Differences Between Huskies and Malamutes

Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are two northern dog breeds often confused for each other and sometimes even mistaken for wolves.

One of the reasons that Malamutes and Huskies are so easily confused is that they have similar color patterns, similar hair types, and both love to run and enjoy cold weather.

Please note that there are many different breeds of husky, in general we will refer to the Siberian Husky.

So what are the differences between a malamute and a husky?


Alaskan Malamute

Malamute, photo via Wikimedia Commons

Malamute, photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • Malamutes are quite a bit larger than huskies with some males weighing in at 90 pounds (41 kg).
  • Have a wider head and ears are set further apart.
  • Malamutes have brown eyes.
  • Tend to carry their tails over their backs.
  • Malamutes are noted for digging out of yards to escape the boredom of confinement.
  • The average lifespan is 12 years.


Siberian Husky

Husky photo via Wikimedia Commons

Husky photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • Huskies are considered medium sized dogs, with males weighing around 60 pounds (27 kg).
  • The shape of a huskies head is narrower and the ears are set closer together.
  • Huskies can have brown eyes, blue eyes, or one eye of each color.
  • Tend to have a more relaxed way of carrying their tail, although they sometimes carry it high they will often hang their tail down.
  • Huskies are noted for jumping fences and will often climb a fence to get out of a yard.
  • The average lifespan of a husky is 14 years.


Huskies and malamutes are high energy dogs who need a lot of exercise. They are considered to be “northern breeds” and enjoy colder weather and in warm weather care should be taken to keep the dogs cool.

Both the husky and malamute have strong prey drives and have been known to kill cats, chickens, rabbits, and so forth.

Huskies and malamutes were both bred to pull sleds. Huskies were often used in larger teams with more dogs, while malamutes were used in smaller teams of fewer dogs, and were used to pull heavier at slower speeds.

Both the husky and the malamute dog can travel 35 miles a day and as such they need an owner that can provide them with lots of physical exercise.

Neither the husky or malamute is well suited for being a guard dog, but both tend to love people in general.

Malamutes and huskies rarely bark but both will howl. They sometimes learn to bark if around other dogs that bark.

Both breeds are strongly independent, as noted they will often run with no interest in turning around. They can be trained but are not necessarily obedient.

Published Feb, 2013 by this author on The Animal Cabin.