Golden Retriever Vs Alaskan Malamute

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Both breeds of dogs are energetic and loyal. However, there are many differences that potential owners should know about.

If you are interested in getting either a golden retriever or an Alaskan malamute, you should learn about the two breeds first. Both breeds are great, but they have disadvantages as well as advantages. It takes some effort to keep either a golden retriever or an Alaskan malamute happy and healthy.

Golden retrievers are more obedient than and significantly smarter than Alaskan malamutes, so you can train them a lot faster. Golden retrievers can handle more heat and malamutes colder temperatures. The two breeds are vulnerable to different health problems.

Both dogs are reasonably long-lived, especially compared to other large dogs. They both need a fair bit of physical activity. Alaskan malamutes cost somewhat more per month than golden retrievers do.

I currently own a golden retriever, and I owned an Alaskan malamute for more than a decade. The first thing to remember about both dogs is that they were bred to be active - the malamute was a sled dog, and the retriever a hunting dog. If you keep your dogs active, you will keep them happy.

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‍Golden Retriever Characteristics

Golden retrievers are very affectionate dogs, making the medium-sized, golden-coated breed quite popular. The dogs are kind and loyal, intelligent and energetic, friendly to kids, and easy to train. One disadvantage is that they shed a lot of hair.

Golden retrievers started out as hunting dogs, but they became family dogs later on. Golden retrievers strongly prefer to have an active life. The golden retriever is one of the most common breeds of dogs in America.

Because of their intelligence, golden retrievers can be guide dogs, search and rescue dogs or other service dogs. They are a great breed, but you will have to spend a bit more time keeping them happy than some people would prefer to.

Golden Retriever Advantages and Disadvantages

Golden retrievers are intelligent, energetic, trainable, loving, social, and loyal. Golden retrievers love to be around kids and feel like they are part of the family. The dogs are also friendly to strangers.

Golden retrievers are also somewhat high-maintenance dogs. You need to brush them daily, and they shed a lot of hair. You also have to be careful what you feed them because the dogs gain weight easily.

While golden retrievers are not very aggressive, they can sometimes accidentally hurt a small child. A golden retriever can accidentally knock a kid over when moving around. However, they are safe around kids when they learn how to play together properly.

Where Did Golden Retrievers Originate?

Golden retrievers originated in Scotland and were created for the sake of having a hunting dog that could retrieve birds and other game, including from rivers. Earlier hunting dogs were not ideal because there was no strong and energetic breed that had a soft mouth. A soft-mouthed dog can retrieve birds without damaging them.

The Baron of Tweedmouth developed the dog by crossing several different breeds. He started by crossing a retriever with a water spaniel. The pups grew up and were crossed with other dogs - bloodhounds, Irish setters, black retrievers, and a St.John's water dog.

He developed the dog during the 19th century, and it became popular. In 1911, the breed was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club.

Golden Retrievers in North America

Americans soon began buying golden retrievers as pets as well as hunting dogs. The dog was officially recognized in the United States in 1925. Some US presidents had golden retrievers, including Ronald Reagan and, before him, Gerald R Ford.

Alaskan Malamute Origins

The Alaskan malamute has ancient Siberian origins. Malamutes came to Alaska from Siberia long ago and were sled dogs and seal hunting dogs. They could also deter polar bear attacks.

Alaskan malamutes are full-blooded sled dogs that are not heavily mixed with other breeds. True sled dogs almost disappeared in the 1800s when they became mixed, but the Mahlemut tribe did not mix their dogs, so the breed survived. The American kennel club officially recognized the breed in the early 20th century.

People quickly realized the usefulness of the breed, and Alaskan Malamutes were used in World War 2 and taken across the world to help explorers in the Antarctic.

The Alaskan Malamute in Europe

Alaskan malamutes were uncommon in Europe before 1960, after which interest in the breed increased. Many malamutes of European lineages were seen in dog shows, especially in Belgium.

Mrs. Chris Jannelli improved the breed by finding bloodlines that did not have certain hereditary illnesses. She created malamutes that do not get chondrodysplasia, a genetic bone disease.

Exercise Needs for Golden Retrievers

Golden retrievers have to stay active to be happy. If you don't have time to give your dog a lot of exercise and training, a golden retriever isn't a good dog for you. Golden retrievers will become bored or frustrated if you do not exercise them often enough.

Golden retrievers are also social dogs, so they need to spend time around other dogs or around people. Even if a golden retriever gets enough exercise, it can still get lonely. Golden retrievers are happier if you have a cat or, better yet, another dog.

Do Alaskan Malamutes Also Need Regular Exercise?

Yes, Alaskan malamutes also need physical and mental stimulation. Otherwise, they can get bored and frustrated. As well as daily walks, an Alaskan malamute may need some higher-intensity activity. An hour or two a day of physical and/or mental stimulation is ideal.

Since Alaskan malamutes were originally bred for Alaskan and Siberian conditions, they should not exercise for too long in hot weather. They can get heatstroke if they are out in the heat for too long. They still need to move around during the summer, but it should not be for too long.

Since heat stroke is dangerous, you should react to signs of it quickly. If your dog is breathing heavily with its tongue out of its mouth, fidgeting, whining, and moving slowly, you should bring it inside. Give your dog some clean, cool water, and it will probably be fine as long as it is brought inside soon enough.

Life Expectancy

Both breeds of dogs are reasonably long-lived. Golden retrievers live for around 12 years and Alaskan Malamutes for 14. If you keep your dog healthy and get it from a responsible breeder, it will live longer.

Litter Size

Alaskan malamutes have somewhat smaller litters (5 to 7 puppies) than golden retrievers (6 to 9 puppies).

Physical Differences

The two dogs are similar in height but significantly different in weight. Alaskan malamutes are only a bit taller than golden retrievers (23-25 inches, compared to 21-24 inches) but are much heavier (70 to 100 pounds for malamutes, 55 or 80 pounds for golden retrievers).

The ears of the two dogs are also significantly different. The Alaskan malamute has erect rather than folded ears. The golden retriever also has a much straighter tail.


Golden retrievers are clearly more intelligent than Alaskan malamutes. A golden retriever is one of the smartest dog breeds, perhaps the fourth smartest.

If you judge a dog's intelligence by how quickly it can learn to obey new commands, a golden retriever might be five times more intelligent than other dogs. It can take only five repetitions to teach a golden retriever a new command, compared to somewhere around 25 for most dogs.

Many people consider their Alaskan malamutes to be intelligent, but studies do not show that they learn faster than average. In fact, they might learn slower than average. It takes a lot of repetitions to teach an Alaskan malamute a new command.

Both Dogs Are High Maintenance

Both dogs need regular exercise, and both dogs need to be groomed often. Golden retrievers need to be bathed relatively often and brushed often. They are double-coated dogs and need to be kept clean.

Alaskan malamutes don't need to be bathed as frequently. They are double-coated but still don't need regular bathing to keep their skin healthy. Both dogs shed a lot of hair, the Alaskan malamute shedding even more than the golden retriever.

Common Health Problems

Some dog breeders are better than others. If you get a golden retriever, Alaskan malamute, or any other breed of dog from a good breeder, it is less likely to have health problems. However, your dog might still inherit or develop a health problem.

Some problems common for golden retrievers include:

  • Cancers
  • Hip Dysplasia, or a deformed hip socket that can lead to pain
  • Elbow Dysplasia, or deformed elbow sockets leading to similar problems as hip dysplasia

Some problems common for Alaskan malamutes include:

  • Diabetes
  • Dwarfism
  • Cataracts and other eye problems
  • Hip problems


Golden retrievers vary more in price than Alaskan malamutes do. A golden retriever costs anywhere from $1000 all the way up to $2000, compared to $1200 or $1500 for a malamute.

Alaskan malamutes cost more to take care of than golden retrievers - about $300 rather than $200 per month. Both breeds are great as long as you can afford them and take care of them properly.