Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are natives of northwest Alaska, where they served as hunting partners, pack dogs, and sled dogs for the Mahlemut people, an Innuit tribe. The Alaskan Malamute dogs were vital to the peoples’ survival. In the mid-1900s, Malamutes were used in many Arctic exploratory expeditions and served in World War II.

Alaskan Malamute dog breed is large and substantial, standing 23 to 25 inches tall and weighing between 75 and 85 pounds, although many are larger. His head is broad and deep, ears are upright, and eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and dark brown. With a deep chest, powerful shoulders, heavy bones, strong legs, and good feet, this breed is designed to work hard.

The outer coat is thick and coarse; the undercoat is dense. The tail is a plume that is carried low when working. Alaskan Malamutes need brushing at least twice per week, but during the shedding seasons, primarily spring and fall, daily brushing is needed to keep the hair under control.

Exercise is important; the Alaskan Malamute is a working dog bred to carry packs or pull sleds. A long, brisk walk morning and evening and a play session in between is the least exercise this dog can tolerate. A Malamute would be thrilled to have an owner who does skijor, sled dog training, carting, hiking, or backpacking. Although they were bred to work, and Malamutes love to have something to do, they can also be a little independent and often have a touch of stubbornness. The key is to make training interesting and fun. Don’t battle a Malamute; intrigue him instead and teach him compliance. Socialization is also important and should begin early.

The Alaskan Malamute breed is a wonderful companion for people who are leaders; he can be domineering over people who are too soft. The breed may be dog-aggressive; males especially may be aggressive toward other male dogs. All interactions with small pets should be carefully supervised. Health concerns include hip dysplasia, bloat, and torsion.

Alaskan Malamute at K9 Research Lab


2 replies on “Alaskan Malamute”

The rugged Alaskan Malamute is a working dog, best suited to people who love the great outdoors. He plays vigorously and is most content when pulling or packing a load (sledding, ski-joring, weight pulling, backpacking), especially in cold weather. This breed should not be kept in a hot climate.
Alaskan Malamutes are very challenging to train and live with. Without sufficient exercise and challenging things to do, Malamutes become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by chronic howling and destructive chewing. Bored Alaskan Malamutes are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.
Animal-aggression is a major concern. The Alaskan Malamute can be so aggressive with other dogs of the same sex that two males or two females should not be kept together. When this breed fights, the battles can be serious and bloody. Malamutes can be predatory with smaller pets — I would not keep a Malamute with a cat unless the pair has grown up together. When outdoors, Malamutes must be securely confined behind a high fence, for they can be escape artists with strong exploratory instincts. Once loose, they won’t come back when you call them and they may run deer and molest livestock.
With their wolfish appearance, Alaskan Malamutes may look like intimidating protectors, but most Mals are very friendly with everyone and make miserable watchdogs. Still, this is a substantial, powerful breed, so it is essential to socialize youngsters so they grow up to trust and respect people.
This self-reliant breed will test for position in the family pecking order. Unless you establish yourself as the alpha (number one), he can be headstrong and demanding. Unneutered males, especially, can be very dominant and possessive of their food.

This is Moko, my Alaskan Malamute female. She was just 6 months old in the photo. She loves to play in the water as we live in a subtropical climate. She behaves more like a retriever—she loves to chase things and bring them back for me to throw again. She loves all exercise, in particular to run next to me riding the bike. Now that she is 18 months and old enough we are allowing her to pull the scooter or bike and I harness her up together with my Border Collie cross.

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