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Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute | Big Dog BreedsHistory

The Alaskan Malamute, also knows as just a Malamute, is one of the oldest Arctic sled dog breeds. Its name comes from the Mahlemuts, an Inuit tribe that settled in northwestern Alaska long before it was part of the United States. Because of their high endurance and innate work ethic, they are used for pulling sleds in teams and search and rescue missions of missing people. Sometimes confused with the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute is much larger, has a more powerful build, a more outgoing disposition, a denser and harsher double coat and a bushier, plume-like tail, among other breed differences.

Malamutes are best known for their intelligence, alertness, affection, curiosity, playfulness, strength and endurance. They are great companions and tend to bond with all family members and friends rather than being a “one-person dog.” They are not particularly good watch or guard dogs. They are prone to vocalizing with what is more of a howl than an actual bark.

Height & Weight

Malamutes reach an average weight of between 75 to 100 pounds and an average height of 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder, with males being larger than females.


Even though they are working dogs who take their jobs pulling sleds or searching out lost human seriously, Alaskan Malamutes are just big puppies at heart. They love to run, romp and play and seem to have a never-ending reserve of energy. They are a great family dog due to their playful, easy-going nature and friendliness toward strangers.


If left alone, howling is almost guaranteed with an Alaskan Malamute. Families who live in close proximity to others should take this into consideration before adopting one. Since Malamutes love to be with people separation anxiety is also common, however this can be controlled with proper exercise and activity.

Food aggression is also common in the Alaskan Malamute, and difficult to train out of them. Children should be taught never to disturb this dog while he is eating.


Malamutes love to work, however they are difficult to train when in the home. They are independent and willful dogs requiring a patient and consistent hand when working to train this breed. They like to take charge, so any moment they see an opportunity to take over a situation, they will take it.

Exercise Requirements

In order to stay happy, this breed requires a lot of activity and will let you know if they do not get enough exercise. They will bark, howl or become destructive. Because they were originally bred for hard work, their endurance can become a challenge if they do not get enough exercise. For this reason, it is recommended they get at least one hour of vigorous exercise per day.

Because of their thick coats, they should not be kept in a warm climate as they can dehydrate very easily. They love cold weather and snow and were bred for it. Malamutes should live in a house with a big fenced in yard, and have been known to scale fences in search of adventure.

They are great for families with children because of their patient nature. They do not mind having children climbing all over them and they are energetic enough to keep children busy playing outside for hours. However, small children could be in danger of getting knocked over by a Malamute, so adult supervision is required.


Malamutes shed daily, so regular brushing two to three times per week is necessary to keep things under control. Twice a year the Malamute will shed heavily, and they lose their fur in clumps. Other than brushing, regular nail clippings, teeth and ear cleanings, Malamutes are very low maintenance. Like felines, they keep their fur naturally clean, so they only require baths a few times per year.

Health Issues

The average life span of the Alaskan Malamute is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, bloat, cancer, chondrodysplasia, diabetes, epilepsy, eye problems (refractory corneal ulceration, corneal dystrophy, glaucoma, cataracts, day blindness and generalized progressive retinal atrophy), hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and skin problems such as generalized demodicosis and follicular dysplasia. Malamutes also can have a genetic defect causing malabsorption of zinc, which leads to skin lesions despite adequate levels of zinc in their diet.

Recommended Reading For More Information

Alaskan Malamute (Comprehensive Owner’s Guide)

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