Alaskan Malamute: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

Among all the characteristics of the Alaskan malamute, its strong and resistant appearance stand out. It has a friendly, affectionate and loyal character. This dog was used from its origin as a draft animal in the frozen lands of Alaska. At Curio Petlifey , we explain everything about the Alaskan Malamuten dog breed.

Character of the Alaskan Malamute breed

The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate and friendly dog. Although it shows no particular loyalty to a single master, its temperament is loyal and self-sacrificing and it is willing to play if encouraged.

Also, the Alaskan Malamute is an extremely faithful and intelligent dog that is very affectionate with its own, making it a good family dog. The same thing happens with the Samoyed .It usually maintains a good relationship with children, but as long as they know how to treat the animal. It is very convenient to educate them properly about the characteristics and needs of your pet.

It is a large and strong dog, with a stable temperament but not without its alterations. It is important that children understand that it is not a machine or a toy, so they should not treat it as such.

Faced with an unjustified act of violence, abuse or injustice, their reaction may be defensive and, given their great strength, have not inconsiderable consequences.

Therefore, even in the case of the most affectionate, stable and good-natured specimens, it is recommended that the game between children and malamutes is always supervised by a responsible adult with authority over the dog.

Although its figure, powerful and imposing, can be dissuasive and it is possible that it warns well of the presence of strangers, this dog can not be considered a good guard dog, since due to its personality it is confident and friendly with everyone.

But this is not always the case with other dogs or with other animal species. In principle, if it is used to living and interacting with other peers since he was a puppy, the relationship is usually good.

But when it meets unknown or same-sex specimens, or with others who pose hierarchical conflicts, it is possible that serious problems or confrontations arise, since the malamute is of a dominant and territorial nature.

And with other animal species you have to be even more careful, since it is difficult for it to tolerate the presence of cats , hamsters or other small pets willingly .When this dog has its habitual residence in the field or in a house with a garden or land, it sometimes develops a tendency to howl, which makes it even more noticeable and worthy of admiration and respect, but it can also become an annoying habit that ends up provoking the complaint of the neighbours.

In reality, it is not the most appropriate dog to live in a city or a small house, since it likes to spend as much time as possible outside.

Even so, it is long-suffering and adapts to almost any situation or environment , despite the fact that it does not have a good time in areas with a very hot or humid climate. Under these conditions, the molt, which is sometimes very abundant, can become permanent as a defense measure against a heat that this dog is genetically unaccustomed to.In fact, the Alaskan Malamute’s coat is one of its distinguishing features. It is characterized by being thick, strong, dense and long enough to protect it from the low temperatures of its original habitat.

In addition, the woolly undercoat increases this protection, as it acts as a thermal insulator and a waterproof layer. Something essential to survive in the middle of the snow and ice of the Arctic. Therefore, life in countries with a much more temperate climate can take its toll on the animal.

However, despite its origin and its fondness for being outdoors, the Alaskan malamute does not like to live alone. You need to feel fully integrated into the herd, that is, into the family.

It is a calm animal that, once its need for exercise is satisfied, spends most of its time resting near its owners. Sometimes it can be a bit noisy and show a special fondness for drilling holes.

  • Energy: medium / High. Active, energetic and vital, it is used to being outdoors and doing some work, so he needs some daily exercise.
  • Temperament: independent, courageous, resistant and calm, it is affectionate, sweet and loyal to its master.
  • Adaptability : Its ideal habitat is not the city, but it adapts to living in it if it can exercise. It does not tolerate excessive heat well.
  • Sociability: is friendly and agreeable with almost everyone, even strangers. Sometimes it has confrontations with other dogs or pets.
  • Health: may suffer from dysplasias.
  • Longevity: live between 12 and 15 years.
  • Utility: versatile. Qualified as a working animal, its specialty is sled shooting, but it is also a good hunting and companion dog.
  • Use : sled shot and company.

Alaskan Malamute characteristics

Regarding the general appearance and physical characteristics of the Alaskan Malamute, this is a dog with a solid constitution and a strong, resistant and muscular body.

The malamute stands firm on its legs, giving the animal a haughty and proud bearing.

Its movements are fluid, balanced and effective. This type of dog is not prepared for speed competitions with sleds, since its main value lies in its strength and great resistance.

Much heavier than most of the breeds of the group, it is strong and muscular, with a thoracic cavity that allows it to house a large heart and large lungs that provide it with the necessary oxygen to develop its inexhaustible capacity for work .Its powerful appearance is also very evident in the thickness of its bones, essential to support a strong and resistant body.

Essential virtues of the breed to which all other characteristics, both physical and temperamental, are subject, because without strength and resistance an Alaskan Malamute cannot be considered as such.

The essence of the breed lies in its courage and power, and in its extreme strength and endurance.

And it is that the Alaskan Malamute, above any other consideration, is a working dog, a group that includes both its country of origin, the United States, and other countries with a strong cynological tradition, such as the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia. .

The International Cynological Federation, on the other hand, includes it in a more specific group, that of Nordic dog breeds, and classifies it as a sled dog, since this is its main function.

However, it is not made for running nor can it compete in sprinting. Its strength is the long and difficult crossings, in which it proves to be the best draft dog, strong, resistant, very powerful and with a great capacity for suffering.

Its body is powerful, compact, of good height and of strong and robust constitution, with a good balance between its bones and its musculature.

This makes it resistant and tenacious, even if it is not very fast, ideal characteristics for the original function of this dog: the sled shot with heavy loads.

The head is large, wide and elongated, it is in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is broad and rounded, becoming narrower and flatter in the eye area.

Their eyes are medium in size, almond-shaped and set obliquely on the skull. They are brown in color and have a friendly and curious expression.

The ears are medium in size, although small in relation to the skull, triangular and with rounded tips. When they are upright they point outwards.

It has strong, closed feet with abundant fur and padded pads, which give it a firm and compact appearance. They fall within the so-called “snowshoe” feet.

The tail is inserted at mid-height. It carries it over its back when it is at rest. The thick and abundant fur that covers the tail in a tuft.

Their hair is dense and has two layers, an inner one, more woolly, and an outer one with longer and rougher hair. There are monochrome, bicolor dogs and with different combinations and brands.

Let’s now see what the Alaskan malamute is like and the breed standard:

Alaskan Malamute breed standard

  • General appearance: it is a powerful animal, of solid structure and very muscular. Its bearing is haughty and robust.
  • Size: medium / large.
  • Height at the withers: between 60 and 64 cm for males and between 54 and 59 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 35 and 38 kg for males and between 32 and 34 kg for females.
  • Origin: United States.
  • Other names: Alaskan Malamute / Alaskan Malamute / Malamute de l’Alaska.
  • Body: slightly longer than tall, strong and robust. The bone structure maintains a correct proportion to size.
  • Head: it is wide, proportionate and with an elegant profile.
  • Skull: broad and moderately rounded between the ears, gradually tapering and flatter in the eye area. It is round in the region of the cheeks, which are flat. It has a slight groove between the eyes.
  • Muzzle: it is large and solid. Its width and depth decrease very little from the junction with the skull to the nose. The lips are black.
  • Nose: in all coat colors, except red, it is black, while in red-haired dogs it is brown. During some periods of the year the pigment in the nose may become lighter, giving rise to the so-called “winter nose” or “snow nose”, bordered by a darker band.
  • Eyes: they are of medium size, almond-shaped, brown and obliquely positioned. The edge of the eyelids is black.
  • Ears: set well apart and set slightly back, aligned with the upper corner of the eye, so that, when erect, they appear to separate from the skull. When the dog is working, the ears sometimes bend and stick to the skull.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is very mild.
  • Jaws: the bite is scissor-like and both jaws are wide and have strong teeth.
  • Neck: strong and moderately arched.
  • Chest: the chest is strong and deep, and well developed.
  • Back: it is straight and slopes slightly towards the hips.
  • Forelimbs: they are muscular and strong boned. Seen from the front, they are straight up to the metacarpus. The shoulders are strong, robust and moderately sloping. The arms and forearms are muscular with strong bones.
  • Hind limbs: they are wide. Seen from behind, both when the dog is at rest and when in action, they are perfectly aligned with the forelimbs. Its legs are very muscular, and its knees are slightly bent. It has low and moderately bent hocks.
  • Feet: the feet are strong, of the type known as “snowshoe”. The thick, resistant and padded ear cushions give them a compact appearance. The fingers are close together and well arched, with interdigital hairs and short, strong nails.
  • Tail: it is inserted at medium height and follows the line of the slightly curved back. The dog carries it on its back when it is at rest. The abundant and long hair that covers it forms a tuft.
  • Color: the usual colors go from light gray to black, passing through intermediate tones, and from sable to red. There are also color combinations on the inner layer, on the face (brow ridges, ears, lips, nose) and between the white and pigmented areas. The only uniform color is white, which is always the predominant color in the lower part of the trunk and in the extremities, the feet and a part of the facial markings. They may have a white band on the forehead, a necklace, or a small spot on the nape.
  • Hair: it is double-layered. The undercoat is thick, woolly and oily to the touch. In the outer layer the coat is also dense and rough in texture. The hair is short or of medium length on the sides of the body and longer around the shoulders and neck, on the back, on the rump, as well as on the “pants” and the tuft. The hair is shorter and less abundant during the summer.
  • Movement: if we take into account its weight and size, the malamute is agile. The hind limbs produce a strong impulse, which is transmitted to the forelimbs through their very muscular lumbar region. Seen from the front or behind, the limbs move in a straight line. During the trot they converge on the body’s center of gravity.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 243 Group 5 – Spitz and primitive type dogs. Section 1 – Nordic sled dogs.

Alaskan Malamute puppies

If you are looking for information on the Alaskan malamute , it is possible that you are thinking of adopting or buying a puppy of this breed. But before making the big decision, we believe that there are a number of aspects that you should know.

Alaskan malamute puppies have a sweet and fluffy appearance, like a stuffed animal. Therefore, many people, seeing them, yearn to have one. It is convenient to know well all the demands of the breed before deciding, since you have to be willing to provide all the attention it requires to be happy.

It is a type of dog that requires a high dose of daily exercise to be a balanced pet, both mentally and physically. In addition, as we have commented previously, it prefers to live in houses with a garden or land, rather than in an apartment.

In the same way, the process of education and socialization should be started from a very young age, so that they can get used to the presence of other dogs, other pets. To get used to all kinds of sounds, noises and places.

For this reason, and always under the authorization of the veterinarian, it is appropriate for the puppy to meet other animals, other places and experience situations and environments different from the quality and safety of your home.

Alaskan Malamute education and training

Regarding how to train an Alaskan Malamuten, you should know that the Alaskan Malamute has a strong and dominant temperament.

It needs constant attention and training and socialization work that should be started early and maintained continuously over time.

If possible, this task should be carried out by the breeder themselves when the dog is a few weeks old.

From the third to the seventh week of life, a characteristic physiological and psychological phenomenon occurs that turns the animal’s brain into a kind of sponge that absorbs all the information that is available to it, thus initiating the development of mechanisms of reaction to future situations.

Thus, despite its attractive appearance and extremely striking puppies, this breed is not a suitable choice for inexperienced owners.

Its owner must know how to be firm in the treatment, but always fair, and be able to exercise clear and solvent leadership, based on an adequate knowledge of the mechanisms of canine behaviour.

Progress and technique have meant that these dogs are less and less used for their original function, but even so, today it is still common to see specimens of the breed used by arctic rescue units to reach places where no vehicle can do it in search of some reckless explorer, or to take medical, technological material, etc., to places where it would otherwise be impossible to approach.

Likewise, the current Alaskan Malamute has been used as a companion animal for many years. Any fan of purebred dogs can immediately identify them due to its unmistakable physiognomy.

This is the largest of the sled dogs and is characterized by its great strength and endurance, which has earned it the nickname “snow engine”.

Unlike other smaller, more agile and faster dogs of the group, the Alaskan malamute used to be used as a draft animal destined to carry heavy loads such as meat, fat and fur that its owners took to markets to sell, as well as all kinds of food and essential goods for daily life that were brought back.

For this reason, for many Alaskans their dogs were more than just animals, as they were a guarantee of life and survival for the tribe.

Otherwise, as long as the owner manages to earn the respect of its dog and knows how to become its natural leader, the Alaskan Malamute is a breed of simple and pleasant coexistence. It is an animal that enjoys being with its family and doing whatever activity is undertaken with it.

Alaskan Malamute diet

As for how to feed an Alaskan Malamute, the breed has certain needs that its owner must know and satisfy. For example, their dietary requirements are very high, both in quantity and quality.

It is also very important to monitor the weight and development of the animal at each stage of its life. In this sense, it is essential that the feeding of the malamute , especially in its early stages of growth, is very careful and contains all the necessary nutrients to keep the animal’s muscles in shape and allow it to develop fully.

Likewise, it is very important to divide the daily ration into two or three servings to avoid possible gastric complications such as stomach torsion.

For this reason, in the case of working dogs, care must be taken not to feed them immediately before or after the activity and not to leave water at their free disposal after working, especially in the hottest months.

Alaskan Malamute health and diseases

The Alaskan Malamute dog breed is quite long-lived, its life expectancy is between 12 and 15 years.

In general, she is in good health, but is still predisposed to some diseases, especially related to her large body size, such as hip and elbow dysplasia or stomach torsion.

Dermatological allergies and some eye diseases of different considerations also occasionally appear , but which are easy to avoid if the affected specimens can be separated from the breeding lines.

In any case, the best way to control the health of this breed is to act preventively, regularly going to the veterinarian’s office to complete the annual vaccination schedule against the most common and seasonal diseases.

Also, complement it with another of internal and external deworming that act against parasitic infestations, since these can act as vectors of very serious diseases or, sometimes, cancel the effectiveness of vaccines by reducing the response of the immune system.

In these visits, in addition, it is advisable to routinely check the state of the mouth, eyes, skin and fur, and especially that of the ears, since the practice of ear cropping has become less and less common.

Specific care of the Alaskan Malamute breed

Regarding the care of the Alaskan malamute, although it does not have a specific aesthetic arrangement, it is usually groomed in a certain way in order to highlight its spectacular natural beauty.

Alaskan Malamute hair care

Its thick and abundant coat looks bright and fluffy with just a few routine care.


The regions from which the Alaskan malamute originally came are characterized by extreme cold and high humidity, as there is usually snow and ice almost perpetually.

For this reason, to keep the body warm and dry, and to protect itself from inclement weather, the breed has developed a very rich and dense coat, with a thick undercoat.

This abundant coat needs to be brushed regularly to undo any knots, caking or tangles possible, and in the molting season, which is very intense, this need becomes a target, because if it is not helped to remove dead hair, over all of the undercoat, very tight knots can appear and difficult to remove.

To work the undercoat, it may be necessary to use a rake-type tool with which to reach the roots and, thus, open and aerate this dense layer well.

As for the covering mantle, it is brushed with a good metal card of the appropriate size or with a good quality brush, always working in the natural direction of hair growth. Also, helping with your hands to open it well and reach the innermost layer. On the other hand, in the areas where the hair is shorter, such as the face and legs, work against the grain.


As for how and how often the Alaskan malamute should be bathed, it is reserved for when the dog is really dirty. It is possible to bathe them at any time as long as a suitable shampoo is used for its skin and hair type.

It is very important to emphasize the need to rinse the hair very well after lathering it, because due to its very dense undercoat it is possible that traces of shampoo that are difficult to remove may remain, which can cause flaking, allergic reactions or annoying itching in the dog.

Once the dog is well rinsed, it must be dried, a task that, due to the characteristics of the malamute’s coat, can take a long time.


This breed does not have a specific arrangement, as it does not need a specific cut with scissors to highlight any of its natural forms. But, she does have a special grooming form that further highlights her spectacular beauty.

With a good brush the hair of the whole body is worked so that it is perfectly loose and free. And then, with the air ejector, you try to give volume to the mantle, focusing the column of air against the grain and trying to make the hair as stretched out as possible. The final effect can be enhanced with the help of a metal comb.

The tail is also combed with the help of a card or brush, but against the grain, from the tip to the base, in order to leave a voluminous and loose finish. Finally, with scissors both the feet and the hands are arranged, in a delicate task of eliminating all the excess hair.

Likewise, you should try to achieve a rounded, compact finish that is as clean as possible. For this work, any type of scissors can be used, depending on the skill of the user. The most advisable thing is to use the sculpting ones, with one of their serrated blades, as they admit more errors than smooth scissors.

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