Loyal, playful, and affectionate, the Alaskan Malamute is best known for being a heavy-duty worker! This strong and dignified breed was originally used as an arctic sled dog, which makes sense when you note the physique. Alaskan Malamutes are immensely strong with heavy bones, powerful shoulders, and a thick, rain-and-snow-proof coat. After generations of being born to work in the Alaskan wilderness, these loyal dogs have “responsibility” in their blood.
They take their role in the hierarchies of the families they live with deeply to heart, and you’ll know it. Your Alaskan Malamute will see trouble coming from a mile away and gently yet firmly urge you towards safety!
This breed is far from “all work and no play,” however. Though Alaskan Malamutes enjoy taking complex orders and completing tasks to the satisfaction of their pack leader—you!—they also live for snuggling with their pet parents after putting in a hard day’s work.
Alaskan Malamutes, or Mals for short, are good with young children, as well as good with other dogs, which makes them a great choice for families. While not all Mals have the same exact temperament, the breed’s characteristics are reliable. Those characteristics include being playful, gentle, and friendly, but with a strong streak.
For this reason, it’s best to be especially firm and consistent when training your Alaskan Malamute as a puppy. This breed does have a headstrong nature during puppyhood. But once you assert your role as the head of the pack, and your Mal’s role as your subordinate, your Mal will happily stay in his proper place.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re thinking about getting an Alaskan Malamute.
The Alaskan Malamute is considered a medium-sized dog, but due to its strength and energy, this breed can come across much larger than life. Mals generally stand between 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder. They can weigh between 75 to 85 pounds. Trust us, you’re going to feel like you’ve got more than enough dog if you take home an Alaskan Malamute puppy! And with a life expectancy of 10 – 14 years, you’ll have a dependable, intelligent companion for the long haul.
In terms of appearance, this breed is probably best known for its thick, fluffy tail and hardy coat. Mals have a double layered coat type to help them stay fully insulated in the Alaskan tundra. So, watch out! If you live in a warm climate, you can expect your Mal to shed. With a thick, double-layer coat, your Mal will have to be groomed somewhat frequently.
You may have seen an Alaskan Malamute and mistaken it for a Husky. The breeds appear similar, especially regarding their fur colors and markings. Mals can be black and white, gray and white, black and gray and white, or a plethora of other color combinations. The most distinct marking is that all Mals have either a “black mask” or a “gray mask” on their faces.
Alaskan Malamutes make loyal and bold companions, emphasis on the bold. Dogs of this breed love to run, investigate, play, and otherwise make it their business to participate in whatever is going on around them. If you guessed that Mals are highly sociable, then you guessed right! But with that sociable temperament comes a strong will and independent spirit.
This is why the dog experts at PuppyBuddy can’t recommend strongly enough that new owners of Mal puppies take careful time to train their dogs. Alaskan Malamutes respond quickly to reward-based training, especially when training involves treats or fun games. This breed is highly intelligent and aims to please, so long as you remain firm and consistent during the training and housebreaking period.
Though Alaskan Malamutes aren’t sprinters, they were bred to work, which means they have naturally high energy levels and exert steady energy throughout the day, sort of like endurance athletes. What this means for new owners of Mal puppies is that your pup is going to need daily exercise, and a walk around the block might not cut it.
Malamutes love hiking, jogging, swimming, and going for long walks as opposed to brisk trips to the end of the street. Your Mal will appreciate being put to the challenge if you want to participate in agility and obedience trials, weight-pulling competitions, or even strapping a heavy backpack on him before you set out to climb a mountain!
All this is to say that if you’re looking for a lap dog who will be happy curling up with you on the couch all day, the Alaskan Malamute might not be your cup of tea. If, however, you’re an adventurous, high energy, frequent exerciser, then a Mal could become your activity partner as well as your beloved pup!
As we touched upon in the beginning of this blog, training your Alaskan Malamute is crucial. If you go soft with the training or become inconsistent, this strong-willed breed could give you a serious run for your money. The last thing you want is to “give in” when your cute, puppy Mal challenges you, because if you do, you’ll end up with a pushy dog who might not respect people and other dogs.
Firmness, consistency, and promptly rewarding good behavior and obeyed commands is the secret strategy to foster a devoted, trustworthy Malamute. Bear in mind, however, that there are some characteristics that you won’t be able to “train” your Mal not to do. Digging is one of them. So, if you have a fenced-in yard, it’s best if your fence continues into the ground, and you’ll want to check the perimeter from time to time to make sure your Mal hasn’t dug his way to China.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Alaskan Malamutes should be screened for certain health conditions. So, if you’re considering buying a Mal, you should inquire about the following health conditions to make sure the puppy is in good health. Hip dysplasia, which is a malformation of the hip joints, is the foremost condition to check for. This skeletal condition is common in all dogs, but due to the hefty physique of the Alaskan Malamute, your puppy could have a higher chance of hip dysplasia later in its maturity.
Additional health conditions to look for are elbow dysplasia, thrombopathia, chondrodysplasia or “dwarfism,” hypothyroidism, and “day blindness.”
If you’re getting your Alaskan Malamute puppy from a pet store that only works with reputable, certified dog breeders, like PuppyBuddy, these health conditions shouldn’t be a concern.