Husky vs Malamute – The Ultimate Guide
21 October 2021
Husky vs Malamute – The Ultimate Guide
The term sledge dog is used to define any dog that typically originates from snowy climates and was used to help pull sledges. Today, with the invention of snowmobiles and trucks, there isn’t quite such a demand for these dogs but there are still places around the world that rely on them to help them survive.
Here in the UK, there isn’t much call for dogs to pull sledges but some of these dogs still love to run and you’ll see them in Canicross events across the country. Canicross is a sport where your dog runs with you as you either run, bike or trike across the country. Sledge dogs are especially suited to this sport because they’re designed to run for miles without getting tired, burning too much fat or exhausting themselves and it’s a great way to build the bond between dog and owner.
Whilst there are a few breeds that fall into the classification of sledge dogs, here are two of the ones that are more common in the UK
The Siberian Husky
Although there are a few different types of Husky, the Siberian is the only one recognised by the British Kennel Club and it’s the one you’re most likely to see in the UK.
This wolf-like dog can be intimidating at first glance, especially as blue eyes can be common with this breed but they’re actually a very warm and friendly dog. In sledge dog terms, the Husky is the dog you want delivering your food. They’re quick, can run almost indefinitely and they don’t tend to burn fat stores because they can regulate their metabolism.
Siberian Husky’s are also more expensive than the average breed, you can read more information about this on our UK Siberian Husky insurance plans page.
Unsurprisingly, this means they’re not the dog for you if you’re looking for something to keep your sofa company all day. They’re pack dogs, they don’t like being alone and they don’t like being bored. A Husky left on their own all day is likely to either howl the house down or become destructive trying to calm themselves down. They’re happy to take their exercise in any way that’s convenient for you, running alongside your bike, out for a run or just a good long hike – if they’re out and about, they’re happy.
Speaking of howling, this might not be the yappiest of breeds but it’s certainly one of the more vocal. There won’t be many thoughts that pass through your Husky’s head they won’t want to vocalise. This will be in a grumble, a low woof or a long howl and whether it’s letting you know someone’s at the door, it’s time for their dinner or they just want a chat, this isn’t the dog for you if you crave peace and quiet. If you enjoy a chuckle, Husky chats can be quite amusing, there are plenty of videos online of people almost having a conversation with their Husky as they reply when their owner speaks to them.
Once they are home and they’ve had their exercise, they’re usually happy to relax. They’ll curl up in a ball and use their huge bushy tail to cover their nose and dose off. If it’s playtime, not much will stand in their way including garden fences, children or owners carrying hot cups of tea so make sure you’re prepared.
The Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute (or Mall or Mute as they’re affectionally referred to by their owners) are the strength to the Husky’s speed. Similar in appearance to the Husky, the Mute is a little larger, a little hairier and a little calmer but just as eager for attention and loves being part of a pack.
Whereas the Husky is the delivery driver, built for speed, the Malamute is the haulage driver and built for strength. This powerhouse of a dog would be used to help people indigenous to snowy climes move large items across long distances. Whilst there’s not much call for their sled dog expertise in the UK, they do make excellent therapy dogs due to their friendly nature.
These are not small dogs, and you don’t need to worry about them escaping through any holes in the garden fence, but you might want to keep an eye out for them just going straight through it. If they see a Squirrel or something worthy of their attention, there’s not much that will stand in their way and this includes a light feather board fence.
Although they love being part of a family, they don’t always do so well with other dogs, especially males. They expect all other pack members to recognise their size and therefore superiority and will usually challenge any other male dogs for alpha status. They also have a very high prey drive and whilst it’s not uncommon to train Mutes to live with cats from a young age, anything small and furry encountered out on a walk can be seen as fair game. For this reason, they’re not typically a dog that can be let off lead and any owner walking them needs to have the confidence to overrule them.
They might not be keen on other smaller animals, but they do love people. Anyone looking for a guard dog or added security is going to be disappointed as a typical Malamute is just as likely to ask any intruders to play as they are to defend their territory.
Like their Husky counterparts, they’re not going to bark or yap for the sake of it and although Mutes are a little quieter, they do still enjoy a good chat and will howl to communicate.
What’s the difference between a Husky and a Malamute?
Seen individually, it can be easy to get confused. Although the Malamute is the larger of the two breeds, a large male Husky can easily reach the same size as a small female Malamute.
A Malamute will have longer fur compared to the Husky’s shorter coat. Both have double coats though with a short dense undercoat designed to keep their bodies warm in the snow and a longer outer coat to help keep them dry.
The Malamute almost looks like a melted version of a Husky with their long fur and ears that don’t sit as high on the head.
As the Malamute is built for strength and the Husky for speed, the Mute is stockier and has larger paws. The Husky will have a leaner body with smaller paws. Both dogs however love to jump up at their owners and with paws resembling dinner plates on the Mute, this is usually behaviour you’ll want to discourage especially if you have children.
They both have very impressive tails, but the Malamute’s tail will usually curl back over on itself whereas the Husky’s will stick out more like a large brush.
Do Husky’s and Malamutes Make Good Family Pets?
Yes, so long as you’re willing to put the work in. From a young age, they need training and the understanding they’re going to grow into large, strong dogs.
It’s not uncommon to see sledge dogs in rehoming centres in the UK because they look like cute cuddly toys when they’re puppies and owners don’t always do their research. If you’re opening your home to a rescue sled dog, they can still be trained. Because these dogs (especially Husky’s) form such close bonds with their pack, it can take a rescue dog a while to really feel comfortable with you. If you give them time, let them come out of their shell on their own terms and keep working to prove they’re safe and loved, they’ll soon come to see you as their new pack. Once they’ve accepted you, they’ll become eager to please and easier to train. Although every dog is different and different situations can provoke different reactions, a scared Husky or Malamute is more likely to retreat into themselves rather than lash out so adopting an older sled dog usually just needs time and patience.
Owning a dog can be a fun and rewarding experience
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