Owning an Alaskan Malamute is not a decision to be taken lightly and they are not a breed that are suitable for most people to own. They are without doubt a magnificent breed of dog, and as puppies they are irresistable. Butthey are not easy to live with and require huge commitment from their owners.
In the right hands they can make wonderful companions and pets, but in the wrong hands they can be a nightmare.
* Your Malamute puppy will grow into 40 to 50kg of exhuberant dog and they are extremely strong.......be sure that you are prepared to live with an adult Malamute. Is everyone in your household prepared for, and committed to, owning a Malamute?
* Malamutes are large and powerful and, like any dog, they deserve to be treated with respect and handled accordingly. The friendy Malamute adores children, but they will not tolerate continued abuse. Make sure you are prepared to train your children how to behave in an appropriate manner with your new dog.
* Although friendly and affectionate with people, Malamute's are very dominant, even as puppies. From an early age they will try to manipulate you, sometimes so subtly that you aren't even aware of it and other times in a spectacular fashion which will leave you open-mouthed in amazement.
They are very pack-oriented and like to know there is a firm leader. If you don't establish yourself as the boss from the word go, a Malamute will not need a second invitation to take up the role themselves!
They need consistancy and will quickly learn and remember bad habits if you let them. It is important that they learn the rules of the house from an early age.
If you are a weak personality, a Malamute is not the breed for you.
* A Malamute requires LOTS of socialisation and training from puppyhood to adulthood to ensure that they grow into a well adjusted adult and a pleasant dog to live with. If you don't have the time or inclination to train your Malamute, pleasedon't get one. By spending quality time training your Malamute you are developing a closer bond and greater respect and understanding between dog and handler.
* As adolescent's, Malamutes can become the teenager from hell. They will need firm and loving discipline at this time probably more than any other. They will challenge you and your commands, run off and fail to come back when they're called, maybe even growl at you, and generally cause a few grey hairs.
* Adult Malamute's need plenty of good quality exercise and play, and need early lead training (they are bred to pull!) Both adults and puppies need lots of stimulation and can become destructive if they don't get it. They are social creatures and love to be in the company of their humans. They do not do well (and will be miserable) if regularly left alone for long periods of time. Do you work long hours and will not have the necessary time to spend with your Malamute?
*Malamute's are very hairy dogs! They have a double coat, a thick woolly undercoat and a longer, harsh guard coat. They shed hair all the time around the house but will have two major moults a year where they will lose most of their undercoat (literally before your very eyes). They will need regular grooming all year round to keep their coat in good condition. When you own a Malamute, you will notice that your house becomes the dust capital of the world...............they create a lot of extra house work........Are you prepared for it?
* Malamute's are great diggers and garden-destroyers. A Malamute will never eat a weed, only the most expensive and prized flowers. If you cannot bear to see your blooms destroyed, or you are not prepared to fence off part of your garden you may want to consider another breed of dog. Malamute's can also dig a crater the size of a small family car within a very short time. Nothing is more of a temptation to a Malamute gardener than a perfectly manicured lawn.............you have been warned!
* Malamute's need secure fencing. If you have any weakness in your fencing, a Malamute will find it and expose it. If they can't get through it they will try to dig under it. Half the time it's not to escape but just because they enjoy it.
* Please remember that these are working dogs, bred to pull sleds across the arctic, and consider carefully whether they are right for your household.
History of the Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute's originate from the north west coast of Alaska and are the largest, and one of the oldest, sled dog breeds. They were originally bred by a native Eskimo tribe called 'Mahlemuts' (from whom they derive their name). They were used to haul very heavy loads over long distances in extremely harsh and freezing conditions.
The Eskimo's relied heavily on these dogs for their survival and used them for hauling food and supplies and also hunting. The Malamute's ability to live and work in the inhospitable arctic conditions was essential and they had to be physically and mentally tough with amazing strength and endurance in order to survive.
During the earlier part of the 20th century, the Malamute as a breed was almost lost entirely. They survived because of the efforts of a few dedicated people who fell in love with these wonderful dogs and strived to retain and protect those attributes which make this breed unique.
The Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard was subsequently developed and Malamute's were recognised and registered as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1935.
The Malamute of today still has the characteristics of it's ancestors. They are very much a pack-oriented dog with a strong survival and hunting instinct and an independent, dominant and sometimes wilful, character. They are extremely intelligent and have amazing strength and endurance. They are capable of great loyalty and affection to the humans they own.
If you consider that an Alaskan Malamute may be the dog for you, please think very carefully before taking one on.
It is essential that new owners have an understanding of the Breed's history, character and behaviour and that they are prepared to make a commitment to care for their Malamute for the whole of it's life.
Please take some time to research the Breed before making that commitment, and please choose your breeder carefully!
We are always happy to offer help and advice regarding the Breed, so please feel free to contact us.
Click on the links to the below for more information....................
If you are convinced that a Malamute is the right breed for you, but you do not feel you want to take on a young puppy, why not consider taking on a rescue Malamute. The Alaskan Malamute Club of the United Kingdom has a rescue facility for those Malamutes who, for whatever reason need to be re-homed. Many of these dogs come into breed rescue through no fault of their own and need kind, responsible and loving homes.
If you think you may be suitable and can help re-home one of these Mals, contact the Breed rescue co-ordinator...........................Alaskan Malamute Breed Rescue
If after doing all your research, you decide that a Malamute is the breed for you, you should find a reputable breeder. Visit the breeder you are hoping to get a puppy from and try to visit as many breeders as possible. Ask lots of questions.
Make sure the breeder is a member of the UK official Breed club (the Alaskan Malamute Club of the UK) and shows concern for the welfare and improvement of their own dogs, but also importantly, Malamutes in general. It is important that breeders take responsiblity for the effect their breeding decisions will have on the future of our breed. A good breeder will be delighted you are taking such an interest and will be happy to answer your questions.
You are about to make a large investment in time, money and love, so make sure you pick wisely.
*Ask the breeder why they are breeding
A knowledgable breeder should have a good understanding of canine construction and a thorough knowledge of their breed's own Breed Standard. They should be able to explain the purpose of their breeding program and any proposed matings.
*How often do they breed? How often do they keep a puppy themsleves?
Ask the breeder how many litters they have each year and why? Have they kept any puppies from these litters? If not, why not?, and why are they breeding in the first place? In our opinion, breeding more than two litters in one year, is excessive and is not in the interests of the Breed.
* Does your Malamute breeder have a waiting list of suitable potential owners before they breed, and will they want you to visit them before they will be happy to place you on their waiting list?
All reputable breeders want to ensure that their puppies are going to responsible, loving and knowledgable homes. They will want to meet you to make sure you are suitable to own a Malamute and that you will take care of the precious puppy they have carefully planned and raised. If a breeder shows no concern for your suitability as a Malamute owner, what does that say about their concern for the dogs they breed and the quality of their breeding program?
* Does your Malamute breeder do their very best to ensure that their dogs are healthy and free of genetic diseases before they breed from them?
All reputable breeders will make sure to the best of their ability that the puppies they produce are healthy and sound. At the very least, their breeding stock should be eye tested clear for hereditary cataracts and hip scored in accordance with the Kennel Club/British Veterinary Association schemes, (we also thyroid test all our dogs before breeding from them).
Dogs must be over a year of age to be hip scored and to do this requires that the dog be anaesthetised. The dog's hips are then xrayed in a suitable position to ensure the best view of the hip joints. The xrays are then sent to the BVA and each hip is then given a score between 0 and 53 ( the lower the score the better). The maximum score for any dog is 106. Obviously a breeder should be aiming to breed from dogs with as low a score as possible, but the dog's overall qualities and potential improvement of the breed must be taken into consideration.
*Is your breeder a member of any Breed Clubs?
Most breed clubs will impose rules for their members and a code of ethics and good breeding practice to adhere to for their members who breed. If your breeder is not a member of a breed specific club in their own country, ask them why. Do not be fooled if the reason given, is that they have 'fallen out' with unreasonable club members..........what they mean is, they do not want to adhere to the Club's rules/ethics.
* What age does your breeder breed from their bitches for the first time and how many litters do their bitches have?
Malamutes are a large breed dog and are slow to mature. They do not reach full maturity until 4 or 5 years of age (physical - not mental - that can take a lot longer!). The Alaskan Malamute Club of the UK's rules for member/breeders states that: a bitch must not be bred for the first time before the age of 2 years, and not before their third season. A bitch is also to have a maximum of 3 to 4 litters in her lifetime. Dogs should not be used at stud until 18 months of age. Ask your breeder about their breeding practices - A good breeder will have nothing to hide. If they are breeding their dogs young.......Why?
* Does your breeder take time and care raising their puppies?
Are the puppies well fed, clean and happy? Are they kept in a suitable environment with proper socialisation and care? Do they come in the house, or are they constantly kept penned up? How long does your breeder keep their puppies for, and why? Are they vaccinated and wormed when they leave? Is the mother good with her puppies and with you? (remember they will be learning a great deal from the way their mother behaves with them, and other people). We advise that the mother is kept with her puppies for as long as possible.
*Which puppies will be suitable for showing and which will be pets and why?
A breeder should take time to assess their puppies for suitablility to individual families and their lifestyles. Ask the breeder which puppies will be suitable for showing and which are pets. They should be able to explain the finer details of why a puppy may not be suitable for the show ring and another may. Do not be taken in by a breeder who says all their puppies are show quality, as most puppies in a litter will be suitable as family pets but not for showing or breeding programs.
* Will your breeder take back puppies they have bred if you can no longer care for them or your circumstances change?
Good breeders will want to know where the puppies they have bred are throughout their lives, and will agree to have them back at any stage if your circumstances change rather than have them passed on to someone they do not know.
* Does your Malamute breeder try to ensure good breeding practice by imposing breeding restrictions?
A good breeder will be concerned that the puppies they sell do not end up in bad breeding programmes and being bred from by people with no concern for the welfare of the Breed in general or the individual dogs involved. When you buy your puppy, you should receive a Kennel Club registration form (don't confuse this with the pedigree certificate). Most breeders will apply restrictions to the puppies they sell. The Kennel Club restrictions mean that if the dog is bred from without the breeders permission, the resulting puppies cannot be registered with the Kennel Club. The other restriction means that the dog may not be exported without the permission of the breeder.
* Does your breeder promote responsible dog ownership and the neutering of pet dogs and bitches?
If you buy your Malamute as a pet and you do not plan to breed, it is responsible to get them neutered. There are great benefits to your dog's health and quality of life by neutering them.
If you have your bitch neutered, she will not have the twice yearly seasons which can be a nuisance in terms of exercising and/or working her and can be messy and result in hormonal and behavioural changes. You will also remove the risk of Pyometra, which is a potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus which can affect entire bitches. You will drastically reduce the risk of mammary tumours in later life if your bitch is spayed before her first season.
By neutering your male dog, you ensure that there is no risk of testicular cancer. It will also reduce your dog's desire to mark territory and show dominance over other dogs and also reduce his compulsion to run off after smells and pretend he can't hear you.