Alaskan Malamute Dog: Sled dog, Not Big Husky
Just as many people think the Alaskan Klea Kai looks like a small husky, the Alaskan malamute looks like a big husky. Both breeds are related to the Siberian husky but have differences. The Alaskan Malamute is classified as a large breed dog that was originally bred as a utilitarian dog, and later was used as an Alaskan sled dog Because of their general looks people often mistake them for Siberian husky. The Malamute is heavier, larger and more formidable in both nature and structure than the Siberian husky. That’s because the Malamute is bred for strength and power rather than speed. They are slower in long distance dogsled racing than smaller breeds such as Siberian or Alaskan huskies.
The Malamute originated in upper western Alaska with a native tribe called the Mahlemuts. The name later became Malamutes. They used the dogs in hunting and pulling sleds over ice and snow. Hunting included polar bear.
According to dogbreed.com, they are a Nordic sled dog descended from the Arctic wolf. They could go back as far as 2000 to 3000 years ago. They have been featured in Jack London’s stories and were participants in Admiral Byrd’s expedition to the pole. They are related to the Siberian husky, Samoyed, and American Eskimo dog.
The website Omalmalamutes.com describes the Malamute as a “natural” breed. By this they mean that survival was the basis of the breed developing rather than being bred with certain characteristics in mind. They describe this dog as being somewhat like a wolf or dingo in developing through traits that helped it survive its environment. The primary difference being that the malamute did it along with humans. Together this dog and the Inuit people achieved mutual survival.
They are a northern breed that some people mistake for wolves. Because they are a natural bred they share some wolf characteristics including looks and behavior. The nomadic hunting people would have considered it a good trait that the dog can survive on its own which leaves them as dogs with a strong independent streak. Since they were a hunting people, a dog with a strong prey drive was a good thing. Additionally these dogs have more pack oriented than most dogs.
Puppies in a litter are not all alike; there can be a mixture of characteristic personalities.
· Very dominant and wolf like
· Very submissive and golden retriever like
· Outgoing, confident, boisterous dog like
· Shy and skittish wolflike
There has been no attempt to eliminate characteristics as in most dog breeding.
With that in mind, we can think of them as a primitive early form of dog that is “about as close to the original wild types as any domestic breed,” according to the website.
Until about sixty years ago, Malamutes used to be allowed by their owners to run free in the summer and they became semi-feral. In the winter though, they lived as part of the family by sharing in the work by hauling loads, playing with the children and also helped keep the shelters warm with their body heat.
Way back when the peoples who partnered with the malamute dogs hunted polar bears, seal and walruses. These dogs helped in the hunt by chasing and attacking polar bears. They also helped in the hunt for seals and walrus. They did not function, like many breeds do, as guard dogs since a nomadic people have few visitors. The strangers they do see are welcome for trading and such.
- For modern people who keep these dogs as pets, they are not generally watch dogs because they lack guard instinct
- Attacking humans is not one of their instincts
- They do not recognize property lines as nomadic people, of course, did not have any.
The website Omalmalamute.com says that adult malamutes do not retain puppy characteristics which they imply other breeds do. Because of that the dog may have a problem in dog parks because they consider the other dogs immature and may feel a need to straighten them out. They also consider themselves your equal, so the strong alpha leadership on the part of the owner is important.
These dogs are still used as sled dogs for personal travel and hauling freight. They also participate in sports such as mushing, weight pulling, dog agility and packing. They are in search and rescue operations also. Many are simply family pets, which they are well suited to as they have a natural liking for people. They are, however, strongly independent and need a strong Alpha leader as owner.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized them in 1935 as the largest and oldest of the Arctic sled dogs.
23 in 75lbs female
25 in 85lbs male
Undercoat oily,wooley texture thick as two inches
Outer coat (guard coat) course
Ears-small in proportion to the body, erect.
Shades of gray and white, sable and white, black and white, red and white, solid white.
Face markings, blazes, splash at nape of neck,
Strong with substance, bone and snowshoe feet.
Tail furred and curled over back (their tail helps keep them warm when the curl up to sleep. This is true of other northern dogs such our Siberian husky)Characteristics
- Adult Malamutes may not be playful in the sense a puppy is but the do have a sense of humor..
- May not be obedient unless trained by a strong Alpha leader. Are not inclined to be subservient
They look enough like wolves that they may be used as wolves in movies.
They are sometime bred with wolves and sold as wolf dogs. Sometimes some breeders might sell one that looks like a wolf and claim it is a wolf dog hybrid.
The Alaskan malamute may look like a big husky but they are different dogs, although related. The Malamute is a very old breed that more or less evolved with primitive peoples and its traits came naturally from the lives they led. The Siberian husky is not such an old dog and it was primarily raised for racing.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
- O'Mal Alaskan Malamutes - Breeders of Show, Pet and housepet Alaskan Malamute dogs
Breeder of Alaskan Malamute dogs in Howell Michigan. AKC, health certified, temperament info and occasional puppies