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Alaskan Malamute: 10 Must-Know Dog Breed Information

Alaskan Malamute
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He is a canine fur factory, big-boned, the closest thing to having a real wolf in your family. A gorgeous dog with a personality to match, he is a top-notch leash-puller. If you let him, he’ll eat food till his throat every four hours.

The whole planet is his backyard; few fences cannot contain him. But, there may not be a cheerful, exuberant, friendly dog in the canine kingdom like this dog.

They are the Official state dogs of Alaska – the Alaskan malamute. Often confused with the Siberian husky, the Alaskan malamute is a large, wolfish-looking Nordic breed type working dog.

As their name suggests, they originate from the world’s last frontier Alaska. They were bred to pull the sleds of the Mahlemut peoples settled in the Kotzebue Sound area.

Their thick, double coat helps to protect them from harsh weathers. They even have fur within their ears to make them warm. It is their amazing stamina helps them sled for long distances with their cargo.

But it’s definitely not all work and no play. These social, affectionate dogs love to be around people. They often make wonderful family pets for the right home.

Regardless of the stature, he is a gentle soul who wants to be friends with everyone they meet.

Far from a sentry dog, this breed is best suited for digging a spectacular hole in the back garden or pulling your kids along a sled.

Alaskan Malamute Infographic

Alaskan Malamute Infographic

Alaskan Malamute Breed Characteristics Sheet

  • Origin: Alaska
  • Size: Large
  • Dog Breed Group: Spitz Dogs (FCI)/ Working (AKC, CKC, KC)/ Northern Breed (UKC)
  • Purebred: Yes
  • Lifespan: 10-12 Years
  • Height: Males 63 – 71 Cm(25 – 28 Inches), Females 58 – 66 Cm(23 – 26 Inches)
  • Weight: Males 38 – 56 Kg(85-125 Lbs), Females 34 – 45 Kg (75-100 Lbs)
  • Coat Appearance: Weatherproof Double Coat
  • Coat Colors: Agouti & White, Black & White, White, Grey & White, Blue & White, Sable & White, Red & White, Seal & White, Silver & White, Wolf Grey & White, Wolf Sable & White
  • Temperament: Affectionate, Energetic, Easygoing, Dedicated,  Hard Working, Intelligent, Independent, Lively, Loyal, Keen, Protective, Resolute, Vigilant
  • Good With Children: Yes
  • Intelligence Level: High
  • Good With Pets: Yes
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Grooming: High
  • Shedding: Average
  • Barking: Barks When Necessary
  • Suitable For Apartments: No
  • Need For Exercise: High
  • Easy To Train: No
  • Good For First Time Owners: No
  • Health Issues: Healthy Breed With Some Minor Concerns
  • Litter Size: 4-6 Puppies
  • Average Price: $1000 – $2000 USD (USA), £700 For KC Registered, £560 For Non-KC Registered

Alaskan Malamute History

You need to go back a few thousand years to find out the origins of an Alaskan malamute. Their ancestors crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska 4000 years ago.

Researchers state that the Mahlemut tribes settled in the northeastern Seward Peninsula between the rivers Kobuk and Noatak.

During that period, they used these dogs to pull heavy sleds and hunt seals. They never let this breed to mix with other dogs, as they very much resembled an arctic wolf.

One of the early Malamute breeders, Paul Voelker stated that they are the oldest of the Arctic sled dogs. You can still find them working today. This breed is the longest associated one with humans. They are also simply called the Malamute and the “Mal”.

In 1935, the AKC acknowledged this breed. The Alaskan Malamute Club of America was formed in the same year.  Rowdy of Nome from Eva Short Seeley and Chinook Kennel was the first dog inscribed in AKC.

During the 1950s, first malamutes were imported to Europe. But, the actual interest for the breed started in the 1960s. It was after the recognition of the breed by Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1963.

Alaskan Malamute Vs Husky

People often confuse with the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky due to their wolf-like looks. Also, they are quite similar in their temperament which leads to more confusion.

Both the Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky are double-coated, sled dogs. Loaded with energy, both the breeds are high shedders and able to withstand cold climates.

Despite these similarities, these dogs share a few differences in their physical characteristics and behavior. These differences will certainly avoid confusion over these breeds and impart some knowledge on the people!

CharacteristicsAlaskan MalamuteSiberian Husky
SizeThis dog weighs more (85-100 lbs) than the husky. So, it looks bigger and heavierHusky weighs less than the malamutes (35-60 lbs) and looks lighter than the Alaskan malamute
IntelligenceThis breed is less intelligent compared with the huskyThis dog is more intelligent and cunning than Alaskan malamute
Socialization (with people)This breed likes to spend time with its ownerHuskies are aloof, independent and do not need more human interaction. They can even live without their owners
AggressivenessAlaskan malamute shows aggression toward the same sex dogs. They feel more comfort with the humansSiberian huskies are friendly with other dogs and loves to live with them
Sled skillsThis breed is notable for its strength. These dogs can pull heavy sleds over long distance at a slow paceSpeed is the key temperament of Husky. They can pull light sleds and reach the destination in a short span of time
Guarding abilitiesIt is a guard dogSiberian husky is not a guard dog

Alaskan Malamute Size And Lifespan


  • Height – Males 63 – 71 cm(25 – 28 inches), Females 58 – 66 cm(23 – 26 inches)
  • Weight – Males 38 – 56 kg(85-125 lbs), Females 34 – 45 kg (75-100 lbs)


The average Alaskan malamute life-span is about 10-12 years when properly cared for and fed a good quality diet to suit their ages.

Alaskan Malamute Appearance And Coat Color


They have well-balanced Body proportions neither ponderous nor clumsy.  Malamutes are structured for strength, endurance, and light-footed agility.

It is important that the body length should be only slightly longer than their height. It has a deep head with a fairly broad skull and slightly rounded forehead.

The almond shaped with brown medium-sized eyes is obliquely placed in the skull. Medium sized ears of these dogs are slightly rounded at the tips and are set wide apart.

Their tails are well furred and look like waving plume. It is not short furred like a fox brush nor is it snap tail.

Coat Color

  • Agouti & White
  • Black & White
  • White
  • Grey & White
  • Blue & White
  • Sable & White
  • Red & White
  • Seal & White
  • Silver & White
  • Wolf Grey & White
  • Wolf Sable & White

They have a dense dual coat consists of a thick, woolly, downy (one to two inches in depth) undercoat and a thick, coarse, a fairly short (never long and soft) outer coat.

The texture of the guard coat is coarse so that they readily shed dirt and shows no tendency to mat.  Coat distribution follows a specific pattern over the body.

They are relatively short to medium along the sides of the body.

Malamutes shed during the summer months and have a shorter and less dense coat.

Alaskan Malamute Temperament

They are one of the happiest, sweetest, and cleverest dogs. These loyal dogs serve to their true purpose and see a reason for working with you. You actually have to earn their respect.

If you don’t like to work with them, they can easily wreak havoc in mere minutes. The breed tends to be independent, spontaneous and indomitable.

They have a strong sense of self and possess the ability to act on their own initiative. They have done this for thousands of years of work at the sub-freezing temperatures in Alaska.

They are extremely brave to the point of self-sacrifice and you can blindly trust their abilities. When the first sled race held at Iditarod in 1973, temperatures plunged to minus 130°F. It was the mushers, not the dogs, that complained.

Malamutes seem happiest when the thermometer registers between plus 10 and minus 20 °F.

He may look imposing and stubborn but he is a good-natured dog. He is loyal, gentle and mild-mannered without being overly demonstrative. They are gentle with older kids and other animals, wanting only to take care of them.

These dogs have a genetic memory to haul heavy loads, run, and roam by working together with their humans in an inseparable unit.

They like to spend at least part of his time with his family. These dogs like do some sort of work rather than being left alone in the backyard. He is never a “good backyard dog.”

They are resolute, independent and can seem aloof; however, they bond naturally to those who care for them.

If you do understand all of the above – these make perfect family pets. They can live with other pets and cats (if raised from puppyhood). They are practically odorless, hygienic, hilarious, a bit stubborn, but really, really smart dogs.

For first time owners  

With his majestic appearance, pleasing colors and adorable coat, the malamutes are sure to be a head turner as you walk him down the street.

But if that’s all you’re looking for in a dog, this is not the breed for you. The Alaskan Malamutes are known to be the “Clydesdale” of the great white north.

They need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the particular needs of this type of large, intelligent sled dogs.

Moreover, they have a strong mind of their own and would always be ready to test the boundaries and limits that were set for them by an owner.

Who Gets Along With Alaskan Malamute Dogs?

  • Those who seek a good working dog who will also interact with the family
  • Family with older kids
  • active household
  • Houses in farms, country homes or houses with large fenced-in yards

Why they don’t make good guard dogs?

They may look big, ferocious, with wolf-like features makes them effective deterrents but they really aren’t suited to life as a guard dog.

  • Independent thinkers and way too friendly
  • They are not at all territorial, or super protective or possessive of things
  • Now they are protective of their people and other pack members but it doesn’t extend to stuff in our experience.
  • They are roamers
  • Sitting around and waiting for the bad guys should be boring for them
  • A joke amongst experienced Alaskan malamute owners is that in the event of any break-in the dogs would help them carry the silver out.


  • Apartment Living – No
  • Good For First-Time Owners – NO
  • Sensitivity Level – High
  • Loneliness – Average
  • Cold Weather – Very Good
  • Hot Weather – Average


  • With Family – High
  • Kids – High
  • Other Dogs – High
  • With Cats – Good, If Raised Together
  • Strangers – Suspicious, Reserved

General Behavior

  • Independence – High
  • Dominance – High
  • Combativeness – Aggressive
  • Indoors – Moderately Active
  • Outdoor – Highly Active
  • Territorial – No
  • Easy Of Transportation – Good

Alaskan Malamute Care

  • Exercise Needs – Average
  • Intensity – Average
  • Activity Level – High
  • Exercise Requirements – >90 Minutes/Day
  • Walk Mileage/ Week – 10 Miles
  • Playfulness – Average
  • Grooming Needs – High
  • Tendency To Drool – Low
  • To Snore – Low
  • Bark – Average
  • Dig – Low
  • Social/Attention Needs – Average

Excellent family pet, sled dog and a guard dog, Alaskan Malamute does various roles. But, this breed requires more care.

An energetic breed, this dog’s exercise needs are more. Besides, it is a heavy shedder despite its thick, heavy coat and its ability to withstand too cold climates. This leads to intensive grooming.

Also, this breed will get along with other pets only after early socialization. Friendly with people, it may show aggression even toward the same sex dogs. So, socialization training is much important for these dogs.

Let’s look at other requirements of the Alaskan malamute and a few tips and warnings that help you to care this dog in a much better way!

Exercise needs


  • Having the muscle strength and ability to run for long distances, it needs more exercise for mental stimulation
  • Take it for long, daily walks for at least half an hour
  • Hiking, swimming, and running will be the best play activities for these dogs!


  • Ensure that all the family members are spending time with this dog as it needs more interaction with people
  • Ensure that your dog is playing in a fenced area
  • Keep it on a leash while taking it for walks



  • Brush its coat at least twice a week to avoid any loose hairs
  • Occasional bathing is enough for these dogs. Bath only when you find a sticky substance on its fur and it is dirty.
  • Trim its nails and the fur around the feet occasionally


  • Bath your dog using a dog shampoo and in warm water (not too hot)
  • Ensure that the fur is dry before you let the dog outside!
  • Look out for any changes in your dog’s body, especially the ears, eyes, hip joints and in its behavior and make an appointment with the vet



  • Early socialization is essential for these dogs to reduce aggression toward their counterparts
  • Training is recommended for even people who are new to train Alaskan malamutes


  • Reward-based training will help to avoid stubbornness



  • A high-quality, high protein dry dog food is fine for these dogs
  • You can also feed chews as these dogs love them


  • You can ask your vet for a diet sheet when it is ill
  • Consult the vet for zinc supplement as it has a zinc deficiency



Alaskan Malamute Food

Calorie considerations –  A typical, healthy Malamute should be fed about 20-30 calories worth of food per pound of body weight.

-The average adult Mals (weighing 100 lbs) should get anywhere around 2500 calories per day (on average)

– A young dog weighing around 40-60 pounds (6-12 months pup) may require at least 1500 calories per day.

– For Mals with a more sedentary lifestyle (that’s not possible) and for older dogs, they may need fewer calories – 2000 calories

Never let your dog eat

Alcohol, avocado, caffeine (in coffee, tea and any other form), onions, garlic, milk and dairy products in generalgrapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, sugary foods and drinks, candy and gumpeaches, plums,  chocolate, persimmons, salt, yeast dough, fat trimmings and bones (human food leftovers), human medicaments (apart from fish oils and active charcoal)

Alaskan Malamute Training

  • Trainability – Difficult
  • Intelligence – High
  • Memory – High
  • Mouthiness – High
  • Prey Drive – High
  • Barking – When Needed
  • Wanderlust Potential – Low

Alaskan Malamutes can be a fantastic breed for experienced owners. But, he can’t just fit into any routine, all of a sudden.

Those who are interested in this breed should do their research and first-time owners should talk to breeders and other experienced owners before getting one.

Malamutes absolutely must have early, persistent and extensive socialization.

If because of work, personal or other commitments, you cannot perform this mandatory requirement, we respectfully suggest you select one of the more naturally people-friendly breeds.

There is also a lack of specific professional help due to the side effect of Malamute rarity. There is the relative scarcity of Veterinarians, dog trainers, show judges, and canine behaviorists who are familiar with these dogs.

If you are considering one of these dogs as a companion, we encourage you to take your time and do conscientious research.

These canine athletes have an incredible energy source and an insistent desire to be very active. Owners need to channelize this energy.

The list of activities you can enjoy with your Mal is vast: weight pulling, sledding, skijoring, hiking, backpacking, agility, jogging, biking, and swimming (sometimes — few Mals don’t like the water), rollerblading, etc.

A walk around the block just isn’t enough!  Malamutes that do not get adequate exercise quickly become frustrated and bored.

They will exhibit all sorts of destructive, adverse behaviors like howling, excessive digging (a certain amount is normal for northern breeds), self- mutilation, inappropriate chewing, barking and making a hell lot of noises.

They also have some escape tendencies from whatever field they are in— in this case, the grass probably is greener on the other side!

Keep in mind that you want to share your life with a determined, intelligent, independent dog that is competent enough to move 2,000 pounds… all by himself!

For sure, we also share our lives with a furry friend who is always ready to listen to our problems, who has an unlimited supply of affection and who can join us in all sorts of activities.

On the whole, we gain more than enough from our Alaskan malamutes to compensate for the inevitable headaches they give occasionally.

Alaskan Malamute Grooming And Shedding

  • Coat Density – Dense
  • Length – Medium
  • Texture – Straight
  • Brushing Frequency – Weekly
  • Trimming/Stripping – No
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Shedding – High

Alaskan Malamutes have moderate grooming requirements. They have a magnificent double coat which needs to be brushed and combed regularly to keep it that way.

Mals blow their coats once or twice each year (spring, and autumn). During that time, daily scrapes will help to cut down the mess and speed up the process.

Your house will be snowy white for several weeks in that shedding seasons if you forget daily vacuuming. In general, Brush your dog with a wire slicker brush one to two times a week in order to get rid of loose and dead hair.

With the soft side of a pin brush, apply a little corn starch and then brush out. This will whiten the coat and offset any obnoxious smell he picked up in shoulder rolling in the dirt.

Like any other dog, cleaning teeth, nail clipping, checking ear for infections should be done regularly.

Alaskan Malamute Health Problems

Major concerns

Hip Dysplasia – This abnormality in the hip joints affects not only large breeds but also small dogs. The main causes are genetical deformity and unnatural diet.

Minor concerns

  • Cataracts – The cloudy or bluish-gray eye should be checked for cataract early. Otherwise, your dog may end up blind.
  • Skin Problems
  • Diabetes – This metabolism disorder affects almost all breeds. Dogs that suffer from diabetes mellitus suffer from frequent urination and weight loss. But with good care, this disease can be well managed.

Names For Alaskan Malamute Puppies


Alaskan Malamute Price And Breeders

Alaskan Malamute Price

Average: $1000 – $2000 USD (USA), £700 for KC Registered, £560 for Non-KC Registered

Alaskan Malamute Breeders

  1. Northern Lite Alaskan Malamutes Burton, Ohio
  2. Aquila Kennels Foxworth, Mississippi
  3. Kaviak Alaskan Malamutes Louisburg, Kansas
  4. Snow Pack Alaskan Malamutes of the Rockies Fairplay, Colorado
  5. Summit Alaskan Malamutes Pinetop, Arizona
  6. October Kies Topeka, Kansas
  7. Willow Creek Malamutes Shelton, Washington
  8. Kingfisher’s Alaskan Malumute Big Lake, Alaska
  9. Powder Hounds Malamutes Jefferson, Wisconsin
  10. Kalamals Blacksburg, Virginia

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