The Alaskan Malamute is derived from a work dog kept by the Mahlemut tribes in the Norton Sound area of Alaska. They were bred as working dogs, used in hunting seals, let loose in packs to course the polar bear, and to haul heavy sleds of supplies. The were treated well, but they were not “pets.”
In the early 1900’s Paul Voelker Sr. and Paul Voelker Jr. brought dogs from Alaska to the States and developed a slightly different “strain” of Malamute. Some of these dogs saw service in World War I and World War II. This strain was generally known as the “M’Loot” strain.
The Malamute is a member of the Working Group of dogs, and was frst registered by the AKC in 1935.
Is the Malamute for you?
Malamutes are large, friendly, very active, intelligent, and powerful dogs. Many malamutes believe they are attention starved (don’t let them fool you) and are constantly looking for affection and “play time.” Malamutes do not usually bark, but “speak” with a “woo-woo” type of howl.
On the other hand, malamutes are stubborn, demanding and shed considerable amounts of hair at least once, usually twice a year, and can be aggressive toward other dogs. While many malamutes are great with children (ours is wonderful with our newborn and with friend’s children 6 months to adult), this cannot be said of all malamutes. Mals also need room to run, or to be taken for walks (or some other exercise) daily. They need the exercise as much as we do.
The malamute can range in size and weight, but the “desired freighting size” for dogs is 25 inches at the shoulder and 85 pounds for males, and 23 inches and 75 pounds for females. When looking at size, one must remember that the malamute was originally bred to exert constant physical effort, yet consume a relatively small amount of food. This “desired freighting size” results in simple efficiency.
The color of a malamute’s coat is not as important as the texture and density, which provides warmth and protection in the frigid
arctic air. Malamutes can range in color form the “traditional” back and white or gray and white through sable (black with red
undercoat) to red and white. White is the only solid color accepted by the standard, although solid black has been seen
(but not accepted by the standard). Any other colors must have white undersides, and be accented by white markings on the face, chest and legs.
Eyes must be brown and almond shaped. Blue eyes are an automatic disqualification of the standard.
For a complete description of the standard, click here. The AKC description will open in a new window.
Malamutes are strong-willed, determined, yet friendly dogs. Because of this, they should have obedience training from an early age. A malamute should not be walked off lead. Once they make up their mind to chase something, it is very difficult to call them back unless they are ready to come back. Because the malamute is friendly and generally likes all people, they do not make good guard dogs, although their size can be a visual deterrent.
A malamute's friendliness does not always extend to other dogs, especially of the same sex. While this does not mean that same sex malamutes should be kept apart, it does mean that supervision should be used when bringing same-sex malamutes together.
Malamutes are not loyal to one person or one family. They are “pack animals,” using their intelligence to bond with many they come in contact with, be it family, friends, or strangers. As a companion, the malamute is excellent, ready to please and eager to be a part of your life.
Care and Feeding
Malamutes need exercise, and lots of it. A big yard where they can run is ideal. Do not let your malamute become bored, as this can result in a backyard landscape you did not design. If the malamute is an indoor dog (although they prefer to be outdoors), you may find trash in places other than the trash bin.
In the hot summer months, a malamute can overheat, so you as an owner must be conscious of this, and be able to provide shade and plenty of cool water. A malamute’s interest in exercise tends to diminish in the summer, but you must make sure they get their exercise, but only in short intervals.
Malamutes are efficient eaters, so they do not need to eat much. However, they will eat anything they can get their paws on, including table scraps. This is a survival instinct. And then there’s the hair. Twice a year the malamute will shed it’s undercoat. Be prepared to brush your malamute many times during this time. Do not be surprised at how much hair you get. Their undercoat is very thick.
What is the difference between An Alaskan Malamute and a Siberian Husky?
There are a number of differences between the two breeds. To see the differences between the Malamute and the Husky, click here.
“So how do I know if the malamute is right for me?”
If you do not like a lot of hair, or are not a person to spend time outside and participate in many different activities with your dog, then the malamute may not be for you. Likewise, if you want a devoted companion, one that will defend your life and property, look elsewhere. But if you want a dog that is loving and lovable in nature, with the intelligence and personality to match then the malamute will offer a lifetime of fun and enjoyment.