The Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed in Brief:
- Origin: Alaska
- Height: Ideal is 23 inches at the shoulders for females, 25 inches for males, though size range can vary
- Weight: Ideal weights are 75-85 pounds, though weight should be proportionate to the size of the dog and dogs over 100 pounds are not uncommon
- Exercise Needs: High
- Grooming Needs: Moderate to High
- Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
- Good With Kids: Yes
- Trainability: Moderate Difficulty
- Common Misspellings: Malimute, Malemute, Malamout
- Alternate Names:
Alaskan Malamute History
One of the oldest breeds of Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute is named after the native tribe of Innuits, known as the Mahlemuts, who were first discovered using these powerful sled dogs as draft animals to haul sledges across the frozen ice and snow.
Since their discovery, the Alaskan Malamute has been known, above all else, as a sled dog and a working animal. This is for good reason; rather than being bred for delicacy or beauty, the Alaskan Malamute is bred for strength, stamina and power – they are the workhorses of the Arctic.
Related to other Arctic breeds, such as the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed, the Malamute is the only one to have developed in Alaska. How he came to be there is unknown for, like the tribe of native people that the breed is named for, the exact origins of the Malamute remains shrouded in mystery.
It is known, for a fact, that the Alaskan Malamute was present, however, for many years prior to the Asiatic sailors first landing on the Alaskan shores and reporting back of the strong sledding dogs being used in this frozen land.
For a time, with the influx of the white man, the Alaskan Malamute breed was at severe risk of being lost. The newcomers brought their own dogs with them, who then interbred with the native dogs. Also, with the rising interest in the sport of sled dog racing, the desire for faster animals was also created.
Together, these factors led to a period during the early 1900’s, coined the “Age of Decay of the Arctic Sledge Dog.” Fortunately, by the year 1926, American breeders had decided to preserve this unique breed of dog and protect it from further taint.
Alaskan Malamute Appearance
While many breeds of dog are often refined once they become recognized, the Alaskan Malamute breed standard stresses that this animal is to be judged based on his ability to perform the tasks that he was originally bred for.
Bred for strength and endurance rather than speed, the breed is actually faulted for being too lightly built or quick-looking. They are a powerfully-built dog with a broad chest, muscled hindquarters, and strong, thick-boned legs.
The Malamute’s beautiful coat is dense and well-suited to protect him from the harsh Arctic winds and, while it comes in a wide variety of colors, the only solid shade that is recognized is pure white.
Their almost wolf-like appearances endear them in the hearts of many, as well as the proud way that this dog has of carrying himself – they are truly a beauty to behold, even if they are not bred to be just another pretty face.
Alaskan Malamute Temperament
Few who have had the privilege of knowing an Alaskan Malamute have many complaints; they are a proud and noble beast, extremely affectionate and are not prone to being one-person dogs. Malamutes are openly friendly to most and possess a strong desire to work and to please, quick to jump into the harness and throw those powerful shoulders into any task set before them.
Malamutes are, occasionally, known to have problems with ‘hunting’ smaller animals, such as birds and cats. For this reason, it’s best to supervise any interactions with a new dog or, even better, to start with a puppy and raise him with the other animals of the house.
While the Alaskan Malamute is bred as a powerful workhorse of a dog, he is extremely loving and very gentle. Treating him with a kind hand and lavishing lots of praise upon him are sure to win his devotion, and you’re sure to be enchanted by his outgoing, playful nature. The Malamute is a definite heart-stealer – there is no avoiding this; you have but to meet one and you’ll fall in love.
Alaskan Malamute Exercise Needs
It’s important to remember that the Alaskan Malamute was bred as a working dog and, for this reason, isn’t prone to playing the role of couch potato. While they are content to snuggle up in a small apartment (and will happily share even the smallest of beds with his human), the Alaskan Malamute still needs plenty of exercise in order to burn off excess energy. This can be accomplished by letting him run, supervised, in a fenced-in back yard, taking him for several good walks every day, or regular trips to the dog park.
Without proper exercise, your Malamute puppy may quickly outweigh a horse, not to mention the risk of his developing bad habits or turning to destructive behavior as a means of appeasing his boredom.
Alaskan Malamute Grooming Requirements
While Alaskan Malamutes may not require the frequent trips to the doggie salon that a pampered Yorkshire Terrier might need, they still fall under the moderate-to-high grooming requirements. While a weekly or bi-weekly brushing of your Malamute, using a gentle wire slicker brush, may remove any dead hair and lessen the amount of dander that your dog produces, the Alaskan Malamute is known for “blowing his coat.”
When the Malamute blows his coat (usually once or twice a year), his coat will shed so profusely that it can literally pull away in clumps of thick fur. This mainly happens in the Spring, as temperatures begin to warm up, though some individuals may blow their coats again in the Fall.
Training Your Alaskan Malamute
The Malamute is a very quick-witted dog that loves to be challenged and delights in learning new things. Training bouts should vary, so as to keep your Alaskan Malamute puppy from growing bored and one shouldn’t be afraid to try teaching your puppy in ways that make him think.
Alaskan Malamute puppies benefit from puppy school, as well as basic obedience courses and you will be thankful, later on, when your Malamute puppy turns into 100 pounds of happy energy. The basic commands are a necessity, though he will delight in things such as obstacle events and skills that will give him a chance to put his natural abilities to work.
Alaskan Malamute Health Concerns
Like any breed of dog, the Alaskan Malamute is subject to a variety of health concerns. Your best bet is, when deciding to choose a new Alaskan Malamute puppy, check around with several breeders and ask about the various health issues that can affect these beautiful dogs.
A reputable breeder should be well-versed in the health concerns and should be able to give you more details, as well as showing you the sire and dam of your potential puppy. Some of the health problems that can affect Alaskan Malamutes include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Prone to cancer
- Flea and food allergies
Is the Alaskan Malamute the Right Breed For You?
Beautiful and noble, many are captivated by the grace and strength of the Alaskan Malamute breed. Still others are frequently moved by his wolfish appearance, and some choose Alaskan Malamute puppies for their versatility and loyalty.
Whatever the reason for considering getting an Alaskan Malamute puppy, it’s important to realize that this breed can be a lot of work. Requiring a great deal of exercise and brushing, they are not the ideal dog for someone with a very busy lifestyle, and it’s important to note that they grow very lonely and mournful if left on their own too much.
Alaskan Malamutes can make wonderful family pets, however. The key to this is early socialization with children and animals, while your dog is still a puppy, and to always supervise your Alaskan Malamute when small children are about.
Be sure to introduce him to other pets and family members gradually and be wary of any dogs showing any hint of aggression. Taking the extra time and effort with this breed will ensure that you have a lasting friend for many years to come.