A wolf-like breed in appearance, the Malamute dog is a large, imposing breed of dog who has typical Spitz characteristics (a tail often curled over the back, a very thick coat, erect ears, and a wedge-shaped head). The male Malamute dog stands at 64-71cm when fully grown and the female at 58-66cm, and they weigh from 38 to 56kg. The coat comes in a range of colours and shades – from white and light grey to black, and from gold to red and liver, with markings.
A nomadic Inuit tribe from north-western Alaska, called the Mahlemuts, developed this breed to pull heavy loads in extremely harsh weather and to help with hunting. He shares his ancestry with other Arctic breeds, such as the Samoyed dog and the Siberian Husky breed, although he was not built for speed but for power. With his thick, double coat, strength and stamina, it's not surprising that the Malamute dog breed has helped to haul loads on polar expeditions – something few other breeds could withstand.
He might look like a wolf, but he doesn't act like one! The Malamute dog is an affectionate, friendly dog, though perhaps not the ideal breed for a first-time owner. He loves to dig and howl and can have a high prey-drive for small, furry creatures – be they squirrels, cats or small dogs. Thorough early socialisation and ongoing training throughout his life – including work on a reliable recall – is therefore essential.
As with many breeds, Alaskan Malamute dogs can suffer from hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The Malamute dog breed needs at least two hours a day of exercise, preferably more. He loves to pull, so early lead-training is essential! Many enjoy canicross, where they run with their owners, but avoid vigorous exercise in heat.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Alaskan Malamute dog breed is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
With a thick undercoat that can be as deep as two inches, together with a thick, coarse guard coat on top, the Malamute breed is well protected against severe, harsh weather. But in a centrally-heated house, there can be considerable shedding! Daily brushing will help to capture a lot of loose hair.