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Alaskan Malamute: One of the World’s Oldest Dog Breeds

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

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The Alaskan Malamute is a powerful working dog breed that was bred to pull sleds and help hunt in the harsh Alaskan climate. A cold-climate, highly athletic dog, this breed enjoys lots of exercises and having a job to do.

Due to their coat and coloring, these furry dogs resemble wolves, often landing them roles in the film industry and even influences for one of the biggest franchises of all time.

Know Chewbacca from Star Wars?

George Lucas’ own Alaskan Malamute was the inspiration behind the pivotal character!

From temperament to tips, there are lots to learn on this fluffy creature.

One of the World’s Oldest Dog Breeds

So exactly how old?

Alaskan Malamutes are possible descendants of a wolf-dog hybrid that helped hunters during the Paleolithic Area 4,000 years ago migrating to North America through the Bering Straight making them great search-and-rescue dogs.

Breed Size

These are No Teacup Pups!

Malamute puppies are small and fluffy, but when full grown these dogs can weigh up to 100 pounds and up to 2 feet tall at the shoulder and have thick coats. They need room to run and plenty of exercises.

Giant Malamutes can way well over 100 pounds, closer to 130 and 150 pounds.

Male vs Female Size Comparison

Alaskan Malamute dogs can vary in size, males are typically larger than females.

The “ideal” sizes according to the AKC official standard are 23 inches tall at the shoulder and 75 pounds for females and 25 inches tall at the shoulder and 85 pounds for males.

Stranger Danger? Not Exactly

Alaskan Malamutes Love Meeting Strangers

Malamutes do not always make the best guard dogs because they do love meeting strangers. Hospitality runs in their blood.

Very social and loving animals, they enjoy meeting new people.  They are energetic dogs but have a naturally easy going nature so are perfect for active days and chill nights.

Adaptability: Things Malamutes Need to Thrive

This breed needs more exercise than the average dog because they are a working breed.  They were bred to pull heavy sleds and have jobs, keeping both their mind and body occupied.

When not given enough activity, these dogs can grow bored, which can lead to behavioral problems like chewing, barking, and howling. So you better come prepared with the best of the best chew toys.

They will also require lots of grooming and maintenance.

Not for First Time Puppy Parents

These Dogs Need to Know Who Their Alpha is!

Alaskan Malamutes are like wolves, who thrive in a pack mentality.  The typical wolf pack is led by the alpha leader.

Alaskan Malamutes must be taught they are not the alpha in your family from a young age, as they are naturally headstrong and can be prone to eating too much food, tearing up toys, and animal aggression.

Temperament

When properly trained, Malamutes are intelligent, strong, and playful dogs that enjoy companionship and make great exercise partners. These dogs are naturally strong-willed and confident, but enjoy following a strong alpha leader.

When socialized properly, they can be great around children and other pets.

The Importance of Training and Socializing

Alaskan Malamutes were bred to work, which included hunting. These dogs have a natural prey drive, which can lead them to go after smaller (and sometimes larger) animals. They must be socialized as puppies and introduced to other animals, dogs, children, and strangers.

Malamutes can be destructive and become possessive of their belongings (including their human family) and need to be trained from a young age.

Average Lifespan

The average lifespan is 10 to 12 years. These dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, like many large breeds, along with Von Willebrand’s disease.

Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky: What’s the Difference?

Origins

The Alaskan Malamute was named after the Mahlemut tribe in North Western Alaska.

On the other hand, during the Gold Rush in 1896, people brought many different working breeds, particularly the Siberian Husky, to help pull loads and help transport materials. The Siberian Husky was bred by the Chutski tribe in the Siberian area of Northeastern Asia. They were also used as sled and hunting dogs.

Character Traits

The Alaskan Malamute sheds more, but is better with children, making the breed more of an ideal family pet. They also tend to be a little taller but weigh a lot more than the Husky breed. Both breeds are working dogs, particularly sled pulling, but Malamutes were used for their strength, while Huskies were used for their speed.

Alaskan Malamutes can be calmer, while Siberian Huskies are more social and prefer to live in a household with other dogs.

Alaskan Malamute Husky Mix: The Best of Both Breeds!

An Alaskan Husky is the best of both worlds, a hybrid of the Malamute and the Siberian Husky.

This mixed breed is known for its intelligence, strength, laid-back behavior, and sociability (when socialized at a young age). Both parents breeds have similar exercise requirements and trainability.

These dogs have thick double coats that shed, requiring brushing and grooming. The outer coat is coarse, while the undercoat is soft and keeps them warm and cool in different temperatures.

3 Tips to Owning an Alaskan Malamute

1. Invest in obedience training as a puppy.  Puppies need positive, firm, and consistent training to avoid adopting bad habits as an adult.

2. Socialize.  Malamutes can be very social dogs, who get along with animals (sometimes not dogs of the same sex) and children, but need to be socialized (at the dog park or puppy classes) at a young age.

3. Exercise.  These dogs were bred to work, and when bored, can become destructive. You can satisfy their natural working and heritage instincts with exercises like sledding, weight pulling, and backpacking.

Puppies for Sale

Alaskan Malamute puppies should start at around $500 for unregistered or cross-bred puppies and up to $2,000 for puppies from pure-bred registered parents.

Check out the Alaskan Malamute Club of America for reputable breeders.

Finding a reputable and responsible breeder will help ensure your puppy is healthy and has a good temperament.

Consider a Rescue!

Alaskan Malamutes sometimes end up in shelters because of owners who are unable to meet their exercise needs or haven’t invested in proper training.

Check your local shelter or search on Google for local breed-specific rescues to find a Malamute who may be looking for a loving home.