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Alaskan Malamute

Other Names: Malamute
Country of Origin: United States
Dog Group: Working Dog

Originback to top back to top

In Northwestern Alaska, a tribe of Innuit, called the Mahlemuts, developed a breed of dog for hauling heavy loads in harsh weather and assisting with hunting. The dog they developed shares its ancestry with other arctic breeds: the Samoyed of Russia, the Siberian Husky and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador. However, the Mahlemuts dog was not built for speed, but for power and his impressive stature supports this fact. It has been stated that the Mahlemuts staked out bitches in heat so that wolves could interbreed with them. However, the Malamute is not a wolf hybrid and any breeding in that direction is strongly discouraged. Although the American Kennel Club till 1935 did not officially recognize the breed, it is surmised that Malamutes contributed to the polar expeditions of Perry, Cook and Byrd. It was in pulling loads that Malamutes made their contribution to expeditions, as they are not a racing dog. Some outcrosses to the faster arctic dogs were made during the goldrush era but the Seeleys (breed enthusiasts) did their utmost to purify the breed back to its original purpose.

Descriptionback to top back to top

This is a large, solid dog with a thick weatherproof coat that can be black, grey, or red with distinctive white markings. In many ways, the Malamute is visually like his distant cousin the wolf. However, the Malamute is a domesticated dog and is not a wolf hybrid.

Size Giant
Colour Colours are wolf gray, black, sable and red, all with white markings. White markings normally appear as a cap or mask on the face, on the legs and feet and on the belly. A white blaze on the forehead or a spot on the neck is also seen.
Coat Length Short Medium
Age Expectancy Giant breeds do not live as long as their smaller counterparts in the dog world. 10 years would be a good life expectancy for a Malamute.
Weight/Height Range Dogs ideally measure between 64 - 71cms at the withers and bitches measure between 58 - 66cms. Both dogs and bitches weigh between 38 - 56kgs.
Ailments

This is a strong and naturally hardy breed, their most significant problem being Hip Dysplasia. Malamutes may also be prone to copper and zinc deficiencies.

Common ailments: Bones (Developmental) - Hip dysplasia, Chondrodysplasia, Endocrine - Hypothyroidism, Endocrine - Pituitary dwarfism, Haemeralopia, Factor VII disease, Zinc related dermatosis
Breed Classification Alaskan Malamutes belong to the working group and are used for sled-pulling, sled-racing, as companions and seen in the show-ring.

Feeding & Ownershipback to top back to top

If being used to sled, this dog should be on a 'performance' diet as it will burn off an extraordinary amount of calories. As a housepet, a normal maintainence diet should be acceptable. As a giant breed, it may need to be on a specially formulated puppy diet for giant breeds. This diet is helpful in preventing joint and bone problems that these breeds sometimes develop.

Food Cost More than $20
Other Expenses Once purchased, apart from feeding, there will be little further expenditure. They are a hardy breed therefore veterinary costs should be low.

Personalityback to top back to top

With their physical resemblance to wolves, most people assume Malamutes will be good guard dogs. Nothing can be further from the truth! They are extremely friendly, affectionate dogs even to complete strangers and they seldom bark! They are loyal and noble dogs but can display dominant behaviour to other dogs of the same sex. They will get on well with children but there should be supervision from an adult at all times. Whilst inherently gentle, Malamutes need to learn at an early age how fragile human children are in order to prevent accidental injuries. As long as they have been introduced to other household pets from a young age, they will accept them. This breed should never be left alone as they are 'pack' dogs and can become sullen and withdrawn, causing behavioural problems. Owners should make allowances for the breed’s need to both howl and dig, providing an appropriate time and place to do both. Some breeders say the scavenging instinct is also strong in the Malamute and warn against a tendency to raid the bin. It is not recommend for novice dog owners to acquire this breed.

Intelligence As this is a dominant breed, especially with the same sex, it is essential the dog be thoroughly socialized before allowing free play in the park with other dogs. A Malamute needs a confident handler who will clearly take on the role of pack leader and train the dog with kind, but firm methods. Although the Malamute will never respond to commands at lightening speed, it can learn obedience and agility commands and will perform them competently.
Energy High
Suitability for Children Medium
Tendency to Bark Low
Overall Exercise Requirement Whilst this breed will adapt themselves to family circumstances, owners should still allow at least an hour a day of hard exercise. Some owners join sledging clubs to compete in races thus giving the dogs plenty of exercise. It should be noted that Malamutes do have a tendency to run off so they should be well trained to recall before being let off the lead.
Suitability as a Guard Dog Low
Ease of Transportation Low
Level of Aggression Medium
Other Animal Compatibility Medium

Groomingback to top back to top

The dog should be given a 5 minute brushing daily. Dogs will shed heavily once a year and bitches twice a year during their seasons. Uniquely, Malamutes are reported to be free of doggy odour so they should not need to be bathed frequently.

Grooming Requirements Every Day
Trimming Required None
Amount of hair shed Heavy

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