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Alaskan Malamute

 Photo of Alaskan Malamute
Photo: Courtesy of Sharon Loades

Alaskan Malamute Books

Group: Working || Breed Standard


The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest of the sled dogs, named after a native tribe of the Inuit people, the Mahlemuts. Although it is not known for certain where the tribe, or their, dogs came from, early records of the first North American settlers mention the breed. With their strength and endurance, they were originally used as draught animals, pulling heavy loads and carrying back-packs over very long distances. But they were good all-purpose dogs and also guarded the herds of caribou, hunted polar bears, moose and wolves and guarded the camp. From the early part of the 20th century, Malamutes were used for sled racing. Unfortunately, crosses were then made with other Arctic breeds in order to increase the Malamute's speed still further. However, in 1926 American breeders who were interested in sled racing sought out pure Alaskan Malamutes and built the strains we know today.


Height: dogs: 64-71 cms (25-28 ins); bitches: 58-66 cms (23-26 ins) | Weight between 38-56 kgs (85-125 lbs)

A strong, powerful dog with a deep chest and straight back that slopes down to the croup. His legs are heavy and muscular, being broad and very powerful. The tail is set high and carried over the back when moving and working, but hanging down when resting. His head has a wolf-like appearance, with a broad skull, large muzzle and powerful jaws. His ears are erect, small and triangular, set wide apart on the head and the eyes are brown and almond-shaped. His movement is an easy, tireless and rhythmic with powerful drive from his hindquarters, when trotting single tracking is normal. The Malamute's coat has a thick, course outer coat of medium length and a dense, woolly undercoat. The outer coat stands out and the neck has a mane of thicker fur. Colours go from light grey to black, or gold to liver. There is always white on the underbody, parts of legs, feet and face. The only solid colour allowed is all white.


Alaskan Malamutes are friendly and very affectionate, hardy and easily maintained in good condition. They are not a "one-man" breed, but tend to be loyal to the whole family and simply love to have lots of attention. Intelligent, they can become bored easily and can often be stubborn. They require both mental and physical stimulation to keep them out of mischief. They can tend to be dog aggressive, so it is very important to socialise them as much as possible as a puppy around other dogs. Malamutes hardly bark, but they can howl! A malamute can be predatory towards smaller animals that it may regard as prey and it is inadviseable to keep other small pets. They are not a particularly easy breed to own as they are dominant and strong-willed, so as well as needing lots of love they will need a firm hand and lots of training.

Breed Health

In general the Malamute is a healthy breed, and if fed a good diet and plenty of exercise should rarely need to see a vet. Breeders usually test all breeding stock for hip dysplasia and eye problems.

Breed Care

Malamutes are very clean dogs and need little grooming, but, like all dogs, will benefit by a good brush about once a week. They shed relatively lightly throughout the year, but will moult seasonally and will "blow" their entire undercoat. At this time they should be brushed at least once every day to remove the dead hair. This keeps them comfortable and encourages the new coat to come in quicker. To remove the dead undercoat there is a tool called a rake, specifically made for this purpose. With the heavy coat, care must be given in hot weather to ensure the dog is kept cool and not over worked.


The Malamute thrives on plenty of exercise and adults require at least one hour every day. An active, very strong and powerful, not the sort of dog children, the elderly or frail should be allowed to take out on their own. Care must be taken in hot weather because of their heavier coat, and they should should only be exercised in the cool of the early morning or evening on hot days.


Being very intelligent, they learn very quickly but can soon become bored and may not reliably perform a command after they have learnt it! To keep his interest, training exercises should be kept short and varied, giving him new challenges as often as possible. Training and socialising is an absolute must for this dominant and strong-willed dog, otherwise he will quickly learn to rule the roost! See our books on training

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Last link added: 06 Apr, 2008