This Arctic breed is well-known for its use in sledding, its dense coat and has an independent, gentle personality.
Alaskan Malamutes at a Glance
The Malamute, similar to the Samoyed and Siberian Husky is an ancient breed that is valued for its endurance and strength. They can have a very independent and strong-willed personality so an experienced owner is recommended. Training and socialization will also help to keep your dog happy and free from behavior problems.
|Weight||30-40 kg (66-88 lb)|
|Height at Shoulder||58-65 cm (23-26 in)|
Who is an Alaskan Malamute Looking For?
I would love to live in a colder climate and ideally would like to live with someone who lives an active, outdoor lifestyle. I can live alone, but do need lots of exercise and would love to spend time sledding playing in the snow and if that isn’t available, swimming.
Loyal. This breed will often bond very closely to one person in the family and be extremely loyal. This can translate to a dog that is not suited to long periods of being alone and perhaps even a bit snappy if not socialized appropriately.
Stubborn/strong willed. Malamutes are known to be a little stubborn at times. They can be easily trained if motivated and only positive training methods are used, but they will often have a mind of their own.
Independent. This breed has a mind of its own and while they do bond closely to their family they also have that independent spirit that means they won’t necessarily be glued to your side.
EXERCISE & TRAINING
Malamutes do need strict ground rules and good early socialization to avoid behavior problems. They need a great deal of exercise, but this does not need to be vigorous. A nice stroll and a visit to the dog park would be fine. They often like to swim and they do love snow and sledding activities.
They can be jumpers and diggers, so make sure your fences are secure. A Malamute is often inclined to be very talkative and they will often howl if left alone for too long in the backyard.
|Exercise Requirements||High – 1-2 hours per day|
|Training Requirements||Medium – 0.5-1.0 hours per day|
The thick, dense and insulating coat of the Malamute makes them ideal for colder conditions. In warmer climates they can easily overheat, so clipping may be required, or a wading pool or dam for them to cool off in. They do need regular brushing, particularly when shedding.
|Hair Fall||High Shed – lots of loose hair|
|Brushing||Medium – weekly brushing|
|Groomer Trips||No, easy care at home|
|Tick Friendly?||No, hard to check|
Malamutes are large dogs and can easily bowl over small children. If raised with children and socialized when young they can make great family pets, but this can be dog dependent. They will often chase cats and may not be suited to living with pocket pets.
|Family Friendly||Good – better with older kids, rather than under 5|
|Pet Friendly||Low – strong prey drive, best kept separate from other smaller species|
|Sociability||Low – better as an only dog|
Malamutes can be expensive dogs to own, with a number of common health conditions and big food bills. Pet insurance is recommended and 6 monthly check ups a the vet to detect problems early.
|Avg. Yearly Expense||High – $2000+|
|Avg. Veterinary Expense||High – $300-$500+|
|Weekly Food Expense||High – $20-30+|
HEALTH & WELLBEING
MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS
Hip Displaysia. Many breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, and while more breeders are hip scoring in an attempt to breed out this devastating disease, in some cases it can still occur, particularly with overfeeding at a young age.
Hypothyroidism. A hormonal condition that often leads to weight gain, lethargy, thinning hair and skin. The condition is very easy to treat with daily medication.
Polyneuropathy. A relatively rare condition that occurs in Malamutes causing neuromuscular weakness. There is a genetic test for this condition.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This disease causes progressive blindness and is common in many breeds. There is a DNA test to detect carriers of the faulty gene.
Elbow Dysplasia. This common cause of fore-limb lameness occurs in many large breeds and is caused by several possible defects, including osteochondrosis and an incongruous growth rate between the radius and ulnar of the fore-arm. This disorder is another reason not to overfeed a growing dog.
PREVENTATIVE CARE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check with your breeder about the genetic tests used to screen for heritable diseases. In particular check hip scores before buying a Malamute.
It is important not to over-feed, over-exercise or supplement your Malamute with calcium while growing to reduce the risk of orthopedic diseases such as hip dysplasia.
Avoid excessive weight gain to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, particularly as your dog ages.
BREED ORIGIN AND INTERESTING FACTS
The nomadic Mahlemiut Eskimos from Alaska utilised the powerful strength of the Malamute to pull sleds over long distances. They were also used for hunting bears and seals.
Their numbers increased dramatically during the gold rush in Alaska in 1896, when other breeds were introduced to attempt to improve on their speed and size as sledding dogs.
The Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska in 2010.
Malamutes are in the Spitz group, along with Akitas, Shiba Inus and are one of the ancient breeds, thought to originate from 3000 years ago.
Malamutes were used to carry supplies to remote outposts in France in WWI and were also used in WWII in Greenland.
RESCUE A MALAMUTE
- Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.
- The ASPCA often has Malamutes for adoption, just do an advanced search on their adoption page.