The Alaskan Malamute is the largest Arctic sled dog and got its name from the area it originated and the tribe it lived with, the Mahlemuts. It is a basal breed that originated 4,000 years ago with the Inuit Tribe in Alaska. Although they were originally bred for hunting large game such as polar bears and seals, now they are used for sled pulling and as companion pets. They are a healthy breed, living about 12 years on average, although they do have some congenital conditions such as hip dysplasia and cataracts. With their double-coat, they are able to withstand wet and cold climates. In fact, they actually prefer the cooler weather. Alaskan Malamutes are usually white with gray, red, or black shading and have a wolf-like appearance although their expression is softer.
Named after the Innuit Tribe, Mahlemuts, this breed was born to work and play in the snow. They descended from the Eskimo dogs of Greenland, Siberian Huskies, and the Russian Samoyed over 4,500 years ago. At the time, the Mahlemuts used the Alaskan Malamutes as hunting dogs to help them hunt polar bears and seals and were used as sled dogs as well. Sometime during the 1700s, explorers were impressed by the Alaskan Malamutes for their strength and affection and this increased the breed’s popularity a great deal. During the gold rush of 1896, the miners started using the dogs in weight-pulling competitions for entertainment. At that time, Alaskan Malamutes were bred with other breeds to make them faster and to increase the number of dogs to race. This caused the breed to be diminished and it took until the 1920s for breeders to start trying to purify the breed again, the Alaskan Malamute as it is today being the result. In 1933, several Alaskan Malamutes were used to help Richard Byrd in his Antarctic expedition. During World War II, these dogs were used as working dogs alongside the soldiers in battle. The Alaskan Malamute is the 59th most popular breed in the United States and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935. The breed was featured on a stamp issued by the United States postal service in 1984 and in several other countries. They became so popular in Alaska that it was named the official state dog of Alaska in 2010. This was all due to a campaign by a group of school children.
The Alaskan Malamute is seen in nine different colors which include agouti and white, black and white, blue and white, gray and white, red and white, sable and white, seal and white, silver and white, and white. Some have black markings or a gray mask. They have a muscular and powerful body with a proud stance, alert eyes, and keep their head held high. The Alaskan Malamute has a broad head, triangular ears, a bulky muzzle, strong legs, and a furry tail curled over its back. They have a deep chest and powerful shoulders for strength and stamina. Their coat is thick and double layered for protection from the elements, which is why the Alaskan Malamute loves the cold weather so much. This is a large breed that can grow to over 100 pounds so they are able to withstand pulling heavy loads in extreme temperatures. They have dark brown eyes, although some are blue-eyed, and they are almond shaped.