Because he was the first breed used as a sled dog, it's not surprising that the Alaskan Malamute can pull massive amounts of weight—some dogs may be able to pull as many as 3,000 pounds. Alaskan Malamutes have a beautiful, thick double coat and jolly dispositions. This powerful breed requires early and continued training so the large adult Alaskan Malamute minds his manners. Mals are energetic and need plenty of exercise, socialization, and stimulating brain games. This working group dog takes a lot of work to live with, but they reward the attention with loyalty and love. They make ideal companions for active families and experienced dog owners.
The Alaskan Malamute may be referred to as Mal or Mally.
Physical Description/Breed Standard
Coat - The Alaskan Malamute has a thick, tough double coat that sheds throughout the year, and more heavily when he 'blows' his undercoat twice a year. The outer coat is short to medium length over most of the body, and gets longer around the shoulders, neck and rump. The undercoat is dense, woolly, and oily. Coat colors include a mix of light gray, black, sable, and red, though it is always white at the underbody, legs, and facial markings. Some Mals are solid white.
Male: 85 pounds
Breed Standard and History
Malamutes are a 'basal breed,' a type so old it predates modern breeds and is closely related to wolves. They are the descendants of dogs who worked and lived with the Mahlemuts, an ancient Inuit tribe from the coastal region of northwestern Alaska. They were used to help hunt seals, ward off polar bears, and pull heavy supplies. Malamutes were so important in daily life, they were treated as beloved members of the village family.
In the late 1800s, many native Alaskan dogs were crossbred with dogs brought north by prospectors during the Gold Rush. Because the Malamute was in a remote region, they remained relatively pure compared to other native spitz-type dogs. In the 1920s, Arthur T. Walden brought Malamutes to New Hampshire and began a breeding program, which resulted in sled dogs that were used during expeditions to Antarctica. The power of the breed was also harnessed to carry supplies during World War I and II.
AKC Breed Category
Malamutes are friendly and don't choose favorites; they are welcoming with everyone in their pack and beyond. They often 'talk' with their family members using a distinctive "woo woo" noise, or an ongoing howl. They thrive when kept active with work and play. Without enough exercise throughout the day, they may become destructive and howl excessively. They have a strong, dominating personality that needs to be managed through patient training so they don't become difficult to live with.
Are Malamutes Good with Kids? Malamutes love spending time with kids, especially if that means extra playtime and attention. They are a large dog, however, and are not an optimal choice for household with small children.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Malamutes Good with Other Pets? Mals have a strong prey drive and aren't always a good match for a house with cats or small animals. They can also try to dominate other dogs of the same sex, so keep that in mind if you have another dog at home.
Malamutes are not naturally protective.
Are Malamutes Good Guard Dogs? Malamutes can be intimidating in size, but that's about it. They love people, and that includes people who are to no good.
This large dog isn't a boisterous breed, but they do require plenty of activity to keep them healthy and engaged. Without 'work' to do, Mallys may get frustrated and act out with unwelcome behaviors such as howling, digging, and destructive chewing.
Indoor Malamutes are attached to their families and want to live indoors with their pack. They shed abundantly, so the vacuum is an important tool with this breed as a housemate. Because of their size, it's best to keep the breakables up high and provide a securely fenced yard for exercise. Apartment living is possible, as long as you can get your Mal outside for hours on end.
Outdoor Mals are winter-ready with their thick, double coat. They shouldn't be left outside alone for long stretches, however, because they are crafty and will find a way out of the yard in search of adventure. Their hearty coat also makes them prone to overheating in warm weather. If you live in a hot climate, give your Mally most of his exercise early in the morning and the evening when it's cooler. During the heat of the day, he should be in an air-conditioned room.
Exercise Alaskan Malamutes need more than an hour of vigorous exercise daily. Two 45-minute walks, with playtime or dog-sport training in the yard will keep them healthy and prevent boredom.
Endurance Malamutes have the stamina and strength to pull heavy sleds laden with supplies over many miles. This means they can participate in dog sports and activities for hours on end without tiring out. If you don't live in a cold climate, schedule exercise and play for the early morning or evening so your Malamute doesn't overheat.
Activity distance rating
Food This large, active breed requires approximately 5 to 6 cups of high-quality dry dog food each day over two meals. Because activity levels can vary significantly between dogs depending on their age and health, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best amount of food for your Malamute.
Alone Time Malamutes don't relish being left alone, and will become destructive if you leave them for half a day or a full day. They can be alone for a few hours as long as they are well exercised beforehand. Never leave your Mal in the yard unattended—they are escape artists and will find a way to dig under or jump over the fence if unsupervised.
Health and Grooming
10 - 14 years
Despite their copious coat, Malamutes don't require constant grooming—most of your cleanup will involve following them around with a vacuum. To keep their coat healthy, brush it three to four days a week to remove fallen fur and to condition the coat with the natural oils from their skin. A bath once every month, or whenever they get dirty, is all they need. Clean their ears with a gentle, dog-safe cleanser when they appear dirty. Their toenails should be clipped once a month to prevent cracking.
Common Health Issues
Some breed-specific health concerns that may affect the Alaskan Malamute include:
You can minimize serious health concerns in an Alaskan Malamute by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Basic commands are a breeze for the Malamute. Because they are also independent, stubborn, and sensitive to harsh reprimands, they learn best with plenty of positive feedback and rewards of dog treats.
Mals are excellent candidates for advanced training and dog sports, including agility, rally, and dog sledding. Another option is skijoring—in which a dog pulls a person on skis.
Sporting Dog Training
Though they are natural hunters and will stalk birds and squirrels in your yard, Mallys are not known as skilled gundogs.
Are Alaskan Malamutes hypoallergenic?
Are Alaskan Malamutes part wolf?
Can Alaskan Malamutes swim?
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