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 became a rarity. The 1920’s saw a concerted effort by some to purify the malamute breed, returning to its original qualities and characteristics, resulting in the Alaskan malamute as it is known today. Although humans have utilized the tremendous strength and stamina of the malamute over the years for such heroic tasks as journeying to the South Pole and serving as working dogs in World War II, the malamute has also become known as a favorite of dog show enthusiasts and as a family pet.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Appearance
The Alaskan malamute is a muscular and powerful dog, often growing to be well over 100 pounds in adulthood. 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. Like other spitz breeds that are double-coated such as Chow Chows and Akitas, the Alaskan malamute is well designed for cold and wet climates. 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." Although this dog thrives when it is put to work pulling a load or given a great deal of space to explore, it also enjoys the companionship of a family. The malamute will usually do very well in a home where there is a balance between indoor rest and outdoor adventure. Without ample exercise, it can become frustrated and destructive. It tends to dig and howl.
Alaskan Malamute Breed Maintenance
The Alaskan malamute is built for strength and endurance, able to cover vast distances in cold environments. Anyone who is considering a malamute as a pet must understand that it is characteristic of this breed to crave running and hard work. Alaskan malamutes need lots of space. A home with a large, fenced, partially shaded yard is essential for this dog breed. While a malamute could live outside in a cold climate, it is essential to their health and culture to be inside a climate controlled home during the warm and hot months. During those warm times of year, 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.