The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest Arctic dog breeds prized for their powerful ability as sled dogs. They are close cousins of the Siberian and Alaskan Huskies and have been named after the Eskimo tribe Mhalamuits/Mahlemuts. The breed is known to be a great and loyal companion dog. In fact; Eskimo children were known to snuggle with these dogs on very cold nights to keep warm. Let us study this beautiful breed in detail.
Facts and characteristics
- The Alaskan Malamute was extremely valuable to miners during the gold rush of 1896.
- Although very similar to the Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, Malamutes are not racing dogs like those breeds; rather, they were bred as working dogs and even used for hunting and pulling heavy freight.
- During the World War II, this breed served as search and rescue dogs in Greenland. Just another way this loyal breed showed its usefulness!
- This is one well traveled dog breed that has been everywhere from Alaska to South Pole.
- Alaskan Malamutes are famous for their strength and endurance. They were prized for their ability to withstand inclement weather and could cover large distances in short period of time. However, it was their ability as freighters that made this breed more than just a sled or racing dog. Today, they are loyal, loving household companions.
- Alaskan Malamute size and physical description- The Malamute is heavy boned, strong dog with powerful muscular body. It has a broad muzzle and beautiful almond shaped eyes. The breed’s beautiful double coat protects it against the harsh winter and comes in various colors like white, grey, black, sable, and red always with white markings. Height for males is between 23-25 inches and for females between 21-24 inches. Weight should ideally be in the range of 75-85 lbs.
Where to find an Alaskan Malamute
As with any purebred dog, it is always best to get your Alaskan from a reputed breeder. This way, you will get AKC registration along with written guarantee about the puppy’s health records. The written guarantee will allow you to bring back the puppy in case the vet finds any health defects so you can either have it exchanged or get your full refund. All good breeders will also let you meet the puppy’s parents along with basic health checks for vision and hearing checks etc. Stay away from breeders who raise litters of different breeds and always get recommendations for top breeders from people who own a beautiful Alaskan Malamute. A good place to search for reputed breeders of the Malamute is the official website of Alaskan Malamute Club of America. If you are wondering how much a purebred Alaskan Malamute costs, then expect to pay anywhere between $1500 and $2000. A reputed breeder will offer the Alaskan malamute for a fair price and will be more concerned whether you would be a good owner for this loving dog. Remember: the best owner for a Malamute is one who is active and lives in cooler climate.
Every Malamute is different and comes with a unique personality. The temperament of the puppy will be also decided by the temperament of its parents. You can also make certain generalizations about this breed. For example, most dogs are loving, calm and of a loyal nature. They generally make gentle, stoic and playful pets. Do note that this breed is very intelligent and gets bored easily. So training them can be a bit difficult at times. Also they are stubborn and have an independent streak. Malamutes make great family pets as they love kids. With proper training and socialization, they can get along with other family pets.
We all know the importance of exercise for humans so why should it be any different for dogs. Malamutes need significant daily exercise, occasional jogs and other games and activities for intellectual stimulation. These are necessary to keep him mentally and physically balanced. As a rule, your Malamute needs at least 45 minutes of activity every day, and will even be happy with more. Plan a 20-25 minute walk in the morning and once again in the evening in case you are pressed for time. Walking is the best form of exercise but swimming is also great as it hardly puts pressure on the animal’s frame.
Some Malamutes have an independent streak but most are open to training. This breed is known to excel in many areas including agility. Start your dog on basic obedience training while he is still a puppy. Once he is 12 months of age and has basic obedience under his collar, you can enroll him in agility training classes. Teach your dog to walk beside you without running or pulling. This basic training is very important if you want your pet to become a hiking companion. Here are some training tips:
- Malamutes do well with training collars. Always remove the collar when you are not training your pet.
- Training is best conducted in a secure, fenced area.
- Teach your pet basic commands like come, leave it, wait etc. These are basic safety commands.
- Puppies, like small children, have limited attention spans. So keep lessons short and break up each lesson with a quick run around the yard or with a ball toss.
What you feed your Malamute will depend on his age, activity level, and overall condition and size of your pet. Your breeder or vet can give you the advice as to what a proper diet is for your dog. Puppies need dam’s milk for at least 2 months. With the plethora of dog food varieties available out there, dog food manufacturers have taken much of the guesswork out of the equation. Always check food labels and if needed, cook your pet’s meals at home. Once you know the right food for your pet, feeding your Malamute daily will be a matter of routine.
Special grooming needs
Like with any double coated breed, the Alaskan Malamute has substantial grooming requirements. The beautiful coarse coat needs daily brushing and attention to keep it shiny and healthy. Daily brushing will remove knots and tangles and also stimulate natural oils.
Common health issues
Bloat or gastric torsion, chondrodysplasia, hip dysplasia and skin problems are some of the common issues seen in this breed. To prevent bloat, avoid feeding commercial kibble that swells up when mixed with water. This will introduce air in your pet’s system and increase risk of bloating.