History & Overview
The Alaskan Malamute is a large northern dog breed originally developed for use as a sled dog. The Malamute is a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemiut tribe of upper western Alaska. Most Malamutes today are kept as family pets or show dogs. The Malamute temperament is friendly and affectionate by reputation, but they are known among dog drivers for their readiness to scrap with other dogs.
From time immemorial northern people have relied for transport on sledge dogs, directly derived from northern wolves. Travelers in polar regions argue hotly about the merits of the different breeds, some of which still have the reputation of being unreliable as working dogs and untrustworthy in temperament. However, northern peoples have deliberately bred more disciplined animals. Such breeds are the Alaskan malamutes, the national dogs of Alaska; the Russian Laikas; the Icelandic Sheepdog, and the Samoyeds.
In keeping with the dogs’ ancient past, toady’s Malamute Lis described in its breed standard as loyal, affectionate, friendly, dignified and devoted. With this standard guiding its breeding, it’s little wonder that the well-bred Malamute commands such enthusiasm from its human companions.
As A Pet
While many people dream of bringing a new puppy into the house and raising into a lovely adult it is destined to be, doing this right requires a great deal of time and effort.
To raise a puppy correctly, you must, for all practical purposes, become the young dog’s surrogate mom and commit to molding into a well-behaved adult. This, as any mom can testify, can be a full-time job. Obedience training, household manners, house training, and socialization are the ingredients that lead to a well-behaved adult malamute. Such a dog does not occur as a natural phenomenon; it is the product of hours of nurturing, sweat and consistency.
Those who honestly do not believe that they have the time to raise a puppy, but believe that must have a malamute in the house, may be more interested in adopting an adult dog, that has already received its basic education and experienced the challenging trials of adolescence. Many have found that they prefer a dog that is 5 or 6 years of age, as this dog will tend to be more settled, its youthful exuberance will have mellowed somewhat, and he will be more content devoting its time to its duties as a family companion. If you overcome the prejudice too many people harbor against bringing an older dog into the home, you may just find a treasure.
Is the Alaskan Malamute The Right Dog for You?
The Malamute is strong, courageous, with remarkable stamina and absolute loyalty to his owner. He is friendly with those he knows, but since he has wild traits, he needs careful and intensive training. He must always know that his owner is firm and decisive. Before you even consider bringing an Alaskan Malamate to your home, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Can you guarantee that all members of the family are willing to commit to this domineering dog’s training and socialization and practice consistency?
2. Do you have time for exercising you dog for at least 90 minutes every day?
3. Do you have time to feed your Malamute 2 or 3 times a day to prevent the deadly canine bloat?
4. Do you mind having hair all over furniture, in the carpet, on your clothes or in your food?
5. Do you have time for regular brushing your dog?
Malamutes and Children
The Alaskan Malamute is fiercely loyal to its “pack,” loves the children of its own family, and gets along with other animals if socialized with them early. However, in mixing Malamutes and children, thought should be given to Mal’s independent nature, his dominance level in the pack and his hunting instincts. Care must be taken by the parents to ensure that the child is the dominant partner in the relationship, and the child respects the dog. Dominance discipline administered by an adult dog to an infant can be fatal. An infant crying seems particularly disturbing to some Malamutes and may activate a prey response.
A Malamute is likely to endure only so much ear-pulling, climbing, squeezing before expressing his annoyance. Few will accept outright abuse, especially from children who do not “belong” to them. Therefore, you should not stake out a Malamute where children might tease or torment him.
The Malamute is friendly and fond of people, especially children. He is very intelligent but also very independent-minded. He needs an owner who is the pack leader and needs plenty of exercises to occupy his mind and body. While the Alaskan Malamute mostly enjoys the outdoors, they make great house pets. In return for their loyalty, the Malamute requires a great deal of companionship and attention from their owners.
The Alaskan Malamute comes from an Arctic line of dogs. This is a strong, outdoor-loving breed of dogs. The Malamute’s thick, coarse double-layer of fur makes it a more suitable breed for areas with mild to colder climates.
AT A GLANCE
Country of Origin:
FCI Classification: Group 5: – Spitz and Primitive Types; Section 1 – Nordic Sledge Dogs
AKC Classification: Working Group
The usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shading of sable to red. Color combinations are acceptable in undercoats, points and trimmings. The only solid color allowable is all-white.
10 – 14 years
Low. Malamutes need to be brushed 2-3 times a week to maintain their thick coat in proper condition.
Intelligent, calm, loyal. The large size and solid structure of these dogs can be intimidating, even though in actuality Alaskan Malamutes generally possess a calm and friendly demeanour. They are usually reserved toward strangers.
Early socialization with other dogs is critical. They can be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex.
Suitability for Children:
Malamutes need close supervision while they are around small children to prevent any unforeseen mishaps that can happen between a young child and a large dog.
High. Alaskan Malamutes are strong and powerful dogs and need daily exercise for at least 2 hours, preferably several times a day. These powerful dogs need a job in their lives. Without being busy, they can be very destructive and tend to escape in search of adventures.
A bit slow to learn new commands, these giants perform quite well in obedience and agility competitions.
Health & Behavioral Issues:
The Malamute is one of the hardiest dog breeds. Hip dysplasia and mineral deficiencies (skin problems) are most common of the few ailments this breed suffers from.