Comparing Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

The Border Collie and the Alaskan Malamute are remarkable breeds, each possessing distinct qualities that set them apart. The Border Collie, well known for its intelligence and agility, is an exceptional herding dog. With their keen instincts and boundless energy, Border Collies excel in obedience and working tasks. Their intense focus and quick learning ability make them a favorite choice for competitive dog sports and challenging training exercises.

On the other hand, the Alaskan Malamute, a powerful and robust breed, is deeply rooted in its heritage as a sled dog. Renowned for their strength and endurance, Malamutes are perfectly suited for cold weather climates and excel in lifting heavy loads.

With their friendly and affectionate nature, Malamutes make great companions, although they require consistent training and an active lifestyle to channel their energy appropriately. While both breeds have unique strengths and characteristics, they share a common trait of loyalty and make beautiful additions to loving and active households.

Characteristics Comparison between Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

The Border Collie is a brilliant and energetic breed known for its exceptional herding abilities. Renowned for their keen intelligence, they possess a remarkable ability to understand and respond to commands quickly. With a strong work ethic and a natural herding instinct, Border Collies excel in tasks requiring agility and speed.

While they are highly trainable and excel in dog sports and activities, Border Collies require substantial mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom. As a result, they thrive in active households that can provide ample exercise, training, and challenging tasks. Their loyal and affectionate nature makes them excellent companions and working partners for individuals and families who can meet their high-energy needs.

The Alaskan Malamute is a majestic and powerful breed known for its striking appearance and unwavering loyalty. Alaskan Malamutes are highly social animals, thriving in the company of their human families and often displaying a gentle and affectionate nature. They are known for their playful and energetic personalities, making them excellent companions for active individuals or families.

Despite their friendly demeanor, they possess a strong and independent spirit, which can sometimes manifest as stubbornness, requiring firm yet gentle training techniques. Alaskan Malamutes have a strong prey drive and should be supervised around small animals. With proper socialization and training, they can coexist harmoniously with other pets. While their natural instinct to roam and explore can make off-leash activities challenging, Alaskan Malamutes excel in various dog sports and activities that provide mental and physical stimulation.

History of Breeds

The Border Collie is an intelligent and versatile breed of herding dog originating in the border region between Scotland and England. The breed’s history can be traced back several centuries, and it has a long and rich heritage as a working dog.

Shepherds in the border region highly valued the Border Collie’s herding abilities and intelligence, and the breed quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest working dogs. Border Collies were renowned for their exceptional instincts, keen intelligence, and unwavering dedication to their work.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the breed’s popularity spread beyond the borders of Scotland and England. Border Collies were introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, where they were widely recognized for their exceptional herding skills. The breed became particularly popular in agricultural regions where livestock farming was prevalent.

In 1906, the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) was founded in the United Kingdom to promote and preserve the working abilities of Border Collies. The ISDS established rules and guidelines for sheepdog trials, which are competitive events that test the skills of herding dogs. These trials played a significant role in further refining and standardizing the breed’s working abilities.

Today, Border Collies are highly regarded as working dogs and are commonly used for herding livestock, particularly sheep. They are known for their intense focus, agility, and ability to control the movement of livestock with precision. Their intelligence and trainability have also made them successful in various other roles, including search and rescue, obedience competitions, and agility trials. Additionally, Border Collies have gained popularity as beloved companion dogs due to their loyalty, affectionate nature, and high energy levels.

The Alaskan Malamute was initially bred for its robust strength and stamina, enabling it to haul heavy loads as a sled dog. Originating in the Arctic region, it’s acknowledged as one of the most ancient sled dog breeds globally.

The breed is named after the native Inuit tribe Mahlemiut, which settled in the Norton Sound region of Alaska, where the breed was first identified. These dogs played a vital role in the tribe’s survival, helping with hunting and transportation in the harsh Arctic environment.

When European explorers started to arrive in the Arctic regions, they were impressed by these powerful dogs. They quickly recognized their value and began to use them for exploration. These dogs were integral in exploring both poles, with Malamutes often preferred due to their strength, endurance, and ability to withstand harsh cold conditions.

However, during the Alaskan Gold Rush in the late 19th and early 20th century, many new dog breeds were brought to Alaska, leading to extensive crossbreeding with the Alaskan Malamute. The breed was almost lost during this time. This period marked a challenging time for purebred Malamutes, as miners and explorers wanted dogs with different traits, leading to widespread interbreeding.

In the 1920s, efforts were made to preserve the breed’s purity. A dog breeder from New England named Eva Seeley is generally credited with standardizing the breed. Her kennel, named “Chinook Kennels,” played a significant role in the breed’s history.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Alaskan Malamute in 1935, thanks to the efforts of breeders like Seeley. The Malamute proved its importance during World War II when they were used as search and rescue dogs, freight haulers, and pack animals.

Today, the Alaskan Malamute is a popular choice as a family pet, known for its friendly nature and impressive strength. Despite their size and strength, they are known to be quite gentle and are generally good with children. They’re also still used for recreational mushing and are seen in competitions worldwide for weight pulling, skijoring, and sled racing.

Appearance Comparison

The Border Collie is a medium-sized dog of striking appearance. Its body, exuding strength and agility, is slightly longer than tall. A typical Border Collie showcases a luxurious double coat, which can either be sleek and smooth or rough and feathered.

The breed’s face is chiseled, with expressive, almond-shaped eyes that hold a penetrating and intelligent gaze. These eyes are often a dark brown but can also be blue or even one of each in some individuals. The ears, set well apart, are medium-sized and may either stand erect or be semi-erect.

A strong, well-feathered tail typically curves upwards in an arc of confidence. The Border Collie’s presence, always alert and eager, is enhanced by its powerful, fluid movement, a testimony to its herding ancestry.

The Alaskan Malamute is a noble creature, the epitome of raw power merged with remarkable beauty. They stands tall and sturdy, its body exuding strength and endurance. Its deep-set, almond-shaped eyes, typically of a brown hue, sparkle with intelligence and a hint of playful mischief.

Its ears, standing erect atop its broad head, are triangle-shaped, signaling alertness. A large plume of a tail curls over its back like a waving flag. The Malamute’s dignified appearance mirrors its personality which are resilient, spirited, and devoted. A testament to its origin in Alaska’s harsh, beautiful wilderness.

Breed Size

The size of a Border Collie and an Alaskan Malamute can vary greatly, even among individual dogs within the same breed.

Border Collies are generally considered a medium-sized breed. They typically range in weight from 30 to 45 pounds (approximately 13.5 to 20.5 kilograms) and can be around 18 to 22 inches (45 to 56 cm) tall at the shoulder. Of course, individual dogs can be smaller or larger.

The Alaskan Malamute typically stands 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder, and these majestic dogs can weigh anywhere from 75 to 100 pounds or more. Males tend to be larger and more robust than females.

Coats & Colors

The Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute display an impressive spectrum of coat colors and patterns, though quite distinct from each other. Border Collies are typically bi-colored or tri-colored, often featuring combinations of white with black, blue merle, red, or brindle, among different shades.

Some can also be entirely black or white. Their coats however, can be rough or smooth, and they are usually medium-length, with the fur thicker around the neck and tail areas for an elegant ruff and bushy appearance.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes have a dense and heavy double coat, which is longer and fuller around the neck and shoulders, giving them a mane-like feature. They commonly exhibit a limited range of colors compared to Border Collies.

Their coats are generally shades of light gray through to black, sable, and shades of sable to red. Underneath, the undercoat is dense, woolly, and usually lighter in color, with a contrast that gives them a cap-like appearance over the head. Regardless of their coat color, Malamutes usually have a facial mask, a distinctive and striking breed feature.

Personality & Temperament of Border Collie versus Alaskan Malamute

The Border Collie and Alaskan are highly intelligent and energetic breeds but possess distinct personality traits and temperaments. The Border Collie is known for its intense focus and remarkable herding instincts. They are highly trainable, eager to please, and thrive on mental stimulation and challenging tasks. Border Collies are typically alert, responsive, and quick learners, making them well-suited for obedience training and dog sports.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes are strong-willed and independent, reflecting their roots as sled dogs. They are friendly, loyal, and have a gentle nature. Alaskan Malamutes are typically more laid-back than Border Collies and require ample exercise to prevent boredom. While they can be stubborn at times, they are known for their affectionate and gentle demeanor, making them excellent family companions.

While both breeds are highly active and intelligent, the Border Collie tends to exhibit more drive and focus. At the same time, the Alaskan Malamute leans towards a more relaxed and easygoing temperament.


Border Collies and Alaskan Malamutes can make wonderful additions to a family, but they have distinct characteristics that should be considered.

Border Collies are highly intelligent, energetic, and known for their herding instincts. They thrive in active households with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. They are great at learning tricks and commands, making them ideal for families willing to provide regular exercise, training, and activities.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes are strong, loyal, and affectionate dogs with a friendly nature. They are suitablefor families that enjoy outdoor adventures and can handle their larger size and exercise needs.


Border Collies and Alaskan Malamutes have unique characteristics when it comes to being around kids. Border Collies are known for their intelligence, agility, and high energy levels. They can be great companions for active kids who enjoy outdoor activities.

Border Collies are highly trainable and can excel in various tasks, including obedience training and agility sports. However, their herding instincts may lead them to nip or chase younger children, so supervision is necessary to ensure appropriate interactions.

However, due to their large size and strength, it’s crucial to supervise interactions between Alaskan Malamutes and younger children to prevent accidental knocking over or rough play. Early socialization and training are essential to establish boundaries and ensure the dog understands how to interact appropriately with kids.

Other People

The Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute are two breeds that have distinct temperaments when it comes to strangers. Border Collies are generally known for their intelligence, agility, and high energy levels.

They tend to be reserved and cautious around strangers, often taking their time to assess new people before warming up to them. However, with proper socialization and training, Border Collies can become more comfortable and friendly with strangers.

While Alaskan Malamutes are typically friendly, gentle, and outgoing dogs, they often enjoy meeting new people and are generally welcoming toward strangers. While they may exhibit protective instincts towards their families, they tend to be more relaxed and sociable when interacting with unfamiliar individuals.

Ultimately, both breeds can be good with strangers but may have different initial reactions. Border Collies might require more time to develop trust and feel at ease, whereas Alaskan Malamutes are generally more open and welcoming from the start.

Dogs & Other Animals

Both Border Collies and Alaskan Malamutes can generally get along well with other dogs and animals, although there are some differences in their behavior and temperament. Border Collies are known for their intelligence and herding instincts.

They are typically friendly and sociable, making them good candidates for getting along with other dogs and animals. However, their herding instincts may sometimes manifest in nipping or chasing behaviors, especially towards smaller animals. Proper socialization and training can help mitigate these tendencies.

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, are pack-oriented and have a strong prey drive. They can be friendly and gentle with other dogs and animals they have been raised with.

However, they may still have a higher risk of displaying aggression towards unfamiliar animals, particularly smaller ones. Early socialization and careful introductions are crucial to ensure positive interactions.

Overall, both breeds can coexist well with other dogs and animals. Still, it is important to consider their personalities and socialization history and provide proper training and supervision to ensure harmonious relationships.

Behavior Issues

Border Collies, known for their high energy and intelligence, can display destructive behaviors like chewing and excessive barking without sufficient mental and physical stimulation.

Their strong herding instincts may lead them to herd children or other pets, while their sensitivity can result in anxiety or reactive behaviors if overstimulated.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes, with their independent nature, can be stubborn and challenging to train. Their high prey drive can be problematic around small animals, and a tendency to dig or escape requires ample exercise and mental stimulation.

Their distinctive howling can also be disruptive. For both breeds, early socialization, appropriate training, and adequate exercise are key to managing these behaviors, with professional guidance often beneficial.

Training & Exercise of Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

Border Collies and Alaskan Malamutes have distinct training and exercise requirements based on their breed characteristics and backgrounds.

For Border Collies, known as the smartest dog breed, positive reinforcement techniques like treats and praise are effective in training. Obedience training, agility exercises, and problem-solving tasks are recommended to keep their intelligent minds engaged.

Border Collies are high in energy levels and need 1-2 hours of vigorous exercise daily, preferably activities that simulate herdings, such as fetch or Frisbee. Mental stimulation is crucial to prevent boredom, so interactive toys, puzzle games, and regular training sessions are beneficial.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent but more independent and stubborn. Consistent, firm, and positive training methods work best for them. Early socialization is vital to ensure they develop into well-rounded dogs.

Alaskan Malamutes have high energy levels and require ample exercise. Long walks, hikes, and playtime help fulfill their exercise needs. They might also enjoy weight-pulling or skijoring, activities that utilize their endurance and strength as sled dogs.

Like Border Collies, Alaskan Malamutes also need mental stimulation through puzzle toys, advanced obedience training, and dog sports. It’s important to note that each dog is unique, so specific training and exercise needs may vary.

Taking Care & Maintenance of Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

Both breeds have specific needs that should be met to ensure their well-being. Regular exercise is crucial for both dogs, as they are highly energetic and require ample physical activity to prevent boredom and restlessness. Border Collies also benefit from mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys or obedience training.

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, thrive in colder climates and may struggle in hotter environments, so keeping them cool and providing access to shade is important.

Additionally, a balanced diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and proper socialization and training are essential to ensure a healthy and happy life for these intelligent and active breeds.

Grooming Comparison

Grooming is essential for both breeds, with the Border Collie needing regular brushing to maintain their medium-length coat and prevent matting. At the same time, the Alaskan Malamute requires more frequent brushing, especially during shedding seasons, to control their thick double coat.


The Border Collie is known for its moderate shedding. This breed undergoes shedding all year round but has a more substantial shedding period during the seasonal coat transition. To maintain their coat and manage the shedding, regular brushing is essential, and occasional baths are needed to ensure the coat remains clean and in good health.

On the other hand, the Alaskan Malamute has a thick, dense double coat designed to withstand extreme cold weather. They have a heavy shedding period which occurs twice a year.

During this time, they shed copious amounts of fur to prepare for the change in seasons. Daily brushing is necessary to control their shedding and prevent mats and tangles.

Both breeds require grooming attention, but the Alaskan Malamute generally has a more significant shedding challenge due to its thicker coat and intense seasonal shed.

Health Comparison between a Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

The Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute are both energetic breeds but have different health profiles due to their differing breed characteristics.

Border Collies are prone to genetic disorders like Collie’s eye anomaly, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy. Some may also be prone to obsessive behaviors due to their high energy level and intelligence levels, so mental health should not be overlooked in this breed.

Alaskan Malamutes’ health concerns include hip dysplasia, chondrodysplasia, and eye problems. Malamutes are also prone to obesity due to their lower energy levels than Border Collies and a propensity for overeating, so maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise is crucial for this breed.

Diet & Nutrition

Border Collies are active and energetic working dogs that require a well-balanced diet rich in protein to support their high energy levels. Their diet should comprise high-quality animal proteins for muscle development and repair, fats for sustained energy, and carbohydrates for immediate energy.

Fruits, vegetables, and grains can provide necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s also essential to ensure proper hydration. The exact quantity of food may vary based on the dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

On the other hand, Alaskan Malamutes are large, powerful sled dogs that also require a nutrient-rich diet but with a focus on foods that support their robust structure and heavy coats. High-quality proteins are vital for maintaining muscle mass, and fats are necessary for their energy requirements, particularly in cold climates.

They also need a balanced intake of carbohydrates and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for digestion. Essential fatty acids are important for maintaining their thick coat.

Health Issues

Border Collies are generally healthy but prone to health conditions like hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy. Collie Eye Anomaly is a specific genetic disorder associated with the breed, which can potentially cause vision impairment.

Alaskan Malamutes also face several health issues, including hip dysplasia, a common ailment in larger breeds, and chondrodysplasia, a form of dwarfism. They’re prone to inherited polyneuropathy, which affects the peripheral nervous system and can cause gait abnormalities.

Eye issues, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, are also concerns. Hypothyroidism, resulting in obesity, lethargy, skin, and hair issues, can be seen in both breeds. Regular check-ups and genetic testing can help detect these issues early and optimize the health and well-being of these breeds.

Cost of breeding a Border Collie and Alaskan Malamute

The cost of a Border Collie can range from $600 to $800, depending on factors such as the breeder, pedigree, and location. This price typically includes initial vaccinations, deworming, and a health check-up. It’s worth noting that additional expenses like training, grooming, food, and veterinary care should also be factored in when budgeting for a Border Collie.

Alaskan Malamute generally ranges from $1200 to $1500 which tends to be slightly higher due to its rarity since purebreeds can only be found in Alaska. The price variation depends on lineage, breeder reputation, and geographical location. As with any dog breed, ongoing costs such as food, grooming supplies or professional services (if required), training sessions, or classes should also be considered when calculating the overall expense of owning an Alaskan Malamute.


On average, a Border Collie can produce anywhere from 4 to 8 puppies in a litter. This range is typical for the breed, but there can be exceptions with smaller or larger litters.

As for Alaskan Malamutes, they generally have slightly larger litters compared to Border Collies. On average, an Alaskan Malamute can produce around 6 to 8 puppies in a litter. Again, variations within this range are possible based on individual dogs.

Breeders & Centers

Breeders and breeding centers play a crucial role in the world of dog breeds. They are responsible for ensuring specific breeds’ health, well-being, and preservation.

Breeders’ dedication to maintaining breed standards is one of the key importance of breeders. By carefully selecting and pairing dogs based on various characteristics such as temperament, appearance, and genetic health, they strive to produce puppies embodying their respective breeds’ essence.

Breeders also contribute to improving breed health and reducing genetic disorders. Through extensive knowledge of genetics and careful breeding practices, they aim to minimize the occurrence of inherited diseases within specific breeds.

Moreover, breeders provide support and guidance to puppy buyers. They often establish strong relationships with new dog owners, offering valuable advice on training, nutrition, and general care for their chosen breed. This ensures that puppies find loving homes where they receive proper care throughout their lives.

Breeding centers play a significant role in raising well-socialized puppies. These facilities provide a controlled environment where young dogs can interact with humans and other animals from an early age. This early socialization helps develop positive behaviors and prepares them for life as companion animals.

Conclusion: Which Is Better, Border Collie or Alaskan Malamute?

In conclusion, both breeds have their strengths. If you’re looking for a larger dog, capable of withstanding cold climates, and you’re able to handle its strong-willed nature, an Alaskan Malamute could be the better choice. However, if you want a smaller, highly trainable dog with exceptional agility and you can provide lots of mental and physical stimulation, a Border Collie might be a better fit.

Always remember each dog is an individual, and breed characteristics can vary. Spending time with a dog before deciding to adopt is important to ensure compatibility with your lifestyle and home environment.

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