Breed Group: Working Group
Shoulder Height: 23-25 in.
Weight: 75-85 lb.
Life Span: 10 years
Colors: Agouti, white, black, blue, gray, red, sable, seal, silver
- The Alaskan Malamute is one of the strongest dogs ever bred. They were used as the primary source of power on sled teams and are possibly the closest living relative to the Arctic wolf among domestic dogs.
- The breed is renowned for their strong hunting instincts with unmatched hearing and sight
- It is unknown when the Alaskan Malamute was developed by the Inuit tribes, but it is thought their ancestors were domesticated wolves that migrated into North America around 4,000 years ago.
- They are close cousins to the Samoyed and the Siberian Husky.
The Alaskan Malamute is possibly one of the most recognized dogs in the world. Responsible for numerous acts of heroism and loyalty to their pet parents, particularly during the Klondike Gold Rush, their popularity declined after demand for a working breed went down. However, the breed continues to maintain many characteristics that make them wonderful dogs.
The Malamute is a fiercely independent and strong-willed dog breed, which can make obedience training challenging. They have a high degree of intelligence comparable to even Border Collies.
Many of the habits they retain from living in the wild make them great house pets. They are extremely loyal to their people and develop a powerful protective instinct to the pet parent's home and family. This does make them wary around strangers, but good social training should alleviate their nervousness. They are also quite patient with children if introduced to them as puppies and typically develop close bonds with them.
There are a couple of drawbacks, however. They must be watched carefully around smaller animals as they have a strong hunter instinct. They can be antisocial towards other dogs and will get into dogfights with those they view as a rival. In addition, Malamutes also have a chase instinct, so they must be walked with a leash.
This breed, naturally, thrives in northern environments and loves playing in the snow. As a working breed, they do require a tremendous amount of physical and mental exercise to keep them from getting restless. They rarely bark, but instead are known to howl. Their thick double coat sheds heavily twice a year and requires regular, thorough grooming to keep it manageable.
Alaskan Malamutes are very robust dogs with an average lifespan of around ten years. There are some health problems to be aware of.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia pops up in the breed, as is typical with many large breeds. Working dogs get it much earlier.
- Hereditary cataracts run in the breed. Some other hereditary issues include epilepsy, chondrodysplasia, heart defects, and kidney defects.
- Their thick double coat may predispose to skin allergies and hot spots.
- This breed may be at increased risk of developing diabetes.
- George Lucas had an Alaskan Malamute named Indiana, which traveled around with him everywhere, inspiring the Star Wars character Chewbacca, Han Solo's furry sidekick in the films. This same dog inspired the name for the film hero Indiana Jones.
- The Alaskan Malamute was officially named the state dog of Alaska in 2010.
- A team of Alaskan Malamutes enabled Rear Admiral Richard Byrd to cross a segment of the Antarctic Plateau and reach the South Pole.
- Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover kept an Alaskan Malamute, as did actors Robin Williams and Steve McQueen.
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