Dogs became man’s best friend through an interdependent relationship that developed out of necessity. Wild dogs needed to eat and humans needed dogs to perform certain tasks. The combination of the giant Malamute and sleds were the main mode of transportation for Native Americans and explorers in the Alaskan territory. This is obvious when taking a look at the giant Alaskan Malamute, a dog whose power and intelligence have helped humans endure the wilds of Alaska for centuries. They are built for speed, strength, and endurance in the harshest of weather. Their fluffy tail was made to help them keep warm and is often used like a scarf or covering when they lie down. Some say that the Giant Alaskan Malamute breed is a result of defective breeding of purebred Malamutes during the Alaskan gold rush Dog pedigree purists maintain that Giant Alaskan Malamutes should not be bred to maintain the “pure standard”.
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935, the Malamute has a wide chest and strong muscles meant for pulling. As the Giant Alaskan Malamute was born to live in cold climates, they have a course overcoat of fur with a downy undercoat beneath for extra protection. Malamutes are mostly black, gray and brown, and can have white markings on the crown of their head, snout, or all over their face like a mask. They have a thick plume tail; however, unlike breeds like the Akita, their tales do not curl. Often confused with the Siberian Husky, their smaller sled dog relation, their eyes are not blue, but a rich amber brown. AKC standards exclude blue eyes, as it shows cross breeding. One brown eye and one blue eye, a characteristic of some Huskies, are also not acceptable for the standard. Blue eyes automatically disqualify a malamute from dog show competitions.
Giant Alaskan Malamute Temperament
Although the Giant Alaskan Malamute is always ready for action and loves physical challenges, the dogs can also be cuddly and affectionate to their owners. One trait inbred in this animal is food aggression, a trait that helped their ancestors survive in the wild. Because of this territorial behavior, families with young children should think twice before adopting a Giant Alaskan Malamute. It only takes a minute for a young baby to approach the dog’s bowl at feeding time for an accident to happen. Because of the raw power of this canine, young children and the elderly can easily be knocked down by an excited Malamute. If there are smaller animals in the home, like cats, Malamutes may chase and attack them as they are genetically disposed to hunt small animals in the wild. They may fight other dogs for pack leader status, like the lead sled dog who naturally assumes the leadership status in the wild.
They have an inquisitive, enthusiastic disposition and thrive on attention. They do best in a home where they will often have company, as Mals will howl from loneliness if left alone for extended periods. They can also engage in destructive behavior when bored like tearing up furniture or breaking down doors. A Malamute that strays outside a fenced area will more likely keep running than return to you on command. Even well-trained dogs will run for miles without stopping due to their nature. The best way to keep your Malamute happy is to provide opportunities for him or her to run. If you can’t let the dog loose, try skateboarding or biking alongside the leashed dog as they run on a trail.
The AKC standard for Malamutes are for males a 25-inch height at shoulder and weight around 85 pounds. For females, the standard is 23 inches shoulder height and 75 pounds, for the freighting size malamutes.
Malamute don’t do well shut in condos or apartments. If the owner lives in a housing complex without a yard, several walks a day and a trip to the dog park is essential to keep the Malamute’s muscles and vital organs strong. If a Mal doesn’t get enough exercise your neighbors will tell you, as they will hear the howls when you are not home. Malamutes love to play in the snow, of course, so it’s great fun for them if you want to harness them to a sled to pull the kids. Be sure to attach the harness correctly to the chest, not the neck area, to avoid injury.
Healthy Happy Malamute
Although Malamutes like other arctic breed dogs shed their thick undercoat during the summer, they still have a course thick covering of hair. In the summer months, heat and humidity can particularly affect this breed, causing dehydration and heat stroke. Be sure to never leave any dog, particularly a breed like a Malamute outside in the sun tied to a leash or in the yard without proper shelter and plenty of water. Grooming is also important as their hair can become matted and tangled if they are not brushed and bathed regularly. A malamute will burrow in the snow and may seem to relax, oblivious to a blizzard falling all around them.
One issue that some Malamutes (and Huskies) have in common is a tendency toward hip dysplasia, a joint deformity much like arthritis. It is a hereditary condition so before breeding it is best to check if the other dog has a history of hip dysplasia or other hereditary conditions like polyneuropathy, a nervous system condition. Some breeders require veterinary paperwork verifying that there is no history of hip dysplasia in the bloodline. As they are large dogs, and smaller breeds live longer, the average life expectancy of a Malamute is about 12 years.
Giant Alaskan Malamutes can have 4 to 8 or in rare cases 10 pups per litter. The average is 6. It is advisable to breed Malamutes in their third year and not breed them for more than 3 consecutive years. Malamute puppies, whether Giant or Standard, are playful and adventurous, and can dig, climb or push their way out of enclosed spaces at an early age, due to their powerful build.