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Alaskan Malamute vs. Siberian Husky: What's the Difference?

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key point

  • Siberian huskies are generally larger than Alaskan huskies.
  • Alaskan Malamutes come in solid black or solid white. The Siberian Husky comes in a variety of colors including tan, black, white, red and bi-color.
  • Siberian huskies have long been considered purebred dogs by the AKC, while Alaskan huskies are not granted purebred status.
Taste of the Wetlands
Black and gray huskies stand side by side in the snow.

©SaKuramaS/Shutterstock.com

There are many differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky, whether you are aware of them or not. These dogs are closely related in breed, size and purpose – but what sets them apart from each other? In this article, we'll reveal the differences so you can fully understand the differences between these powerful working dogs.

Read on to learn more about the differences between Alaskan and Siberian huskies, as well as all the similarities.

Comparing the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky

© AZ-Animals.com

Variety alaskan malamute siberian husky
coat white or black jacket long coat in various colors
weight 40-55 lbs 45-60 lbs
Eye Predominantly brown, but sometimes heterochromatic blue, green, brown, different colors
for Work work and family life
Habitat Alaska, USA all over the world
life 10-15 years old 10-15 years old, but may face more complications due to purebred status
purebred No Yes

5 Key Differences Between Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskys

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky
Siberian huskies are generally larger than Alaskan huskies, have longer coats, and more varied coat and eye colors.

© Jana Caposova/Shutterstock.com

There are a number of key differences between the Alaskan Husky and the Siberian Husky. According to the AKC, the Alaskan Husky is not a purebred dog, while the Siberian Husky is. Siberian huskies are generally larger than Alaskan huskies, have longer coats, and more varied coat and eye colors. Over time, Alaskan and Siberian huskies were bred for different lifestyles. These lifestyles can affect their overall lifespan.

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But what else is there to learn about the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky? Let's examine these differences in more detail!

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Coat and Coloring

The main difference between the Alaskan Husky and the Siberian Husky is their fur and color. The Siberian Husky comes in a variety of colors including tan, black, white, red and bi-color. Alaskan Malamutes come in solid black or solid white. This is a key distinction that you can easily tell when looking at these dogs side by side.

Another difference between Alaskan and Siberian huskies is length. Subtle as it may be, Siberian huskies have slightly longer coat length than Alaskan huskies. This may be due to their relative size difference. However, both dogs have double fur coats to keep them warm in colder temperatures.

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky
While both husky breeds are prone to heterochromia, Siberian huskies are known to have more colored eyes, while Alaskan huskies typically only have brown eyes.

©Dora Zett/Shutterstock.com

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Size and Weight

Another difference between the Alaskan Husky and the Siberian Husky is their relative size and weight. While the Malamute is similar in size to the Siberian Husky, they differ in weight. For example, Malamutes tend to weigh 5 to 10 pounds less than the average Siberian Husky, depending on the sex. Alaskan huskies also tend to be leaner and longer than Siberian huskies due to the fact that they were bred as working dogs.

Alaskan husky sled dogs prepare to venture into the Arctic mountain wilderness.
Alaskan husky sled dogs are ready to venture into the arctic mountain wilderness.

© iStock.com/Henrik Norway

Alaskan Malamute vs. Siberian Husky: Purebred Status

There is one key difference in breeding between Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies. Siberian huskies have long been considered purebred dogs by the AKC, while Alaskan huskies are not granted purebred status. They are bred with other dogs to improve their working abilities, which means they are not purebreds.

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Many dog breeders don't consider the Alaskan Husky a dog at all, while the Siberian Husky has been around for a while. The Alaskan Husky was originally bred as a working dog, and as such was created out of necessity to pull sleds in the snow. There is no set formula for breeding an Alaskan Malamute. This dog is usually bred from a variety of Spitz type dogs.

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky comes in a variety of colors, including tan, black, white, red, and bi-color; the Alaskan Husky is usually only solid black or solid white.

© iStock.com/Nicholas Chase

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: Eye Color

Another difference between Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies is their eye color. While both husky breeds are prone to heterochromia, Siberian huskies are known to have more colored eyes, while Alaskan huskies typically only have brown eyes.

While this isn't absolute, and could be a nuance you might not notice, it's something to keep in mind when comparing the two breeds. Given Siberian Huskies' purebred status, more colors and breeds were introduced in their coats and eyes. Alaskan Huskies are simple in appearance because they were bred solely for work.

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky
Siberian huskies have been bred for different purposes over the decades, while Alaskan huskies were originally bred as working dogs.

©ANURAK PONGPATIMET/Shutterstock.com

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky : Breeding

Siberian huskies have been bred for different purposes over the decades, while Alaskan huskies were originally bred as working dogs.

Siberian huskies have become more domesticated over time, and they have major differences in appearance and stamina when compared to Alaskan huskies. While Siberian Huskies were originally bred for work, they were later associated with family life and family life, while Alaskan Huskies are still primarily used for work today.

That's not to say that Siberian Huskys still can't pull sleds in the snow—they still seem to enjoy doing it. However, the Alaskan Husky was bred with the sole purpose in mind, and their crossbreeding produced a dog that was stronger and more capable than the Siberian Husky we know today.

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Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky : Behavior

These two huskies do share some similar behaviors. They are independent and intelligent, but the Siberian husky is friendly and thrives in the company of humans, while the Alaskan husky is more independent and considered adventurers. Malamutes don't like routine and are mischievous, and won't come close if the leash is off. Both Huskies need firm guidance during training.

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Alaskan Malamute vs. Siberian Husky - Alaskan Malamute

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about the author

august croft


I am a non-binary freelance writer working full time in Oregon. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theater and a major in Creative Writing, I have an interest in a variety of topics, especially the history of the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping on the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my family's kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast-iron skillet.

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