Alaskan Malamute

April 12, 2012

The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed dog often called a northern dog, Arctic Sled dog, even a Nordic dog. This breed was used as an Alaskan sled dog and is quite often mistaken for the Siberian Husky, which is his cousin as is the Samoyed of Russia and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador. The Alaskan Malamute is the oldest sled dog known to be in existence.

The Malamute has a double coat with the guard coat or top coat being coarse and varying in length with the undercoat being one to two inches in depth and very dense. The undercoat tends to be oily and wooly. The colors range from light gray to transitional shadings of black, sable, and then shadings from of sable to red. The undercoat can be a variety of shadings as well. There is only one solid color of the Alaskan Malamute, which is pure white. Their coat is never long; it is more short or medium in length along their sides, with the length becoming a bit longer around the shoulders and neck, down their back, over their rump, and in the breeching and plume. Broken colors are expected unless you are talking about the pure white Malamutes.

As a puppy, you will have your hands full, as he will wish to play, romp, and discover his surroundings. The Alaskan Malamute is a very intelligent breed, which is enormously loyal, sweet, and loving to their master. An Alaskan Malamute is not suited as a guard dog because they are overly tender; however, they can be quite aggressive to other animals or even small children until they have had the chance to except them as part of the family. They love the outdoors and plenty of activity; however, they also need to be part of their human family. They can be destructive if left alone indoors, as they need extra attention.

Information

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Appearance

The Alaskan Malamute is a large dog with male’s height from 24 to 26 inches and females from 22 to 24 inches. Male dogs weigh in at around 80 to 95 pounds while the female’s weigh between 70 to 85 pounds.

His head is wide with triangular ears that are a bit rounded at the tip, which are set wide apart on the outside back edge of the skull. They do tend to have a forward lean except while they are pulling a sled or hard at work they may be folded against their head. Along with his alert brown almond shaped eyes, he has a loving and calm expression.

The coat of the Malamute can be a variety of colors however, the face markings are very distinguishable with a cap over the head and the face being all white or with a striking bar or mask. White is always the principal color on the underbody, parts of legs, feet, and portions of the face markings.

The neck and body are strong in stature with a wide chest. The body may seem short; however, it is more compact and sturdy in order to pull heavy loads. The Alaskan Malamute has a straight back that has a small slope to the hips. The furry tail is carried high over their back with the resemblance of a large waving plume.

The front legs are heavily boned and muscular with feet that are a snowshoe type. The feet are large, with toes arched and tight fitting with well-cushioned pads.

Personality

The Alaskan Malamute is a very affectionate dog that is also extremely loyal to his human family. Since they are so loving, they are not good as guard or watch dogs.

Do not expect your Alaskan Malamute to obey every command. They have been known to ignore a direct command from their master in order to save their master from danger. This breed of dog is not as compliant as some owners may wish. This does not mean the malamute is not trainable, but they do tend to have their mind.

As for other animals and children, the malamute should be watched very closely with other animals that are smaller than he is and of course small children. He is not necessarily aggressive, but does have a tendency to bite. When the malamute has accepted the child or other animals into his family you can relax a bit more.

Care

The Alaskan Malamute has a thick coat that should be brushed twice per week. This breed sheds quite a bit with the undercoat coming out in clumps twice per year. Bathing is not necessary the majority of the time, since their coat sheds the dirt on its own. If he has been playing in the mud you might want to give him a bath with dry shampoo.

Alaskan Malamutes are clean dogs and unbelievably odorless.

Apartment life is not the best for this large breed and they are active. They need a large yard in which to romp and play. You will need a high fence since he will jump over if he so desires. They will also dig under fences, so be sure to bury the base. Alaskan Malamutes are territorial conscience and love roaming in their own territory.

Cold weather is not a problem for the malamute; however, they will need to stay cool during the hot summer months. They should have access to clean fresh water at all times, with plenty of shade.

The Alaskan Malamute does need exercise, but watch overdoing in the summer months.

History

The Alaskan Malamute is a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemut tribe and thus named appropriately after this native Innuit tribe. This tribe settled along the shores of upper western Alaska in the area known as Kotzebue Sound. During this time, the malamute lived among the tribe as companions while working, hunting, and resting. The dogs were not treated as pets or just as workers, they were regarded as equal companions. The exact origin of the Alaskan Malamute along with the Mahlemut tribe is a bit obscure as the tales from Asiatic sailors only explained the sight of “native people using dogs to haul sledges.”

The malamutes were used as draft animals, as the white man noticed when they began to settle the area. During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, malamutes along with other sled dogs were used to carry gold miners and their loads throughout the area.

The beginning of the 1900s had settlers breeding the malamute with other sled dogs, which from 1909 to 1918 was called the age of “decay of the Arctic sledge dog.” This intermingling was suppose to aid in creating a faster breed of sled dogs for racing purposes. Today, it has been discovered that this cross breeding did not have a lasting effect of the modern malamute we see today. Through research and DNA analysis, it has been reported the Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest breeds of dog that is genetically unique from other breeds.

Throughout history, the Alaskan Malamute has led the way for many expeditions and explorations of the artic region. These strong dogs aided Admiral Richard Byrd to the south pole, miners during the Gold era, and have always been destined to pull and explore the farthest regions. The malamute did not have a future in dog sled racing as many thought, but had a career in pulling heavy loads up to one thousands of pounds to villages and camps in the cold artic areas.

Development of the pure strain of the Alaskan Malamute began in 1926 and they were recognized for AKC registration in 1935.

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