The Alaskan Malamute dog is a large, powerful breed initially bred to pull sleds in the brutal, harsh Arctic terrain. That’s why they are known as some of the strongest leash pullers and fence climbers, requiring an expert ability to keep them under control.
Even so, they are a very joyful and friendly dog breed, adoring both adults and children alike. They would make a great family pet, as long as you consider all of the pros and cons before deciding. We’ll get into the specifics behind their personality, health, and grooming as well.
As the name implies, the Malamute is native to Alaska and helped the early Eskimos with sled transportation, carrying large loads, and hunting polar bears and other animals for food. Based on the canine studies, the Alaskan Malamute is one of the most ancient breeds in existence, dating back at least 5,000 years. Malamutes became wildly popular in 1896 during the Alaska Gold Rush when miners paid high prices for sledding and dog teams. There are not many different types of Malamute dogs, despite some crossbreeding that occurred during this time. During World War II, the Malamute was once again called into service to help haulers, pack animals, and search-and-rescue dogs. The Malamute is sometimes referred to as the Malamute wolf-dog due to its wolf-like markings and appearance.
Alaskan Malamutes will win you over with their playful, fun-loving disposition. They greet everyone as friends, even strangers, so they don't make good guard dogs, but they are highly loyal to family and friends. They are also packed animals, so they love to be included in your human pack, coming along for family activities and adventures.
Despite this wonderful temperament, they are a significant challenge for first-time dog owners. They have an uncontrollable need to run, love to dig and howl, are expert escape artists, and have a high need to prey for small creatures, including squirrels and cats. The best thing to do is give them many outlets to exercise – hiking, running, pulling carts or sleds, and formal obedience training are all helpful.
Malamutes are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to specific health conditions. Some Malamutes suffer from hip dysplasia, a genetic deformity of the hip socket that may require surgery to correct. This can be particularly devastating for an active running dog, such as the Alaskan Malamute. This dog breed can also suffer from genetic eye conditions and cataracts, usually present by one to two years of age. Another possibility is chondrodysplasia, a developmental abnormality of the cartilage that can lead to dwarfism. With proper care and regular vet visits, the average lifespan of the Alaskan Malamute is generally 10 to 12 years.
The thick, waterproof double coat of the Alaskan Malamute is perfect for the harsh Arctic life, but it requires constant upkeep in today’s domestic households. The undercoat is one to two inches deep and is oily and woolly to repel the wetness and cold. If you have an Alaskan Malamute, expect your vacuum cleaner to be used very often and schedule regular brushing sessions. Brushing at least one to three times weekly will help keep their coat free of debris and distribute skin oils. However, Malamutes also shed twice a year heavily. A major plus to this shedding breed is that the double coat is odorless. If you can handle the intense coat care, the Malamute is pretty easy to groom overall, with baths only required a few times a year and no unique haircuts necessary.
Pros and Cons
The Alaskan Malamute has several pros and cons and does require the correct type of family to thrive and be happy. Pros of this dog breed include its friendly personality with both adults and children, affection and devotion to their owners, and its high energy level - making it a great adventure and exercise buddy. The Alaskan Malamute is not for you if you don’t want to deal with:
- Lots of exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness and howling when bored
- Aggression towards small animals
- Escaping from your yard
- Possessiveness of food
- Very heavy shedding
Adopting a Malamute Dog
Alaskan Malamutes are moderately common in the United States. Many people acquire them on impulse based on their cuddly, handsome looks without knowing their challenge to live with and train. Many owners give them up when it becomes apparent that they are too much to handle. Because of this, these pups can be found at many dog rescue groups. If you’re up for the challenge, live an active lifestyle, and can deal with their fur upkeep, consider adopting an Alaskan Malamute and start your search with the Alaskan Malamute Club of America.
The Alaskan Malamute is genuinely a fantastic dog breed with its loving demeanor, friendly personality, and cuddly temperament after the workday is done. With that being said, it takes a particular person to care for this breed. With firm but loving training, the Alaskan Malamute will make a perfect addition to your life. Overall, they do make great family dogs but make sure you have a fenced-in yard and are up for an active lifestyle with hiking, running, or swimming regularly.