The Alaskan Malamute is among the most famous primitive dogs, and it is a favorite breed in North America because of its great strength which is similar to its Arctic wolf ancestor. It is known to be a dog of many virtues and it is an ideal companion for very experienced owner. Alaskan Malamutes are tough and has an excellent sense of direction, that is why they are usually used in different polar expeditions and competitions. Let us know more about the history and characteristics of the Alaskan Malamute breed.
History of the Alaskan Malamute
The Malamute name came from the tribe that raised these dogs which is the Inupiat people called Mahlemut. They are those we know today as Kuuvangmiut and Kobuk people who lived between the rivers Kobuk and Noatak. The place they lived in was very cold and there was no vegetation there that’s why the Mahlemut and their dogs had a special bond.
The Malamutes were used to hunt seals, chase away polar bears, and pull heavy sledges that are loaded with food and camp supplies. They were treated by Eskimos well and they valued them highly.
In 1896, there was a gold rush that brought a great arrival of dogs of many sizes and breeds who could survive the weather in Alaska. There were a lot of native dogs that were interbred with these dogs and the pure type was lost. But since the Mahlemuts were a relatively isolated tribe, the Alaskan Malamute survived the incursion better than other breeds.
In New Hampshire, Arthur T. Walden had established his Chinook Kennel in New Hampshire and he began to breed Alaskan Malamutes. In the 1930’s, he and his successors, Milton and Eva Seeley, were able to supply many dogs for the Byrd Antarctic expeditions. Then they began a program to reproduce the dogs found in the Norton Sound area of Alaska. This strain of Alaskan Malamutes became popular as the “Kotzebue” strain.
In the early 1900’s and later in the 1920’s, Paul Voelker, Sr. developed a slightly different strain which he bought in Alaska and it was known as the “M’Loot” strain. Some of these dogs were used in the First World War, the Second World War, and by Admiral Byrd’s second expedition.
In 1935, the American Kennel Club of America was formed and they recognized the Alaskan Malamute breed the same year. However, during the Second World War, majority of the registered Alaskan Malamutes were loaned out for war duty because there was a high demand for sled dogs. Many of them were destroyed after they served their nation on an expedition to Antarctica.
All of the registered Malamutes in the AKC can trace their ancestry back to the original Kotzebues or to the dogs registered during the open period in the 1940’s. The Alaskan Malamute today rats 57th out of the 155 breeds and varieties that are recognized by the AKC.
Characteristics of the Alaskan Malamute
Average size: 1 foot and 11 inches to 2 feet and 1 inch
Average weight: 75 to 100 pounds
Alaskan Malamutes belong to the working dogs breed group, and they can live from 12 to 15 years. Males can grow up to 25 inches high and can weigh about 85 pounds. Females on the other hand, tend to stand 23 inches high and can weigh about 75 pounds.
Alaskan Malamutes sport a dense double coat. They have a thick guard coat or outer coat which is not soft of long. The undercoat on the other hand is one to two inches deep and is oily and wooly to repel cold and wetness. Their coat length increases around their shoulders and necks, down at their backs, over the rump and in the breeches and plume of their tails. There are also some with tails that display a cork-screw appearance, enabling them to place their tails over their nose to keep themselves warm in the cold weather.
They can come in different coat colors such as light gray to black, and shades of sable to red. Their underbellies were white along with the feet, parts of legs, and part of their face markings. There are also some Alaskan Malamute that have a white blaze on the forehead or around the neck which looks attractive.
Alaskan Malamutes are playful and outgoing, and they are loyal to their friends and families. They will greet everyone as a friend, even strangers and first-time houseguests, therefore, they are not great watchdogs. They are also known to be pack animals, meaning, they love spending time with their human pack, insisting to be included in all family activities.
Caring for Alaskan Malamutes
Alaskan Malamutes are known to be active dogs, that’s why it’s great if you can take them on long walks, hikes, skijoring, carting, and sledding. They need to run and play a lot because inadequate exercise can make them feel bored and they may become destructive.
They also love to dig, so it’s better to keep them in a home with a yard where they can have their own spot to dig in like a sandbox. And since they have dense double coats, they can live outdoors because they can tolerate extremely cold climates. But make sure that they have adequate shelter and a fenced enclosure with a roof. You can also keep them indoors because they are very easy to train and they will be happy to live with their pack in the house.
If you plan to live with an Alaskan Malamute, you will surely make use of your vacuum cleaner a lot because they shed heavily twice a year and their hair falls out in large clumps. It’s also great if you can brush them one to three times every week to keep their coat clean and keep the flurry of hair under control. Baths are also rarely needed for Alaskan Malamutes, in fact, one to two a year will do. Taking them to groomers regularly will also help maintain their cleanliness.
When it comes to feeding, the recommended amount of food for Alaskan Malamutes is 4 to 5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. This depends on your pet’s size, age, build, activity level, and metabolism.
The Alaskan Malamute is indeed a great and powerful dog that is best for adventurous people. But they can also be lovable companions and playmates at home.