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Breed Comparison: Akita vs Malamute (2024 Updated)

Last updated on February 22nd, 2024 at 10:05 pm

Have you ever fallen in love with a fluffy, furry doggo? If you have, then you’ve probably come across Akitas and Malamutes, two of the most enchanting dog breeds known for their loyalty, power, and undeniable cuteness. Both belong to the Spitz family, and they have some similarities, but they are also unique in their ways that make them exceptional companions.

In this blog post, we will comprehensively compare these two breeds to help you choose the perfect furry friend for your lifestyle. 

Akita vs Malamute: History and origin


  • Hailing from the mountainous regions of northern Japan: The Akita, also known as the Akita Inu, boasts a rich history dating back centuries. Originally bred by the Matagi, skilled hunters, these dogs were prized for their prowess in tackling formidable prey like wild boar, deer, and even bears.
  • From hunting companions to symbols of loyalty: During the Edo period, the Akita’s role evolved beyond hunting. The breed became a symbol of nobility and loyalty, often accompanying samurai and guarding their homes.
  • Near extinction and a remarkable comeback: Sadly, World War II nearly led to the Akita’s disappearance. However, dedicated breeders tirelessly worked to preserve the breed, resulting in the two distinct Akita types we see today: the Japanese Akita and the American Akita.


  • Arctic ancestry and a deep bond with the Inuit: The Alaskan Malamute boasts an even more ancient lineage, believed to have arrived in North America alongside the Paleo-Eskimo people thousands of years ago. These powerful dogs were integral to the survival of the Inuit, serving as invaluable companions for hunting, hauling heavy loads, and providing warmth in the harsh Arctic climate.
  • From essential tools to beloved companions: The Malamute’s role transcended mere utility. They formed deep bonds with their human families, offering companionship and protection in the unforgiving environment.
  • A celebrated Alaskan icon: Today, the Malamute remains deeply embedded in Alaskan culture, even being declared the official state dog in 2010. Their strength, loyalty, and enduring spirit continue to inspire admiration worldwide.

Akita vs Malamute: Size and appearance

akita vs malamute

Both Akitas and Malamutes have a fluffy double coat and a majestic look, but they differ in their appearance. Akitas have a head that looks like a fox. On the other hand, Malamutes have a more wolf-like appearance, with broader heads, wider-set eyes, and a plumed tail that curls over their back.


Akita: Slightly taller and heavier, with males reaching up to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 110 pounds, while females stand around 25 inches and weigh 70-100 pounds.

Malamute: Generally stockier and slightly smaller, with males reaching up to 26 inches and weighing around 95 pounds, while females stand around 23 inches and weigh 75-85 pounds.

Coat type:

Both breeds: Possess a thick double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a harsher outer coat. This provides excellent insulation in cold weather.

Akita: The outer coat can be straight or double-coated, offering a plush and luxurious feel.

Malamute: The outer coat is typically longer and coarser than the Akita’s, with a more “wooly” appearance.


Akita: Known for their diverse coat colors, including red, brindle, and white.

Malamute: Primarily sport a combination of grey, sable, seal, and red, with white markings typically present on the face, legs, and chest.

Akita vs Malamute: Temperament and personality


  • Loyal and devoted: Akitas form strong attachments to their families, often becoming one-person dogs. They are known for their quiet dignity and independent nature.
  • Protective and watchful: Their inherent protectiveness makes them excellent watchdogs, but early socialization is crucial to prevent over-guarding tendencies.
  • Strong-willed and independent: Akitas can be stubborn and require experienced owners who can provide firm yet gentle training. They may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners.
  • Generally calm and composed: While playful as puppies, Akitas tend to become more reserved and dignified as adults.


  • Friendly and outgoing: Malamutes are known for their “social butterfly” personalities, enjoying the company of both humans and other dogs.
  • Energetic and playful: These playful pups retain their puppyish enthusiasm well into adulthood, requiring plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Strong work ethic and independent streak: Their historical role as working dogs instills a strong work ethic and independent thinking, which can require patient and consistent training.
  • Prone to vocalization: Malamutes are known for their expressive vocalizations, including “woo woos” and playful howls.

It’s important to remember that individual dogs within each breed can exhibit variations in temperament. Early socialization, training, and proper exercise are crucial for shaping well-adjusted and happy companions in both Akitas and Malamutes.

Akita vs Malamute: Energy level and exercise needs

akita vs malamute

Both Akitas and Malamutes have impressive athletic abilities, but their energy levels and exercise requirements differ to some degree. Understanding these needs is crucial for ensuring their physical and mental well-being.


  • Moderate to high energy level: While not as demanding as the Malamute, Akitas still require daily exercise to burn off their energy and prevent boredom-induced destructive behavior.
  • Exercise requirements: Aim for at least one hour of combined physical and mental activity daily. This could include walks, runs, playtime, and interactive training sessions.
  • Content with indoor living: Akitas can adapt to apartment living as long as their exercise needs are met.


  • High energy level: Bred for pulling heavy sleds, Malamutes own boundless energy and require significant daily exercise to stay happy and healthy.
  • Exercise requirements: Minimum of two hours of vigorous exercise daily, including walks, runs, hikes, or engaging activities like dog sports.
  • Better suited for active lifestyles: Due to their high energy levels, Malamutes are most suited for owners who lead active lifestyles and can provide ample opportunities for exercise.

Akita vs Malamute: Trainability and intelligence


  • Independent thinkers: Akitas have independent personalities and can be stubborn at times. They require patience, positive reinforcement training methods, and consistent leadership.
  • Strong-willed and intelligent: They are quick learners but may challenge commands if they deem them unnecessary. Early socialization and training are crucial to establish clear boundaries and prevent dominant behavior.
  • Respond best to positive reinforcement: Reward-based training techniques are most effective in motivating Akitas and fostering a strong bond with their owners.


  • Eager to please: Malamutes are known for their eagerness to please their humans and generally respond well to positive reinforcement training.
  • Independent streak and strong work ethic: Their independent nature and working dog background can lead to them questioning commands or attempting to “outwork” their owners. Consistent training and clear communication are essential.
  • Prone to vocalization: Their expressive nature can manifest in vocalizations during training sessions. Patience and redirection are key to managing this behavior.

Many readers have loved learning how to train their dogs based on scientific methods from a free workshop conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz (one of the top service dog trainers in the U.S.) and Eric Presnall (host of the hit Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out”) at the K9 Training Institute. In the free online dog training workshop, you’ll discover:

    1. How to train your dog using body language rather than verbal cues
    2. The 3 key techniques that service dog trainers use to train dogs and how you can use them too
    3. The most important step that “normal” dog owners have been missing (this is very important to get your dog’s attention, and it works 100% of the time)
    4. How to stop bad behaviors like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, jumping, etc.
    5. Why a lot of dog owners are unable to establish the amazing bond that service dog trainers have with their dogs


Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, this pre-recorded workshop will help you train them successfully. You may not want to miss the chance to learn these groundbreaking techniques. Here’s the free workshop.

Akita vs Malamute: Grooming needs

akita vs malamute

While both Akitas and Malamutes boast impressive double coats, their grooming requirements differ slightly depending on their coat characteristics and shedding patterns.


  • Moderate grooming needs: Akitas shed heavily twice a year (spring and fall) and require regular brushing during these periods to remove loose fur and prevent matting.
  • Brushing frequency: Brush at least once a week and daily during shedding seasons.
  • Bathing: Akitas don’t require frequent baths as their coat naturally repels dirt and oils. Bathe them only every 3-4 months or when they get excessively dirty.
  • Additional needs: Regularly check their ears for wax buildup and clean them gently with a damp cloth. Trim their nails as needed to prevent discomfort and potential injuries.


  • Moderate to high grooming needs: Malamutes also shed heavily twice a year and require consistent brushing to maintain their thick coat.
  • Brushing frequency: Brush at least twice a week and daily during shedding seasons.
  • Bathing: Similar to Akitas, frequent bathing is not necessary. Bathe them every 3-4 months or when they get dirty.
  • Additional needs: Regularly check their ears and eyes for signs of infection or irritation. Trim their nails as needed to prevent discomfort and potential injuries.

Akita vs Malamute: Lifespan and health

While both Akitas and Malamutes are generally healthy breeds, understanding their average lifespan and potential health concerns is crucial for responsible pet ownership.


Akita: Average lifespan of 10-13 years.

Malamute: Average lifespan of 10-13 years.

Common health concerns:

akita vs malamute


  • Hip dysplasia: A common condition in large breeds, affecting the hip joint development.
  • Hypothyroidism: A hormonal imbalance that can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.
  • Bloat: A life-threatening condition that can cause stomach torsion.
  • Sebaceous adenitis: A skin disorder affecting the oil glands.


  • Hip dysplasia: Similar to Akitas, Malamutes are also prone to this condition.
  • Chondrodysplasia: A developmental abnormality affecting the cartilage growth in the legs.
  • Polyneuropathy: A nerve disorder that can cause weakness and incoordination.
  • Eye problems: Conditions like cataracts and glaucoma can occur in Malamutes.

It’s super important to take your Akita or Malamute to the vet for regular checkups, feed them a balanced diet, and get enough exercise. Also, when looking for a breeder, ensure they’re responsible and screen for genetic conditions. 

Akita vs Malamute: Suitability for different lifestyles

Choosing the right dog breed goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about finding a furry companion who complements your lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of which breed might be better suited for different living situations:


  • Apartment living: Can adapt to apartment living as long as their exercise needs are met through daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation activities.
  • Active individuals: Enjoy moderate exercise and can accompany their owners on hikes, jogs, or engaging games.
  • Experienced dog owners: Akitas require firm yet gentle leadership and consistent training due to their independent nature.
  • Quiet households: Generally calm and quiet indoors, making them suitable for quieter environments.


  • Active families with ample space: Thrive in active households with access to yards or outdoor spaces for extensive exercise and playtime.
  • Highly active individuals: Require at least two hours of vigorous exercise daily, making them ideal companions for runners, hikers, or those involved in dog sports.
  • First-time dog owners with experience: While eager to please, their independent streak and high energy levels require experienced owners who provide consistent training and leadership.
  • Families with children: Generally good with children but require close supervision due to their size and potential for boisterous behavior.


akita vs malamute

Akitas, with their dignified demeanor and moderate exercise requirements, can thrive in apartments with experienced owners who appreciate their independent spirit. Malamutes, on the other hand, blossom in active families with ample space and can be ideal companions for those seeking an energetic and playful canine partner.

Ultimately, the choice between these remarkable breeds comes down to finding the perfect match for your individual circumstances and preferences. Remember, responsible pet ownership involves not only choosing the right breed but also providing them with the love, training, and care they deserve.

Becoming a dog parent is one of the most memorable moments of life. But before bringing your new best friend home, it’s vital to have all the right things to make sure the adoption is really smooth and makes them feel right. You may feel overwhelmed by tons of puppy products on sale and not sure what items your puppy actually needs. That’s why we’ve compiled this minimalist puppy checklist to help you get started.

About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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