About the Breed
The Alaskan Malamute is the largest of the spitz-type sledding dogs associated with Alaska’s nomadic Eskimo people. These dogs were relied upon for many purposes, including sled dog, hauling dog, hunting dog, and overall companion. He may be the oldest American breed of dog.
These dogs were so valued it was very difficult for people outside of the Eskimos to obtain one. They were very well treated and regularly fed as opposed to the treatment some other sledding breeds received.
The breed began to trickle down to other parts of the United States and other parts of the world. While he can still be found in functions of sledding, weight pulling, or sports like skijoring, he is more prominently seen as a companion dog now.
The Alaskan Malamute is a very large artic breed standing from about 23-25 inches tall. He weighs about 75-85 pounds, with males being larger than females. He should be well-muscled and have large, powerful shoulders as well as be deep-chested and big-boned. These qualities are all functionally designed for the largest of the sledding dogs. He is not to be a short-distance sprinter, but rather he is a long-distance, endurance dog.
The breed’s beautiful coat is designed to be weather hardy and resistant to the extremes. An Alaskan Malamute’s coat is never soft, but instead, the double coat consists of a wooly, dense undercoat and a top coat with thick guard hairs. His plume-like tail is carried up and over his back.
The predominant color of the breed is white with accents of other colors. The different colors are light grey, shadings of black, sable, and shadings of red.
The Alaskan Malamute is not a one-person breed of dog, making an excellent and friendly family companion. He enjoys the company of all. Families with small children may opt to wait for the child to become a tad older before adding a Malamute to the family. This is because young Malamutes are incredibly boisterous and may accidentally knock down a small child.
He’s not the right breed for those who want a dog to sit or lie around. He is a very active dog that lives and breathes to be active and do things. As a dog created to pull heavy loads, he is very strong and powerful, and energetic. He will require a good deal of exercise, particularly while he is young, so be prepared for lots of walks, jogs, or active playtime.
He is a fairly quiet breed and, as a mature dog, is viewed as a dignified breed of dog.
Malamutes can do well with other dogs of similar size, but they may or may not do well with small dogs or small animals. It depends on how much natural prey drive an individual dog has.
The Alaskan Malamute is sensitive to temperatures. His very thick coat is made for cooler weather, and he does best in moderate climates. He can live in hotter areas so long as he is kept indoors during those times, and care is used during exercise time to avoid overheating.
The Alaskan Malamute might not the best dog for a first-time owner. He is very powerful and can be challenging and frustrating for the inexperienced. While a smart dog, he often has his ideas, and he does like to be in charge. An experienced owner needs to express respect and leadership in the training.
Additionally, the breed needs a lot to do. If he doesn’t have this outlet, he will create lots of fun, destructive things.
The breed needs a fenced-in yard as an outdoor outlet for playtime and running. He shouldn’t be allowed to run in areas that aren’t fenced, as you will find the dog running off for his adventures.
He is an independent breed of dogs with natural curiosity and resourcefulness, which can be frustrating to a trainer at times. The use of positive reinforcement training techniques and keeping training fun are the best options.
Shedding & Grooming
The main grooming issue for an Alaskan Malamute is brushing. If you’re not prepared to find loose hairs around the house, this isn’t the right breed for you. He requires at least one brushing a week, but a few times a week will keep shedding down. Shedding will be worse during the seasonal shedding of the undercoats.
The Malamute should not be shaved as his coat helps to regulate his body temperature.
Otherwise, an occasional bath, nail trims, ear cleaning, and toothbrushing rounds out the grooming routine.
Health & Life Expectancy
The average life span of the Alaskan Malamute is 11-14 years of age. The breed is a pretty healthy breed of dog, but there are a few health issues that the breed may experience, according to the Alaskan Malamute Assistance League (www.malamuterescue.org/pdf/health.pdf):
- Hemeralopia, day blindness
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus
- Coat funk
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Wobbler’s syndrome
- Zinc responsive dermatitis