Meet the Breed: The Alaskan Malamute

Alaskanmalamute0bThe Alaskan Malamute is a large dog breed originally bred for use as a working dog including as a sled dog.  They are sometimes mistaken for a Siberian Husky due to color and markings, but in fact are quite different in many ways including size, structure and personality.

Read on to determine if the Alaskan Malamute might be the right breed for you.

Overview:

  • Height: 24”-26” (Male), 22”-24” (Female)
  • Weight: 80-95 pounds (Male), 70-85 pounds (Female)
  • Historical function: Working and sled dogs
  • Modern function: Family Companions
  • AKC classification: Working

Physical Characteristics: The Alaskan Malamute is the largest of the Arctic dogs. This thick, well-built dog is solid with a plumed tail that is held over the back. The head is wide with erect ears. The eyes are almond shaped and always brown, unlike the Siberian Husky, which can have blue or bi-colored eyes. The Malamute resembles a wolf but has a sweet expression. The feet are large, of the snowshoe type with tough pads. The thick, coarse, oily double coat averages one to three inches in length and is the dog’s secret to enduring harsh winter conditions. Coat colors come in a range of light gray to intermediate shadings of black, sable and shadings of sable to red. The only solid color allowed is white. The dog often has darker highlights and sometimes has a dark mask or cap. The legs and muzzle are almost always white. 

History of Breed: Unlike the Siberian Husky that was designed for speed, the Alaskan Malamute was designed as more of a utilitarian companion, able to haul heavy sled loads, to hunt large game, including bears, and to spot seal blowholes. This ancient descendent of arctic wolves formed an interdependent relationship with the native peoples above the arctic circle. This enabled a fairly prosperous life in an otherwise inhospitable land. The Alaskan Malamute also became valuable to prospectors hauling heavy loads during the Gold Rush of 1896.

Temperament: Since the Malamute has learned to survive in the harshest environment imaginable, behaviors such as independence, resourcefulness, and intelligence were selected. These tendencies can also make them difficult to train in standard obedience. They are eager to please, however, so using positive motivation and fun can make a well-behaved family dog. Early and consistent socialization is a must for any large breed. They have a strong prey drive, so socialize young pups with cats to keep them from chasing them.

  • Best suited for: Families with or without other pets. Outdoorsy, active types. Cold climates.
  • Preferred living conditions: Indoor and outdoor living with lots of exercise. A large yard is needed. Bury the high fence line as they are adept diggers that are prone to roam whatever they consider to be their territory.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Alaskan Malamutes are prolific shedders, that shed in clumps seasonally. Daily brushing is required, but bathing should be rare as it strips the protective oils. They have little to no odor.
  • Exercise needs: This breed needs daily walks, but take care not to overdo it in warm weather.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Health concerns: Health issues include being prone to bloat and hip dysplasia.

Breed Club Links: Alaskan Malamute Club of America

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: As Malamutes are prone to wolfing down their food and being prone to developing the life-threatening bloat, we highly recommend the GREEN Interactive Dog Feeder to slow them down.

Have any stories about your Alaskan Malamute?

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