Alaskan Malamute Overview
- Dog Breed:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Breed Group:
- Working Group
- Intelligent, playful, high energy, affectionate with family, high drive
- 23-25 inches
- 75-85 pounds
- Life Span:
- 10-14 years
- Coat Colors:
- Coats may be a combination of any of the following solid colours with white: agouti, black, blue, gray, red, sable, seal, or silver. Solid white is also possible. Markings can be black. Some Malamutes have a gray mask.
- Area of Origin:
- Best For:
- Experienced owners
Alaskan Malamute Characteristics
Alaskan Malamute Gallery
About The Alaskan Malamute
Known for its independent nature and intense energy
Requires an experienced owner
The majestic Alaskan Malamute is an ancient breed that is highly prized for its affectionate nature and independent spirit. Loyal to its core, the Alaskan Malamute, also referred to as a “Mal,” bonds to its family with a deep intensity. A working breed, the Mal is a high drive dog with energy to spare. The breed is extremely versatile, excelling at many different things including conformation events and such dog performance sports as competitive obedience, dog sled racing, and weight pull.
A dog breed that enjoys excellent longevity, the Alaskan Malamute can live between 10-14 years with excellent quality of life. The Mal’s strong, muscular body was designed for the endurance necessary for its work as a sled dog.
The Alaskan Malamute is an intelligent dog. This dog type requires an experienced owner and will often test its boundaries if it senses inconsistency or weakness in its leader. Mals can become bored easily, and thus, require an outlet for their energy in order to remain content. To satisfy the exercise requirements of this high energy breed, a commitment to daily vigorous exercise is essential.
The Mal is not a dog breed that is recommended for the first-time owner. They are known to be deeply sensitive. An incredibly social breed, the Alaskan Malamute craves the company of its family and is most at home in a spacious fenced yard in which it can get plenty of exercise. For this reason, Mals are not recommended for families living in apartments.
The thick double coat of the Mal sheds in copious amounts on a year-round basis. In order to maintain a lustrous coat and healthy skin, regular grooming is necessary.
Alaskan Malamute Breed History
Named for an Inuit tribe known as the Mahlemut
An old breed that dates back to the Paleolithic era
A working bred whose main purpose was hauling heavy loads across lengthy distances
An Arctic breed with roots in the Spitz family, the Alaskan Malamute is a working dog of ancient origins. Experts believe the Mal traces it roots back to wolf-dogs that were domesticated for the purpose of assisting hunters from the Paleolithic era on their expeditions which occurred over 4,000 years ago. The breed was brought to Alaska with its owners by crossing the land mass which connects Siberia to North America and that passes over the Bering Strait.
The Alaskan Malamute was named for a tribe of Inuit known as the Mahlemut that once made their home in the northwestern portion of the state of Alaska. This tribe played an important role in the development of the breed. The Mahlemut sought to create a dog with the stamina to assist with hauling heavy items on sleds across very lengthy distances. For this reason, it was important that the Malamute be able to work in tandem with other dogs without the fear of conflict arising.
Though initially the Malamute’s job was confined to the pulling of sleds in the winter months, the dog was later employed for bearing packs of heavy supplies in the summer months as well. Other jobs for the Malamute included helping to keep dangerous animals at bay and discovering seal breathing holes in ice-laden bodies of water.
Many often confuse the Siberian Husky with the Alaskan Malamute. While they bear many similarities, they are also distinctly different. One main difference is found in their jobs. While the Siberian Husky excels at pulling light sled loads at rapid speeds, the Malamute’s strength made it better suited to the hauling of heavier items at slower speeds but over far greater distances.
Since the landscape covered by the Inuit people encompasses an expanse which stretches from the coast to Greenland, regional differences began to appear in the Alaskan Malamute to account for differences in function and terrain. Following World War II, the Mal became in danger of extinction, causing a resurgence of breeders interested in preserving the breed. Today’s Alaskan Malamute is a combination of the three most common lines developed throughout the state of Alaska.
Alaskan Malamute Size & Weight
Measures between 23”-25” at the shoulder
Weighs between 75-85 pounds
Requires high quality nutrition to fuel its performance
The Alaskan Malamute is a medium to large breed dog, standing between 23’ to 25” at the shoulder. Its ideal weight range falls between 75-85 lbs with females weighing at the lower end of the spectrum, and males, the higher.
A strong breed with immense muscle mass, the Alaskan Malamute is an impressive sight to behold. Due to its intense energy level, owners should be prepared for the costs to provide the Mal with the high-quality nutrition it requires to fuel its drive.
Alaskan Malamute Personality & Temperament
Friendly and affectionate
Thrive in cooler temperatures
Not suited to apartment living
The Alaskan Malamute is a friendly dog that enjoys the company of its family and strangers alike. Affectionate to those it knows and loves, the Malamute displays fondness for each person it meets but reserves its loyalty for its family. A dog breed that can get along with children, supervision is a must during any playtime between a child and the Mal for the safety of both parties involved.
Though Malamutes are a breed that were intended to function in a pack, they do not naturally crave the companionship of other dogs for social activities. To help ease a transition to a home that contains other pets, it is a good idea to introduce the Alaskan Malamute to its new animal family members in a neutral location away from the family home. It is far easier to integrate a puppy into a home with established pets than a Malamute adult.
Malamutes are a high energy breed, and thus, are not suited to life in a small space such as an apartment. Mals that are left to their own devices can become frustrated, leading to the development of nuisance behaviors. For this reason, it Is vital to keep the Malamute physically and mentally stimulated on a daily basis. This can be achieved through the use of puzzle toys, brain games, or even just a meaty bone to chew when it is necessary for the dog to spend time alone at home.
A breed that thrives in cooler temperatures, outdoor time is essential to the mental and physical well-being of the Alaskan Malamute. However, the Malamute is prey driven and will look for opportunities for escape. A safe containment system is an absolute must for this breed. Malamutes can both jump and climb fences, so it may be necessary to install a kennel run which contains a roof.
The Malamute is not a dog for the first-time dog owner. This highly intelligent breed will continually test the boundaries of even the strongest pack leader, and it will not respect an owner that is weak or inconsistent in their expectations.
A highly social breed, the Alaskan Malamute does not enjoy spending time alone. Destructive behaviors can emerge if care is not taken to supply the dog with things to productively occupy its time.
Alaskan Malamute Health & Grooming
High grooming requirements
Double coat that sheds heavily
Gains weight easily
The Alaskan Malamute enjoys good health and excellent longevity, often living between 10-14 years. However, as with all breeds, there are a few genetic conditions that the Mal can be prone to. These include hip and elbow dysplasia, thrombopathia, chrondrodysplasia (also referred to as dwarfism), hypothyroidism, inherited polyneuropathy, Von Willebrand’s disease, and blindness. Most of these conditions are inherited, so it is important to select a puppy from a reputable breeder that conducts the appropriate health screening to prevent the transmission of genetic disease from one generation to the next.
The Alaskan Malamute has a lustrous double coat that is water repellent to protect against the harsh elements of the Arctic. However, to keep this coat beautiful and mat-free, it is necessary to groom the Malamute on a daily basis. All Mals should be brushed with a pin brush then combed with a metal comb. This process helps to eliminate mats which can trap fungus and hot spots, leading to discomfort and infection.
Malamutes shed heavily year-round and blow coat twice yearly. It is recommended that the Malamute be bathed every six to eight weeks. Regular nail and dental care are critical components to maintaining a Mal’s health. Tooth brushing should occur nightly with nail trims taking place on an as needed basis.
An underactive Malamute can be predisposed to gaining weight. To prevent this, regular, vigorous exercise is essential. In addition to this, it is important to measure all meals and monitor the Mal’s weight, making adjustments to portions as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
The Alaskan Malamute is not a breed that is given to drooling.
Alaskan Malamute Training
Strong-willed and intelligent, making them a challenge to train
Will not respect weak authority
Love to escape and roam
Obedience training is a must for every Alaskan Malamute. A breed that is prized for its independent thinking, the Mal will take charge of the home in the absence of a strong leader. The typical Mal is intelligent but can be quite stubborn, making training challenging. Patience is a virtue when it comes to training this breed.
All Alaskan Malamutes should learn the fundamental obedience commands. With continuous effort, the average Mal can master these cues within a few weeks of concentrated effort. However, it is important to note that there are some behaviors that are deeply ingrained within the breed that are nearly impossible to eradicate in a Mal including their penchant to dig.
Malamutes are known to be a mouthy breed. The best way to curtail this behavior is through redirection when the Mal is yet a puppy. Each time the puppy’s teeth make contact with skin, simply redirect the dog’s attention to something more appropriate such as a toy or bone. As with most breeds, most nipping originates from teething with the behavior dying out when the adult teeth are firmly in place.
Malamutes will chase prey if given the opportunity. A breed that does not like being contained, the Mal will look for every chance to roam in search of adventure. For this reason, a secure fenced containment system is an absolute must.
The Alaskan Malamute is not known to be much of a barker. The breed also drools very infrequently.
Alaskan Malamute Exercise Requirements
Strong-willed and intelligent, making them a challenge to train
Will not respect weak authority
Love to escape and roam
A working breed, the Alaskan Malamute is happiest when given a job to do. Since many Mals enjoy life as beloved family companions in areas of the world where sled racing is not in demand, it is necessary to provide an appropriate outlet for this high energy breed. Daily vigorous exercise is a must for the Alaskan Malamute. Failure to deliver on this will lead to a Mal that is frustrated and that begins to engage in destructive behaviors.
Though Malamutes do enjoy playing with their families in the privacy of their yard, they are equally suited to such activities as hiking, running, and swimming. This breed also excels at many dog performance sports including agility, weight pull, and competitive obedience.
Alaskan Malamute Diet & Feeding
Feed high quality food
Adjust amounts to suit the activity level and age of the dog
Avoid obesity by measuring portions
High quality nutrition plays an important role in keeping the Alaskan Malamute in excellent health. To ensure the dog’s needs are met, the age and size of the dog should be considered. A veterinarian is an excellent resource for determining precisely which food is the best fit for each life stage.
Puppies should always be fed puppy food. Feeding a diet too rich in calcium can lead to rapid bone growth which can cause irreparable structural damage to a developing body. Likewise, adult Mals should be fed a diet that is suited to their age and that is balanced to meet their nutritional needs.
Guidelines for portion sizes can be found on the bag of the food selected. These are only basic recommendations. The dog’s appetite and body condition will help to determine if the amount or frequency of meals should be increased or decreased. Dogs with a very high activity level will also require more food to keep pace with their busy lifestyle.
To avoid obesity, it is important to carefully measure all portion sizes.
You may also be interested in:
Alaskan Malamute Rescue Groups
For families wishing to adopt an Alaskan Malamute, there are many excellent online resources which can assist with sourcing an available Mal in their region.
Here are some links to assist with this quest:
Alaskan Malamute Assistance League
Alaskan Malamute Club of America
The Alaskan Malamute HELP League