Alaskan Malamute Breed History
The Alaskan malamute was first described living among the native Inuit people known as the Mahlemuts, who lived along Alaska’s northwestern coast. The dogs were hunting partners for big game (e.g., seals and polar bears), and were capable of hauling heavy carcasses back home across great distances. These dogs evolved to be large and strong rather than fast, enabling one dog to do the work of many smaller dogs. When explorers first came to the region in the 1700s, they were impressed not only by the dogs’ hardiness in harsh conditions, but also by the reciprocal affection shared by the animals as well as their owners. In 1896, gold was discovered in the area and outsiders flocked to Alaska. Gold miners staged weight-pulling contests and races among their dogs for entertainment. The native breeds were bred with each other and those brought by settlers to create a speedier racer and to increase the pool of dogs available to assist with the gold rush. The pure malamute was becoming a rarity. In the 1920s, a New England dog-racing enthusiast began to breed traditional malamutes. As the breed’s reputation grew, some were chosen to help Admiral Byrd in his 1933 trek to the South Pole. During World War II, malamutes were called into service as freight haulers, pack animals and search-and-rescue dogs. In 1935, the breed received AKC recognition and took on new roles as an imposing show dog and loyal pet.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Appearance
The Alaskan malamute is powerfully built and can grow to quite large – well over 100 pounds. A well-proportioned malamute is slightly longer than it is tall. It is usually heavy-boned and compact, designed for strength and endurance. Its gait is steady, balanced and tireless. Its coat has a thick double coat, with a coarse outer coat and dense, wooly, oily undercoat, providing insulation from water and harsh temperatures. Although its eyes have a “wolf-like” appearance, its expression is soft. Alaskan malamutes are typically white with black, red or gray shadings. This dog breed also has an off-white undercoat. Blue-eyed malamutes are disqualified for show competition.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Temperament
The Alaskan Malamute is a friendly, good natured dog that is typically good with children and strangers. This dog breed tends to be very self-assured and strong-willed, but also fun-loving and loyal. It may be aggressive toward strange dogs, other pets or livestock. Some can be domineering. The malamute is a true pack animal with the natural instinct to "lead or be led." It is happiest when pulling a sled or cart and loves to run and roam. It is family-oriented, and with sufficient daily exercise, it is well-mannered in the home. Without ample exercise, it can become frustrated and destructive. It tends to dig and howl.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Maintenance
The Alaskan malamute can run for miles in cool temperatures and needs to have adequate exercise every day, either in the form of a long walk on leash or the opportunity to run or mush (pulling a sled or cart). Alaskan malamutes need lots of space. A home with a large, fenced, partially shaded yard is essential for this dog breed. It can live outdoors in temperate to cold climates, but prefers indoor living during warm weather. This breed is prone to heavy shedding and requires brushing at least twice a week. Early obedience training, within the first three to five months, is a must to overcome its stubborn nature.