Advice From Real Owner: Things To Know Before Getting An Alaskan Malamute
Though beautiful and friendly in nature, owning an Alaskan Malamute should not be taken lightly. Many of them end up in shelters because of people buying them without a good understanding of the breed. They are a working breed and requires a lot of maintenance to keep them happy. A bored malamute is a destructive malamute and they can get very creative with their destruction.
Alaskan Malamutes (Mals) comes from the Inuit word ‘Mahlemut’, the native Inuit people of Alaska. They are a large breed of dog bred to haul heavy freights because of their size, intelligence, and endurance. Known as one of the most ancient breeds of dogs (12 – 20 thousand years), they are similar to other Arctic and Spitz breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Greenland Dog, Eskimo Dog and Samoyed. In fact, Alaskan Malamutes are often mistaken as a Siberian Husky.
The breed standard by the American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the natural range size of 23 inches (58cm) tall and 75lbs (34kg) for females, 25 inches (64cm) tall and 85lbs (39kg) for males. That being said, one can often find heavier individuals up to 180 lbs (81.6kg) and smaller than 75lbs (34kg). Modern ‘purebred’ malamutes are a combination of two distinct lines the ‘Kotzebue’; grey and white in colour, shorter and stockier build and gentler in nature compared the ‘M’Loot’; a much larger breed.
Things To Consider Before Owning One
1. They are a working breed. Alaskan Malamutes love to have a job while exercising. They require both mental and physical stimulation. Aurora, my 2.8-year-old Mal, walks and runs with me for least 10km, have 10 minutes playtime with her friends (Huskies and Golden Retriever), will demand that I chased her indoors after a 30-minute nap.
2. They are bred to haul weights. A fully-grown Alaskan Malamute can haul anything between 500kg – 1500kg of weight. This means that you need to train your malamute to not pull while you can still control your pup. At 8 months old, Aurora can pull me along with a 3-seater recliner while playing ‘tug of war’.
3. They are extremely intelligent. They will have you trained if you are not careful. The very first time I gave mine a puzzle slow feeder, she walked around a bit and sniffed it. Then with her right paw, she smacked the bowl and her kibbles went flying out of the feeder. She then proceeds to gobble them up in less than 1 minute.
4. Alaskan Malamutes are very abstinent. There is a very famous meme that most Mal owners will laugh at:
Anything your dog can do,
My Alaskan Malamute can refuse to do,
And still look cute not doing it!
Anything your dog cannot destroy,
My Alaskan Malamute can destroy,
And still look cute doing it! (Mine)
To them, it is not the inability to perform the task but rather ‘what is in it for me to obey?’
5. They love humans and crave for nothing more than to be with their families. Alaskan Malamutes are pack animals and are very bonded to their families. The ‘Mahlemut’ used to leave their offspring with the females to be nursed and protected while they are out hunting with the males. You can remove the dog factor out of them but you can’t remove the human factor out of them. Aurora is my permeant bathroom leg warmer and there is no such thing as privacy with them.
6. Alaskan Malamutes moults! They are heavy shedders and they shed twice a year and 4 times if you have an intact female. Those videos that you see on the internet is true and not exaggerated. During shedding season, you can literally run your fingers on them and end up with enough fur to create a 2nd Malamute.
7. They have a high prey drive. Alaskan Malamutes were used to hunt seals and polar bears. A 6-month-old Mal can bring down a full-grown doe. Thus, early socialization is very important and they must be always supervised with any small animals that did not grow up with them. Aurora was from a pet shop, and she was allowed to mixed and sniff other animals as a young pup hence she loves all small animals and will take me to an injured animal or dog while out walking.
8. They are avid diggers and can make a real mess in your garden or landscape.
9. They can have gender aggression. It has to be noted that all dogs for that matter can have gender aggressions but I was told by breeders that a fight between females is usually to death. Mine does not have that issue.
10. They are great escape artists. Mal’s can jump over a 6 – 8 feet walls, dig themselves out and in several cases open and bolt doors. Even with electric fences, they can smell when the power is turned on. One of the Mal owners shared once, that her Mal will accidentally push the Sammy (Samoyed) to the fence perimeter just to see if he gets zapped. If the Samoyed doesn’t yelp, then it is safe for her to wander off.
——Written by Lynette Yee
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