A Guide to the Breed
The Alaskan malamute is a member of the Spitz family and native to the northern regions of the Western hemisphere. Height range is 25 - 23 inches at the shoulder but they are physically much stronger than other breeds of similar size. They were originally bred by a tribe of Inuits, the Mahlemuts, from which they take their name. The Malamutes were all-purpose dogs and performed tasks such as hauling sleds in winter, carrying packs of freight in summer, guarding herds of caribou and hunting polar bear, moose or wolves. In camp, the dogs were loyal family pets that watched over and kept children warm during long winter months.
Characteristics & Training
The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly, loving and loyal family dog. Being so good natured with people means they are not suited to guard work. However, they are not recommended for the first time dog owner because, despite their good nature towards people, they are not an easy breed. Being confident and strong-willed, they tend to be very dominant and require early obedience training and socialisation. Malamutes must never be given the opportunity to rule the family 'pack'. Malamutes also respond to harsh methods. Hitting or screaming at a Malamute will, result in it responding adversely. Malamutes need lots of love and lots of discipline. They are very intelligent so you need to be extremely firm and consistent, but never harsh.
Exercise & Coat Type
Ideally suited to ice and cold weather, the Malamute has also adapted well to more temperate climates, but they should never be exercised in the heat of a summers day. The coat consists of medium length, thick course guard hairs and a dense undercoat 1-2 inches in depth. Grooming is fairly minimal but should be done on a regular basis, bathing should not be necessary. They moult - heavily- twice a year.
A Malamute needs companionship and should therefore, ideally, live in the home as part of the family. If it is to be housed outside, in a dry and draught-free kennel, it should have the company of another canine, preferably of the opposite sex. Male Malamutes in particular can show aggression towards other male dogs. They can, if introduced at an early age, live in a household that has family Cat( s) but should not be regarded as safe with any other cats or with any livestock.
Hereditary problems that responsible breeders have their dogs tested for are Alaskan Malamute Polyneuropathy, Hip Dysphasia and Eye Problems ( Eye Testing needs to be repeated every twelve months). Both parents of any puppies should be have been tested prior to mating and have certificates available for viewing, which show their eyes to be currently 'Unaffected' by Hereditary Cataract. The Hip average is 13, Ideally you would like them less. AM Polyneuropathy is a neurological disease which will result in the death of a dog. This is a simple swab done by DNA and again ideally you would like a Clear dog. It is strongly advised not to purchase from any breeder that cannot show you any of these certificates.
Choosing your Breeder - with care!
Regardless of whether you are looking for pet/companion or show dog, choosing you breeder is very important. Your puppy will spend the rest of its life with you and you can give it the best possible by going to a responsible and reputable breeder. Just as you must expect the breeder to ask you questions about yourself and your lifestyle, it is also important that you have a list of questions that you need answering. Do not be afraid to ask breeders questions, any reputable breeder will be quite willing and happy to give you honest answers. If you feel something is not right, walk away. Remember this is an important purchase, you need to get it right for the puppy's sake and your own.
Important points to establish when questioning the breeder
1. The breeder is a current member of The Alaskan Malamute club of the UK. (If you wish to verify a breeders membership contact the club secretary) - All breeders which are members of this club have to adhere to a strict code of ethics when breeding, such as breeding age of bitches and males, breeding purposes, welfare, selling of puppies etc.
2. Evidence of satisfactory Hip scores, Clear Eye tests & Certificates for Clear Polyneuropathy for BOTH parents.
3. A five generation pedigree will be supplied with the puppy.
4. The puppy will be registered with the kennel Club and a certificate provided (this document is not the same as a pedigree).
N.B. It is of utmost importance to ensure the registration IS with The Kennel Club and NOT with any other registration provider.
All reputable breeders will also add two endorsements to their puppies registration certificates ( Progeny not for registration & Pedigree not for export), do not be afraid of endorsed documents, they are only put there to help protect the breed and, if you require, may be lifted by the breeder once you have fulfilled their criteria.
Remember - All these points are relevant even if you are looking for a pet. If the breeder cannot provide you with ALL the above walk away and find one who will.
The Alaskan Malamute Club of The UK, The Kennel Club and all responsible breeders are their to assist you, please don't hesitate to ask for advise.
All reputable breeders have waiting lists for their puppies. Do not be lured by ads offering an ''instant puppy'. Your puppy, supplied with all the correct documentation, who's parents have hip/eye tested, will be worth the wait.
This Alaskan Malamute Breed guide was written by : Jacquie Norman With additional contributions by Jayne Hood.