Alaskan Malamute dog breed belongs to the working group of canine breeds and they are well equipped for this role. Large in size and powerful in make, they are very independent too. At the same time, they submit to their masters with love and obedience, necessary characteristics in successful working dogs.
They enjoy nothing better than a day out in the snow, doing their duty at the front of a sled. They are extremely loyal to their human family and extend their good will towards other people too, which makes them a sociable breed around people. But it is quite another story altogether when it comes to other animals. They are especially aggressive towards strangers of the canine kind.
They are named after their place of origin. In the icy terrain of Alaska they were originally employed for hunting and pulling sleds. However, hunting is no longer on their agenda, but they continue to be used for pulling sleds. They are called Malamutes because of their historical association with a group of people from the northwest coast of Alaska called Mahlemuts. The literal meaning of this term is ‘village tribe Mahle’ because ‘mut’ means village.
These massive dogs were adept at hunting polar bears and seals in their native land. After killing their prey, they would drag their bodies to their human family in the village. This made them a very useful breed for the tribes. However, they were not as fast as some other smaller breeds in chasing prey. So they were usually used in combination with smaller dogs which tracked down the prey. Once the prey was cornered, Malamutes took over, employing their great strength to kill the prey and bring its carcass to the camp.
Just as these dogs considered their human families as their own, the same respect and position as a valued family member were given to them by their owners. As a matter of fact, the village tribes would not have been able to survive in the icy regions of Alaska without the Malamutes. At the same time, a brutal justice system prevailed in those areas, and the dog was killed off if it failed to be a contributor to the family due to injuries or old age. This might have been necessitated by the dire need to conserve resources. Today, these massive dogs are pampered and cared for as a family pet, no matter what.
The World War II saw the Alaskan Malamutes being used for service in the war field in various capacities such as to haul goods and to search and rescue missing personnel. Their popularity rose sharply in the post-war years, and official recognition of this breed from AKC came in the year 1935.
About two feet tall at the withers, and weighing 75 pounds or more, they are good-sized dogs with a sturdy, compact, body structure. Females are markedly smaller in stature. Being spitz, they have the look of constant alertness even though their ears are small.
Their 2” thick but short-furred coat may have different colors ranging from black, seal and grey to sable and red, but always in combination with white. Pure white coat is also found. Their coat stands off the body, making them appear larger than they really are. The plume-like tail is usually held high at the back.
Despite their size and strength, they are among the most loving and loyal companion man can wish for. They love being with their human pack as much as possible. Well-mannered and obedient to their owner, they yearn to spend the nights indoors, not because of the cold outside, but merely for the company of their family members. They are playful and friendly, ever ready for a round of active games.
Grooming and exercise
The thick, heavy coat of Alaskan Malamutes needs a thorough brushing every 2-3 days, and more often when they are shedding heavily. They have a double coat, which makes grooming a bit trickier, but the fur is not long. Alaskan Malamutes are no strangers to harsh climate; in fact, they prefer to be outside enjoying the cold. This means they need their daily quota of outdoor exercise and activities even in the height of winter. It is an understatement to say vigorous exercise is essential for these born-to-work dogs.
Without plenty of strenuous physical activities, they become terribly bored. This tends to make these otherwise well-mannered dogs quite destructive. Just remember that their place is among a pack of high-strung sled dogs impatient for a long, invigorating run in the snow.
Common health issues of Alaskan Malamute dog breed
With their history of braving harsh climate and working hard, this strong breed of working dogs does not have many breed-related health problems. Coronary heart disease, a skeletal disorder called chondroplasia and the endocrine disorder hypothyroidism may trouble members of this breed. They have a tendency to develop cataract too. Regular health check-ups to identify and remedy these potential problems should keep these dogs in good health. They typically live between 10-12 years.