You’ve got to figure that if a dog (or any animal for that matter) originates from a place like Alaska, it’s going to be a pretty “tough” animal. After all, surviving, not to mention thriving, in an environment as challenging as Alaska is no easy task!
This is just one reason, why we here at IndulgeYourPet have a sweet spot for the Alaskan Malamute and consider it one of our favorite dog breeds for various reasons.
Now does this mean that an Alaskan Malamute will be right for you?
Who knows. But this is why we wanted to take a moment and write this article about the Alaskan Malamute so that any new “perspective” Malamute owner might get a better idea about the dog breed before they either chose to purchase an Alaskan Malamute puppy or better yet, choose to adopt an Alaskan Malamute rescue dog from an Alaskan Malamute rescue center.
So, without further ado…
Let’s begin our discussion of the Alaskan Malamute dog breed by first examining their origins to get a better idea of why the Alaskan Malamute breed was created and why it has been so valued over the years by so many generations.
Alaskan Malamute Fast Facts
Original Purpose: Large game hunting, sled dogs
Height: Approximately 24 inches tall
Weight: Approximately 80 pounds
Origin of Alaskan Malamute
Just as the name suggests, this breed comes straight out of Alaska. It was the original inhabitants of Alaska, the native Inuit people, who were the first to own/domesticate the Alaskan Malamute breed.
They were also the first to recognize the breed for what it was, a great working dog and loyal companion.
The Inuit people…
Used the Alaskan Malamute dog to perform a variety of chores including:
- Hauling materials across the snow,
- Hunt seals and other game,
- And to protect against predators including POLAR BEARS!
So, the Inuit people found their Malamutes to be an essential part of their lives and the most cases an actual “member” of the family. It wasn’t until gold was discovered in Alaska in 1896 that the Alaskan Malamute started to gain in popularity in the lower 48 as explorers came in contact with them on their adventures in Alaska and began bringing them home when they returned.
Admiral Byrd’s 1933 trek to…
The North Pole also played an essential role in “romanticizing” the breed as the world watched these dogs play a significant role in the success of his expedition! Their role in this historic expedition also contributed to the American Kennel Club deciding to “officially” recognize the breed in 1935.
Characteristics of an Alaskan Malamute
Now, if you’re like most unless you’ve owned an Alaskan Malamute, you probably don’t know the difference between an Alaskan Malamute, Alaskan Husky, or a Siberian Husky.
After all, all three of these dogs will look pretty similar in that they were all developed to work and thrive in a cold environment. But, there are some distinct differences between the three that you will want to familiarize yourself with.
The Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky are the only two “officially” recognized as their separate dog breeds by the American Kennel Club. Alaskan Huskies are considered a “type” of dog rather than its specific breed.
You’ll want to know that:
- Alaskan Malamutes tend to be both larger and heavier than Siberian Huskies,
- They tend to have only brown eyes while Siberian Huskies can have brown, but also blue, or perhaps a mix of either.
- The Alaskan Malamute’s ears tend to be wider apart than Siberian Husky’s mainly because their heads are more prominent and broader than a Siberian Husky.
- Alaskan Malamutes have a tail that will curl up on its back while a Siberian Husky’s tail is straight.
- Alaskan Malamutes also tend to have a shorter lifespan than a husky. Most Alaskan Malamutes will only live around 10-12 years while a Siberian Husky typically lives 12-15 years.
Alaskan Malamutes’ fur and coloring
The undercoat of an Alaskan Malamute is coarse and a bit oily to keep the wet cold away. The coat can be a variety of colors such as light grey, black, dark brown, ebony or red.
These dogs almost always have white markings, particularly a white face framed with color. The nice thing about all this fur is that even though it’s super thick, it really won’t require you, as the owner, to brush it more than once or twice a week, maybe a bit more during the spring and summer, when your Malamute will tend to shed more than usual.
Now as you can see…
When you examine the two different breeds, you’ll notice that they have quite a few physical differences that you may not have initially noticed immediately. Probably the most significant difference you’ll find between the two different breeds has nothing to do with what they look like and has everything to do with how much attention and “lovin’” they’ll want to receive from you.
Alaskan Malamutes LOVE being around people and LOVE receiving attention from their owners. And while the Siberian Huskies will certainly “appreciate” the love and affection from their owners, they’re not going to be DEPENDENT on it like an Alaskan Malamute might be!
The Personality of Alaskan Malamute Dog
First, the Alaskan Malamute is a great companion pet for any family. And even though it may be true that these dogs are classified as “working dogs,” they’re not as much into running as the huskies. So, if you live in an apartment or don’t have enough room for your dog to run around, they may still be a good fit for you provided you talk your Malamute on plenty of walks or “runs.”
And sure your Alaskan Malamute would love to “pull stuff” around all day, but when they are working or active in play, truth is, Alaskan Malamutes are pretty “calm” dogs when just left to their own devices (vs Siberian Huskies which tend to be much more active).
But one should be aware…
Even though most Alaskan Malamutes will be a great addition to any family and most Alaskan Malamutes are friendly with just about anyone if you have another dog or pet, chances are your new Alaskan Malamute is not going to get along well with them mainly if they are the same sex.
Alaskan Malamutes can also be a bit “headstrong” regarding training. If you adopt an Alaskan Malamute puppy, enroll them in a Malamute puppy training program immediately!
This is why, if you already have a dog or cat living in the household with you, we here at IndulgeYourPet generally don’t recommend purchasing an Alaskan Malamute puppy or adopting an Alaskan Malamute rescue dog.
In cases like these you may consider adopting a Siberian Husky simply because they get along with other animals much better.
Alaskan Malamute Health Concerns
All in all, the Alaskan Malamute breed is pretty healthy in that selective breeding hasn’t created an increased risk for all that many diseases or disorders. “Which is a good thing!”
But there are some things…
You should know that before you run out and adopt one of these fantastic animals. First, you should never forget that these animals were “designed” to carry heavy loads for long distances through the Alaskan snow. They were not designed to catch a frisbee on the Southern California or South Florida beach!
And while many folks living in hot climates do own Alaskan Malamutes, they’ll generally be the first to tell you that you need to be careful with them in the heat and be sure that always keep an eye on them so that they don’t overheat or suffer from heat exposure.
Here are some of the health concerns an Alaskan malamute breed could encounter:
Hemeralopia (day blindness): You’ll see this in an Alaskan malamute puppy, making it a medical condition you can spot even before taking this dog home. Now there isn’t much to do to fix this, but once you’re aware of the state, you can take some precautions to help make their lives more manageable.
Cataracts: While all dogs are potentially prone to developing cataracts as they age, we’re talking about adolescent cataracts, which can happen early in an Alaskan malamute dog’s life, but not necessarily when it’s still a puppy. You should know by 1-2 years old if your dog is genetically predisposed to this condition. You should also be aware that this condition may cost a few thousand dollars to fix so it’s not something one should ignore (not all cataracts lead to blindness).
Follicular Dysplasia: This will result in coat problems if left untreated. The treatment will cost around $500-1000.
Uveodermatologic Syndrome: It’s pretty likely your dog will get this. It is a production of antibodies against its natural pigmentation. This is painful for the dog’s eyes so you’ll seek treatment. It will cost between $900-3500.
Diabetes Mellitus: Alaskan malamutes run a high risk of having diabetes mellitus. This one is important because the treatment will be pretty expensive. You can expect to incur costs of between $5000-10000 throughout your pup’s life.
Hip Dysplasia: The Alaskan malamute isn’t at significant risk of this, but like with most breeds, it does happen. This will require surgery and will likely cost $1500-5000.
Now at this point…
You’re probably thinking:
“Wait a second; I thought you said the Alaskan Malamute is a HEALTHY breed!”
And the truth is, the Alaskan Malamute dog breed is healthy, but the problem is, just about any dog can get sick or injured over the time of their life.
This is why…
Here at IndulgeYourPet, in addition to trying to help folks determine what dog breed might be right for them, we suggest that anyone considering adopting a bet also take a moment and see exactly what a pet insurance policy might cost them.
This way, if anything does happy to your pet later on in life, you won’t be burdened with the total cost of any of these treatments and can utilize the coverage these pet insurance policies can provide.
For more information on who is currently offering some of the best pet insurance policies in the country, we encourage you to look at our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.