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Pack of Alaskan Malamutes

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Working group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height – 23 to 25 inches
  • Weight – 75 to 85 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Medium-length, thick, waterproof double coat
  • Coat color – Agouti and white, black and white, blue and white, gray and white, red and white, sable and white, seal and white, silver and white, or just white. Malamutes can also have a black or gray mask marking on their face.
  • Exercise needs – Daily
  • Intelligence – High intelligence
  • Barking – Average
  • Life span – 10 to 14 years
  • Temperament – Affectionate, loyal, and playful
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – United States (Alaska)

Alaskan malamute fun facts 

  • National Alaskan Malamute Day is an annual holiday on Jan. 7.
  • Alaskan Malamutes are the official state dog of Alaska.
  • They hauled supplies, prospectors, and more during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Alaskan malamute temperament and characteristics 

This breed is known for being loyal and playful with a powerful, majestic stature. They love to snuggle with their humans after a long day of playing or working. This breed loves to have a pack, both canine and human, and they require experienced leadership from their owners. It’s essential to have a loving but firm training technique to help your malamute thrive.

Alaskan Malamute in snow

Common Alaskan malamute health problems

Alaskan malamutes can develop a variety of health conditions. It’s vital to look for a breeder who screens for these common health conditions. They include:

  • Chondrodysplasia. This genetic defect causes abnormal growth of cartilage which results in short legs.
  • Gait abnormalities. Inherited polyneuropathy is a neuromuscular disease that may lead to the wasting of limb muscles or even difficulty breathing.
  • Sight loss. Progressive retinal atrophy may cause night blindness and eventual day blindness as well. Alaskan malamutes may be prone to other eye conditions such as glaucoma.
  • Seizures. There may be several explanations for seizures in dogs, including epilepsy.
  • Skin conditions. Alaskan malamutes may be prone to alopecia and zinc-responsive dermatosis which can also result in stunted growth and multiple infections in puppies.
  • Hepatoid gland tumors. Perianal adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer found in Alaskan malamutes.

Cost of caring for Alaskan malamute

If your Alaskan malamute develops any health issues, it can lead to high out-of-pocket costs. For example, surgery to remove a perianal adenocarcinoma can cost upwards of $3,000, while chemotherapy and radiation may add thousands more.

Glaucoma is often managed with long-term medications, but surgery may be needed to remove the eye. Glaucoma medication can cost $100-150 per month while an enucleation may cost about $1,000.  It’s helpful for dog owners to insure their pups early or create a pet savings account to help with financial strain should an emergency or illness arise.

History of the Alaskan malamute

The malamute is one of the oldest sled dog breeds in the world, believed to be a descendant of wolf dogs. Malamutes were bred to work in packs and haul heavy loads at low speeds over long distances. Their Siberian husky counterparts were meant for speed across short distances. Malamutes also hauled packs in the summer, found seal holes in the ice in the winter, and distracted bears on hunts. They were accepted into the AKC registry in the 1930s.

Alaskan Malamutes walking

Caring for your Alaskan malamute

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming, but Alaskan malamutes may require more care than other breeds. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Exercise

Malamutes may not be bred to race, but the breed was built to work and pull heavy loads. They require a lot of daily exercise. A house with a yard would suffice, but it’s better to have specific exercise time. Swimming, hiking, or running are all great ways to regularly exercise your Alaskan malamute. This breed also does well in competitive sports, such as in agility, sledding, or obedience trials.

Alaskan Malamute walking

Grooming

Brush the thick double coat of a malamute every day to prevent mats or or hot spots. This breed blows their coat twice a year. During shedding season, brush with an undercoat rake regularly. Regular baths should be given (no more than once a month), but use conditioner sparingly.

Diet and nutrition

Alaskan malamutes should be on high-quality food to replenish the energy they expend every day. Remember that this breed can easily become overweight, so check with your vet on the right proportions for your pup. This also goes for treats during training — malamutes do well with this type of positive reinforcement — but give these in moderation

Training your Alaskan malamute

It’s vital to start your malamute’s training and socialization immediately to prevent them from becoming pushy or dominant over owners and other pets. Malamutes are intelligent but can be stubborn and get bored easily. This can lead to unwanted behaviors, such as digging or destroying property.

Alaskan Malamute relaxing

Breeds similar to the Alaskan malamute

Not quite sure that an Alaskan malamute is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Siberian husky. Similar in drive and energy levels but smaller in size.
  2. Samoyed. Not as naturally friendly toward strangers but tend to live longer on average.
  3. American Eskimo. Smaller in size and often easier to train than malamutes.

Frequently asked questions

Is an Alaskan malamute a good family dog?

Malamutes are good with kids and can make great family pets, but their size can overpower small children. Only bring them into families with older kids.

Are malamutes part wolf?

Alaskan malamutes may have descended from wolf dogs, but the modern malamute doesn’t have any recent wolf ancestry.

Is an Alaskan malamute a loyal dog?

Yes, malamutes are known to be loyal, friendly, and affectionate dogs.

What is the difference between a Husky and a Malamute?

Malamutes are stockier and larger with longer coats compared to Siberian huskies. Huskies tend to be more vocal and aren’t as good with kids as malamutes. Malamutes were bred for hauling for distance versus speed as with the husky.