The Alaskan Malamute is the largest of the arctic breeds. A Nordic sled dog descended from the Arctic Wolf, its name comes from the Mahlemuts, an Alaskan tribe that raised and cared for these beautiful dogs. Originally used up to 3000 years ago by these Mahlemut Eskimos of Alaska, these highly valued dogs were their only form of transportation. Possessing not only incredible strength and endurance, but a will to work, they pulled not only light travelling sleds, but also those heavily laden with food and supplies.
The Malamute is well-built and solid, with a plumed tail held over the back. The head is wide, with wide-set, erect ears. The eyes are of medium size and almond in shape and are obliquely placed on the skull. Dark coloured eyes are preferred, with blue eyes being considered a fault in the breed standard. The feet are large, of the snow shoe type, with tough pads. The thick, coarse double coat averages 1 - 3 inches in length and comes in a range of colours from light grey to sable, red and black. The only solid coloured accepted under the breed standard is white. The dog often has darker highlights and often has a dark mask or cap. The legs and muzzle are almost always white.
In some areas dogs may be either smaller or larger than the official breed standard.
Bitches: Height 56-61cm (22-24") Weight 32-38kg (70-85 lbs)
Dogs: Height 61-66cm (24-26") Weight 36-43kg (80-95 lbs)
Unsurpassed in beauty, intelligence and resourcefulness, the Alaskan Malamute is not the right breed for everyone. Extremely loyal and intelligent, sweet and most affectionate, Malamutes are also powerful and sometimes predatory.
They shed heavily about twice a year, and lose hair in between. They can be stubborn, but are extremely smart and love to please and with the right training, many rewards and praise, can become a very well-mannered dog. Firm leadership and sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation are a must to keep these highly intelligent dogs from becoming bored and destructive.
Most Malamutes are universally friendly toward people and absolutely love children. It is important to remember, however, that neither a Malamute, nor any other breed of dog, should ever be left unsupervised with young children. Many malamutes are friendly with dogs of the opposite gender, but are known to be same-sex aggressive, and sometimes even 'breedist'. There are those who have been known to love other dogs indiscriminately, however this is the exception rather than the norm.
As guard dogs or watch dogs, Malamutes excel only in welcoming burglars with wagging tails and woos. Fortunately, they are equally hospitable to invited guests. They are happiest in the company of humans and need to be treated like a member of the family. Time inside with their 'pack' and inclusion in family activities are a must.
Alaskan Malamutes are not recommended for apartment living. They are quite active indoors and should have a large, secure outside yard for play. Malamutes are quiet compared to most dogs, but they do like to howl, and to dig. Secure, high, climb-proof fencing is important, as these dogs have been known to climb over and dig under fences to gain access to the wide world outside.
The Malamute has a dense coat which should be brushed at least twice a week and daily when they are in full coat-blow. Their undercoat comes out in clumps twice a year and will become matted and painful if not removed with proper grooming. Their coat allows them to withstand extreme cold and does provide some insulation against heat, however it is imperative that measures are taken to ensure dogs in hot climates are kept cool. Plenty of shade and fresh cool water is vital.
The Malamute's mellow temperament, high intelligence, extraordinary versatility and happy attitude combine to make this breed an excellent companion, but only for the special person who has the dedication and the means to provide the exercise, mental stimulation, grooming, care, training and attention the breed requires.