Akita vs Malamute: Comparing Two Majestic Northern Breeds


Are you considering getting a dog and can’t decide between an Akita or a Malamute? Look no further! In this article, we will be comparing these two majestic northern breeds to help you make an informed decision. Both the Akita and the Malamute have their own unique characteristics, temperaments, and needs. By examining their differences and similarities in terms of size, appearance, exercise requirements, and temperament, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of these magnificent breeds. Whether you are looking for a loyal companion or an active working dog, read on to find out which breed would be the perfect fit for you.

Physical Appearance

Size and Build

When comparing the Akita and Malamute, one of the first noticeable differences is their size and build. Akitas are generally larger and more robust, while Malamutes have a slightly smaller but still impressive stature.

Akitas are known for their powerful build and muscular physique. Males typically stand between 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder and can weigh anywhere from 100 to 130 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing at around 24 to 26 inches and weighing between 70 to 100 pounds. Their solid frame, broad chest, and strong legs give them an imposing presence.

On the other hand, Malamutes are also substantial in size but have a more athletic and agile appearance. Males usually reach a height of 24 to 26 inches and weigh between 85 to 100 pounds, while females measure around 22 to 24 inches and weigh between 75 to 85 pounds. Their well-muscled bodies are built for endurance and are slightly longer than they are tall.

Coat and Colors

Both the Akita and Malamute possess thick double coats, which provide them protection against harsh weather conditions. However, there are differences in their coat types and colors.

Akitas have a dense, harsh outer coat that is straight and stands away from their body. This outer coat is usually accompanied by a soft and insulating undercoat. Akitas come in various colors including white, brindle, pinto, and the most common color, which is a mix of white and another color such as red, black, or brown. They often have distinctive facial markings, such as a mask-like pattern, which adds to their unique appearance.

Malamutes, on the other hand, have a thick, coarse outer coat that is weather-resistant and longer than the undercoat. Their undercoat is dense and woolly, providing them with exceptional insulation. Malamutes come in a range of colors including various shades of gray, black, and white. They often have striking facial masks and may have additional markings on their bodies, enhancing their striking appearance.

In conclusion, while both the Akita and Malamute are majestic northern breeds, they differ in terms of size, build, coat type, and coloration. Akitas have a more robust build and come in a variety of colors, while Malamutes have a slightly smaller but more agile frame and commonly possess striking gray and white coats. Whether you prefer the powerful stature of the Akita or the athletic elegance of the Malamute, both breeds are undeniably magnificent in their own right.

Temperament and Personality

Akita Temperament

The Akita breed is known for its strong and independent personality. Akitas are typically reserved and aloof, especially around strangers. However, they are extremely loyal and affectionate towards their family members. Akitas are known to be courageous and protective, making them excellent guard dogs. They are intelligent and have a strong sense of dominance, which requires consistent and firm training from an early age. While they can be loyal and loving, it’s important to note that Akitas can also be stubborn and strong-willed, requiring an experienced and confident owner.

Malamute Temperament

Malamutes, on the other hand, are known for their friendly and outgoing nature. They have a playful and sociable temperament, making them great companions for families and children. Unlike Akitas, Malamutes are generally not reserved or aloof towards strangers and are often described as "gentle giants." They are highly affectionate and thrive on human companionship. Malamutes are known for their pack mentality and get along well with other dogs, making them a good choice for multi-pet households. However, it’s important to note that Malamutes can have a strong prey drive and may not be suitable for households with small pets unless properly trained and socialized.

Overall, both the Akita and Malamute have distinct temperaments that make them unique. While Akitas are more reserved and protective, Malamutes are outgoing and friendly. Understanding these differences is crucial in choosing the right breed that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

Trainability and Exercise Needs

Akita Trainability

Akitas are known for their independent and stubborn nature, which can sometimes make them challenging to train. They have a strong sense of self and may not always be eager to please their owners. However, with consistent and patient training methods, Akitas can be trained successfully.

Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for Akitas to develop good manners and become well-rounded dogs. Starting training at a young age is recommended to establish a strong foundation. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and treats, work best with Akitas as they respond well to praise and motivation.

It’s important to note that Akitas have a strong prey drive and may exhibit dominance tendencies towards other dogs. Therefore, proper socialization with other animals and controlled interactions are essential during their training process. Seeking professional guidance or attending obedience classes can be beneficial for owners who want to ensure their Akitas receive the necessary training.

Malamute Trainability

Malamutes are intelligent and highly trainable dogs. They have a strong desire to please their owners and are generally more cooperative during training sessions compared to Akitas. Their friendly and outgoing nature makes them responsive to positive reinforcement techniques.

Early socialization and obedience training are equally important for Malamutes. Starting training at a young age helps them develop good behavior patterns and prevents any potential behavioral issues. Consistency, patience, and firm yet gentle handling are key when training a Malamute.

Malamutes thrive on mental and physical stimulation, so incorporating interactive training sessions and activities into their routine is highly recommended. They excel in activities such as agility, obedience, and even sledding. Providing them with plenty of exercise and mental challenges will ensure they remain happy and well-behaved companions.

Exercise Needs

Both Akitas and Malamutes are active breeds that require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. However, there are some differences in their exercise needs.

Akitas are known for their moderate exercise requirements. They enjoy daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation. Akitas are not hyperactive dogs and are generally content with a moderate amount of exercise. However, it is essential to note that Akitas can be prone to weight gain if their exercise needs are not met, so regular exercise is crucial to keep them fit and healthy.

On the other hand, Malamutes have high exercise needs. They are energetic dogs that require rigorous exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Daily activities such as long walks, runs, and engaging play sessions are necessary to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Malamutes are well-suited for active individuals or families who can provide them with the exercise they require.

In conclusion, both Akitas and Malamutes require consistent training and exercise to thrive. While Akitas may be more independent and stubborn during training, Malamutes are generally more trainable and eager to please. Understanding their specific needs and tailoring training methods accordingly will ensure a harmonious relationship between these majestic northern breeds and their owners.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

When comparing the Akita and the Malamute, it is essential to consider their common health issues. Both breeds are generally healthy but may be prone to certain conditions.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common health issue in both Akita and Malamute breeds. This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to discomfort and mobility issues. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in these majestic northern breeds.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited eye disorder that affects both Akita and Malamute breeds. PRA causes a gradual deterioration of the retina, leading to vision loss and eventual blindness. Regular eye check-ups and genetic testing can help identify carriers of PRA, allowing responsible breeders to reduce the occurrence of this condition in future generations.


Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder that may affect both Akita and Malamute breeds. It occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in symptoms like weight gain, lethargy, and skin issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, and medication, if necessary, can help manage this condition effectively.


The lifespan of an Akita and a Malamute can vary slightly, but on average, both breeds have a similar lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may live shorter or longer lives depending on various factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall healthcare.

To ensure a long and healthy lifespan for your Akita or Malamute, it is crucial to provide them with a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, routine veterinary care, and a loving environment. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive measures such as flea and tick control are essential in maintaining their overall health and extending their lifespan. Additionally, keeping them mentally stimulated and providing social interactions will contribute to their overall well-being and happiness.

Remember, responsible pet ownership includes being aware of potential health issues and taking proactive steps to prevent and manage them. By prioritizing their health and well-being, you can enjoy many wonderful years with your majestic Akita or Malamute companion.

Living Conditions and Suitability

Living Conditions

When considering the living conditions for Akita and Malamute, it is important to understand that both breeds have specific requirements due to their size, energy levels, and weather tolerance.

Akita dogs are known for their adaptability, and they can thrive in various living conditions. However, they generally prefer larger spaces where they can move around freely. Akitas tend to be more comfortable in houses with fenced yards, as they have a natural instinct to protect their territory. This breed is not well-suited for apartment living due to their size and need for regular exercise.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes have a similar need for space but are more adaptable to colder climates. These dogs were originally bred for sled pulling, and they have a thick double coat that provides insulation in harsh weather conditions. Malamutes can tolerate living outdoors in colder areas, but they still require proper shelter and access to fresh water. In warmer regions, they may need air-conditioned spaces to prevent overheating.

Suitability for Families

Both Akitas and Malamutes can make wonderful family pets, but it is important to consider their individual characteristics and needs before bringing them into a household with children.

Akitas are known for their loyalty and protective nature, which can make them excellent family dogs. However, they have a strong prey drive and may not be suitable for households with small pets or young children. Akitas require early socialization and consistent training to ensure they develop into well-behaved and gentle companions. They are generally better suited for families with older children who understand how to interact with dogs and respect their boundaries.

Malamutes, on the other hand, are typically more sociable and friendly towards people and other animals. They have a playful and gentle nature, making them a good fit for families with children of all ages. However, their large size and exuberant personality may require supervision when interacting with younger children to avoid accidental injuries. Proper training and socialization from an early age are crucial to ensure a well-behaved Malamute that is safe and enjoyable for the whole family.

In conclusion, both the Akita and Malamute have specific living condition requirements and suitability for families. Understanding these factors will help potential owners make an informed decision and provide the best environment for their chosen breed.

Grooming and Maintenance

Grooming Needs

When comparing the Akita and Malamute breeds, it is essential to consider their grooming needs. Both breeds have thick double coats that require regular brushing to keep them looking their best and to prevent matting. However, there are a few differences in their grooming requirements.

The Akita, with its dense and harsh coat, sheds moderately throughout the year. To maintain its coat’s health and shine, regular brushing at least once or twice a week is recommended. This will help remove loose and dead hair, minimizing shedding around the house. Additionally, occasional bathing is necessary to keep the Akita’s coat clean and free from dirt and odors.

On the other hand, the Malamute has a thicker and longer coat that requires more extensive grooming. Due to its double coat and high shedding potential, daily brushing is necessary to prevent matting and to control the shedding. During the shedding season, which occurs twice a year, known as "blowing coat," the Malamute will require even more frequent brushing to remove the loose fur effectively. Bathing should be done sparingly to preserve the natural oils in the Malamute’s coat, as excessive bathing can lead to dry skin.

Both breeds also require regular maintenance of their nails, ears, and teeth. Trimming their nails every few weeks is necessary to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Regular ear cleaning is crucial to prevent infections, especially for breeds like the Akita and Malamute, which have folded ears. Lastly, dental hygiene should not be overlooked, and brushing their teeth a few times a week is recommended to maintain good oral health.

Maintenance Requirements

Apart from grooming, both the Akita and Malamute have specific maintenance requirements that potential owners should consider.

The Akita is a relatively low-maintenance breed when it comes to exercise. Although they are large and powerful dogs, they have a moderate activity level and do not require excessive exercise. A daily walk and some playtime should suffice to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. However, it is important to note that the Akita thrives on human companionship and will require sufficient social interaction and mental stimulation to avoid boredom and destructive behaviors.

In contrast, the Malamute is a highly active breed that requires a significant amount of exercise to maintain its physical and mental well-being. These dogs were bred to work and pull sleds over long distances, so they have high energy levels and a strong desire to be physically challenged. Daily vigorous exercise, such as long walks, jogs, or even engaging in dog sports like agility or obedience training, is necessary to meet their needs. Without adequate exercise, the Malamute may become restless, bored, and may engage in destructive behaviors.

Both breeds also require a balanced diet and regular veterinary check-ups to maintain their overall health. Feeding them high-quality dog food appropriate for their age and size is essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients. Additionally, routine visits to the veterinarian for vaccinations, preventative medications, and health check-ups are crucial to ensure their well-being and catch any potential health issues early.

By understanding and meeting the grooming and maintenance needs of the Akita and Malamute, potential owners can provide them with the care they require to thrive and lead happy, healthy lives.

**Conclusion: Comparing the Akita and the Malamute, two majestic northern breeds, reveals both similarities and differences. Both breeds have a strong and protective nature, making them excellent guard dogs. They also share a thick double coat that enables them to withstand harsh winter climates. However, the Akita tends to be more independent and aloof, while the Malamute is known for its friendly and outgoing personality. Additionally, the Akita is generally larger and heavier than the Malamute. Overall, both breeds possess unique qualities that make them wonderful companions for experienced dog owners who can provide the necessary training, socialization, and exercise they require. Whether it’s the Akita’s regal appearance or the Malamute’s sociable nature, these majestic northern breeds are sure to captivate the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide.