As the largest and oldest of the Arctic sled dog breeds, the Alaskan Malamute has a long history being prized for possessing a great deal of strength and stamina for carrying large loads over long distances. Despite becoming more of a family companion over the years and becoming the 57th most popular dog breed registered in the American Kennel Club, the Alaskan Malamute still retains its high energy for sledding, backpacking, jogging, and even swimming alongside their loyal owners. If you are considering opening your home to an Alaskan Malamute, the following is a breed description to determine whether this majestic and dignified dog is the right match.
|Other Name||Mal or Mally|
|Origin||United States (Alaska)|
|Size Type||Large Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Working Dog Breeds|
|Life Span||13 -16 years|
|Temperament||Friendly, Devoted, Loyal, Dignified, Playful, Affectionate|
|Height||Female: 22–24 inches; Male: 24–26 inches|
|Weight||65 to 100 pounds|
|Colors||Black & White, Seal & White, Sable & White, Brown & White, Red & White, Gray & White|
|Puppy Price||Average $700 - $1500 USD|
Alaskan Malamutes have a thick, muscular, and powerful well-built large body that is adorned with a feathered tail that is held over the straight back. Often described as a “waving plume” that is among the dogs’ most distinguishing features, the tail aids in keeping the animals warm when they must curl up in snow. On the wide head, the dogs have erect wedge-shaped ears, almond-shaped medium-sized eyes that are obliquely placed within the skull, and a dark rounded nose.
Similar in appearance to a wolf with a confident and amiable expression, the breed also has snowshoe-like large feet with robust pads that can endure trekking through the snow. Bred for power, the male Alaskan Malamute is normally between 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder height with a weight between 80 and 95 pounds, but the females are slightly smaller at 22 to 24 inches with a weight ranging from 70 to 85 pounds.
The usual coat colors of the Alaskan Malamute typically includes various shades of light gray, dark gray, black, sable, red, wolf gray, wolf sable, and black and white. While the only solid color allowed by the breed standard is white, the dogs often exhibit darker highlights or a dark mask around the facial features.
In order to stay warm in Arctic cold climates, the Alaskan Malamute possesses a double coat that consists of a thick wooly undercoat and a coarse long-haired outer guard coat that averages about one to three inches in length.
|Good with Kids|
As expected with their extremely thick waterproof coat, Alaskan Malamutes have daily brushing requirements to prevent mats, invigorate the skin, and spread natural oils to keep the coat shiny. Since the dogs tend to be heavy shedders as the undercoat comes out in clumps with seasonal changes, it is recommended that owners use a bristle or slicker brush daily to also keep dead hair from accumulating around the house.
Although the Alaskan Malamute will not need to be bathed on a frequent basis because the coat naturally sheds dirt, the dog should still be given a bathe and blow dry every six to eight weeks to keep shedding at a minimum. In addition, it is important for owners to clean the eyes daily with a wet cloth, check the ears weekly, brush the teeth with approved toothpaste, trim the nails, and shorten the hair on the paw pads every six weeks.
With its name coming from the Mahlemuts who were an Alaskan tribe that initially raised these magnificent snow creatures, the Alaskan Malamute is a Nordic sled dog breed that is believed to originate 2,000 to 3,00 years ago. As a descendent from the Arctic wolf, these highly respected dogs were used as the nomadic Mahlemuit peoples’ only form of transportation across the snow-covered regions of Alaska. With an amazing strength and strong work ethic, the dogs were also put to use pulling heavy loads of food and supplies on sleds so that these tribes could flourish in inhospitable regions.
After rising fame during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 as sled dogs for the prospectors and settlers, the Alaskan Malamute become popular working dogs by aiding Rear Admiral Rich Byrd on his expedition to the South Pole and even serving in World War II as search and rescue dogs in Greenland. Being officially recognized in 1935 within the Working Group by the American Kennel Club, the Alaskan Malamute recently became the official state dog of Alaska.
Known for being excellent with children old enough to play safely, Alaskan Malamutes are often described as being loyal, intelligent, affectionate, sweet, friendly, dignified, and obedient. While not appropriate as guard dogs due to their amiable disposition, the breed is often happiest living outdoors with sufficient time for human companionship.
With a rather high energy level, it is imperative that these dogs receive daily mental and physical exercise to avoid destructive or nuisance behaviors. If all of the Alaskan Malamute’s canine instincts for firm leadership, exercise, socialization, and obedience training are met throughout puppyhood, it often will mature into a dignified, polite, and mellow adult dog.