Alaskan Malamutes

Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Playful

  • Height: 25 inches (male), 23 inches (female)
  • Weight: 85 pounds (male), 75 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
  • Group: Working Group 

An immensely strong, heavy-duty worker of spitz type, the Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, loyal, and playful but dignified dog recognizable by his well-furred plumed tail carried over the back, erect ears, and substantial bone.


The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colours. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume.

About the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute stands 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs 75 to 85 pounds. Everything about Mal suggests their origin as an arctic sled dog: The heavy bone, deep chest, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coat all scream, “I work hard for a living!” But their almond-shaped brown eyes have an affectionate sparkle, suggesting Male enjoy snuggling with their humans when the workday is done. Mals are pack animals. And in your family “pack,” the leader must be you. If a Mal doesn’t respect you, he will wind up owning you instead of the other way around. Firm but loving training should begin in early puppy-hood. That said, a well-behaved Mal is a joy to be with—playful, gentle, friendly, and great with kids.

NUTRITION The Alaskan Malamute should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING The thick, waterproof double coat of the Alaskan Malamute is beautifully adapted to harsh Arctic life, but it requires constant upkeep. A Malamute should be brushed every day with a pin brush and metal comb, all the while checking for mats, which can harbour fungus, and hot spots, which can become infected. Twice a year, during shedding season, an undercoat rake should be added to the regimen. Show Malamutes are often bathed weekly, but a pet Malamute can go six to eight weeks between baths. Conditioner can be used, in moderation, if the coat feels dry. As with all breeds, the Malamute’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

EXERCISE While the Malamute was not bred for racing, he was bred to work. A strong, athletic dog with tremendous endurance, designed to carry heavy loads, a Mal requires daily exercise. Romping in a well-fenced yard or other enclosed space will suffice, but Malamutes also enjoy hiking, running, and swimming with their owners. And should the owner have sufficient time and interest, Malamutes often take part in agility and obedience trials, weight-pulling competitions, backpacking (yes, you can buy a backpack for your dog), recreational or competitive sledding, and skijoring (pulling a person who is on skis).

TRAINING Socialisation and obedience training are necessary in order to prevent a Malamute from becoming pushy with children and other pets, or dominant over adults he or she doesn’t respect. Malamutes are highly intelligent but also independent and wilful, often to the point of stubbornness. While fairness and patience can yield a devoted, trustworthy companion, there are certain behaviour that may be impossible to train out of a Mal, such as digging, so any yard fencing must continue into the ground. And Malamutes are not especially suited to be guard dogs because they tend to be friendly with everyone they meet.

HEALTH A responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip joint that is the most common skeletal condition in dogs), elbow dysplasia, thrombopathia, hypochondriac (“dwarfism”), hypothyroidism, inherited polyneuropathy, von Willebrand’s disease, and day blindness. As with all breeds, an Alaskan Malamute’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and his teeth should be brushed regularly.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  3. Polyneuropathy DNA Test

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