Alaskan Malamute – Everything You Need To Know

Alaskan Malamute is a purebred dog known for its powerful and sturdy body. These dogs were originally bred for their strength to pull and drag heavy-weight freights. Alaskan Malamutes are large breed dogs and are one of the oldest dog breeds. These working dogs, also called sled dogs, are full of high energy. They are intelligent, loving yet sensitive, and unsuitable for the apartments. They are similar to the Arctic Husky and Spitz breed dogs thus need a colder temperature.

Interestingly, the Alaskan Malamutes are shown as a pack of wolves in the movies. They are recognized by the AKC and officially the state dog of Alaska. Alaskan Malamutes are fond of people and make perfect pooches who love to be nearby, guarding their humans and watching the world go by.

Alaskan Malamute Pros and Cons

Intelligent and loyalOverpowering nature
ProtectiveHigh exercise need
PlayfulExpensive to maintain and feed
Pack animalsDifficult to train

Alaskan Malamute Basic Information

  • Name: Alaskan Malamute
  • Origin: Alaska
  • Group: Working group
  • Size: Large
  • Height: 11 inches to 2 feet                    
  • Weight: 75-100 pounds
  • Coat: Thick, double-coated, with plush undercoat
  • Color: Gray, sable, black, red with white, white and brown.
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Weight pulling, dog agility, packing, dog sled racing
  • Barking Level: High
  • Shedding Level: Low
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 4-10 puppies
  • Other Names: Nil
  • Original Passtime: Freighting
  • Life Span: 10-14 years
  • Club Recognition: AKC American Kennel Society

History of Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes originated in Alaska and are believed to have originated some 12000 years ago. They were considered bred by the Malimiut Inupiaq people of Alaska, who settled in the northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula. They are bred purposefully for performing tasks and are one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. According to a study in 2013, these dogs also have an origin in East Asia but have not been confirmed. They are also believed to be related to Greenland Dogs, Canadian Eskimo Dogs, and Siberian Husky. Another study of 2015 indicates the genetic similarities of Alaskan Malamutes with Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Husky. Alaskan Malamutes were used to chase seals, polar bears, pull and drag heavily loaded sleds. During the gold rush of 1896, native dogs were interbred, and pure breeds were lost. However, the Malimiut community was an isolated tribe, and the Malamutes survived the incursion. A strain of Malamutes used in the expeditions conducted in the 1930s was called the “Kotzebue” strain. Another different strain of these dogs was developed in the early 1900s and was later used in World War I and II. Many of these were destroyed on an expedition to Antarctica during World War II. All Alaskan Malamutes recognized by AKC have their ancestry traced to the original Kotzebue.

Alaskan Malamute Highlights

  • Alaskan Malamutes are stubborn, intelligent and unsuitable for first-time owners.
  • Malamutes will try to be the house alpha and should be trained accordingly.
  • With Alaskan Malamutes, the house should be properly fenced with no chance for digging down the fence as they are excellent diggers.
  • They are intelligent, energetic, and independent dogs and must be adequately trained to avoid destructive behavior due to boredom.
  • They have an excessive prey drive and get along with other smaller animals and cats with early socialization.
  • They thrive well in cold temperatures and have thick coats. 
  • They are not hypoallergenic and shed heavily.
  • They are vocal with their owners and will converse with their sounds and howls.

Alaskan Malamute Personality

Alaskan Malamute is a large breed dog that grows up to 11 inches to 2 feet and weighs about 75-100 pounds. These purebred dogs are one of the oldest Arctic sled canines, strongly built with well-muscled bodies. The head is always erect and broad. Eyes are brown, almond-shaped, with an expression of alertness, curiosity, and interest. Their coat sheds a lot and is not hypoallergenic. 

Alaskan Malamutes are double-coated with a thick upper coat and a wooly undercoat. The coat color includes gray, sable, black, red with white, brown and white. They have interesting face markings that make a distinguishing feature. The ears are triangular and erect. The tail is fully furred and resembles a waving plume. Alaskan Malamute is a robust dog that is structured for strength and endurance. 

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingLow
Good for new ownersLow
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneLow 
Cold toleranceHigh
Heat toleranceLow

Alaskan Malamute Physical Features

Head: The head is erect, broad, and deep. The eyes are almond-shaped, brown, and medium-sized, with a soft expression. The ears are medium-shaped, erect, triangular, and rounded at the tip. The skull is broad with a large and bulky muzzle in proportion to the skull. The nose, lips, and eye rims are always black except for the dogs with red coats. The red coat comes with brown lips, eyes, and nose.

Neck: The neck is strong and arched. 

Topline: The backline slightly slopes towards the rear, wedge-shaped and muscular.

Body: The body is compactly built with a well-developed chest. The loins are well muscled.

Tail: The tail is furred and moderately set.

Forequarters: The shoulders are moderately sloping. The forelegs are strong and muscled, the feet are tight and deep with well-cushioned pads. The toes are well arched, with hair growing between them. The pads are thick and tough, while the toenails are short and sturdy.

Hindquarters: The hind legs are broad and heavily muscled. Dewclaws on the hind legs are undesirable and should be removed.

Coat: They bear double-coats, thick, and coarse. The undercoat is dense, oily, and wooly. The length of the coat varies. The coat is generally short and less dense during the summers. 

Color:  Gray, sable, black, red with white, white, and brown. 

Gait: Gait is steady, agile, and robust. Well-balanced with good reach and strong drive.

Alaskan Malamute Temperament

Alaskan Malamutes are working dogs bred primarily to pull and drag heavy freights. They are affectionate, friendly, playful, loyal and devoted companions to their owners. He loves independence, and wilfully tries to take over the leadership in the house. They are people pleasers and are never a one-man dog. Being highly energetic and agile, these canines are used in canine sports like skijoring, bikejoring, carting, and canicross. Due to their high energy levels, they must be kept busy with activities.

Although an excellent family dog, the Alaskan Malamute is an unreliable watchdog owing to barking less. Being similar to Huskies and Spitz breed dogs he also has a high prey drive. Gets along with smaller animals and cats with early socialization and training. Lack of activities makes these dogs prone to boredom, leading to destructive activities like digging and chewing. They do not suit apartment living and need large space to run and play. They are excellent companions to converse and one can listen to their sweet noises and howls. Their overall temperament includes

  • Energetic
  • Playful
  • Alert
  • Friendly
  • Love people
  • Robust
  • Strength and endurance
  • Independent
  • stubborn

Alaskan Malamute Training

Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent and stubborn and make training quite difficult. Like any other dog, they need early socialization and puppy training classes. Their training will require patience and consistency. They are sensitive to any adverse reactions and need positive reinforcement while training

Alaskan Malamutes are also made to participate in performance shows like weight pulling, dog agility, and packing. He is a dog with strength and endurance that can pull heavy things over short distances. 

Alaskan Malamutes love being around people, treats and cuddling do wonders while training. They are active and look forward to the training sessions, playing fetch, which helps in training regarding behavioral corrections. Obedience training and socialization help behavioral correction and bring out the best in any dog. Alaskan Malamutes become bored easily, so it is necessary to keep them busy and the training enjoyable. Their training can include the following:

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Alaskan Malamute Exercise Needs

Alaskan Malamutes are highly active and energetic and thus would need ample exercise. A daily exercise routine of two hours is ideal for keeping the dog’s mental and physical stimulation intact. Walking 2-3 times a day with a bit of running and play keeps the dog happy and healthy. They are good at activities like agility and other canine games. They enjoy running, walking, hiking, agility, and playing in the pool and indoor games. A proper exercise routine helps the dog with the following benefits.

  • Social interaction
  • Weight control
  • Stress relief
  • Behavioral corrections like excessive chewing, persistent barking
  • Brain stimulation
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Routine toileting
  • Mental health and happiness

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh
IntensityHigh to medium

Alaskan Malamute Grooming

Alaskan Malamutes are large dogs with thick coats to thrive in cold temperatures. They shed a lot and need frequent grooming. They are not easy to groom, and the coat must be brushed 2-3 times per week. They may need extra brushing during their shedding season. Brushing helps remove matted hair and pull out the loose fur during shedding. One of the essential parts of grooming is bathing which keeps the dog clean. However, frequent bathing causes dry skin and itches. 

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They are prone to collect ear wax quickly. Hence, ears should be cleaned and regularly checked as they are prone to ear problems. Brush their teeth daily to prevent plaque and other dental problems. Never brush the teeth with a stiff brush as it will harm the gums and teeth. Also, make sure to use dog-friendly toothpaste. 

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Also, clean their eyes and trim their nails as a part of everyday grooming needs. Their toenails must be checked weekly as longer nails may harm and injure the dog. You can trim the toenails with a commercial dog nail trimmer or with the help of a vet or professional groomer.

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Grooming Overview

Easy to groomLow
Drooling tendenciesLow 
Amount of sheddingHigh

Alaskan Malamute Health

Alaskan Malamute is a healthy and active dog. Yet, it’s always wise to be aware of the health conditions they are prone to. 

Health Overview

General healthHigh
Weight gain tendenciesMedium

Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a condition in which a dog’s metabolism is slowed, due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Among the signs and symptoms are: 

  • Lethargy  
  • Gaining weight  
  • Reluctance to work out  
  • Hair Loss 

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is outwardly a painful disease that occurs when the bones of the back legs do not fit properly in the joints. While some dogs will exhibit symptoms, the majority of canines will not. Hip dysplasia is primarily genetic, although other causes such as accidents, excessive weight gain, and inappropriate training can also cause it. Even though this disease is fatal, therapies range from medicine to hip replacement surgery. To avoid this problem, avoid breeding dogs with hip dysplasia parentage and get annual examinations.

Other causes of hip dysplasia 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 
  • This condition causes defects or damage to the hip bones and joints and worsens without treatment.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include

  • Reduced activity and movements
  • Reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb
  • Lameness in the hind limbs
  • Reducing thigh muscle mass
  • Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Enlarging shoulders
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Cataract: As in humans, canine cataracts are characterized by cloudy spots on the eye lens that can grow gradually. Cataracts may develop at any age and often don’t damage vision, although in some cases cause vision loss. A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist certifies the breeding dogs after testing them free of hereditary eye disease before breeding. Usually, cataracts can be removed surgically with good results.

Osteochondrodysplasia: Osteochondrodysplasia disorders are rare hereditary disorders of bone or cartilage that affect the development of the skeleton.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a condition in which a dog’s metabolism is slowed, due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Among the signs and symptoms are: 

  • Lethargy 
  • Gaining weight 
  • Reluctance to work out 
  • Hair Loss

Inherited Polyneuropathy: It is an inherited condition where there is a lack of coordination and is not stable which results in bunny-hopping gait. An affected canine will show instability in walking, and may fall down. This can vary from mild to severe conditions.

Hemeralopia (Day Blindness): It generally shows up when the offspring reaches eight weeks. An affected canine will stumble or bump over things, hesitates to come out in the sunlight and prefers to stay inside. The symptoms of such disorientations disappear during night.

Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It is done to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and decrease the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

Recommended test for Alaskan Malamute

  • X-Rays 
  • CT Scan 
  • Eye Examination 
  • Physical Examination 
  • Blood Work
  • Vet-certified proof of genetic testing

Alaskan Malamute Diet and Nutrition

Alaskan Malamutes need a large quantity of high-quality food, and they should eat 1/2 to 1 cup of meal every day. Each puppy is distinctive, and the correct amount and quality of food depend on age, weight, activity level, health, and more. The meals can also be split into two times. They are prone to obesity, and hence overfeeding must be avoided. Malamute pups can be given dry food, wet food, or both. Ensure the diet contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, chondroitin, and glucosamine. They can also be fed with fruits and vegetables that give carbohydrate energy. Never hesitate to consult a vet to meet your pup’s dietary requirements to keep them happy and healthy.

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Alaskan Malamute Living Condition

Alaskan Malamute loves to be around their humans, friendly and affectionate. They are not apartment-friendly and need sufficient space or homes with bigger yards. They love outdoor activities like walking, running, playing, hunting, and visiting dog parks. They have high chasing instincts, wanderlust tendencies and always must be leashed or put in a crate. When allowed in a backyard, the place should be adequately fenced. 

Alaskan Malamutes are patient with kids but should never be left alone with children without supervision. They love the attention of their owners and develop strong bonds. They have a high prey drive but will get along with smaller animals and cats with early socialization and training. They are highly sensitive and are prone to anxiety when left alone for long. They can tolerate cold weather conditions and have a low tolerance to hot temperatures. They thrive on companionship, playtime, training, praises, and cuddles.

Adding an Alaskan Malamute to Your Family

Things to remember before adding an Alaskan Malamute to your family

It is best to get an Alaskan Malamute from a reputable breeder to prevent unavoidable circumstances like health disorders and provide you with vaccination certificates. It is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure his health and happiness.

Always remember the following red flags to avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.

  • Puppies are available around the year
  • You can choose from a variety of litter that is always available

Cost of an Alaskan Malamute Puppy

An Alaskan Malamute’s cost ranges from $500 to $2500

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