When you first see an Alaskan Malamute, it’s easy to be impressed by his large stature, wolf-like facial markings, and huge plumed tail waving at you. It’s often believed that Malamutes are part wolf. They might play a wolf on TV or in the movies, but in truth they’re all domestic dog.
The Alaskan Malamute possesses tremendous strength, energy, endurance, independence, and intelligence. He was originally sought to pull heavy sleds over long distances as well as to hunt seals and polar bears. Now chosen primarily for companionship, Alaskan Malamutes succeed in several dog sports, including conformation, obedience competition, weight pulling, skijoring, backpacking, and recreational sledding.
When he’s not “woo wooing” or pulling you on your inline skates or watching TV with you, he’s probably raiding the wastebins, surfing your kitchen counters for something good to eat, or digging a nice cool hole in the back garden.
Malamutes regard everyone they meet as their friends. If you’re looking for a watchdog, this is not the breed for you. A Malamute’s size might scare off an intruder, but that’s about the only protection you’ll get from him.
Alaskan Malamutes do best in situations in which they have plenty of room and opportunities to exercise so they don’t become bored and restless. Their independent nature often causes them to be labeled as stubborn or stupid, but their intelligence shines through with the correct training. If the Alaskan Malamute is the right breed for you, he will give you years of enjoyment as an active playmate and companion who keeps his puppy joie de vivre well into adult life.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, Alaskan Malamutes need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Malamute puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Not recommended for the first time dog owner as their intelligence combined with stubbornness can make them a challenge for someone not savvy in dog behaviour.
- Malamutes will challenge for alpha or top position in the household. Everyone who lives with the dog must be able to properly deal with this and clearly establish all family members as higher ranking than the Malamute.
- Alaskan Malamutes are notorious diggers. Any fencing should be buried so they cannot dig out of the garden.
- Alaskan Malamutes are a powerful, independent dog who, if not properly trained or exercised, can become destructive or bored.
- With early socialisation and training, Malamutes can learn to get along with other dogs and indoor cats. They’ll view outdoor cats and other small animals as fair game.
- Their high prey drive can cause a Malamute to stalk and kill small animals, including birds, squirrels, cats and even smaller dogs. They need to be properly socialised and introduced to other companion animals.
- Alaskan Malamutes shed heavily twice a year. Their thick double coats are not suited for hot climates.
- Generally a quiet breed, Malamutes rarely bark. They do hold conversations with you, vocally expressing themselves with “woo woo” sounds or loud, extensive howls.