The Alaskan Malamute is often mistaken for a Husky, but they are larger than most of the other "Spitz" type dogs which includes the Husky. Malamutes are heavy, well-boned dogs that were originally bred by the Mahlemuts, an Inuit tribe to pull heavy sledges through the snow in some of the harshest conditions of the Artic of western Alaska.
Today, Malamutes have become a popular choice of dogs with people both in the UK and elsewhere in the world. They are dominant characters by nature and need to be handled and trained from a young age by an experienced dog owner. In short, a Malamute is not the best choice of dogs for first-time owners. These dogs need to know their place in the pack and who is the Alpha Dog. They are intelligent, but they are not generally very quick to respond to commands which is something to bear in mind during their training.
Malamutes are native to Alaska as their name suggests. They were bred by an Inuit tribe called Mahlemuts to pull sledges and being highly skilled hunters, they helped their masters track down food dogs creating an interdependance between dog and man. These dogs were bred to be resilient and strong enough to cope with the harshest Artic climate and they share the same ancestry as other dogs from artic regions of the world, namely the Eskimo dogs of Greenland, the Labrador, the Siberian Husky and the Russian Samoyed.
During the 1890's Klondike Gold Rush, the Malamute and other sled dogs became extremely valuable to recently landed prospectors and settlers who frequently crossbred them with imported breeds with the end goal being to improve the breed and to make up the numbers of dogs available because true Alaskan Malamutes were few and far between at the time. This cross-breeding almost led to the true breed nearly vanishing altogether, but the Inuit tribes continued to breed pure bred Malamutes and later American enthusiasts ensured these dignified, proud looking dogs did not disappear off the face of the planet for good.
The Mahlamutes bred these dogs to be powerful and strong rather than for their speed and they looked and cared for them forming an interdependance that insured both the people and their dogs prospered and thrived. The breed was discovered by settlers during the mid eighteen hundreds and there are those who believe that Alaskan Malamutes were used on Peary, Cook and Byrd's expedition to the North Pole in 1909.
Similar to the Husky, recent DNA analysis shows that the Malamute is one of the oldest breeds of dog on the planet. It was only in 1935 that the breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club and they were accepted by The Kennel Club here in the UK a little later in time. In 2010, the breed was named as being Alaska's official state dog.
Height at the withers: Males 64 - 71 cm, Females 58 - 66 cm
Average Weight: Males 38 - 56 kg, Females 38 - 56 kg
The Alaskan Malumute is a really big, powerful and handsome looking dog. They are heavily boned which adds to their overall impressive appearance. Malamutes boast large, broad heads with a large muzzle that's as wide as their skulls. They have almond-shaped brown medium sized eyes although lighter coated dogs have lighter coloured eyes which is acceptable as a breed standard.
Their ears are small in relation to their heads and are triangular in shape with tips that are slightly rounded. They are set wide apart on a dog's head. Malamutes have strong upper and lower jaws with a perfect scissor bite. Their neck's are expremely powerful which dogs hold slightly arched.
Their shoulders are well-boned and solid with well-muscled front legs and their bodies are powerful, very muscled with a deep check and straight back that slopes down from their shoulder to their croup. Hindquarters are extremely well-muscled and powerful looking with strong, well-developed back legs that are a good indication of just how much strength a Malamute actually has. Their feet are large and well-rounded with closed toes and well-arched pads.
Malamutes have thickly furred tails that are set high and which curves upwards ever so slightly. When at rest, these dogs hold their tails down, but they carry their tail over their backs when they are being put through their paces.
When it comes to their coat, the Malamute boasts an extremely thick and coarse outer coat with a really dense undercoat which is both woolly and oily offering tremendous protection from the elements. Their guard coat is thicker around their necks getting shorter along the sides of their body.
Malamutes boast a variety of colours which includes the following:
Whatever colour a Malamute is, they always have white on their underbodies, on different areas of their legs and on part of their masks. The markings on their faces can either be mask-like or cap-like with some dogs having a combination of both which is acceptable as a breed standard. Dogs can also have a white blaze on their foreheads and a white collar as well as a white spot on their napes.
The Alaskan Malamute is an intelligent dog although they can be slow when responding to commands. Although, large and impressive looking, these dogs are extremely friendly by nature and would not make very good watchdogs for this reason and the fact, they seldom make a sound or bark.
They need to be well-socialised and introduced to as many new people, animals and situations as possible early in their lives to be truly well-rounded dogs. They need to be handled firmly yet gently by someone who is an experienced dog owner. As such they are not the best choice for first time dog owners because the Malamute needs to know their place in the "pack" and who is the Alpha Dog in a household. The ideal owner would already be familiar with this type of dog because the breed is known to be a very independent and self-reliant character by nature.
Alaskan Malamutes are known to be a more dominant breed and therefore their training and socialisation has to start as early as possible for them to become well-rounded, obedient dogs. They are intelligent and with the right sort of handling, training and direction an Alaskan Malamute responds and learns new things well. However, they do not respond that quickly to any commands they are given which has to be taken into account when these dogs are being trained.
Malamutes need to be trained by someone who is familiar with the breed or this type of dog because they can get the better of anyone who does not understand them. It's essential for these dogs to know their place in the "pack" and who is the alpha dog in a household or they will take over and show the more dominant side to their characters.
Malamutes have a heightened prey drive, so while Malamutes are, as a general rule, amiable around people and can be taught to tolerate other pets, you have to be careful with them when they are around smaller animals and children. In short, it's best to always keep a close eye on children when they are around a Malamute to make sure things stay calm and that nobody gets over excited which could result in a child getting knocked over, hurt or scared.
If a Malamute is introduced to other animals and pets from an early age, they will as a general rule accept them. However, these dogs have retained a very strong hunting instinct and should never be left alone with any small pet or other animal which they would see as "fair game" which could be disastrous.
The average life expectancy of an Alaskan Malamute is between 10 to 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
As with many other pure breeds, the Malamute is known to suffer from certain hereditary and acquired health issues which are worth knowing about if you are hoping to share your home with one of these impressive looking dogs. The health problems most commonly seen in the breed are as follows:
As with any other breed, Alaskan Malamutes need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Malamutes need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Malamutes have very thick coats and are therefore high maintenance in the grooming department. They need daily brushing in order to keep their coats looking good and any shed hair under control. They are heavy shedders which like other breeds tends to happen more in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when Malamutes need even more grooming. It pays to get a Malamute professionally groomed at least 2 to 3 times a year because it makes keeping their coats tidy that much easier in between their visits to a grooming parlour.
Malamutes don't need to be bathed too frequently and if they do, it's best to leave this up to a professional groomer who would be able to make sure a dog's coat is thoroughly dried after they've been bathed.
Malamutes need to be given a lot of daily exercise and ideally, this needs to be for at least 1 hour twice a day. If possible, these dogs love to run free so they can really let of steam, but you should only let a Malamute off their leads in a place where it is safe to do and where there's no risk of them running off and worrying any other animals and livestock.
These days there are lots of sledging clubs dotted around the country which are a great place to take a Malamute so they get to do what they were originally bred to do - namely pull a sledge.
Alaskan Malamutes are large dogs and therefore the cost of feeding one is higher than smaller breeds and other large dogs. If you decide to get a Malamute puppy, it's important for them to stay on the diet they are used to otherwise they might end up with a tummy upset. Breeders normally give new owners a feeding schedule for their puppies and it's essential these be kept to and to feed puppies the same food. You can change their diet, but this needs to be done gradually when the time is right.
Although not known to be fussy eaters, you should not feed an Alaskan Malamute lower quality dog food because it would not contain the right levels of nutrients to meet a dog's daily requirements which could result in them developing damaging deficiencies in minerals, vitamins and other valuable nutrients that dogs need to remain healthy.
If you are looking to buy an Alaskan Malamute, you would need to be prepared to pay anything from £250 to well over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Alaskan Malamute in northern England would be £19.27 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £44.87 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and breed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 -£60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Malamute which includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to well over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Malamute would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Alaskan Malamute puppy.
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