The Alaskan Malamute is a strong and powerful breed of dog that closely resembles the wolf. One of the oldest dog breeds out there, this pup is not designed for apartment living or lap-sitting. These dogs need an owner who knows what they are doing and someone who is willing to meet the exercise and care needs of a high-energy and independent canine.
That being said, the Alaskan Malamute can adapt well to family life and is known to be an extremely social breed that’ll make a friend out of everyone they meet. They’re also intelligent and fun-loving, making them a relatively easy dog to train.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Alaskan Malamute and seeing whether they might be the pup for you, keep reading below.
History of The Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a wolf dog breed. These arctic sled dogs descended from wolves and still resemble them very closely, both physically and mentally. Of course, they have also been domesticated over the years and are gaining popularity as a companion dog.
The Alaskan Malamute was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935, the same year that the Alaskan Malamute Club of America was formed.
Thousands of years ago, the Alaskan Malamute’s predecessors crossed from Siberia to Alaska with native people. One tribe, known as the Mahlemuts, settled in the northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula. Here the Alaskan Malamute was developed and the breed was used to hunt seals, chase away polar bears and pull sleds.
Alaskan Malamutes were establish in the United States by Arthur T. Walden who created a kennel in New Hampshire. He began to breed these dogs and, along with his successors Milton and Eva Seeley, supplied many dogs for the Byrd Antarctic expeditions in the 1930s.
The Seeleys then began a program to reproduce the dogs found in the Norton Sound area of Alaska, creating a strain of the Alaskan Malamutes called “Kotzebue”. Another strain of these arctic dogs, known as the “M’Loot” strain was also created. However, these dogs were developed by Paul Voelker, Sr. with dogs he bought in Alaska between the early 1900s through to the 1920s.
During World War II, many Alaskan Malamutes were loaned out for pulling sleds and carrying heavy loads. Unfortunately, many of them were killed on an expedition to Antarctica during this period. Nowadays, these working dogs are often found as companion and family dogs.
The Alaskan Malamute is always gaining popularity, but this purebred breed of dog is still relatively rare in the United States. These pups are normally born in litter sizes of between 4 to 10 puppies, but you may need to go on a waiting list with a breeder. You can expect to pay between $1000 and $2000 for an Alaskan Malamute puppy, because they are so rare. Always check that you are buying from a responsible breeder.
Alaskan Malamutes are a large breed of dog. Males usually stand up to 25 inches tall and weigh around 85 lbs. Females are normally slightly smaller and stand 23 inches tall and weigh around 75lbs. However, it is not uncommon for these dogs to weigh over 100 lbs!
These pups closely resemble a wolf, appearance wise. They have a strong, muscular body that is sturdy and built for stamina. Their head is broad and they have erect ears that stand alert. Their muzzle is not long yet it is bulky and their tail is long and feathered, curling over their back.
The Alaskan Malamute has a dense double coat that consists of a thick, coarse outer coat and a softer undercoat. The outer coat should not be soft or long and is known as the guard coat, protecting them from the elements. The undercoat is one to two inches deep and oily and woolly to repel any wetness and the cold.
While the coat is mostly short, the length increases around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, in the breeches and on their tail.
Unfortunately, these dogs shed a lot and are definitely not the breed for those with allergies! Your vacuum cleaner will become your best friend as soon as you bring an Alaskan Malamute into your home. Brushing these dogs can help to minimize the amount they shed, but we will go into more detail about grooming later on.
The Alaskan Malamute can come in a range of coat colors, including gray, black, sable and red. There is a lot of variation and these dogs can come in different shades of the same color. The only solid color that you will see on the Malamute is white, which is normally found on the underbelly, the feet, the legs and sometimes the face. They may also have white markings around their forehead or neck.
Despite resembling a wolf from the outside and certainly retaining a few personality traits of their predecessors, the Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, loyal and playful dog that loves their people. Because they are pack animals, they will think of their family as their pack and will not like to be without you. They do not take kindly to being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety, which can lead to unwanted behaviors.
The Alaskan Malamute is a very friendly and sociable dog. While they may be wary of strangers at first, they make a terrible watchdog or guard dog because they will see an intruder as a friend and just want lots of love and attention! That being said, they are very loyal to their owners and, although are not big barkers, will let you know if something is wrong.
These working dogs need a strong, firm and confident owner, otherwise they will begin to believe they run the house. The Malamute won’t be afraid to fight you for the top position in the house, so early training is very important. Fortunately, they are intelligent and training should not be an issue, although they can become stubborn and so perseverance is needed.
If the Alaskan Malamute does not get enough exercise or feels bored, they can become very destructive. They are also great diggers and won’t be sorry if they dig up your garden! As long as you keep them active and engaged, their positive temperament will shine through.
The Malamute dog has a relatively long life expectancy. These dogs can live on average between 12 to 15 years.
Known Health Issues
While the Alaskan Malamute is generally healthy and has a long lifespan, like all dogs they can be prone to some health problems. We have laid out the main concerns below.
Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
Elbow Dysplasia — this is a common condition in large breed dogs. It can be caused by different growth rates and can cause lameness. It can be fixed with surgery.
Von Willebrand’s Disease — this is a disease that is found in both humans and dogs. It is a blood disorder that affects the clotting process. It cannot be cured but it can be treated with small surgery.
Inherited Polyneuropathy — this is characterized by an abnormal gait. You may first notice a lack of coordination and instability within your pup. Treatment has yet to be found.
Chondrodysplasia — this is a condition where puppies are born with abnormalities, such as the abnormal shape and length of their limbs. It is also known as dwarfism. There are now tests to see if dogs carry this gene.
Cataracts — you might suspect your dog has cataracts if they are constantly bumping into furniture. Cataracts can be cured with surgery.
Hypothyroidism — this can be caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormone and may produce signs that include infertility, obesity, mental dullness and lack of energy. It can be treated with medication.
Hemeralopia (Day Blindness) — affected dogs may stumble or bump into things. They may also be reluctant to be in the sunlight, preferring to stay in the shade. Fortunately, it can be managed. Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Alaskan Malamute, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these large dogs every day is really like. Unfortunately, these dogs can be a handle, particularly when it comes to their exercise needs, and this is why they are not recommended for first time dog owners. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise, their trainability and their grooming requirements.
Food And Diet
The amount you feed your Alaskan Malamute should be based on their age, their weight and their activity level. You should also check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding them based on these factors.
Try to find a food that meets all their nutritional requirements. Ideally, you should find a kibble that is formulated for large sized breeds with high exercise needs.
These large dogs love food and will certainly try to get extras from you (or even steal them off the counter!). Try to refrain from giving your Malamute too many tidbits and treats, as carrying unnecessary weight can be detrimental to their skeletal health.
Best Dog Food For The Alaskan Malamute
We recommend the Extreme Athlete dog food from Diamond Naturals for the Alaskan Malamute. Formulated for very active dogs such as the Malamute, this food will ensure your pup gets all the nutrients they need. Included in the recipe is high-quality chicken that provides an excellent source of protein for strong and lean muscles.
There are also vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables and superfoods included in this formula, all of which are easily digestible. Even better, this food contains K9 Strain Probiotics which is bacteria that supports their immune systems and helps your dog maintain an active lifestyle.
Alaskan Malamutes need a lot of exercise. They have tremendous strength and energy levels and will want to be outside, running around whenever they can! You should be walking these dogs for up to two hours a day, with time for games built in. These dogs can make an excellent walking or hiking buddy, too. If they do not get enough exercise, they can become very bored and destructive.
The Alaskan loves to dig and they won’t be afraid to destroy your yard. It is best to give them an area in the yard to dig until their heart is content, because it is virtually impossible to train these pups to stop digging!
Thanks to their intelligence, the Malamute excels at dog sports such as flyball, obedience training and agility training. This is something that will keep them both mentally and physically stimulated. It is worth mentioning that, while these dogs do well in colder climates, you should make sure you don’t exercise them in very hot weather. If you live in a hot climate, walk them at night after the sun has gone down. Also, it is advised you keep them on a leash when not in a fenced area. They will see small animals (even the neighbor’s cat!) and think it is fair game!
The Alaskan Malamute can make a wonderful family dog to those who understand their needs. Friendly and loving, these dogs believe that everyone they meet is their friend. They’re also very loyal to their owners and will see you as their pack, children included.
The Malamute is known for being generally gentle and affectionate with children, although they should always be supervised around very young children. They will never intentionally be aggressive or hurt children — they just want to play! — but they are a very strong and powerful dog and may end up knocking younger members of the house over.
These dogs can get on well with other dogs, especially ones they are raised with. Socialization should always take place, especially if you have other small animals in the home. Thanks to their wolf origins, they are known to chase small animals such as cats unless they are taught not to.
It comes as no surprise that the Alaskan Malamute needs a lot of space. They are a large breed dog and won’t be happy living in a tiny apartment. They’ll also benefit from a yard where they can run and play, in addition to lots of time spent exercising. These dogs will thrive in an active family who will take them hiking and running, as well as those who will teach them tricks and play ball games with them.
The Malamute dog is a very intelligent dog and therefore training should not be difficult. However, these dogs can retain a stubborn streak and so they need a firm and consistent trainer to show them who is in charge. If you have experience training a dog, you will find training the Alaskan a breeze.
Like all dogs, the Alaskan Malamute responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats.
You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
While these dogs are generally very sociable with humans and will see everyone they meet as a friend, socialization from an early age is still necessary. They will need to learn how to react around other dogs in particular, so a puppy training class can be a great place to start.
Introduce your Alaskan Malamute to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way from puppyhood. This will help them to grow up to be a well-rounded and well-adjusted member of society!
The Alaskan Malamute is known to shed and therefore has relatively high grooming needs! You will need to be brushing them at least three times a week to remove dead hair and to keep their coat in good condition.
While they shed moderately all year round, they shed even more heavily twice a year, when the hair falls out in large clumps. During this time, you may find yourself brushing your Malamute every day. You should use a slicker brush or an undercoat rake. Despite the fact they shed a lot, the Alaskan Malamute is a clean dog breed and does not need to be bathed very often. You should only need to bathe them once or twice a year, or if they really need it!
If your Malamute doesn’t wear their nails down naturally, trim them once or twice a month. Also check their ears frequently for any signs of infection. Remember to brush their teeth too, at least two to three times a week, to help prevent dental decay and disease.
Alaskan Malamute FAQ’s
How much does an Alaskan Malamute cost?
An Alaskan Malamute puppy can set you back between $1000 and $2000. Finding a breeder can be difficult because these dogs are still quite a rare breed. You should always make sure you are buying from a reputable Malamute breeder who can show you health clearances for both parent breeds.
If this is out of your price range, or you would prefer to adopt, you can always check your local shelter. Unfortunately, people buy Alaskan Malamutes without realizing what actually goes into owning and looking after one and then they have to give them up. A quick search online will also help you connect with rescue organizations for this breed.
Is the Alaskan Malamute aggressive?
Alaskan Malamutes are not aggressive at all! These dogs are friendly to everyone they meet and have a wonderful temperament. They also get on very well with children and are very affectionate towards them, which is what makes them such great family pets. If these dogs don’t get enough exercise or they are bored, they can become destructive. However, this is not done out of a place of aggression, rather a place of frustration! As long as these dogs are exercised and kept entertained, as well as shown lots of love, they will be a devoted and playful member of the household.
While the Alaskan Malamute descends from a wolf and certainly resembles one, the doggies we know today are a friendly and affectionate breed that make an excellent family pet. Although these dogs have very high exercise needs that must be met, they are easy to train and just want to be around their family members at all times. The Malamute can be stubborn and will fight for their position in the household’s hierarchy, and so a strong and confident owner is needed. That being
said, as long as you’re prepared to get active and show them attention, the Alaskan Malamute will be your best friend.