If you can’t tell a Husky from a Malamute, you’re not alone. To the untrained eye, all Arctic dog breeds can look the same. It’s perfectly understandable to mistake one breed from another because their physical features are so similar. But the confusion doesn’t end there. If you add other cold-weather dog breeds in the mix, chances are you’d have a hard time telling them apart.
The best way to distinguish a Siberian husky from an Alaskan malamute and other Husky-like dog breeds is to learn their history, distinctive physical features, and typical behaviour. You’d be surprised at how different they are from each other despite having similar looks.
The Siberian husky has earned massive admirers from people all over the world due to its wolf-like appearance. They were originally bred as working sled dogs by the Chukchi tribe in northeastern Siberia. The tribe depended on the dogs for survival. They were used as a medium of transport by the natives as well as loading supplies.
Despite sporting fierce wolf-like features, this is a canine with an adaptable temperament that can get along well with people and other animals. Here are some of its distinct behaviours:
- Instead of barking, they are known to howl.
- At times they are called stubborn as they have a mind of their own.
- This is an intelligent breed that needs constant mental stimulation and exercise. For this reason, it is not the best choice for first-time dog owners.
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Its dense coat may come in different pattern colour combinations. The most common are white, albino, and grey. Its piercing eyes usually come in blue colour, some may have a combination of shades:
- Both eyes are blue
- Both brown
- Blue and Brown
- Brown with blue flecks
- Blue with brown flecks
- Red (appears in rare types of huskies)
The Alaskan malamute
The Alaskan malamute is amongst the oldest of the Arctic sled dogs. They’re most commonly mistaken for Siberian huskies even though they’re considerably larger and taller. They are named after the Mahlemiut which is an Inuit tribe of Alaska that finds the breed helpful in their hunting expeditions as a sled dog. In contrast, Malamutes are freighters whilst huskies are racers.
The Inuit bred the dog to be able to work in packs to help with transporting heavy loads quickly in long distances. This is why they have heavy bone, powerful shoulders, and well-muscled body. Their thick and weatherproof coat keep them protected from snowy climates.
The Alaskan husky
Unlike the Malamute, the Alaskan husky is not recognised as an official breed by major kennel clubs and organisations, hence, there is no registered breeding standard. Its breeding is purely focused on its ability to race rather than its looks and bloodline. They are leaner and shorter with a more compact body.
Having been bred as a working dog, it is usually used as a sled dog nowadays. They make wonderful companions for owners who love to hike.
Dogs that look similar to huskies
Apart from the above-mentioned dogs, there are other canines that are commonly mistaken as huskies:
The Northern Inuit dog
This is a canine often compared to the German shepherd and the Siberian husky because of its body build. Technically, rather than a pure breed, it is categorised as a hybrid canine.
The Utonagan dog
The Utonagan dog breed sports an appearance resembling a wolf as well as a husky but is bigger in size. This pooch is a mix of Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute, and German shepherd.
The friendly Samoyed sports a similar appearance to the Huskies but are distinguishable by their thick all-white coat that make them impervious to the icy cold weather. They have a perpetual smile, which serves a practical function: to keep them from drooling, hence, preventing icicles from forming.
Getting it right
Considering getting an arctic dog? Whether you have a preference for a Husky, a Malamute, or other hybrid winter dog breed, you can be assured that they will be great at running, pulling sleds, and adapting to cold weather.