So you want an Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute History

The Alaskan Malamute evolved from the ancient dogs that accompanied prehistoric man in his migrations from Asia, across the Arctic to Greenland and back. The migrations, covering thousands of years also produced a natural evolution of species that varied from the long coated varieties found in Greenland to the lesser coated, longed legged varieties found in the forest and lake areas of northern Canada : Read full history of the Alaskan malamute

What kind of temperament does the Alaskan Malamute have?

The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a "one man" dog. They are not watch, or guard, dogs. The standards say, "He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful in invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity." I'd like to add that maturity takes a long time to arrive. And even after they are mature, they can still be goofy.

They are stubborn, and seem to want to know 'what's in it for me' as opposed to doing something just to please their owner. They respond better to food as positive reinforcement, than they do punishment.

Malamutes aren't stupid, but are independent. An owner must consider the breed's background. They haven't been domesticated for a long time compared to many other breeds, and in their original environment independent thinking often meant survival. When they worked in a team, it was always under human supervision, and when left to their own devices, they quickly established a hierarchy. There is a saying: "Nature abhors a vacuum". Malamutes abhor a vacuum in leadership, and if a human isn't going to provide leadership, then they will. Therefore, you must be prepared to be tested, and be resolute in ensuring that you are the boss.

What is the best living accommodation for a Malamute?

You need a fenced-in yard. Alaskan Malamutes are quite suited to life in kennels or in houses but they will not be able to live successfully in any situation where they cannot get plenty of exercise. A fenced-in yard AND taking your dog for regular walks is the best way to ensure that your dog will have a safe environment to burn-off energy, and not be able to run away.

Malamutes originated in a land of open spaces, and they still consider boundaries as a silly human concept. They will hunt, and they will chase, so they aren't suited to life with livestock without restraint.

Malamutes like to dig. It might just be in summer to obtain a more comfortable spot to lie down, or it might be any time that the ground isn't frozen. We suggest that you provide an area in your yard, where the Malamute is allowed to dig. By providing such a zone, you can keep the rest of your yard safe.

How much time and attention does a Malamute need?

Alaskan Malamutes require quite a bit of time, energy, and input from their owners, especially during their growth years. Among the things you need to provide every day are exercise, play, training, grooming (brushing and combing), feeding, and socializing. Malamutes will be fine if their owners are away at work during the day as long as they get enough quality time in the evenings and weekends to meet these needs. If you are at work all day, and out again most evenings, the Alaskan Malamute is not the breed for you.

In spite of their independence, Malamutes can get lonely, and may make noise. Some of them are worse for this than others. While the mother of this litter is generally quiet, the father doesn't like to be alone, and will make a racket. (Now you know why we live in the country!)

Are Malamutes good with children?

Normally yes, if the dog has been raised with children. Children must be taught to be kind to dogs AND no child under the age of 6 should be left alone with any dog. It is important to socialize you Malamute to children of all ages. If you have children or grand children, make sure that they know how to treat the dog and what rules must be followed with the dog.

Malamutes should always be 'good' with people. While Malamutes require socialization to ensure they are good with other dogs, they should always be 'good' with people. A Malamute that is not friendly and outgoing, should be regarded with suspicion.

Will “Endless Dog Hair Everywhere” be a problem?

Alaskan Malamutes are large and quite hairy dogs – they shed regularly. There is a fine undercoat near the skin and a longer, coarser outer coat. You will find both coats in your home regularly - but twice a year they will have a major shed when you can actually see the hair tufting. Be prepared to vacuum your home regularly. If the thought of dog hair on your floor/carpet is a big concern – consider another breed.

How much do Malamutes eat?

It will depend on the quality of food that you feed your dog. We suggest Orijen food. Once an adult, your malamute will eat from 1 1/3 to 2+ cups twice a day (more in the winter and if they spend a lot of time outside). Puppies eat smaller amounts more often because they have smaller stomachs and they are growing. You should feed your dog whatever amount keeps him looking healthy and trim. Do not let him get overweight, a fat Malamute is not healthy nor is one that is too thin. If you are unsure about his health or weight – talk with your vet. There is a cute expression: "If your dog is overweight, you are not getting enough exercise."

What equipment do I need to get to prepare for my new Malamute?

Feeding: Your dog will need a food bowl and a water dish. Both should be heavy so he cannot tip them over or push them across the floor while eating or drinking.

Collar & leash: He will need a buckle collar for walking and holding his licence / tags AND a 6-foot leash. They should be made of leather or cotton webbing. Don’t bother with a chain leash, they are hard on your hands and only as strong as the plastic handle at the end!

Kennel/crate: You also need a crate – you can start with a small one, if you have one or can borrow one – but remember, your malamute will be 23-25 inches tall at the shoulders and weight from 65-90 pounds, you will need a large crate as your puppy grows. A crate the same size as a Vari-kennel 500 will be adequate – it can be wire or plastic.

Grooming: You will need a steel comb and a pin brush. You will also need a nail clipper, a guillotine style works very well – choose the style of clipper you are most comfortable BUT use it every week!

A bath and grooming will help remove the extra hair at shedding time, but consider one of the 'blasters' that dog grooming supply places sell. Blasters are like super powerful reverse vacuum cleaners which literally 'blast' the loose hair from the dog. A word of caution; don't use it in the house.

What kind of veterinary care does my malamute need?

Immunization: Your puppy has started on his first series of immunization for distemper, hepatitis, letospirosis and parainfluenza. The puppy will also have had at least one, possibly two immunizations for parvovirus. We will provide you with an immunization record that tells you when your puppy was immunized and when they are due for their next “shots.” You will need to continue the puppy’s immunization.

Worming: Young puppies almost always have worms. Though we have wormed the entire litter, you will probably be need to worm again. It is best to use worming treatments provided by your vet. Your vet can advise you as to an appropriate worming treatment and schedule.

Other stuff: Other than these basics, your common sense OR concern over your puppy will dictate when to take your puppy to the vet. Obvious symptoms of illness such as diarrhea, vomiting or listlessness warrant a call to your vet right away.

At what age should I begin training my Malamute?

Puppies can begin training almost as soon as they can stand up. There are a number of things to keep in mind when training a puppy (or even an adult dog). The people in the dog’s life need to be consistent – a rule for the dog does not change from person to person. For example, it is not okay to jump up on 12-year old Tom if it will not be okay to jump up on anyone else. Also, everyone should use the same words to tell the dog what to do. A family should agree on a set of “puppy rules” that will be important when the puppy grows to be 90 pounds in weight. Nothing is as cute when it has a 90-pound impact.

Today, most training is positive, however, that does not mean that there are no consequences to unsafe actions by the puppy. It is easier to train and nurture a puppy than to “fix” an adult dog. So, positively train your puppy for all the RIGHT behaviours. You and every adult in the puppy’s life is in charge (the boss) of the puppy – he never gets to decide that he wants to be in charge.

Puppies can attend “kinderpuppy classes” as early as 3 or 4 months old. You can talk to us about local training facilities that will provide such classes. There are a number of good books listed on our website.

What are the different colours of Malamutes?

Malamutes come in a wide variety of colours. The usual colours range from light grey through intermediate shadings to black, sable (black, cream & tan) and red. Colour combinations are acceptable. The only solid colour accepted is all white. White is always the predominant colour on underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and acceptable.

Are these 'Giant' Alaskan Malamutes?


No. The 'Giant' Malamute is incorrect, and a result of misunderstanding on the part of their breeders. Malamutes were bred to work in the Arctic, and are the largest of the Northern sled dogs. If you consider the build of the Inuit versus the build of the Zulu Tribe in Africa, you'll get an understanding of why bigger is not better in the North. Zulu tribes people are tall to dissipate heat, Inuit are short and stocky to retain heat. What is easier to heat in winter, a large sprawling house, or a compact one? Which will require less fuel to maintain at a comfortable temperature? Remember, Malamutes weren't fed a great deal, and if times were hard, they didn't get fed often. A large dog requires more food to maintain than a smaller one.

Basically, the 'Giants' are a consequence of the dilution of the 'pure' Malamute breeding stock that was polluted by dogs brought in for the gold rush. They are incorrect, and should not be bred.

What is the average lifespan of the Alaskan Malamute?

With proper care, your Alaskan Malamute could live as long as13 or 14 years. The average lifespan is between 10 and 13 years. I have seen Malamutes as old as 16.

If I don’t want a dog with “papers” would it cost less?

No. By Federal legislation (The Animal Pedigree Act) it is illegal to advertise, and sell, an animal as purebred without providing registration papers. It is also illegal to charge extra for the registration process. All or our puppies are sold with registration papers.

The Canadian Kennel Club registers purebred Alaskan Malamutes in Canada. Breeders are not allowed to sell puppies without registration papers from the CKC – as a result, reputable breeders will not offer discount pricing for puppies without registration papers.

Do Alaskan Malamutes have any genetic / health problems?

Yes. All dogs, purebred and cross-bred alike, can have some genetic or health problems. Malamutes have a recessive gene that causes 'dwarfism'. The parents of this litter do not carry that gene.

Like most large breeds, Malamutes can also have hip dysplasia. The parents of this litter have been tested and graded 'good' by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

Malamutes, like most northern breeds, can have problems with their thyroid gland. The parents of this litter have both been tested, and their thyroid function is normal.

Should I get a male or a female Malamute?

Which sex you buy is a matter of personal preference and circumstances. If you are interested in breeding, naturally you would have to buy a female of breeding quality. If you are not planning on having a litter, it makes sense to have a female dog spayed to eliminate her coming into season every six months or so.

Male Malamutes lift their legs to urinate, and if you have prize-winning flowers in your yard, you may not appreciate that. As with a female, if not being used for breeding, it is best to neuter a male dog.

As far as personality differences between the sexes, the Malamute as a breed has a variety of different personalities and temperaments and each do is an individual. There is no hard and fast match between gender and temperament. Much of your dog’s personality will depend on how you raise him or her, what you expect, encourage and discourage in terms of behaviour and the kind of environment the dog experiences.

Should I breed my Malamute?

Our puppies are sold on a Canadian Kennel Club non-breeding contract. That means that you agree not to breed your dog. In the future, if you are interested, and we agree that your dog is of breeding quality we could lift the non-breeding contract so you could breed the dog and register the puppies with the CKC. To be of breeding quality, a dog should clearly meet the breed standard. Also, it is important to consider the process as an opportunity to improve the breed – not simply an adventure for your family to experience a birth and puppies in your lives. Dogs lives are not more complete by being bred and having a litter, so that is not a sound reason to breed.

Where can I learn more?

Breed Standard

Alaskan Malamute History

Alaskan Malamute Training

Canadian Kennel Club

The Alaskan Malamute Club of Canada

Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard

Here are some books that you will find useful

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