The Alaskan Malamute is one of the world’s oldest sledge dogs. Still working in the Arctic circle today, we’re going to learn all about this magnificent dog!
Alaskan Malamute Breed Standards:
Kennel Club Member?: Yes
Alaskan Malamute Lifespan: 10-14 years
Alaskan Malamute Exercise: More than 2 hours each day
Height: Male 25 inches Female 23 inches
Weight: Male 38.5 kilograms Female 34 kilograms
Alaskan Malamutes closely resemble the Siberian Husky but are much bigger. Both breeds are completely different in behaviour to one another. These sledge pulling dogs still work in the freezing temperatures of Alaska and across the Arctic circle today.
Malamute dogs are also known by their nicknames Mal and Mally. The breed is closely related to the Samoyed, the Siberian Husky and the Labrador. Whilst Mally’s aren’t known to excessively bark they do like to howl once in a while.
Below are the pros and cons of the Malamute dog breed below:
- Easy to train
- Sociable and friendly with humans and animals
- Doesn’t drool much
- A breed with a sense of humour
- Suitable for senior owners
- Malamutes will clean themselves
- Strong prey drive
- Prone to separation anxiety
- High wanderlust potential
- Sheds fur heavily
- Not suitable for an apartment
The Alaskan Malamute is a giant breed that is often confused for the Siberian Husky. They shed copious amounts of fur throughout the year. Coat colour combinations are found in Grey & White, Sable & White, Red & White, Seal & White, Chocolate & White, and Black & White.
Despite its intimidating size, the breed is super friendly with both animals and humans! They’re gentle and affectionate towards the members of their household and make fantastic family pets. These dogs are playful and loyal yet also independent.
This breed isn’t a one-person dog. He is dignified and has roughly kept the same personality over the thousands of years of its existence. On occasion, this canine can be dominant and willful so they aren’t recommended for first-time owners.
This breed isn’t a great watchdog or guard dog. They’re very friendly towards strangers, happily greeting visitors at the door. Some Malamutes may be a little standoffish but are generally sociable with humans. Unsocialized Malamutes will be shy.
When it comes to children this canine is an excellent companion. However, their size could accidentally injure smaller children. For this reason, homes with older children are better suited. They won’t intentionally harm a child and are typically patient and tolerant of kids of all ages.
Malamutes get along well with other dogs and animals. They easily make friends when walking through the dog park. Malamutes may also live with cats as well but it’s recommended the introduction takes place during puppyhood.
The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest breeds of sledge dogs still around today, so of course, they hold a deep and enriched history! Malamutes descend from wolf type dogs that were domesticated and found alongside Paleolithic hunters.
This tribe came to North America over 4,000 years ago by crossing the Bering Strait. The breed’s name originates from the Inuit Mahlemiut tribe who lived in Northwestern Alaska. They were the ones who developed the Alaskan Malamute.
These canines are hard workers and were mostly used to pull sledges. They’d also detect seal breathing holes, and would distract bears on hunts! Unlike Siberian Huskies, Malamutes would pull heavier loads at slower speeds.
In 1959 the first three Alaskan Malamutes arrived in the UK. A grey and white male named Pawnee Flash of Northwind, and two females, Preston’s Cheechako and Ambara’s Nuviya. Preston was soon imported to the US but left behind her gene pool.
She is one of the beginnings of the UK’s Malamute foundation line. In the US the AKC recognises three Malamute bloodlines. These are Kotzebue strain, the Hinman, and M’Loot strains.
Exercise & Grooming
Alaskan Malamute dogs require more than two hours of exercise per day. Give them two, one hour walks with plenty of sniffing around time. Strong and powerful, this breed loves hiking, swimming and running.
Alaskan Malamute puppies should wait until their growth plates have closed before jumping or climbing stairs. Split their exercise time across four sessions as opposed to two. Mental stimulation is also important throughout their lives.
Malamutes shed copious amounts of fur throughout the year. Owners should brush them daily to reduce shedding. They’re definitely not hypoallergenic! Use a bristle or slicker brush. Deshedding rakes aren’t recommended. Check the fur for any mats as these can hide fungus and hot spots which could cause infection.
Bathe the Alaskan Malamute no later than every 6 weeks. Their double coat needs thorough washing to reach right down to the skin. For the best results, blow-dry their coat. The Mal likes to keep clean and will lick themselves in a cat-like manner.
Keep the ears debris-free by cleaning them weekly. Trim their nails fortnightly. Introduce all grooming methods during puppyhood so they become used to it. Brush their teeth multiple times a week to prevent dental disease.
Recommended: What are the signs and symptoms of dental disease? Find out here!
Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Alaskan Malamute below:
Hip Dysplasia: As a giant breed the Alaskan Malamute is affected by hip dysplasia. Poor development causes hip joint laxity resulting in pain, swelling, inflammation and arthritis.
Cataracts: A cloud appears in the lens. If large enough this will stop light from reaching the retina thus causing blindness.
Hypothyroidism: This health condition targets the dog’s thyroid glands and causes a reduction in its metabolic state.
Chondrodysplasia: The bone and cartilage don’t grow to their full potential. The condition is also known as canine dwarfism.
Day Blindness: Affected dogs are sensitive to bright light. The condition is also known as cone degeneration or hemeralopia.
Idiopathic Polyneuropathy: This health issue is genetic and affects the dog’s nervous system. Symptoms include weakness in the legs, lack of coordination, tremors and more.
Alaskan Malamute Training
Alaskan Malamutes are highly intelligent but can also be dominant, stubborn and wilful. Obedience is important to prevent this dog from overstepping its boundaries. Begin training and socialization as early as possible.
These canines are better suited to experienced handlers. It’ll take time, patience and lots of positive reinforcement to yield results. A Mal needs clarity so they can understand what is being asked of them.
Destructive behaviours are a result of boredom and separation anxiety. They shouldn’t be left alone for longer than four hours. Leave the Mal some toys and other puzzle games to keep them occupied whilst alone.
Although the Mally is a fairly sociable breed they still need to meet new people and dogs. Some Nordic breeds like the Malamute are prone to timid behaviour if they haven’t been socialized correctly. These canines aren’t renowned for aggressive behaviour.
Alaskan Malamute Interesting Facts
- Philip, the Alaskan Malamute went viral after trying to hide behind a toilet and baby to avoid bath time! Owner Emma-Leigh Matthews decided a simple hose outside wasn’t enough to get rid of Philip’s bad smell. But Philip was less than impressed with the idea of a bath!
- Thor, an Alaskan Malamute from Northamptonshire was thankfully given a second chance in life after having a bad start. The one year old dog was determined dangerous by police and seized after biting a neighbour. Instead of being put down officers realised the dog lacked basic training and socialization. Thor was sent to a rehoming center where he greatly improved. Owners Paul Underwood and Nicola Muca were banned from keeping dogs for 5 years.
- Mushka, an Alaskan Malamute from Gravesend, Kent, is believed to be the first dog in the UK to develop coronavirus. Owner Mandy Hayes found her dog chewing her tissues after catching the disease herself. Two weeks later she says her ten year old Alaskan Malamute began developing the same symptoms. The Kennel Club has stated no dogs in the UK have contracted coronavirus but Mandy strongly disagrees.
- In 2010, the Alaskan Malamute officially became the state dog for Alaska.
- In World War I, 450 Alaskan Malamutes delivered supplies to French troops posted on the mountains. In World War II, Mallys would detect mines, carry supplies and would also work in search and rescue. Alaskan Malamutes are still used for search and rescue today.
- In 1896 Alaskan Malamutes were in heavy demand to assist in the Gold Rush. They were vital in pulling sledges of food and supplies across mountains.