Breed Type

Alaskan Malamutes are in the Working or Utility Dog group in most countries.

History of the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest recognised dog breeds with its origins going back to the Mahlemuit Inuit Eskimo tribes in Alaska. The Mahlemuit developed the breed to help them survive in the harsh Arctic climate. Alaskan Malamutes were bred to pull heavy loads across vast distances and to withstand extremes of cold. The breed was late to be recognised outside Alaska. The American Kennel Club registered it as a breed in 1935 and it was not introduced into Australia for example until 1978.

Description of the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a sturdy dog (compared to the Siberian Husky) and is strong and muscular in appearance. The head is wedge shaped and erect ears are set wide apart on the skull. The eyes are always brown in colour. Coat colour varies from light grey through to black, sable and red are also acceptable. There is always white on the legs, underbelly and parts of face. The tail is a distinctive feature, carried high and curling over the back. 


WEIGHT - 34 - 38.5 kg (75-85 lbs) HEIGHT - 58.5 - 63.5 Cm (23-25 ins) at shoulder.
There is a marked difference in size between male and female dogs.


The coat of the Alaskan Malamute is a dense, double coat that provides good insulation and helps the dog withstand snow and ice. It will need regular brushing and grooming to remove excess hair as it is shed and to prevent the development of matts. Malamutes do moult (twice a year) and will shed vast amounts of hair. In warmer climates this thick coat can cause a variety of heat related skin problems to develop. If you live in an area where your dog can pick up grass seeds, the coat and skin must be examined very closely to prevent grass seeds from tracking under the skin and causing painful lesions.

Alaskan Malamute Temperament

The Alaskan Malamute was bred to think and act independently in situations of extreme hazard. This means the Malamute as a pet can have a very strong independent streak and WILL challenge its human handlers. However the breed was also bred to be a team dog and as such is extremely affectionate towards all members of its human pack but they are inclined to be dog aggressive, particularly with dogs of the same sex. They are unlikely to live happily with another dog, even if they have been raised together.

They also have a strong prey drive which means they can instinctively attack small animals (including stock and small dogs). The Malamute is well known for its intelligence, strength and independence. They are prone to boredom and can howl and dig if they become bored or are neglected. Malamutes do not bark.


12 -15 years


As a large breed dog that loves to wolf down its food, Malamutes can be prone to developing bloat (or gastric dilatation- volvulus). They can also develop a variety of skin problems such as hot spots or moist eczema.

Possible Genetic Disorders of Alaskan Malamutes

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Inherited polyneuropathy
  • Chondro dysplasia

Best Suited

  • Experienced dog handlers/trainers (these dogs may be wilful and dominant)
  • People with time and energy to invest in their dogs exercise and training
  • Large, well-fenced back yards

Worst Suited

  • Inexperienced dog trainers
  • The elderly or physically disabled
  • Very young children
  • As guard dogs (they will greet strangers affectionately - only their appearance may be a deterrent to people who don't know the breed)

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Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes by
Kristin Petrie