Alaskan Malamute Description
The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, he is a powerful and well built dog with a deep chest and a strong and well muscled body. To go along with his good body, he is also incredibly good looking dog. This large breed was designed for strength for hunting large game and for pulling heavy loads, and not for speed.
The Malamute is a heavy boned dog with sound legs and feet, powerful shoulders and a deep chest, all to make doing his job easier. According to breed standard, his muzzle is large, and his head is broad and powerful. He has moderately big, brown (of all shades), almond shaped eyes (trade mark of a true pure blood). His ears are medium sized and triangular with rounded tips. His back is straight and his tail is carried over his back, ending in a plume. The tail helps to keep a dog warm when he curls up in the snow, wrapping his tail around his nose and face.
The outer coat of the Alaskan Malamute is thick and coarse, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, oily and wooly - purely designed for warmth and to keep the dog dry in cold climates. The Alaskan Malamute was recognized by the AKC in 1935, and is a member of the Working Group.
Not only is their build powerful, their personality is also, giving them a very powerful presence all around! The Alaskan Malamute is independent and strong willed, but also fun loving. Of course, his greatest idea of fun it to be out in the snow pulling a sled, but he also just enjoys running and playing. As his history of family indicates, he is a great and loyal family dog. But he does need his daily dose of exercise or he may become destructive due to boredom. They do not always like other pets around them.
The Malamute is also very intelligent and can be trained according to your needs. He is happy to pull or haul your stuff for you. They are friendly and not always the best guard dog because they are too trusting. But if they do perceive a threat, they are protective. And often, their instincts have saved the life of their owner, even if it means disobedience. There are plenty of sledding stories of a Malamute who disobeyed his owner, and by doing so saved his life from an unseen, yet somehow sensed, danger.
As puppies, they can be quite energetic, but they tend to mellow as they grow to adulthood, becoming dependable and relatively calmer pets.
An Alaskan Malamute should be brushed twice a week. He sheds heavily with the undercoat falling out in clumps twice a year. The coat sheds dirt easily so bathing is not necessary, as the coat sheds dirt readily. One really nice trait of the Malamute is that he is clean and odorless!
The thing about most dog breeds is that they have gone through a lot of change throughout their development. The Alaskan Malamute is unique because it is one of the most unaltered breeds found today. They are descended from dogs that lived with the Mahlemut Tribe from the upper portions of western Alaska. The Malamute's name is derived from this tribe.
These dogs were very important in the day to day life of the Mahlemut tribe, being relied upon to help with many areas of life, especially as hunting partners for large game (seals and polar bears). After a successful hunt, they then helped to haul the carcasses home. When many dogs worked together, they could pull hundred's of pounds, helpful for moving villages and camps. These Arctic dogs were treated as part of the family, but never pampered as a pet is today. Only the strongest dogs survived, because a family couldn't afford to keep a weak dog, their lives depended upon them in their harsh environment.
As the tribes interacted with outsiders in the 1700's, the explorer's were impressed by this hardy dog, and their owner's obvious attachment. During the Gold Rush in the 1890's, they really came in great demand. Not only for work, but also for entertainment as settler's staged weight pulling contests and sled races for the dogs. Many tried to breed them with other dogs to improve their speed, but most attempts failed. The Alaskan Malamute today is virtually the same as hundred's of years ago.
The Alaskan Malamute is very intelligent, dependable and responsive, and this all shows through in their training.
The do best with a daily, established routine, to help them best understand what you expect from them. Make sure that routine includes a lot of running and playing to give them a way to release their bundles of energy. Training for them should always be positive. They will respond to negative training with their own negative attitude (likewise if they do not get enough exercise).
The best thing you can teach your Malamute is good manners. They want to please their master, and will work hard to do so.
Alaskan Malamute's are generally healthy. Most problems found are those found in other large dogs, such as hip dysplasia. Other problems are related to age, such as being prone to cataracts as they get older. Of potential genetic problems found in Alaskan Malamutes, be aware of chrondodysplasia (dwarfism or crippling deformities in the limbs). This can normally be avoided by using a reputable breeder.