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Alaskan Malamute

Updated on August 10, 2013

Generally a domestic dog and a large breed, the Alaskan Malamute was bred originally for using as utilitarian dogs and later as sled dogs for Alaska.

At times, they are mistaken for Siberian Huskies due to their markings and colors but are actually very different in personality, structure and size. If you keep one as a pet, once they get older, this breed has a dignified, quiet temperament and portrays a large amount of loyalty to the people who own them.

Alaskan Malamutes are still utilized as sled dogs for helping move light objects, hauling freight or personal travel. Some are utilized for recreational 'mushing' which are sledding pursuits, as well as canicross, carting, bikejoring and skijoring.

On the other hand, many Malamutes these days are kept as pets for the family or as performance or show dogs in packing, dog agility and weight pulling.

Generally, Malamutes are not as fast in dogsled racing for long distances when competing against faster, smaller breeds.

Also, their use as work dogs is limited to traveling long ways at rates that are slower and to freighting. They are also able to move objects that are heavy over short distances.

Malamutes retain their original function and form compared to other breeds that are modern. Their personalities are characterized by strength and independence.

They not only require a lot of exercising but also an owner who can take on the role of 'Alpha for gaining the dog's respect.

If dog owners are not able to cope with dogs that won't comply with every command of their owner, a breed that shows more compliance needs to be chosen.

This dog has a genetically long foundation of thriving in the most unimaginably harsh environments and a lot of its behavior has developed for conforming to 'survival of the fittest.' Natural behavior, resourcefulness and independence are behaviors that are natural to Alaskan Malamutes.

Due to the fact that they are quite intelligent and independent, they can be a hard breed to put through training. On the other hand, if trainers comprehend the breed and know how to motivate them, they will undoubtedly be successful.

Sometimes, Alaskan Malamutes poorly cope with smaller pets, with the inclusion of dogs. Most likely due to their more natural beginnings of evolution, Malamutes tend to have a prey drive which is heightened in comparison to other dog breeds.

So while this breed can be taught to tolerate other pets and is particularly amiable around people, you must monitor them closely when around small children and other smaller animals.

Quite fond of people, this is the trait that makes them sought after in particular as dogs for the family. Nimble around smaller items and furniture, they make great dogs for the house as long as they get a lot of time outdoors to meet their requirements for considerable exercise.

If they are outdoor dogs all year round, letting them play in a small pool even one for babies filled with water which is cold in the summer can help keep their temperatures stable. In the wintertime, they love snow.

Many members of this breed are somewhat quiet, and don't bark very much unlike many other breeds of dogs. When they do vocalize, they often make a 'woo woo' talking sound rather than bark. For the same reason, they may howl like coyotes and wolves.

The breed standard of the American Kennel Club describes a natural size range with the more favorable freight size of twenty five inches and eighty five pounds for males and twenty three inches and seventy five pounds for females.

Individuals that are heavier and smaller dogs are seen commonly as well. There is usually a distinct difference in size between females and males. Weight higher than one hundred pounds is not unusual either.

Their coats are dense and are double northern coats of dogs, 'harsh' on the hair in the outer-guard. It stands away from the body and is not woolly, long nor sparse.

Alaskan Malamute coats are double coats with undercoats that have woolly, oily textures that can be 2-inches thick.

The guard coat or outer coat is longer at the withers but not more than 1-inch off the body's sides. When at attention, Alaskan Malamute ears are proportionally small compared to their head. A large heavy dog, Malamutes are more formidable than Siberian Huskies which are dogs of slim, small natures.

Malamutes are bred for endurance and power, which is its function originally and what breeders require as a standard. Usually, colors are in varied shades of solid white, red and white, seal and white, black and white, sable and white and gray and white.

There are many breed markings including splashes at teh nape, half collar or collar, blazes and facial markings.

The health problems most commonly reported in this breed were hereditary cataracts and hip dysplasia. The additional issues of health in this breed include skin disorders, kidney problems, congenital heart problems and epilepsy.

Other health problems include progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, heart defects, chondrodysplasia and inherited polyneuropathy.


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    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      I'd love to have this breed or dog, or a husky, but I have enough trouble with my English pointer and can't help but think these dogs would be more of a handful.

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 6 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Great hub! I love this particular breed! I have never owned one but have known many that others have owned. My encounters with these dogs has always been great! Thanks for great information on the Malamutes!