The Alaskan Malamute

By BarkUpToday

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The Alaskan Malamute originated in the U.S. and is part of the UKC Northern Dog Group and the AKC, Working group. This breed is an Arctic dog breed bred by Mahlemuts, an Inuit Tribe in western Alaska.

Brief History

The Alaskan Malamute pulled sleds and were bred to work in harsh weather conditions. They were also bred for endurance. This breed is one of the oldest sled dogs. 

The Malamute was named after the Mahlemuit, an Inuit tribe that lived in Northwestern Alaska. This breed could haul heavy loads at slow speeds for longer distances than the Siberian Husky that specialized in pulling lighter loads faster. Malamutes are known as freighter dogs.

Physical Description

The Alaskan Malamute is a heavy-boned dog breed that has a deep chest and a robust build. This breed is well-muscled and has a broad and deep head. The ears are triangular and erect. With a broad muzzle, the Malamute has intelligent, almond-shaped eyes which are brown. 

This is a double-coated dog breed that has a thick, rough outer coat. The undercoat is wooly and soft. The coat is white with mixtures of gray, sable, black, and red. This breed has white markings and a facial mask. The tail has lots of fur and is plumed over the back. The nose is black, brown, or snow-colored. 

The Malamute is built for strength and endurance. The gait is steady, well-balanced, and tireless. Malamutes have a shorter and less thick coat during the summer months.


Dogs       25 inches at the shoulder

Females  23 inches at the shoulder


Dogs       85 pounds

Females  75 pounds


Life Expectancy

12-15 years


The Alaskan Malamute is gentle and intelligent. This dog breed adores children and makes for a wonderful companion. It is a brave and playful dog breed that may be stubborn at times. Positive dog training and socialization early on during puppyhood is recommended. 

This dog breed gets along with other dogs, other animals, and people. This is a family dog breed and not a “one- person” dog breed. The Malamute is devoted to family and matures nicely after reaching adulthood. 

The Malamute needs to have a combination of mental stimulation, human companionship, and exercise every day. This breed is so intelligent that if not exercised enough gets over-excitable.

Activity Level


Special Needs

The Malamute needs plenty of attention, exercise, positive dog training, and socialization. This dog breed is one of the most intelligent and active working dog breeds. 

With a need to please, the Malamute has to be with family and can be feisty during puppyhood and adolescence if positive training has not been started. This is a dog breed that is easy to get along with but maybe stubborn during positive dog training.

The Malamute is sensitive to other people’s moods. That said, this is an intelligent and confident dog breed and also independent. The ideal home environment for the Malamute is with expert dog parents in a country home or a home with a large garden. 

This breed is perfect to have at home on extensive grounds with plenty of space. They make for excellent family dogs at home but need consistency throughout their lives. This Malamute should never be left alone for long periods. They tend to get depressed.

The more socialization and love this breed gets, the more playful and relaxed the dog. The Malamute needs cool climates or to be indoors during the summer. Exercise for this breed should take place during the early mornings and late afternoons. Malamutes can become pushy with little children and other dogs.

Malamutes have a huge digging problem that cannot be corrected. They are born with it. Fencing needs to be checked, and Malamutes need to be supervised so that they don’t stray. Malamutes cannot be used for protection because they are friendly with everyone.

Possible Health Concerns

The Malamute is a healthy dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health conditions:

. Bloat. This breed is deep-chested and thus more prone to bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening emergency. It is caused by the stomach’s twisting, together with the accumulation of gas, with or without fluid. It is best never to elevate your Malamute’s water and food bowls. Stress is also a significant factor in causing bloat. Never feed your Malamute a large meal, followed by vigorous exercise. At the first signs of dry vomiting, restlessness, and discomfort, contact your emergency veterinarian. Never wait for a few hours. This is a true life-threatening emergency!

. Chondrodysplasia. (Canine dwarfism) This is a genetic disorder affecting Malamute pups. The pups are born with deformities affecting limb size and shape.

. Hip Dysplasia. This is a hereditary, developmental disease. H.D. affects Malamutes. H.D. occurs when the hip joint fails to develop correctly. In the Malamute with H.D., the head of the thigh bone does not fall into the hip socket. The poor fit results in the joint becoming loose and unstable and results in osteoarthritis.

 . Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is the name for a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. This will include inherited abnormalities of light-sensitive cells.

. Inherited Polyneuropathy. This refers to numerous abnormalities in the nervous system. Symptoms include lack of coordination, and dogs will “bunny hop.” Some dogs will fall, while others will walk on the tops of their feet with the foot folded underneath. Other symptoms include exercise intolerance, lack of muscle mass, voice changes, swallowing difficulties, and regurgitating. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.



The Malamute is an energetic dog breed that does well with plenty of regular exercise and canine sporting activities. Malamutes need to be mentally stimulated when out exercising for their mental well-being. 

This dog breed can get excitable, so plenty of off-leash exercises is necessary. You cannot leave the Malamute out in your backyard alone all day. This breed needs companionship and should be indoors with the family. 

The Malamute is a family companion dog breed that does well with obedience training, tracking, and agility. They also make for excellent jogging and biking partners in the right weather conditions. Malamutes enjoy weight pulling, backpacking, sledding, and skijoring in the snow.

Puppy Malamutes under six months of age need to have special exercise programs specially tailored for puppyhood to prevent hip dysplasia and other injuries related to sports and exercise.


Feed your Malamutes the best high-quality dog food that you can afford. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Feed a diet from a well-known, reputable company. Contact them with any questions or concerns.
  • The labels on any diet should meet the levels established by the AAFCO Control Officials and feeding trials.
  • All dog food diets should have the following statement “Animal Feeding tests using the AAFCO procedures substantiate that “Brand X” provides completed and balanced nutrition for growth (or maintenance.)
  • Feed Malamute puppy food and feed a large breed like the Malamute puppy, a large breed puppy diet. 
  • Feeding a small dog diet can cause large dogs like the Malamute to grow too quickly and lead to severe growth abnormalities and “growing pains.”
  • There is no “best diet”- dogs are individuals. A diet that works for one Malamute may not be the best for another. Age, energy level, and individual medical concerns play a significant role for each patient. The recommended guidelines on bags often contain more calories than some Malamutes need. Check with your veterinarian for the best nutritional advice.
  • Feed a complete and balanced food for the appropriate life stage of your dogs.

Malamute pet parents need to understand that the life stage that dog food is marketed for may not be the same life stage for which the food meets the minimum requirements. Consult with your veterinarian if you need advice about which dog food to feed your dogs.


The Malamute has a thick waterproof double coat adapted to the harsh, cold climate of the Arctic. The coat needs a lot of maintenance. A pin brush and metal comb should be used every day to remove mats and tangles. 

The coat and skin need to be kept clean to prevent fungus and hot spots. Shedding occurs twice a year, whereby an undercoat rake needs to be used. Dogs that show need to be bathed weekly. 

Canine conditioners should be used. Nails need to be trimmed when needed, and ears should be cleaned frequently. Your Malamute’s teeth should be brushed every day, and twice-yearly visits for dental cleaning included in his schedule.

Adopting an Alaskan Malamute

The Malamute is an easy breed to adopt. They are playful, friendly and independent, but do not respond well to harshness or loud noises. That said, the Malamute does need regular socialization and positive dog training during puppyhood. They are stubborn at times and can become hyperactive. Malamutes love to dig and escape. That said, make sure all garden fences are secure.

Most shelters make it easy for prospective Malamute adopters by offering free cheerful dog training classes and advice. Make this your number one priority when adopting a young Malamute, although this breed is delightful at home and has no aggression issues.

As with all shelter rescues, your Malamute may have some issues. Whether big or small, they can most times be worked through with the help of a positive dog trainer and lots of patience and kindness. Never give up! Reward-based dog training is the way to go! The Malamute is a gentle-natured dog breed that does well with families, children, and other animals.

Woofs & Wags!


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