breeds benefit from having a spacious yard where they can roam and explore safely. The Malamute, being larger, may require a larger yard to accommodate their size, while the Husky can adapt to a slightly smaller space. Regular exercise outside of the yard, such as walks or visits to dog parks, is still necessary to prevent boredom and ensure their exercise needs are met.

Fencing Needs

Both the Malamute and the Husky have a strong instinct to explore and may be prone to wandering off if not properly contained. Having a secure fence is essential to prevent them from escaping. The fence should be high enough to prevent jumping or climbing and should be buried or reinforced to prevent digging. Regularly checking the fence for any potential escape routes is important to ensure their safety and prevent any potential accidents.

Breed Specific Considerations

Malamute Specific Traits

The Malamute is known for its strong and independent nature. They are often described as gentle giants, with a friendly and calm demeanor. Malamutes can be more laid-back compared to the Husky and may have less of a desire for constant stimulation. They are known for their loyalty, affection, and strong bonds with their human family.

Husky Specific Traits

The Husky is known for its high energy level, intelligence, and mischievous nature. They are often described as playful, adventurous, and outgoing. Huskies require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and potential destructive behaviors. They thrive on being part of an active and engaging environment.

Understanding Breed Standards

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the breed standards for both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky before making a decision. Breed standards outline the ideal characteristics of each breed, including physical appearance, temperament, and other specific traits. Understanding the breed standards can help you make an informed choice and ensure that the breed you choose is the right fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

In conclusion, both the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are wonderful and distinctive breeds. They have their similarities and differences, with each breed bringing its own unique qualities to the table. Whether you choose a Malamute or a Husky, both breeds can make loving and loyal companions, provided they receive the proper care, training, and exercise they require. With their striking appearance, friendly nature, and suitability for various lifestyles, either breed can bring joy and companionship to your family for many years to come.

Choosing Between an Alaskan Malamute and a Husky: The Key Differences

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