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Alaskan Malamute

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The Alaskan malamute originates from the dogs that followed the prehistoric people on migrations from Asia crossing the Arctic regions to Greenland and back. Early Russian and English explorers often reported back about an excellent working dog kept by the Mahlemut people in the Norton Sound area in Alaska.

The Mahlemut people’s dogs were not fierce, more manageable, and capable of a high workload. They were used for drawing heavy sleighs and supplies over the ice and sometimes unleashed in herd to hunt polar bears. Furthermore, they were used for hunting seals and had no problem adjusting to the harsh Arctic environment.

Gold adventure
When it became popular to search for gold in Alaska the demand for sturdy dogs capable of handling bad weather rose. It was not long before crossbred dogs of varying quality were available in the villages. In order to get a purebred Alaskan Malamute you had to leave the gold area. Because of the dogs’ isolation the Alaskan malamute remained almost purebred. And they formed the basis of the Alaskan malamute we know today.

Physical appearance
The Alaskan malamute is a prime example of breeding a dog for the purpose of creating a working dog. The Arctic explorers needed a dog that could pull heavy sleighs packed with supplies for weeks without negative impact from the daily workload. The contemporary Alaskan malamute is bred in this spirit.

The Alaskan malamute has a double-layered coat. The undercoat is dense and woollen and the outer coat is thick and coarse. The coat is capable of protecting the dog in all weathers and provides insulation against extreme cold temperatures. The dog sheds a lot.

The coat is typically gray, white, and black. However, red and white dogs are also common and just as desirable. An all white dog is the only self-coloured dog allowed according to the breed standard. Other colour combinations must be white underneath and have white indications in the face, on the chest and legs.

It is important to remember that the Alaskan malamute was bred to endure physical hard work and at the same time settle for little food rations. Thus, an Alaskan malamute male should be no bigger than 25 inches and weigh 84 pounds. The bitch is slightly smaller. An Alaskan malamute is thus a strong physical dog of medium size.

The malamute’s skull is broad and so is its muzzle and jaws. The ears are rather small in proportion to its head. However, the small ears are not as easily exposed to frostbites. The almond shaped eyes must be brown, not blue.

The Alaskan malamute is not a typical dog in every sense. It is very lively and watchful towards its surroundings. It is a very independent and intelligent breed. This makes demands on the owner to train the dog sensibly. Early training can make all the difference in the world.

The Alaskan malamute is a friendly and social dog. It likes attention and love; and its outgoing and accommodating personality does not make it a good watchdog. The dog will bond with everybody. It loves children and other dogs alike. Of course children have to treat it respectfully.

It has well developed hunting instincts and likes to explore. Therefore, a malamute should not be let off leash seeing as it will easily get distracted by an interesting scent or pray and run off. If the malamute shall live with a cat it is important to socialise early on. Usually, the Alaskan malamute is not tolerant towards other animals.

What you should know about the breed:

  • A medium sized dog with wolf like appearance
  • Loves outdoor activities and thrives in cold weather
  • Looks imposing but is really friendly
  • Needs a lot of exercise
  • Can become destructive if bored or not mentally stimulated
  • Has distinct hunting instincts and will chase small animals
  • Strong-minded – and difficult to train if you are not being consequent
  • Protective of its food
  • Heavy shedding

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