The biggest difference between a Husky and a Malamute is size. Adult male Malamutes stand 23 to 25-inches at the shoulder and weight between 75 to 85 pounds, while Huskies measure 20 to 23-inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 36 to 60 pounds.
To the untrained eye, Malamutes and Huskies look very similar. Named after the Inuit tribe, Mahlemuts, Malamutes were once bred primarily as Arctic sled dogs and were designed for endurance and not speed. A well-muscled body, deep chest and strong legs make the Mal extremely powerful with the ability to pull heavy and oversized loads. The malamute is intimidating in size, but has a soft and affectionate facial expression and disposition. The size of a female Malamute is about the same size as an adult male Husky.
Malamutes have a broad head with triangular-shaped rounded ears. The head is usually big and bulky, which makes them often resemble a wolf or a bear. Ears are wide set on the head and alert when interested, but typically fold flat on the head when the dog is working. Dark brown eyes are preferred in Malamute puppies with black pigmented eye rims. Those with blue eyes or close-set ears are disqualified from official classification.
The nose and muzzle of the Malamute forms a gentle straight line down the forehead. It is also quite large in comparison to the rest of the head, and it is black or brown in color and a pink stripe down the middle is acceptable.
The coat of the Malamute is thicker and longer than that of a husky. The top coat is coarse and usually stands on end while the undercoat is thicker and almost has an oily texture to it. In warmer weather, the coat is shorter and less dense. Dogs that are kept in warm climates often do not have as thick of a coat like those in colder climates. Malamutes “blow” their undercoat during warmer months, which can give an unkempt appearance. As a result, the dog must be brushed often. These dogs range in color from light gray with black, sable and shades of red. Splotchy and uneven colors are not desired. The underbelly is almost always white. The tail is fluffy, long and carried over the back in a curl, which gives it the appearance of a large plume. It is not recommended to trim the fur of a Malamute with the exception of the hairs around the feet to prevent matting.
The Siberian Husky was used primarily by the nomadic tribes to pull light loads for long distances. They are commonly used as racing dogs in Alaska. The dog has a lean and compact body, thin legs and tends to be quicker than the Malamute. With a thinner body, Huskies are known for sliding through small holes in fences, which makes them well-known for being escape artists.
Unlike Malamutes, Huskies can have brown eyes, one eye brown and one blue, blue, green or multi-colored eyes. The head is small and both the eyes and the ears are set close together, which gives the animal a more fierce appearance. The nose of the Husky has a more pronounced dip from the forehead to the muzzle and it is slightly longer. The nose can be tan, black, gray, liver-colored or even solid white.
The tail of the Husky drops lower on the back than the Malamute, and their coats are medium in length with an undercoat that is soft and dense. The top layer of fur often lies flat and feels silky to the touch. Trimming of the coat is acceptable for a neater appearance. Husky colors vary from black to pure white. A variety of markings and uneven fur colors are also acceptable.
Both the Malamute and the Husky are pure bred dogs that are recognized by the American Kennel Club.