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Samoyed vs Malamute What’s the Difference

These two strong dogs were bred for hunting and sleigh hauling. The Samoyed and Malamute have been loyal subjects to their masters for thousands of years and till this day.  

In this article, we discussed the characteristics of each dog. So, if you want to adopt an affectionate but strong dog, you should read on.  

Samoyed vs Malamute

Samoyed Breed

The lovely Samoyed was originally bred for herding reindeer and hauling sleigh. This cute smiling dog is the perfect family dog.

It is very affectionate towards its owners and even knows how to take care of kids. Do not be deceived by this dog’s small stature, it is a perfect working dog.  

Samoyed History

The tale of the lovely Samoyed dates back to the Samoyedic people, from where it got its name. They migrated to Siberia about 100 years ago and brought with them the Samoyed. This dog was bred for the purpose of hunting and herding.  

Being good masters, the Samoyedic people treated their dogs well, sharing food and fun family time with them. This created a closeness between this dog breed and men, which can still be seen today in this dog breed.  

According to the record, the Samoyed people migrated to the artic about a thousand years, predating the Christian era. They brought their dogs with them, and despite the harsh weather condition, the Samoyed was able to serve its master. 

They were tent-dwellers who hunted reindeers, but after a while, they stopped hunting reindeers and started herding them instead. The Samoyed helped with this task by helping to guard the herd against predators. They were also used for pulling sleds. 

The Samoyed was introduced to England in the late 18th Century by Arctic explorers. Queen Alexandra took quite an interest in this dog breed and helped promote it.  

The breed was popular for its sled-pulling prowess when it was introduced to the United States in 1906. They have since then been part of different sled teams going on an expedition to Antarctica and the South Pole.  

Samoyed Physical Characteristics

The Samoyed has a strong and elegant body. It has almond-shaped eyes that come in primarily black or brown color. Other eye colors like blue can occur but are not very common. It has a muscular physique, with a broad back and ample chest.  

Its face has an obvious triangular shape with small, erect ears all covered with fur. The Samoyed always seems to carry a smile because of their long and wide mouth slightly curved at the end; it is commonly called “Sammie smile” 

The coat is very thick and double-layered. Its topcoat has long and straight hair. The top layer is quite resistant to dirt and does not require regular bathing; it also keeps the undercoat clean.

Its undercoat is dense and soft, meant to keep it warm. You can expect the undercoat to shed heavily at least once a year. 

Its male has sizes ranging from 53 – 60 cm while the female ranges from 48 – 53 cm. 

The male weighs about 20 – 29 kg while the female has a weight ranging from 16 – 23 kg. This makes them medium-sized dogs.  

It has a peculiar tail that is long and bushy, curling on its back. The tail can serve the purpose of providing more warmth during cold weather, and you can see the Samoyed putting its tail over its nose. When relaxed, it allows the tail to fall but returns to the curled position when at alert.  

The coat is usually snow-white, although some hint of silver coloring can be noticed. Hairs around the tip of its ears can also come in light or dark brown color, commonly referred to as biscuits. Its fur can be used as a replacement for wool, and it also can be used to make artificial flies.  

Samoyed Character

Samoyed Character
Samoyed Character

Its affectionate nature characterizes it. They are great companions, love to play, and do really well around children. Its lovely nature makes it not a very good guard dog although it is known to bark when confronted with unfamiliar situations or people.  

The Samoyed is very loyal to its master and can be very protective of his family. As a working dog full of energy to expend, the Samoyed can be very playful and requires regular exercise.

Although it has an independent nature, it does not like being left alone for an extended period and can become destructive when this happens.  

It still has its hunting instinct intact, so it tends to chase smaller animals like squirrels and rabbits. Leaving him with other smaller house pets like a cat can be tricky as it can get hostile. 

Samoyed can learn really fast, although it can pose a challenge while training and needs to be handled with patience and kindness. It is actively involved in several sports, which include sledding, carnival, agility, and even karting.  

Samoyed Health

The Samoyed has relatively good health and good tolerance for cold. However, it can be prone to health problems such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, and hypothyroidism.  

It is advisable you have health clearance for this dog from a breeder before making a purchase. This is to make sure tests have been carried out on it and these conditions are clear. This dog can live up to 12 – 14 years. 

Alaskan Malamute

This spit-type dog is powerful and was originally bred to haul sleds. It is regarded as one of the breeds that retains its original appearance to date: a very loyal companion and a family dog.  

Alaskan Malamute History

This dog breed has its history dating back thousands of years and can be traced to the nomadic Inuit tribe Mahlemut where the name Malamute was derived.

These people lived in northern Alaska and bred the Malamutes to help with hunting, scare off polar bears and pull heavy sleds.  

The Mahlemut were very fond of their dogs, feeding them and taking good care of them. Despite harsh environmental conditions, the Alaskan Malamute was a very useful dog, providing warmth and companionship for its masters.  

During the gold rush, the Alaskan Malamute became very popular for their strength and was used to haul heavy sleds of gold. Due to high demand, people started cross-breeding the Malamute with other imported breeds.

This almost led to the extinction of the original breed of Alaskan Malamute, but the Mahlemut lived an isolated life and was able to preserve the original breed.  

The dog breed faced another threat of extinction during the Second World war when the army was interested in the Alaskan Malamute, using them in expeditions far up the south pole.  

In 2010 Alaska named the Alaskan Malamute its official state dog.  

Alaskan Malamute Physical Characteristics

Alaskan Malamute Physical Characteristics
Alaskan Malamute Physical Characteristics

The Alaskan Malamute is a strong muscular dog, powerfully built to be able to pull heavy loads. It has a compact body covered with thick double-layered fur and a very thick tail, too curved on its back.

Having survived in the south pole with its masters, the Malamute’s fur is very thin and can withstand very cold temperatures, although it needs regular grooming.  

Its head is wide, fitting well to its broad body. The ears are quite small compared to its head, but the neck is rather muscular. It has almond-shaped eyes that are generally brown in color, although some Malamute might have blue eyes.  

The coat comes in different colors but mainly combines two colors. Standard colors are black and white, red and white, gray and white, or sable and white. Sometimes it comes in the solid color of white, and color markings can be noticed, especially on the face and neck.  

When in extreme temperatures, the Alaskan Malamute uses its take to provide an extra bit of warmth by placing it over its nose and face.  

The male Alaskan Malamute can have a size up to 64 cm tall, while the female has sized up to 58 cm. 

The male weighs about 39 kg while the female weighs about 34 kg. 

Alaskan Malamute Character

It is a very friendly dog and loves companionship. However, it is advisable first-time dog owners should not opt for this dog as it can be quite a handful. The Malamute used this dog for hunting and still has a lot of that prey drive.  

It is very energetic, so it requires a lot of exercise. You can have to walk this dog regularly, or it can get very destructive when it doesn’t get enough playtime. It is an excellent digger and a great climber; this means it might escape from its enclosure a couple of times.  

These dogs still serve their historical purpose to this day as people still use them to haul freight. Although today, they are used for sports like mush. 

It is essential you start training this dog when it is still very young. Make sure you pay attention to it when it’s around small children. It may also not do well with smaller animals, including cats, squirrels even dogs.  

Barking is not typical in the Malamute, although sometimes it can howl.  

Alaskan Malamute health

This dog breed can be prone to health conditions such as elbow dysplasia, thrombopenia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, chondrodysplasia, day blindness, and von Willebrand’s disease.

It can also inherit polyneuropathy. Regularly groom it and check its ear to remove dirt and foreign matter. Make sure to brush your teeth regularly. It can live up to 10 – 14 years  

Samoyed vs Malamute Comparison Table

 Samoyed  Malamute  
Other names Sammy, Smiley, Samoiedskaïa Sabaka Mal, Mally 
Origin Russia United States  
Dog type  Sled dog  Sled dog  
Size male has sizes ranging from 53 – 60 cm while the female has sizes ranging from 48 – 53 cm. male Alaskan Malamute can have sizes up to 64 cm tall, while the female has sizes up to 58 cm  
Weight male weighs about 20 – 29 kg while the female has a weight ranging from 16 – 23 kg. This makes them medium-sized dogs. male weighs about 39 kg while the female weighs about 34 kg. 
Coat Abundant, thick, and supple with a soft undercoat.  Dense, weather resistant  
Life expectancy 12 to 14 years  10 to 14 years 


You can count on the cute smile of the Samoyed anytime, it is a great family dog and you do not have to be anxious about leaving them with little children. Make sure you groom this dog regularly. Either for sport or a pet, the Samoyed always shines.  

If you want a wolf as a pet, then an Alaskan Malamute is the closest thing you can get, with its striking resemblance to the wolf. 

Although it does not have the temperament of a wolf, it is a very lovely animal and can make a great pet. Ensure you give this dog attention and adequate fun time.