Are Alaskan Malamutes Bigger Than Wolves? Comparing Sizes and Characteristics

When it comes to the question of whether Alaskan Malamutes are bigger than wolves, the comparison is both fascinating and intriguing. Alaskan Malamutes and wolves are both majestic creatures, known for their strength, intelligence, and majestic presence. But how do they actually compare in terms of size, characteristics, and other factors? In this blog post, we will delve into the physical characteristics, behavior and temperament, feeding and nutrition, lifespan and health, training and exercise, living environments, and more to provide a comprehensive analysis of Alaskan Malamutes and wolves.

Physical Characteristics

Comparison of Size and Weight

When it comes to size, wolves generally outweigh Alaskan Malamutes. While Alaskan Malamutes are considered large dogs, with males typically weighing between 75-100 pounds (34-45 kilograms) and standing around 24-26 inches (61-66 centimeters) tall at the shoulder, wolves can reach much larger sizes. Adult male wolves can weigh between 80-120 pounds (36-54 kilograms) and stand around 26-34 inches (66-86 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. However, it’s important to note that there can be individual variations within both species.

Fur and Coat Differences

Both Alaskan Malamutes and wolves have dense, double coats that help them thrive in cold climates. Alaskan Malamutes have a thick, coarse outer coat and a dense, wooly undercoat, which provides insulation and protection against harsh weather conditions. Wolves, on the other hand, have a variety of coat colors and patterns, ranging from gray to black, white, and even reddish-brown. Their fur is typically longer and more luxurious, with a dense undercoat that keeps them warm in colder environments.

Behavior and Temperament

Pack Mentality and Social Structure

Both Alaskan Malamutes and wolves are pack animals, but their social structures differ. Alaskan Malamutes are highly social dogs that thrive in the company of their human family members. They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them great family pets. Wolves, on the other hand, have a complex social structure within their packs, with a strict hierarchy and roles assigned to each member. They rely on their pack for hunting, protection, and survival.

Temperament Differences

Alaskan Malamutes are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They are generally good-natured, gentle, and affectionate towards their families. They make excellent companions and are often described as loyal and playful. Wolves, on the other hand, have a more reserved and cautious temperament. They are wild animals that are naturally wary of humans and tend to be more independent in their behavior. It’s important to note that wolves are not suitable as pets and are best observed from a distance in their natural habitats.

Feeding and Nutrition

Dietary Needs of Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes have specific dietary needs to maintain their health and well-being. They require a balanced diet that includes high-quality protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. Commercial dog food formulated for large breeds is often recommended, but it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best feeding plan for your individual dog.

Dietary Needs of Wolves

Wolves have a carnivorous diet, primarily consisting of meat. They are skilled hunters and rely on their ability to bring down prey for sustenance. Their diet includes a variety of animals, such as deer, elk, bison, and smaller mammals. Wolves consume the entire animal, including organs and bones, which provide essential nutrients and help maintain their overall health.

Lifespan and Health

Typical Lifespan of Alaskan Malamutes

On average, Alaskan Malamutes have a lifespan of 10-14 years. However, with proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups, they can live even longer.

Typical Lifespan of Wolves

In the wild, the average lifespan of wolves is around 6-8 years. However, wolves in captivity, such as those found in well-managed sanctuaries, can live up to 12-15 years.

Common Health Issues for Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to certain health issues. These may include hip dysplasia, which is a common condition in large dog breeds, as well as eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine veterinary care can help minimize the risk of these conditions.

Common Health Issues for Wolves

In the wild, wolves face numerous challenges that can impact their health and survival. They can suffer from injuries sustained during hunting or territorial disputes with other wolves. Additionally, they may encounter diseases and parasites that can affect their overall well-being. It’s important to remember that wolves are wild animals and should be respected and observed from a safe distance to avoid any potential harm to both humans and the wolves themselves.

Training and Exercise

Training Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent dogs but can be independent and stubborn at times. They require consistent and patient training methods that focus on positive reinforcement. Early socialization and obedience training are essential to ensure they grow up to be well-behaved and obedient companions.

Training Wolves

Training wolves is not recommended or feasible as they are wild animals with instincts that are not easily controlled or modified. They are not domesticated like dogs and have natural behaviors that are best suited to their life in the wild.

Exercise Requirements for Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes are an active breed that requires plenty of exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They enjoy activities such as hiking, running, and participating in dog sports like agility and obedience. Regular exercise helps prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Exercise Requirements for Wolves

Wolves are highly active animals that engage in extensive physical activity through hunting, patrolling their territories, and caring for their young. They cover large distances as they roam their vast habitats in search of food and suitable den sites.

Living Environments

Ideal Living Conditions for Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes are well-suited to colder climates due to their thick coats. They can adapt to living in various environments, including suburban homes with large yards or rural areas with plenty of open space for them to explore and roam.

Ideal Living Conditions for Wolves

Wolves are wild animals that thrive in natural habitats such as forests, tundras, and grasslands. They require vast territories to roam, hunt, and establish their packs. It is crucial to respect their need for space and refrain from attempting to keep wolves as pets or in inappropriate captive settings.

Comparing Alaskan Malamutes and Wolves

Similarities in Appearance

Alaskan Malamutes and wolves share some visual similarities, especially in their facial structure and body proportions. Both have strong, muscular bodies, pointed ears, and bushy tails, which aid in their agility and survival in their respective environments.

Differences in Genetic Makeup

While both Alaskan Malamutes and wolves belong to the Canidae family, they are distinct species. Alaskan Malamutes are domesticated dogs, selectively bred by humans for specific traits and characteristics. Wolves, on the other hand, are wild animals that have evolved naturally in the wild and have distinct genetic adaptations to their environments.

Relationship between Alaskan Malamutes and Wolves

Alaskan Malamutes and wolves share a common ancestry, as both trace their origins back to ancient wolf-like canids. However, it’s important to note that Alaskan Malamutes have been selectively bred for specific traits over generations, resulting in their current appearance and temperament as domesticated dogs.


In conclusion, while Alaskan Malamutes are large and impressive dogs, wolves are generally larger and have distinct characteristics that have allowed them to thrive in the wild. While Alaskan Malamutes make wonderful family pets, wolves are best appreciated from a distance in their natural habitats. Understanding the differences and similarities between these magnificent creatures helps us appreciate the wonders of nature and the diversity within the animal kingdom.

ThePetFaq Team