Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute story is one of fierce fighting against bigger and meaner creatures of the Arctic, such as bears. This lovable and affectionate large sized dog has been hugging and lugging for over 12,000 years.

Considered to be one of the first dogs in America and the oldest Arctic sledding dog around. Alaskan Malamute or Mal for short, is a breed with one of the most distinguishable stories of all canine history.

Incredibly popular in Alaska, and well received around the world, the Alaskan Malamute is a dog you want on your side if you live in harsh climates and need a strong, reliable working dog. Although they have the endurance and strength to make fine laborers, this breed is also considered to be a loyal companion to their family.

What is the Mal’s story? Why is this breed one of the 60th most popular breeds around the world?

Here is what you need to know about the Alaskan Malamute.

History

Long before the Mal was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935, this breed was already on the radar by different groups of people.

And for good reason.

It is said that the Alaskan  Malamute was created by the Thule people of North Alaska over a thousand years ago. Identified as a basal breed, the Malamute is believe to be from east Asian origin, and is related to other Arctic dogs such as the Siberian and Alaskan Husky. It was believed, that Mals first settled in the Americas 12,000 years ago, and then establishing themselves in the Arctic 4500 years ago.

While other sled dogs of the Arctic cleared a snow covered path as racing dogs, the Mals purpose was much different.

Alaskan Malamutes were used in a completely different and equally important role. They assisted gold miners in 1896, helped Richard Byrd trudge to the South Pole, and they assisted and rescued during World War 2.

But it was their companionship and hunting skills that won this breed over with their people in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Malamutes are known for fighting large beasts of the Arctic and even going toe to toe with bears, while alerting hunters of Seal holes. While some may confuse this breed with the close related, SIberian Husky, one of the separating characteristics of a Mal is their weight and purpose.

The Husky will do well with speed, but can it endure the arduous and heavy freighting that a Mal can? Probably not, as each breed has been used for different tasks.

Malamutes can tread with heavy cargo for long distances, and with a history for carrying hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds of goods and supplies in Europe during the WW2 era.

They can still be used for sledding today, but they’ve found themselves a much more relaxing role involving family companionship. Their importance and work will not be forgotten in Alaska, as the state named the Mal their official dog.

Size

The Alaskan Mally belongs to the large sized breed group. According to American Kennel Club breeding standards, a male Mal should stand at a desired height of 25 inches, and a female should range up to 23 inches. For a male Malamute weight, the desired amount is 85 pounds, while a female’s weight is 75 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

Mals love to dig and howl, and are very protective of their people. They may be reserved towards strangers a bit, but eventually they open up. If you socialize an Alaskan Malamute at an early age to be around other canines and felines, there should be no issues. However, because of their natural hunting history and dominating candor, they may become too aggressive with other smaller animals. Breaking this habit immediately is important.

Although they have become such wonderful companions today as pets, they are widely used in transporting freight. After all, why stop a good thing? Today, Mals even enjoy sledding recreationally or for competition in contests. While they don’t fare well in speed or racing competitions, the Alaskan Malamute does quite well with agility and packing.

An Alaskan Malamute is typically happiest in colder climates as it is known for living in brutal conditions. They are very playful and can be great around small children when supervision is present.

They will bark when they have to, and are somewhat active. They don’t need to run, but they do like to have something to do. This breed can be destructive towards the home or livestock when it’s bored. Keep your Mal plenty of entertained.

The Alaskan Malamute is dignified and independent, it knows it can survive most if not all environments. More importantly, you will have a hard time finding a breed as loyal and compassionate as an Alaskan Malamute.

Health

The American Kennel Club says the Alaskan Malamute can live from 10 to 14 years for an average life expectancy rate.

This particular breed is relatively a healthy canine group. However, there are some common concerns that you may want to look out for.

FIrst, you should always make sure that you buy from a reputable dog breeder and obtain the proper documentation. Second, routine and regular checkups for your canine will keep them healthier and cut down unneeded and avoidable costs.

One of the leading health issues affecting Malamutes is hip dysplasia. This isn’t just devastating for the dog itself often requiring surgery and arthritis, but it’s also a costly procedure, which can range upwards at $6,000.

Another health issue is cancer, which is considered to be one of the leading causes of Alaskan Malamute deaths. 36% of the Malamutes surveyed by the United Kennel Club died of the fatal disease.

Diabetes Mellitus, Follicular Dysplasia and Uveodermatologic Syndrome were all listed as a high risk in an estimate reported by Embrace Pet Insurance.

Other affiliated health concerns:

  • Gastric Torsion
  • Hemeralopia
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Cataracts
  • Osteochondrodysplasia

While this may sound alarming, the Alaskan Malamute is actually a healthy breed. Most of these issues can be avoided with proper breeding measures, and if you obtain the right paperwork and bring your canine for a regular checkup.

Care

Many Malamute enthusiasts will warn you, that you better get a good vacuum, if you are going to care for this breed. When they do shed, they do so heavily. Regular grooming should be done with this breed. The more you brush their thick and coarse coat.

Alaskan Malamutes need an open space to run in. They will not do well in small areas such as apartments. This breed is in the working group, and has a well-established history of heavy work loads. That said, give your Alaskan Malamute plenty of daily exercise. They thrive best when given a job to do. If you have children, they will enjoy pulling them along a sled.

Malamutes are better in mild or colder climates. As an Arctic sled dog, you should avoid having this canine out on a day when it’s warm and muggy. They will also dehydrate quickly, so it’s always best to keep water around this breed.

Early socialization with smaller animals, especially pets, is absolutely necessary. They do have a natural tendency to exhibit prey syndrome, where they try to dominate or hunt smaller animals. Alaskan Malamutes are good with children and pets with supervision. Keep in mind, that an Alaskan Malamute can weight as high as the century mark, so little children can easily get knocked over or trampled accidentally during play.

They are reasonable and friendly with strangers, but won’t hesitate to act if protective measure are needed.

Finally, remain resilient and consistent during the training process. This breed is organically independent and can be hard to train at times.

Feeding

Based on this breed’s history, it makes sense that a diet rich in fish, seal, and other raw meats is prevalent. However, to avoid health issues, always refer to your veterinarian’s suggestions when it comes to dietary regimens.

This purebreed will appreciate a healthy, quality, top-rated dry food. The kibble you choose should be rich in protein value. Most manufacturers offer 20-30 percent protein per serving as well as 15-20 percent fat.

The better the food, the better it will be for their teeth. Most dog experts would advise picking out a chunky food source, since the Malamute is a bigger dog.

Two meals a day, one at night and one in the morning is suffice. You can start weaning your puppy off three or four meals and replace it with two at nine months. Dog treats such as bones and biscuits are always helpful for their teeth, mental activity, and morality.

You should always have a clean source of water available for your Alaskan Malamute.

Coat

The coat of an Alaskan Malamute is sufficient to protect them from their natural tasks in the Arctic. Coated like a blazer, the Mal has a thick double coat that is coarse to protect them from the most frigid elements.

Their undercoat is robust, and the natural oils work its magic in keeping out water and other natural elements such as snow. The hairs can grow up to two inches.

Twice a year, the Malamute will shed heavily, which will require above average grooming efforts.
Malamutes have plumed tails, that carry over their back, with plenty of fur for insulation.

There are plenty of coat color variations on a Mal. According to the American Kennel Club, the most preferred and common choices are a mix between sable to red, and light gray to black.

This breed also features a cap on top of their heads, and a mask on the face.

Overall, they have a well-built appearance, with broad heads and almond colored eyes. Most Alaskan Malamutes will have white on their underbelly, legs, feet and hints on the face.

Alaskan Malamute

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Alaskan Malamute side profile. By Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Alaskan Malamute Fun Facts

  • Did you know that an adult male Alaskan Malamute is capable of pulling up to 3000 pounds of freight?
  • Like other breeds, the Alaskan Malamute was near extinction during the World War 2 era. It was estimated that only 30 registered dogs were left in the stud book. The effort to save the Malamute from extinction was through a woman named, Eva Seeley.
  • In 1933, a few Alaskan Malamutes aided explorer, Richard Byrd into Antarctica during his historic expedition.
  • Malamutes are the 59th most popular dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

Closing Thoughts

The Alaskan Malamute is so many things and more. Most of all, however, this breed is loyal, friendly, engaging, and dependable.

Toss this breed a job, and watch it works it magic, while most canines expire and quit.

The Paleo-Eskimo people of many years past knew a good thing when they saw it. They knew that this breed could help them with hunting, but also during long and excruciating voyages, that would require heavy transporting. But what impressed them most about this dog, and if you were to ask any Malamute owner, is the desire to earn his human’s love and trust.

All of the rich historical accolades and achievements are great to gloat about, but at the end of the day, if you just want a dog that will be by your side when needed most, the Alaskan Malamute has your companion requirements covered.

 

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