12 Surprising Facts About the Alaskan Malamute, Alaska’s Official Dog

2 Malamutes in the water

These are powerful beautiful beasts!

Credit: Russell O'Brien / CC BY

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest dog breeds around. Beautiful and hardy, he was bred 5000 years ago by the first settlers in North America in order to be a companion and working dog. Being a sled dog, this beautiful beast is extremely active. After all, he is just as energetic as his distant cousins the Siberian Husky and the Labrador (yes, I’m not even joking, these are his relatives).

The Alaskan Malamute is known for being able to withstand even the coldest temperatures, as he was first used in Arctic expeditions. He was and still is a hardworking dog, helping families with hunting, tracking, and pulling heavy sleds. Back in the times, this handsome fella was even used as a babysitter, watching over toddlers and kids and making sure they stayed away from danger.

Today, the Alaskan Malamute is mostly famous for his looks. After all, this is a beautiful dog we are talking about. Powerful and intelligent, this dog has a sturdy built and a curious mind, which makes him a delight to have around.

So, let's learn more about this beautiful breed.

Here we go 12 surprising facts about the Alaskan Malamute.

1. The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest dog breeds around

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, Arctic sled dogs around. This dog has used thousands of years ago to chase away polar bears, hunt seal, and pull heavy sleds (in summary, this dog was and is still a badass).

The Alaskan Malamute is used to be treated well, as the Eskimos valued them highly and treated them with respect. Because of this, this dog breed evolved to be one of the proudest in the world and doesn’t do well with harsh treatment. Until today, the Alaskan Malamute is also one of the purest dog breeds around, due mostly to the fact that the Mahlemuts, the tribe who bred them, was quite isolated from the world.

In 1935, the Alaskan Malamute Club of America was formed and the American Kennel Club finally recognized the breed as well. Today, the Alaskan Malamute ranks 59 among the 194 breeds recognized by the AKC.

2. The Alaskan Malamute is a big, beautiful beast

Puppy Malamute in the outdoors

Isn’t he just cute?

Credit: Matthew Hobbs / CC BY-SA

The Alaskan Malamute is definitely a large sized dog breed, there is no doubt about that. Heavy, athletic, and extremely muscular, this dog has a plump body that usually doesn’t get obese. This makes training and exercising the Alaskan Malamute a big task (literally), taking up much of your time. Usually, an Alaskan Malamute will weigh between 30 and 45 kilograms, depending on his gender (females usually weigh between 30 and 35 kg while the males weigh between 40 and 45 kg).

The Alaskan Malamute is an extremely active dog and needs a lot of exercise to consume the energy in him.

Because the Alaskan Malamute was bred to survive harsh weather conditions, his coat is dense, thick, and has two layers. The inner coat is usually dense, small, and extremely soft. This coat helps the Alaskan Malamute’s body stay warm and hydrated during the cold by protecting the skin and producing good oils. The outer coat is less dense, with long beautiful hair. The tail is furry as well and is used to guard the nose and face during sleep in winter times.

As for the coat colors, the Alaskan Malamute usually comes in a combination of light colors. Grey, light red, seal, and white are the most common coat colors for this breed. The Alaskan Malamute also comes with markings on the face, around the neck, and on the ears. With his light brown or chocolate almond-shaped eyes, the Alaskan Malamute is quite impressive.

The ears are usually wedge-shaped and located at the side of the Alaskan Malamute's head instead of on top of it. The Malamute's face is quite big in size, which gives the impression that his ears are smaller than the usual dog.

Finally, the Alaskan Malamute’s muzzle is broad and dark, giving him an intense and powerful look, which goes well with this beautiful dog’s personality.

3. Grooming the Alaskan Malamute can take some time, but it’s worth it

Because the Alaskan Malamute has a thick and dense coat with long hair, it might seem high maintenance, but it isn’t really. This dog sheds moderately year-round (which makes him not the best choice for people with allergies), and even more heavily during shedding season. Still, he only needs to be brushed a couple of times a week to get rid of dead skin cells and loose hair.

But, before adopting an Alaskan Malamute, make sure to invest in a vacuum cleaner first. You will definitely need to do a lot of vacuuming, since twice a year, this breed "blows coat". What does that mean? Well, basically, there will be hair everywhere, on every surface possible of the house. You will need to vacuum every few hours if you don’t want to drown in your Alaskan Malamute’s fur.

This is the only hard part of grooming an Alaskan Malamute. He doesn’t need you to trim his hair either, as he already looks beautiful (after all, he’s not a fancy dog like the Teacup Chihuahua). Other tasks are quite easier. He doesn't require a lot of baths, so one every 3 or 4 months is enough unless your best friend gets dirtier than usual. Use a special shampoo for dogs, as the shampoos made for humans will be too harsh on his delicate skin.

The rest of the Alaskan Malamute’s grooming routine is basic care. You already know the drill: trim his nails once a month using special clippers and special grinders. Brush the teeth 3 or 4 times a week, either using commercial toothpaste for dogs or a DIY one (which is cheaper and organic).

Finally, don’t forget to check the ears once a week for infections or ear mites. Clean them using a gentle ear cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, check out our guide here.

And, as always, if you’re not confident about grooming your dog, take him to a professional. They will know what to do without hurting your four-pawed best friend.

4. The Alaskan Malamute is friendly, extremely intelligent, and playful to a fault

Puppy Malamute in a field

My heart is melting already!!

Credit: amberjean / CC BY-SA

The first thing you should know is that the Alaskan Malamute is an extremely friendly and playful dog. He loves people and will greet strangers with a big smile and a wagging tail, which makes him one of the worst watchdogs around. But, that also makes him one of the best dogs to keep as a family companion.

The Alaskan Malamute is usually not a noisy dog. He doesn’t bark a lot, but man, does he howl. But, still, this doesn’t make him a nuisance, as the howling is usually rare. Smart and extremely curious, the Alaskan Malamute wants nothing more than to discover what’s around him.

This special breed of dog needs to be taken into an active family. The Alaskan Malamute was bred as a working dog, and thus, has a lot of energy in him. If he doesn’t get to spend that energy, he will become destructive and chew on your shoes or turn your house upside down out of boredom.

Independent and smart, this dog can be extremely stubborn and mischievous sometimes. But, he does it all for the laughs.

The Alaskan Malamute makes the perfect house pet. He is peaceful, calm, and friendly, which makes him a great companion for everyone, kids and elderly alike. But, be careful if you have other pets in the house, especially smaller ones. Because of their hunting nature, Alaskan Malamutes don’t get along with other pets and might even try to hunt them.

The Alaskan Malamute is a loyal dog who will quickly bond with you. A dog like this one will never leave your side and believe me, you will definitely never be bored of him and his crazy shenanigans. This is an outgoing dog who will want to be included in every activity, mostly because he is a pack animal and needs to feel like he is part of a group.

5. The Alaskan Malamute can be a child’s best friend

malamute puppy

JUST WOW!

The Alaskan Malamute is famous for being extremely patient with children. He loves the attention he gets from them, but, he can be dangerous. Don't get me wrong, this dog is extremely gentle and playful, but in his enthusiasm, he is more than capable of knocking a child over.

Make sure to always supervise your children’s interactions with your Alaskan Malamute, to prevent any accident from happening. And make sure to teach your kids how to behave around the dog. Let them know that they should never approach the dog while he's eating or sleeping because that's when he wants to be the most comfortable.

Here is a video of an Alaskan Malamute with a child:

6. Because of his stubborn nature, the Alaskan Malamute can be quite difficult to train

The Alaskan Malamute is a powerful yet quiet dog. He makes a perfect home pet, but his stubbornness makes him difficult to train. But, if you stay firm, consistent, and interesting, you will be able to train your Alaskan Malamute. The best thing to do is to start training your puppy as soon as you get him home. Don’t wait until he’s 6 months old, as it would be too late by then. Instead, start your training session with him when he’s eight weeks old, as he is capable of learning everything you teach him. After all, the Alaskan Malamute is a very smart dog. But, he is quite mischievous, so be careful, as he might pull some pranks on you.

The Alaskan Malamute is quite a sensitive dog, and this means that he doesn’t respond well to harsh training. Positive reinforcement, praises, and treats are the way to go with this beautiful, powerful breed.

And always, always impose yourself as the pack leader and the alpha. As soon as Alaskan Malamute senses weakness or meekness, then it’s too late, you’ve already lost.

7. An Alaskan Malamute needs a lot of socialization

Adult Malamute from up close

He is majestic, isn’t he?

Credit: petful.com

Sure, the Alaskan Malamute is an extremely friendly and affectionate dog, and he gets along with everyone, even strangers. Still, every dog, no matter how friendly he is, needs to be socialized early into his puppyhood.

Early socialization will help ensure that your Alaskan Malamute puppy will grow up to be a well-rounded adult dog. So, make sure expose your four-pawed best friend to a lot of pets, different environments and people to make sure that he will be able to behave in society.

Take him to the dog park so he can get used to being around other dogs, especially ones of the same gender. Enrolling your Alaskan Malamute in a puppy kindergarten is also a great start, as this will help him polish his social skills.

8. The Alaskan Malamute is used to the cold

Being a winter animal, the Alaskan Malamute doesn’t fare well in hot temperatures. If the place you live in has hot summers, make sure to keep your Alaskan Malamute indoors in a cool place (AC is a must) with a lot of water around so he can cool himself off. During the winter, your pooch will be happiest outside, playing in the snow.

9. Your furry best friend needs a lot of exercise

malamute grown up

LIKE A BOSS!

Because they are mostly bred to be working dogs, Alaskan Malamutes have a lot of energy. And when I say a lot, know that I am not being hyperbolic here. He needs a lot of physical and mental activity, to keep his body strong and his mind sharp.

Taking your Alaskan Malamute on two or three long walks a day is a must, as well as making him perform tasks at home. He will be more than happy moving around heavy objects, running around in the yard (the Alaskan Malamute needs a lot of space, so if you have a small apartment, better choose another breed), or playing with children.

Activities such as jogging, camping, or hiking are also perfect for this dog, as he will be able to spend his energy on them. Just make sure your dog is properly socialized and trained before taking him on a road trip with you!

10. The Alaskan Malamute needs a strict diet

Adult Malamute with a kid

A Malamute can be a kid’s best friend.

Credit: Кирилл Чеботарь / CC BY

It is recommended to feed your Alaskan Malamute 4 to 5 cups a day of high-quality dog food. Yes, this dog eats a lot, but after all, he is quite the large breed.

Keep your pooch healthy and in good shape by measuring his food and keeping him on a strict diet so he doesn’t become obese. A few healthy snacks will not hurt either, especially fruits and vegetables (yes, dogs can eat human food too, who could have known?)

If you are not sure what to feed your dog, don't worry. The best thing would be to ask your veterinarian. They will recommend some good brands for you. And, remember that a Malamute puppy does not have the same feeding needs as a fully-grown dog, so make sure to feed him puppy food until he grows bigger and stronger.

11. The Alaskan Malamute is a healthy dog, but he can still suffer from some issues

The Alaskan Malamute is generally a healthy and sturdy dog. He hardly gets sick, and usually lives much longer than other purebred dogs. Still, there are a few health issues that you will have to be on the lookout for if you want your dog to live a long and happy life. Here is a list of these issues:

In general, if you take care of your pooch, keep him on a healthy diet and on a good exercise regimen, he should be healthy. Still, never skip the vet visits and always be sure that all his shots and vaccines are up to date.

12. The Alaskan Malamute is an expensive dog

An Alaskan Malamute puppy usually costs between 400$ and 1000$, depending on the pedigree of the dog as well as the breeder you go to. Always be sure to choose a well-known breeder with a good reputation.

Conclusion

The Alaskan Malamute is not as famous as the Siberian Husky, for example. Still, he is a majestic dog breed with a beautiful physique and a heart of gold. Friendly to a fault, smart, loyal, and just a bit stubborn, he will turn your life upside down (but in a good way). Adopting an Alaskan Malamute means more than just bringing a dog to your house, it means welcoming a new family member who will need care, love, and attention.

About the Author Houda Laabadi

A dog lover!

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