Introduction to the Alaskan Malamute
Breed Traits and Characteristics
Being Owned by an Alaskan Malamute Means
Caring for an Alaskan Malamute - training, socialisation and home life.
The History of the Alaskan Malamute
In some accounts, the Alaskan Malamute is described as a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemut (now known as Kuuvangmiut or more commonly Kobuk) group of Inupiat in upper western Alaska. These dogs had a prominent role with their human companions – as a utilitarian dog, working, hunting, and living alongside humans. The dogs were renowned for their excellent hunting abilities and were used to hunt large predators such as bears. They also aided their owners in finding seals by alerting to seal blow holes. The interdependent relationship between the Mahlemut and their dogs fostered prosperity among both and enabled them to flourish in the inhospitable land above the Arctic Circle.
For a brief period during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, the Malamute and other sled dogs became extremely valuable to recently landed prospectors and settlers, and were frequently crossbred with imported breeds. This was often an attempt to improve the type, or to make up for how few true Malamutes were available to purchase. This seems to have had no long-standing effect on the modern Malamute, and 2004 DNA analysis shows that Malamutes are one of the oldest breeds of dog, genetically distinct from other dog breeds. A study in 2013 showed that the Alaskan Malamute has a similar east Asian origin to, but is not clearly related to, the Greenland Dog and the Inuit Sled Dog (Canadian Eskimo Dog), but contains a possible admixture of the Siberian Husky.
(AKC) "Breed recognition came in 1935, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Eva B. Seeley. At that time many dogs were of unknown ancestry. Those who appeared purebred were used for breeding, others weeded out. After a few years the registry was closed."
"Losses from service in World War II all but eliminated the breed. In 1947 there were estimated to be only about 30 registered dogs left, so the stud book was reopened. Mr. Robert J. Zoller became involved in the breed and took this opportunity to combine M’Loot and Hinman/Irwin dogs with selected Kotzebues to create what became the Husky-Pak line. All modern Malamutes are descended from the early strains, and show combinations of characteristics in greater or lesser degree. Thus the natural differences we see today."
The Malamute dog has had a distinguished history; aiding Rear Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole, and the miners who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1896, as well as serving in World War II primarily as search and rescue dogs in Greenland, although also used as freighting and packing dogs in Europe. This dog was never destined to be a racing sled dog; it was used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of supplies to villages and camps in groups of at least 4 dogs for heavy loads.
The Alaskan Malamute is a member of the Spitz group of dogs, traced back 2,000 to 3,000 years ago to the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska.
In 2010 the Alaskan Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska.
Owning an Alaskan Malamute... Is this the right dog for you?
The Alaskan Malamute is a big dog, weighing around 38-50 kilograms. Their purpose is to pull sledges with cargo and therefore are very strong, often not aware of their enormous strength. They needs physical and mental challenges or they could become destructive like the Siberian Husky. His owner needs to be prepared to invest time into training. The Malamute has a thick, coarse outer coat and a woolly undercoat so is happy in very cold weather. They definitely do not suit a warm climate and on warm days will need to be kept cool as they can overheat very easily. Grooming is challenging and this dog needs grooming frequently as again like the Siberian Husky they blow their coats twice a year for 6 months each time.
The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly, loving and loyal family dog. Being so good-natured with people means they are not suited to guard work. However, they are not recommended for the first time dog owner because, despite their good nature toward people, they are not an easy breed. Being confident and strong-willed, they tend to be very dominant and require early obedience training and socialisation. Malamutes must never be given the opportunity to rule the family 'pack'. Malamutes also respond very poorly to harsh methods. Hitting or screaming at a Malamute will, at some point, result in it responding adversely. Malamutes need lots of love and lots of discipline. They are very intelligent so you need to be extremely firm and consistent but never harsh.
Hairy - Like the Husky, they shed their fur ALL YEAR ROUND!
'Stubborn' - Very stong willed, you would do well to remember this when trying to get them to do somthing they may not want to do.
Loyal - Unlike the Husky, they love human companionship and are more of an individual dog - although they can live with larger numbers (they do often have same sex aggression, especially in the same breed).
Untrustworthy offlead - A high prey drive along with that stubborn will - you should NEVER let them offlead unless in enclosed areas.
Vocal - Malamutes love to WOOO, a beautiful noise to behold but your neighbours may have a fright in the middle of the night.
Patience - They require lots of training in obedience and boundaries, they are VERY free thinking and will push their luck if given half a chance.
STUNNING - Malamutes come in a range of sizes, colours and coat lenghts. A very angelic breed which will turn lots of heads and cna be AMAZING dogs with the right owners.
Intelligent -- extremely intelligent
Entertaining (expect surprises)
Tireless (great on hikes)
Huggable (can get lost in all that glorious coat)
Excellent work ethic
Strong and powerful
Although generally good natured with all people, its imposing looks may be an effective deterrent.
Countersurfs at will
Raids the trash (opportunistic)
High prey drive (may dispatch livestock & other small animals)
Can be dog aggressive (especially with same sex dogs)
Demolition experts (expect holes in the yard)
Untrustworthy off leash (NEVER allow one off leash)
Brings new meaning to the term: "sheds"
Requires LOTS of training (obedience & agility are excellent choices with this breed)
May be loud, obnoxious and destructive when bored.