Are Huskies & Alaskan Malamutes the Same Thing?

by Catherine Troiano
    Husky or Malamute? Learn the differences before choosing your snow-loving companion.

    Husky or Malamute? Learn the differences before choosing your snow-loving companion.

    Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Not all sled dogs are created equal. If you're considering making a cold-weather canine a member of your family, that's an important fact to know. Two breeds that are easily confused are the Siberian husky and the Alaskan malamute. They look much alike at a glance, but their homes of origin are not the only difference between them. Both make beloved pets.

    A Quick Jaunt Through Snowy History

    The Alaskan malamute got his name from a native tribe known as the Mahlemuts. The large stature of the Alaskan malamute enabled him to pull sleds packed with heavy freight. In 1935, the American Kennel Club recognized the Alaskan malamute as a member of the working group. The Siberian husky came from the eastern Siberian tribe known as the Chukchi, and was bred for speed and endurance to perform various sledding functions. The American Kennel Club recognized this working dog in 1930.

    Different From Head to Tail

    Both Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes have thick, dense coats that include white, sable, gray or black coloration with various masks, caps or other markings on their heads. The Alaskan malamute’s undercoat is thicker, causing the topcoat’s guard hairs to stick out. The Alaskan malamute is taller and heavier, weighing between 75 and 85 pounds, while the Siberian husky weighs in at 35 to 60 pounds. Siberian huskies often bat pairs of baby blues, but you should never see blue eyes on Alaskan malamutes. Their peepers should always be dark brown. The head of a Siberian husky is narrower than that of the Alaskan malamute. While an Alaskan malamute carries his waving plumy tail up over his back, the Siberian husky’s tail hangs low when he is relaxed.

    The Malamute Is Content to Cuddle

    If you're looking to own one of these, it is important to consider the personality differences between these two breeds. The Alaskan malamute is a docile and affectionate family member, content to cuddle with you for a long winter’s nap. When the opportunity for physical activity knocks, however, the athletic dog rises to the occasion. They are generally outgoing with people, but many Alaskan malamutes do not get along well with other dogs. The malamutes are keenly intelligent but also strong-minded and must be trained as soon as they join your household.

    The Husky Is Always in Action

    The Siberian husky is an agile, high-energy dog who consistently seeks new things to explore, even if it means hopping a low fence and romping through the neighborhood to do so. These dogs must be given ample outlets to work out their energy and mischievous curiosity, especially when left unattended. They are more aloof toward people than Alaskan malamutes but generally get along better with other dogs. Siberian huskies have strong predatory instincts, so you must keep a watchful eye on them around cats and smaller dogs in the household. Once you determine which breed is best suited for your family and lifestyle, either dog will provide years of loyal companionship.

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    About the Author

    Based on Long Island, Catherine Troiano has been writing pet articles since 2011. She worked for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician and served as the cattery manager at a local shelter. Her articles have been published on various websites. She also maintains her own website about Long Island and is currently working on a children's novel.

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