All About the Alaskan Malamute

by Amanda Flores

This lovable giants may look like wolves, but the similarities end there. Here's what to know about how to care for the Alaskan Malamute breed.

The Alaskan Malamute is a majestic dog with physical characteristics similar to that of their very close wolf ancestors. However, the similarities end there. These lovable giants will win over your heart, and maybe that of a stranger or two as well. 

HISTORY OF THE ALASKAN MALAMUTES BREED

The Alaskan Malamute, or Mal as they are affectionately called, is one of the most ancient dog breeds. Thousands of years ago, the breed was brought over from Siberia to Alaska, and was raised by the Mahlemuts. A hardworking breed, they were helpful in hunting, for transportation, and for scaring away large prey like Polar Bears.

ALASKAN MALAMUTES TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS

Physical Traits 

Alaskan Malamutes are often confused with Huskies. They both have wolf-like features and excel in arctic conditions. However, while Huskies are known for their speed, Malamutes are larger and stronger. The Alaskan Malamute stands 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs 75 to 85 pounds. And, while they both have pointy, triangle-shaped ears, the Malamutes’ ears sit further apart on their head. 

Alaskan Malamutes have deep chests, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coats. All evidence of their sled-dog duties. 

Giant Alaskan Malamutes are exactly that—an extremely large version of the original breed. They are often 50 pounds heavier and about 10 inches taller. Otherwise, their temperament and other characteristics are the same. 

Personality Traits

The Alaskan Malamute means business when they have a task at hand, but after a hard day’s work, they’re ready to snuggle up with their people. These pups are true pack dogs and want to feel part of the family. Just be sure they know who’s boss because they are known to overcome a laid back parent and assume the role of pack leader.

Although this breed may look like their wolf ancestors, don’t bring home an Alaskan Malamute thinking you’ll have a ferocious watchdog. These gentle giants are friendly to almost everyone they meet, even strangers. 

ALASKAN MALAMUTES BREED-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES

With the proper exercise and a nutritional diet, the Alaskan Malamute is an overall healthy breed. A few things that they could be predisposed to are hip dysplasia, cataracts, hypothyroidism, seizures, and belly bloat.

You should also be on the lookout for degenerative polyneuropathy. This disease can lead to the weakening of and eventual paralysis of certain parts of the dog’s body. Signs could include stumbling or difficulty standing. While there is no cure, physical therapy can help maintain muscle mass, and your vet can help recommend lifestyle changes that can keep your pup at their most comfortable. 

ALASKAN MALAMUTES BREED CARE

Grooming Recommendations

The Alaskan Malamute’s thick, doublecoat is ideal for Arctic conditions, but in everyday life, it needs regular grooming. You should brush your Mal’s coat every day with a pinbrush to keep away matting. Twice a year, use an undercoat rake to make sure you get all of the loose fur, especially during shedding season.

When it comes to bathing, Malamutes can be bathed anywhere between once a week or every six weeks. Trim your pup's nails regularly to avoid discomfort.

Exercise Recommendations 

Alaskan Malamutes were bred as work dogs, which means this breed needs to be kept busy and stimulated. They’re highly athletic, have incredible endurance, and were bred to carry heavy loads. They need daily exercise, like the freedom to run around in your backyard, and playtime with their people or other dogs. 

This breed is perfect for pup parents who love outdoor adventures. Mals love hiking and swimming, as well as competitive sports with other pups.

Training Recommendations 

This highly intelligent breed is willful and independent, and if not properly trained when they are young, can become extremely stubborn. Because of their size, they could accidentally injure small children and other dogs, so it’s important to socialize your Mal early on to ensure they understand their limits.  

Feel free to use positive reinforcement while training, as they are highly motivated by food-based rewards. Keep it to low calorie treats and don’t overdo it to avoid excessive weight gain. And remember, short and frequent training sessions will have the most successful outcomes. 

ALASKAN MALAMUTES BREED NUTRITION

This high energy dog requires two balanced meals a day to keep up with the calories they’re burning. Follow your petfood’s guidelines or our feeding calculator for the correct serving size according to their weight and age. An Alaskan Malamute’s food should consist of healthy fats, proteins, and lots of good-for-you nutrition.

Sundays is gently air-dried food that’s made with all-natural, human-grade ingredients and packed with flavor. All meals include all of the essential vitamins to keep your Alaskan Malamute at peak health and top performance. 

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