The Alaskan Malamute is the largest Arctic sled dog and obtained their name from the area they originated from and the tribe they lived with, the Mahlemuts. They are 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 cooler weather. These attractive dogs 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 these hardworking companions as hunting dogs to help them hunt polar bears and seals and they 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 available 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 of the dogs were used to help Richard Byrd in his Antarctic expedition. During World War II, these brave canines were used as working dogs alongside the soldiers in battle. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935. They were featured on a stamp issued by the United States postal service in 1984 and in several other countries. The Mally became so popular in Alaska that they were 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. They have a broad head, triangular ears, a bulky muzzle, strong legs, and a furry tail curled over their 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 this energetic canine loves the cold weather so much. This is a large breed that can grow to around 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 the eyes are almond shaped.
The Alaskan Malamute is a very affectionate pet that loves and protects the family. They even like children and will play with them for hours if allowed to. They need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to keep them from getting bored. Cats and other small animals are seen as prey unless you train your dog not to hunt them. They are very loyal and courageous but can be strong-willed and stubborn at times. This breed is easily trained and is very quick to learn. They need attention and exercise with both indoor and outdoor play daily. If they are left alone too long or get bored, they are likely to get into trouble by chewing up furniture or digging holes in the yard. Barking is usually not a concern but they tend to howl if they hear a siren or other dogs howling. They are also vocal with their owners so do not be surprised if your Alaskan Malamute seems to be talking to you.