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BREED PROFILE / Alaskan Malamute

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Alaskan Malamute
An Alaskan Malamute
Country of origin
United States
Common nicknames
Mal
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 5 Section 1 #243 Stds
AKC: Working Stds
ANKC: Group 6 - (Utility) Stds
CKC: Group 3 - (Working Dogs) Stds
KC (UK): Working Stds
NZKC: Utility Stds
UKC: Northern Breeds Stds

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The Alaskan Malamute is a large northern dog breed originally bred for use as an Alaskan sleddog and is often mistaken for a Siberian Husky.

Quick Facts

Alaskan Malamute Quick Facts

Weight: 34-38.5 kg 75-85 lbs
Height: 58-63.5 cm 23-25 inches
Coat: Harsh thick
Coat (cont): plush undercoat
Activity level: High
Learning rate: High
Temperament: Active, friendly
Temperament (cont) independent
Guard dog ability: Low
Watch-dog ability: Medium
Litter size: 4-10
Life span: 10-14 years

Appearance

The AKC breed standard calls for a natural range of size, with a desired freighting weight of 75 to 85 pounds (34??“38.5 kg) and a height of 23 to 25 inches (58??“63.5 cm). Heavier individuals (100+ pounds) and dogs smaller than 75 pounds are common??”there is often a marked size difference between males and females. Weights upwards of 140 pounds or more are occasionally seen; these dogs are uncommon and are produced primarily by breeders who market a "giant" malamute. These "giant" sizes are not in accordance with the breed's history or show standards.

The coat is a dense double northern dog coat, somewhat harsher than that of the Siberian Husky. The usual colors are various shades of grey and white, sable and white, black and white, red and white, or pure white. Eyes are almond-shaped and are always brown; blue eyes are an indication of mixed breeding and will disqualify the dog in shows. The physical build of the Malamute is compact with heavy bone. In this context 'compact' means that their height to length ratio is slightly longer than tall, unlike dogs like Great Danes which are longer and lankier in their ratios.

According to the American Kennel Club, the primary criterion for judging the Malamute in a show is its function to pull heavy freight as a sled dog; everything else is secondary. As many an owner has found out, the pulling power of a Malamute is tremendous.

Characteristics

While a few Malamutes are still in use as sled dogs for personal travel, hauling freight, or helping move heavy objects, some are used for the rapidly disappearing recreational pursuit of sledding also known as mushing. However, most Malamutes today are kept as family pets or show dogs. They are unable to compete successfully in long-distance dogsled racing against smaller and faster breeds, and their working usefulness is limited to freighting or traveling over long distances at a far slower rate than that required for racing. They can also help move heavy objects over shorter distances.

The Malamute is one of the most "unaltered" of breeds, retaining its original form and function. Their affectionate nature does not make them useful as watch or guard dogs. The Malamute is also noted for independence of thought, and many a 'musher' has had their life saved by a Malamute refusing to obey a command. If a dog owner cannot cope with a dog that will not comply with the owners every wish and command, no matter how beautiful, magnificent, or noble the dog looks, a more compliant breed should be selected. This dog has a long genetic foundation of living in the wilderness with man surrounded by other domesticated animals of approximately the same size, and it should be watched very carefully around smaller dogs and animals and this is why it should never, ever, be off-lead in public or around smaller animals. The instincts of this breed are very strong and until another animal is accepted as part of its 'family' group, it is better to be safe than sorry. This dog also needs a great deal of exercise to be happy.

While a Malamute is, as a strong rule, extremely gentle with people and very loyal to every member of its human family, especially after it has reached adulthood and settled down, until one knows the exact nature and disposition of a specific individual dog, it must always be watched around smaller animals, even those in the same household. Only time and experience will show if a specific dog can be left unwatched with other household pets. It is never safe to assume that because a given dog is comfortable with your other pets it will be comfortable with the other animals in the neighborhood or with pets of friends in your house or in their house.

A Malamute is generally a quiet dog and seldom barks like other dog breeds. When it does vocalize, more often than not they tend to "talk" by vocalizing a "woo woo" sound (the characteristic vocalizations of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films are based upon a Malamute named Indiana once owned by George Lucas).[1] They may howl like wolves or coyotes, and for the same reasons. When they howl, the howl is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from the wolf.

Health

Health issues in the Malamute are hip dysplasia, inherited polyneuropathy, chrondodysplasia, and eye problems (particularly cataract and progressive retinal atrophy).

While Malamutes have been successfully raised in places such as Arizona, their dense coats generally make them unsuited for hot climates. When the weather gets hot, like any other breed of dog, the malamute needs plenty of water and shade. They will grow a winter coat and subsequently, come spring, shed it again.

History

The Malamute is a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemut tribe of upper western Alaska. These dogs stood prominently on equal footing with their human companions - working, hunting, and living alongside them. The interdependent relationship between the Mahlemut and their dogs fostered prosperity among both and enabled them to flourish in the inhospitable land above the Arctic Circle.

For a brief period during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, the Malamute and other sled dogs became extremely valuable to recently landed prospectors and settlers, and were frequently crossbred with imported breeds. This was often a misguided attempt to improve the type, or to make up for how few true Malamutes were up for sale. This genetic dilution seems to have had no long standing effect on the modern Malamute, and recent DNA analysis shows that Malamutes are one of the oldest breeds of dog, genetically distinct from other dog breeds.[2]

The Malamute dog has had a distinguished history; aiding Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole, and the miners who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1896. This dog was never destined to be a racing sled dog; instead, it was used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of supplies to villages and camps in groups of at least 4 dogs for heavy loads.

See also

  • Eight Below
  • K?¤vik the Wolf Dog
  • Balto
  • Alaskan Malamute Rescue www.malamuterescue.org

References

  1. ^ BBC
  2. ^ NYTimes

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