Alaskan Malamute: Wikis


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Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute
Nicknames Maly
Country of origin United States (Alaska)
Coat Thick, a double coat, with plush undercoat
Color Gray, sable, black, or red, always with white, as well as all white
Litter size 4-10 puppies
Life span up to 14 years

The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for use as an Alaskan sled dog. It is sometimes mistaken for a Siberian Husky, but in fact is quite different in many ways.





The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard calls for a natural range of size, with a desired freighting size of 23 inches (584 mm) and 75 pounds (34 kg) for females, 25 inches (635 mm) and 85 pounds (39 kg) for males. Heavier individuals (90 lb (41 kg)) and dogs smaller than 75 pounds (34 kg) are commonly seen. There is often a marked size difference between males and females. Weights upwards of 120 pounds (54 kg) are occasionally seen, but this is uncommon and such dogs are produced primarily by breeders who market a 'giant Malamute.' These large sizes are not in accordance with the breed's history or show standards.

The coat is a dense double northern dog coat, somewhat "harsher" (in a certain sense) than that of the smaller Siberian Husky. The usual colors are various shades of gray and white, sable and white, black and white, red and white, or solid white. Blue and white (slate gray with gray pigment) also is seen in the breed. Eyes are almond-shaped and are always various shades of brown (from dark to light, honey or hazel brown); blue eyed Malamutes will be disqualified in conformation shows, as they would not be a purebred Malamute, but mixed with perhaps a Siberian Husky. The physical build of the Malamute is compact with heavy bone, in most (but not all) cases. In this context 'compact' means that their height to length ratio is slightly longer than tall, unlike dogs like Great Danes which are longer and lankier in their ratios.

An adult Alaskan Malamute

The primary criterion for judging the Malamute in a show is its function to pull heavy freight as a sled dog; everything else is secondary. As many an owner has found out, the pulling power of a Malamute is tremendous.

According to the AKC breed standard, the Malamute's tail is well furred and is carried over the back like a "waving plume". Corkscrew tails are occasionally seen but are faulted in the AKC breed standard (a corkscrew tail is commonly seen in the Akita). The Malamutes' well-furred tails aid in keeping them warm when they curl up in the snow. They are often seen wrapping the tail around their nose and face, which presumably helps protect them against harsh weather such as blowing snow. Their ears are generally upright.

Alaskan Malamute puppy


A few Malamutes are still in use as sled dogs for personal travel, hauling freight, or helping move heavy objects, some are used for the recreational pursuit of sledding also known as mushing, also skijoring, bikejoring, and canicross. However, most Malamutes today are kept as family pets or show dogs or performance dogs in Weight pulling or Dog agility or packing. The Malamute is generally slower in long-distance dogsled racing against smaller and faster breeds and their working usefulness is limited to freighting or traveling over long distances at a far slower rate than that required for racing. They can also help move heavy objects over shorter distances.

The Malamute retains more of its original form and function than many other modern breeds. If a dog owner cannot cope with a dog that will not comply with the owner's every command, a more compliant breed should be selected. This dog has a long genetic foundation of living in the harshest environment imaginable, and many of its behaviors are evolved to conform with "survival of the fittest." Independence, resourcefulness and primitive behaviors are common in the breed. While intelligent, they are widely believed to be one of the most difficult dogs to train. However, if the training is kept fun for the dog and not repetitively boring, success is within reach.

There is reason to believe that Alaskan Malamutes sometimes cope poorly with smaller animals, including other canines; however, this has been difficult to document in detail beyond observational data. It is difficult to pinpoint why many Malamute owners have observed this behavior with smaller animals, though some might speculate this is due to the Malamute's uniquely divergent ancestry, at one point cross-breeding with wolves.[1] Due to their naturally evolved beginnings, the Malamute tends to have a heightened prey drive when compared to some other breeds of dog. So while Malamutes are, as a general rule, particularly amiable around people and can be taught to tolerate other pets, it is necessary to be mindful of them around smaller animals.

Generally speaking, time and experience will show if a dog can be left unwatched with other household pets. In this respect, it is also important to understand that just because a Malamute is comfortable with other pets, this does not mean it will be comfortable around all other animals it encounters.

Malamutes are quite fond of people, a trait that makes them particularly sought-after family dogs. Despite this, it is important to watch them with small children because of their size and strength, as it is with any comparably sized dog breed, despite generally sweet personalities. Malamutes are nimble around furniture and smaller items, making them ideal house dogs, provided they get plenty of time outdoors meeting their considerable exercise requirements.[2] If they are year-round outdoor dogs, letting them play in a baby pool filled with cold water in summer keeps them cool. In the winter, they love snow.

The majority of Malamutes are fairly quiet dogs, seldom barking like most other dog breeds. When a malamute does vocalize, more often than not they tend to "talk" by vocalizing a "woo woo" sound (the characteristic vocalizations of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films are based upon a Malamute named Indiana once owned by George Lucas).[3] They may howl like wolves or coyotes, and for the same reasons.



There is only one known health survey of Alaskan Malamutes, a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey with a small sample size of 14 dogs.[4] The median lifespan of 10.7 years measured in that survey is very typical of a breed their size.[5] The major cause of death was cancer (36%).[6]


The most commonly reported health problems of Alaskan Malamutes in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey (based on a sample size of 64 dogs) were musculoskeletal (hip dysplasia), and hereditary cataracts.

Other health issues in Malamutes include inherited polyneuropathy, chondrodysplasia, heart defects, and eye problems (particularly cataract and progressive retinal atrophy).[7]

Climate and Malamutes

While Malamutes have been successfully raised in places such as Arizona, their dense coats generally make them unsuited for outdoor living in hot climates. When the weather gets hot, like any other breed of dog, the Malamute needs plenty of water and shade. They will grow a winter coat and subsequently shed it in spring.


An Eskimo family with a Malamute from 1915.

The Malamute is a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemuts tribe of upper western Alaska. These dogs had a prominent role with their human companions – working, hunting, and living alongside them. The interdependent relationship between the Mahlemut and their dogs fostered prosperity among both and enabled them to flourish in the inhospitable land above the Arctic Circle.

For a brief period during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, the Malamute and other sled dogs became extremely valuable to recently landed prospectors and settlers, and were frequently crossbred with imported breeds. This was often an attempt to improve the type, or to make up for how few true Malamutes were up for sale. This seems to have had no long standing effect on the modern Malamute, and recent DNA analysis shows that Malamutes are one of the oldest breeds of dog, genetically distinct from other dog breeds.[8]

The Malamute dog has had a distinguished history; aiding Rear Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole, and the miners who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1896, as well as serving in World War II primarily as search and rescue dogs in Greenland, although also used as freighting and packing dogs in Europe. This dog was never destined to be a racing sled dog; instead, it was used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of supplies to villages and camps in groups of at least 4 dogs for heavy loads.

The Alaskan Malamute is a member of the Spitz group of dogs, traced back 2,000 to 3,000 years ago to the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska.

"In shape, the Paleolithic dogs most resemble the Siberian husky, but in size, however, they were somewhat larger, probably comparable to large shepherd dogs," stated Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. This description of recently-found dog remains (30,000 years old) fits the Alaskan Malamute very closely. Though not scientifically confirmed, the Alaskan Malamute may be the closest living relative to the "First Dog".[9]

A bill in the Alaska House is underway to name the Malamute the official state dog of Alaska.[10]

See also


  1. ^ The New York Times > Science > Collie or Pug? Study Finds the Genetic Code
  2. ^ [1] Alaskan malamute- Is It the Right Dog for You?
  3. ^ BBC
  4. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Breed Data page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 8, 2007
  5. ^ Dog Longevity Web Site, Weight and Longevity page. Compiled by K. M. Cassidy. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  6. ^ Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Purebred Dog Health Survey. Retrieved July 5, 2007
  7. ^ Alaskan Malamute Club of America Health Committee Retrieved July 10, 2007
  8. ^ NYTimes
  9. ^ MSNBC
  10. ^ "Bill introduced to name malamute as state dog". Associated Press. January 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



An Alaskan Malamute


Alaskan Malamute (plural Alaskan Malamutes)

  1. A relatively large breed of sled dog, sometimes mistaken for the Siberian Husky.


See also

Simple English

The Alaskan Malamute is a breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for use as an Alaskan sled dog. They are usually big in size. They are sometimes mistaken for a Siberian Husky, but in fact is quite different in many ways.

"Both breeds have similarities in coat colors and patterns. Both breeds were used for similar activities. The Alaskan Malamute being strong and powerful, was used to transport heavy loads for long distances. The Siberian Husky, being a more of a medium size, was used for pulling lighter loads a shorter distance at a moderate pace."



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