Characteristics & Care of the Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed

Adult gray Alaskan malamute standing on grass

The Alaskan Malamute, a huge with pointed ears, a strong frame, and the traditional spitz tail that curls over its back, may resemble a wolf, but it is actually a domestic Alaskan breed. This breed is well-liked by active people and families because of its strength and heart. Alaskan Malamutes were first developed for a variety of jobs necessary in their native environment, including sled-pulling and polar-bear hunting.

The idea that Alaskan Malamutes are the offspring of wolf-dog crossbreeding is a popular misconception. These dogs have been raised and maintained in the North American tundra for millennia, even though the breed we now recognize may include wolf heritage. They are sociable and people-oriented despite their enormous size and height, which makes them wonderful family dogs but lousy guard dogs.

Breed Overview


Height: 24 to 27 inches (males); 22 to 24 inches (females)

Weight: 85 pounds (males); 75 pounds (females)  

Coat: Thick double coat

Coat Color: Solid white or combinations of white and gray, seal, red, black, or silver

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Temperament: Friendly, loyal, playful, affectionate, bright, courageous

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Alaska

Characteristics of the Alaskan Malamute

A large dog needs a lot of time and attention, but the Alaskan Malamute will repay you with a loving, obedient part of your family. Because they are pack animals, these dogs need a strong pack leader. Malamutes are highly friendly and have fun personalities when properly socialized and taught by their owners (though like their smaller Siberian husky cousins, they can also be stubborn).

You might be surprised to learn that Alaskan Malamutes aren't the best security dogs. Due to their innate friendliness, members of this species like to meet outsiders as allies rather than enemies. Of course, their menacing stature could be enough to keep potential burglars away.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Alaskan Malamute

The history of the Alaskan Malamute begins in the far north, and it is a perfect illustration of how man and animal can work together to live in the most extreme circumstances. The Mahlemiut Inuit tribe in northwest Alaska is credited with creating the breed that is familiar to us today.

The Malamute is a domestic dog that has been bred by the Mahlemiut tribe for decades, despite the fact that it is thought that the breed may have originated with wolf heritage many generations ago. Native Alaskans employed these canines to pull hefty sleds in groups, go on polar bear and seal hunting expeditions, or act as decoys while going after bears. Because of its long and varied working experience, the breed is known for its stability and strength. The smaller Siberian husky, on the other hand, was developed for speed while traversing great distances while dragging sleds.

The Klondike Gold Rush also saw the use of the Alaskan Malamute. Prospectors understood that these tenacious dogs' strength and endurance were a genuine benefit while traversing and digging the Klondike for gold.

From Alaska to Greenland, polar climates saw the development of many Malamute breeds. The breeding and improvement of these dogs continued throughout the 1920s, as interest in competitions increased. However, just one Malamute variety—the Kotzebue—got an early AKC nod in 1935.

Despite being capable of performing a variety of duties, the breed suffered a severe decrease following World War II. In fact, according to some reports, there were just 30 Malamutes living in 1947. The Hinman and M'Loot strains were added to the breed's registration by the AKC in order to secure its survival. The arctic dogs of today are the product of domesticated breeding, and although they are magnificent animals, their genetic makeup is dog (not part-wolf).

At major dog shows like the Westminster Kennel Club and the Crufts Dog Show in England, the Alaskan Malamute is frequently displayed. They participate in the working division, and when they enter the arena, their imposing bulk and elegant demeanor grab attention.

Alaskan Malamute Care

When leading an Alaskan Malamute, it's crucial to be tough and direct given their size and power. For this breed to be happy and healthy, they also need a lot of care and exercise.


The Alaskan Malamute was bred to work, thus it has substantial exercise requirements. While a sizable yard with space for energy outflow can help keep these dogs active and in good physical and mental health, it is insufficient to meet their demands.

Exercise programs for malamutes are beneficial. With these powerful, arduous working dogs, there are many alternatives for interesting and exhausting exercises. They are a fantastic companion for jogging, swimming, and even trekking and camping in the right temperatures. Your Malamute can also be taught for agility sports, weight-pulling contests, or pulling you on a bike or skis if you're searching for more challenging possibilities (known as bikejoring or skijoring).


This breed's heavy shedding can be one of its main problems. These canines are covered in a thick double coat that is waterproof. Prepare to thoroughly brush your dog at least a few times every week, while some people advise brushing (and vacuuming) your dog every day to keep hair flurry under control.

The undercoat of malamutes is shed twice a year, in the spring and the fall. You should brush your dog every day during this time of high shedding and use an undercoat rake to prevent stray fur from covering your house.


Without adequate obedience training, these dogs' strong personalities may lead them to bully other pets. The great majority of Alaskan Malamute owners find their dogs to be patient and devoted with small children, while they can occasionally be known to be aggressive. Making obedience training a top priority from the time your dog is a puppy can help you create a dog that respects and listens to you as it becomes bigger and stronger.

Common Health Problems

The Alaskan Malamute has a fair amount of health. It shares several inherited health issues with the majority of purebreds, as well as those exclusive to this breed's enormous size. Testing is provided for certain significant issues. The National Breed Club advises having your dog's hips, eyes, and DNA tested for polyneuropathy evaluated. Clear test results for the parents of each litter should be made available by reputable breeders.

Some of the most common health problems of the Alaskan Malamute include:

  • : Canine cancer can affect many breeds of dogs. When caught at less severe stages, cancer can often be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to remove the affected areas.
  • and : These conditions affect your dog's joints as they mature. Dysplasia can sometimes be treated with physical therapy, but more severe cases may require surgery.
  • Polyneuropathy: This neurological disorder causes improper functioning of the dog's nerves.
  • Hypothyroidism: Also known as underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism affects the body's natural hormone regulation and causes slowed metabolism.
  • Day Blindness: Affecting the cones in the eyes, this condition can cause your dog to have poor sight or blindness outdoors and in brightly-lit areas.
  • : This disease impairs the blood's ability to clot.
  • (GDV or Bloat): Large-breed dogs are often prone to Bloat, in which the stomach fills with gas and twists. Preventative surgery, called prophylactic gastropexy, can be performed by your veterinarian.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Alaskan Malamute a high-quality food to ensure years of health and enjoyment. It is advised to feed these dogs numerous smaller meals throughout the day rather than one or two bigger servings since they can be prone to overeating or getting bloat from gulping down their food too rapidly.

Consult your veterinarian to develop a regular food and portion plan depending on the size, weight, and level of activity of your Malamute. This is a crucial step to take in order to keep your dog from gaining too much weight or becoming obese, both of which can result in additional health issues.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes can find their everlasting homes with the aid of local and national rescue groups. Both young and old dogs eventually need loving homes, so a rescue organization is a terrific location to look for your new best buddy.

Additionally, there is a passionate community dedicated to breeding and displaying Alaskan Malamutes, and there are several respectable breeders in North America. Puppies normally cost between $1,000 and $2,500, but depending on their lineage, some might cost as much as $6,000. Check out these resources if you're interested in adopting this breed:

  • Alaskan Malamute Assistance League
  • Alaskan Malamute Club of America Breeder Listing
  • AKC Alaskan Malamute Breeders

Alaskan Malamute Overview

  • Friendly and outgoing with people

  • Enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and biking

  • Intelligent and loyal nature

  • Excessive shedding

  • Can become dominant with other pets

  • Needs significant exercise and mental stimulation

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

For the appropriate owner, Alaskan Malamutes are excellent pets. Consider carefully if you can give the environment, activity, training, and grooming your Malamute needs to stay happy and healthy before deciding to adopt this breed. If you're looking for more devoted worker dogs, see:

There are plenty of different that can join your family. With a little research, you can find the right one for you!

  • Is an Alaskan Malamute a Good Family Dog?

    For the appropriate individual, Alaskan Malamutes may make wonderful family dogs. To live well-adjusted lives, these dogs need a lot of exercise, grooming, and training, so prospective owners must be ready to commit. When given the proper attention, this breed is highly devoted to both adults and children.

  • Are Alaskan Malamutes Part-Wolf?

    The Alaskan Malamute is not partially wolf-like, despite what many people think. Its ancestors may have mated with wolves, but for hundreds of years, it has only been bred with other canines of its kind.

  • Are Malamutes Related to Huskies?

    Siberian huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are considered related, however the former is substantially bigger and originates from the Alaskan area (while the husky is native to Siberia).

  • Is the Alaskan Malamute a Loyal Dog?

    Alaskan Malamutes have a strong sense of loyalty. They maintain their affable demeanor with others while being affectionate with their family (making them great companions , but not suitable guard dogs).