Alaskan Malamutes are the oldest breed of working sled dogs, dating back at least a few thousand years. They are descendants from the original dogs belonging to the Alaskan Inuit tribe, the "Mahlemuts" and they make loyal companions.
In their history, Malamutes were very prominent in the lives of their masters. They worked, hunted, and lived day by day in the harsh elements and actually were essential to their owner's lives. The powerful stature of Malamutes was valuable to settlers and prospectors alike during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896.
Alaskan Malamutes are similar in build to the Siberian Husky, Samoyed and American Eskimo dogs. The largest breed of sled dogs, Malamutes were used more throughout history for pulling heavy freight and supplies than for sled racing. The natural endurance of Malamutes makes them ideal dogs for Polar expeditions.
Alaskan Malamutes are muscular with an average height at the shoulders between 2 -25 inches, and weight at 74 to 85 lbs. They have dense bones with deep chests, brawny shoulders and strong legs.
The Malamute's fur is double thick with an undercoat that is woolly and oily, while the outer coat is course. The Malamute's colors range from shades of gray, black, sable to red tones, and almost always there is some white on their faces, underbody, legs and feet.
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A Malamute's looks are often compared to wolves, which is likely part of their ancient ancestry. Even today, the two animals are sometimes cross-bred and true Alaskan Malamutes have often been used by the motion picture industry to portray their wild counterparts.
For Alaskan Malamutes, training must begin at a young age so the dog knows immediately who is in command. They are brilliant dogs but with a strong, independent nature. Consistency is essential in training a Malamute.
This breed needs considerable daily exercise, generous space in which to move, and plenty of attention to keep them from becoming bored and destructive.
The thick fur needs regular brushing to prevent matting and to help in the natural shedding process. Outdoor Malamutes will enjoy a small swimming pool during the heat of summer to cool themselves, and can often be seen just standing in water.
A cold climate always suits a Malamute best, as they are quite comfortable playing and lying about in cold, wet snow. They make wonderful outside pets so long as they have shade to get out of the hot sun, or a dry shelter away from the cold, damp ground when they want it.
Malamutes are normally quiet, and seldom bark. Instead they may make an almost vocal "wooing" sound to communicate. They are also inclined to howling like a wolf, and for the same intentions.
The power and density of Alaskan Malamutes can make them cumbersome indoors. However, proper integration into the family life will help them find their place inside as well. Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent, dignified, friendly dogs. They enjoy the company of people, and are intensely loyal, affectionate animals.