The heavy—freighting dog of the Inuit people who inhabited the shores of
the Kotzebue Sound, the Alaskan malamute excels as an adaptable,
intelligent canine companion. A heavy—boned dog with a bulky muzzle, a
broad head, wide—set ears, and a thickly—furred tail carried plume like
over the back, the malamute is one of the most beautiful dogs on earth
and, pound for pound, almost certainly the strongest.
One of the
many interesting features of the breed is the natural range in size,
color, and markings. The average weight for males is 95 pounds, for
females 75 pounds. Many malamutes, including show dogs, are larger or
smaller than average, and bigger is not necessarily better. Most
malamutes are gray with white trim or black and white, but coats of
silver, sable, and red sometimes occur. Patterns of facial markings
range from the all— white "open face" to the "full mask"——the
combination of a black cap on the head, goggles around the eyes, and a
bar down the muzzle. All malamutes have brown eyes.
is blessed with a sunny disposition. Happiest when treated as an
intelligent partner, the malamute is highly cooperative but never
slavish or fawning. The Alaskan malamute works and lives with you, not
for you. Sometimes aggressive toward other dogs, especially those of the
same sex, the typical malamute is outrageously and almost universally
friendly to human beings. As the dogs of a peaceful, nomadic people,
malamutes do not guard property and virtually always extend a
tail—wagging, face— licking welcome to strangers. These dogs develop
deep, complex attachments to their owners, but are not one-person dogs.
Adult rescue malamutes readily bond with their adoptive owners.
versatile malamute is happy to pull a sled, but is equally glad to
accompany the backpacker or the casual walker. In cold weather, the
malamute makes an ideal running partner. Large and powerful yet
remarkably agile, malamutes sometimes enjoy retrieving tennis balls and
Frisbees. Some malamutes love to swim; others
have a marked aversion to water. Most enjoy car rides; the breed is not
prone to motion sickness. Virtually all malamutes find their greatest
joy in human companionship and are perfectly content to join their
owners in watching television. malamutes take an alert interest in their
surroundings and are excellent company.
breed’s double coat consists of a short, dense undercoat and an outer
coat of coarse guard hair. malamutes shed profusely about twice a year.
Except at those times, they require very little grooming. Some malamute
owners bathe the dog once a year; some, once a month. Some run a brush
over the dog now and then; others groom the dog daily. A few malamutes
have long coats that are unacceptable in the show ring—but spectacular
elsewhere. Woollies, as these dogs are called, require frequent grooming
to prevent mats. Prospective adopters should bear in mind that even a
carefully groomed, relatively short—coated malamute that is not actively
shedding will nonetheless deposit some fur on carpets and in
automobiles. This is not the breed for the fastidiously
house—proud, or car—proud.
interested? Rescue malamutes are as varied as the breed itself. Who are
these dogs? Where do they come from?
pet shops and irresponsible breeders will sell an Alaskan malamute to
anyone bearing cash or a credit card, malamutes sometimes end up with
people who should never own any dog at all, certainly not a malamute.
Ethical breeders take back the dogs they breed, but other
breeders——including backyard breeders and a few show kennels——refuse to
take responsibility for dogs they have bred. In brief, some rescue dogs
have survived the difficult journey from puppy mills to pet shops to
homes in which they were not loved; others were bred by people who fail
to take lifetime responsibility for their puppies.
that come through rescue are turned in by owners who realize that
a malamute——or any dog——was a bad mistake. Many of these dogs have
simply been chained in back yards, given food and water, but deprived of
attention and affection. Some have proven too big and strong for their
owners. Owners who are moving, getting divorced, or making other major
life changes are sometimes unable or unwilling to include the dogs in
their changed lives.
friendly, well—behaved malamute occasionally appears on the back steps
of a kind person who takes in the dog, tries and fails to find the
owner, and calls us. Dogs rescued from animal shelters have either been
turned in by owners or picked up by dog officers. A typical story is of
a healthy, friendly young malamute found wandering in a schoolyard or
turned loose on a highway. The dog as no tags and no identifying tattoo;
no one responds to ads about him; no one places a lost dog ad for him.
neutered malamutes are eligible for American Kennel Club Indefinite
Listing Privilege registration. A rescue malamute with an ILP number may
be entered in Obedience at AKC trials. As a competitive Obedience dog,
the Alaskan malamute is sore legendary for crowd—pleasing antics than
for good scores. Each year, however,
malamutes earn American Kennel Club Companion Dog, Companion Dog
Excellent, Utility Dog, and Tracking titles, and the breed is
tremendous fun to work with, if not always a joy to show in the
Obedience rings In contrast, the malamute is easy to train as a
dog, the malamute may live outdoors in a sturdy kennel with a high,
strong fence, but malamutes also make splendid, almost odorless
housedogs. Under no circumstances should a malamute be allowed to
run loose or be kept on a chain, tie— out, or trolley. The indoor dog
requires daily exercise on leash or in a completely enclosed area such
as a tennis court or a fenced yard; the outdoor dog has an equally
strong need for daily companionship and affection.
ancestors of today’s malamute were sometimes forced to hunt, forage, and
compete for food. Consequently, malamutes have a predatory streak and if
allowed to run loose in rural areas, will reliably slaughter livestock
and wild animals. In urban and suburban areas, a loose malamute is a
menace to cats. Swift, fearless, and powerful, malamutes have been known
to catch songbirds on the wing and, if challenged, to deal harshly with
other dogs. Some adult rescue malamutes get along well with cats and
with other dogs, but some must go to homes with no other pets.
Furthermore, although the breed boasts a few angels, some malamutes will
raid trash and steal food inside the house. Anyone unprepared to deal
firmly and calmly with this wild streak should not own an Alaskan
prospective adopter who has never before owned any dog should consider a
sedate older malamute instead of a spunky young dog, as should anyone
without the physical strength to handle a vigorous youngster.
Fortunately, the Alaskan malamute has a life—span of about 12 to 14
years. Thus a 5 year old malamute has, on the average, more years ahead
of him than does a 5 day old Irish Wolf hound.
can bark, but seldom do. The characteristic vocalization is a long
series of woo—woo—woos, but malamutes also produce yips, growls,
rumbles, and an immense variety of wwrrrs and other sounds not
readily translated into English. Some malamutes never howl, others sound
a spine—tingling reply to every passing fire engine, ambulance, and
police cruiser. The neglected malamute inappropriately chained in a back
yard will loudly and indefatigably protest his situation, but happy
malamutes are exceptionally quiet dogs.
rescue dogs show no signs whatsoever of abuse. In others, the signs are
unmistakable. A hand—shy or rear—shy dog expects to be hit and shies
away from an outstretched hand. Some of these dogs cringe at the
slightest word of correction. One of the pleasures of rescuing such a
dog is the privilege of teaching the lesson that, from now on, human
hands and voices mean kindness and love.
Alaskan Malamute Rescue of Southern California