The Alaskan Malamute: Everything You Need to Know

The Alaskan Malamute is an impressive dog breed that has gained popularity worldwide. From its origins in Alaska to its role in sled racing, this dog has a unique history. With its striking physical characteristics, personality, and temperament, it is a truly remarkable dog.

This article will cover everything you need to know about the Alaskan Malamute, from its history and characteristics to its health and lifespan.

History of the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute’s origins can be traced back to Alaska, where its ancestors played an important role in helping native villagers. The breed’s history is rich, and over the years, breed members have been used for a variety of purposes.

The breed’s primary use was for sled racing, but it was also relied on for hunting, transportation, and cultural rituals in its native home.

Origins in Alaska

The Alaskan Malamute is named after the Inuit tribe, Mahlemut, who originated from the Kobuk River area in Alaska. These dogs were bred with other native breeds to create a powerful working dog that could withstand harsh, cold environments.

The Malamute’s strength and endurance made it ideal for hunting, sled racing, and transportation over long distances. The Mahlemut people relied heavily on the Alaskan Malamute for survival in the harsh Alaskan climate.

The dog’s thick coat provided warmth and protection from the cold, while its strong muscles and endurance allowed it to pull heavy sleds over long distances.

The Mahlemut people also used the Malamute for hunting, as the dog’s keen sense of smell and tracking ability made it an excellent hunting companion.

The Malamute’s Role in Sled Racing

Sled racing was, and still is, one of the most popular activities in Alaska. The Alaskan Malamute’s muscle mass, strength, and exceptional endurance made it a popular choice for sled racing.

This breed’s unique physical characteristics made it the perfect dog to navigate through challenging terrain and harsh weather conditions. During sled races, the Malamute would pull a sled with a musher standing on it.

The musher would give commands to the dog, who would respond by pulling the sled in the desired direction. The Malamute’s strength and endurance allowed it to cover long distances in a short amount of time, making it a valuable asset during sled races.

Breed Recognition and Popularity

The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935 in the working group category. It has since become a popular breed for sled racing, pet ownership, and breeding. The Malamute’s impressive size, beauty, and loyalty continue to attract many people worldwide.

Today, the Alaskan Malamute is a beloved family pet for many people around the world. Its friendly and loyal nature makes it an excellent companion for families with children. The breed’s intelligence and trainability also make it a popular choice for service and therapy dogs.

In addition to its popularity as a pet, the Alaskan Malamute remains a top contender in sled racing competitions. Its strength and endurance continue to make it a valuable asset during sled races, and its popularity in the sport shows no signs of slowing down.

Physical Characteristics

The Alaskan Malamute is an impressive dog with unique physical characteristics that make it stand out from other breeds. Despite their large size, Alaskan Malamutes are surprisingly graceful and nimble.

Alaskan Malamutes are able to move quickly and with precision, making them excellent athletes. Their muscular builds and broad chests give them the power they need to perform their tasks with ease.

Size and Weight

The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed that can weigh up between 75 to 84 pounds. This breed’s height can range from 23 inches for females and 25 inches for males. They have broad chests and muscular builds, making them powerful and agile dogs.

While their size can be intimidating to some, Alaskan Malamutes are known for their friendly and gentle nature. They are great with children and make excellent family pets.

Coat and Colors

The Alaskan Malamute’s coat is one of its most distinctive features. It is thick and double-layered, designed to keep them warm in cold conditions.

This coat is made up of two layers: a soft undercoat and a coarser outer coat. Together, these layers provide excellent insulation and protection from the elements.

Alaskan Malamutes come in a variety of colors, including black, gray, sable, and red. They also have distinctive facial markings. Some Malamutes have a “mask” of darker fur around their eyes, which makes them look like they are wearing goggles.

Distinctive Features

In addition to their thick coats and striking colors, Alaskan Malamutes have several other distinctive features. Their face is one of their most recognizable traits, with its dark almond-shaped eyes and large, erect ears.

These dogs have a regal and dignified appearance that commands attention wherever they go. Another unique feature of the Alaskan Malamute is its tail. This breed’s tail is well-furred and carried over their back, which helps to keep them warm in cold weather.

Finally, Alaskan Malamutes have thick, sturdy legs that are specially designed for endurance and running on snow. These dogs are built to withstand harsh weather conditions and can travel long distances without getting tired.

Personality and Temperament

According to the American Kennel Club, the Alaskan Malamute has a loyal, playful, and affectionate personality. Understanding their level of intelligence, trainability, socialization, friendliness, and exercise needs is essential.

Intelligence and Trainability

The Alaskan Malamute is a highly intelligent breed that can be trained easily with patience and consistency. However, they have a strong will, and their instincts may sometimes make them stubborn.

They require socialization from a young age with other animals and humans to avoid aggressive behavior toward strangers. Due to their size, any form of aggression can be threatening.

Socialization and Friendliness

The Alaskan Malamute is highly social and enjoys spending time with its family. They are friendly and often playful with children and other animals.

However, they can be protective of their territory and may need training to avoid overprotective behavior.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Alaskan Malamute has high energy levels and requires plenty of physical activity to maintain its health and prevent destructive behavior.

Daily brisk walks and runs are necessary for their overall well-being, and they love to engage in activities such as hiking and swimming with their owners.

Health and Lifespan

The Alaskan Malamute has a relatively long lifespan that can be extended with proper care. Here are more details about the breed’s common health issues, preventative care, and the need for regular checkups.

Common Health Issues

The Alaskan Malamute is prone to certain health problems, including:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Incongruency of the two bones forming the hip joint, which causes pain and impaired mobility
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Orthopedic issue in which the three bones forming the elbow joint do not fit properly, resulting in mobility problems
  • Hypothyroidism: Hormonal problem caused by an underactive thyroid gland and lack of thyroid hormones
  • Day Blindness: A hereditary condition that develops due to a gene mutation and manifests with sensitivity to light

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Maintaining your Alaskan Malamute’s health requires preventative care and regular check-ups. Regular grooming, clean teeth, and a healthy diet can contribute to their overall well-being.

Owners must provide daily exercise and prevent them from overheating in warm temperatures for their health and safety. Fresh drinking water should always be available to keep them well hydrated, especially when it is hot.

Life Expectancy

The Alaskan Malamute has a healthy lifespan of 10 to 14 years. Proper care and regular check-ups can extend this timeframe and offer a healthy, happy life for you and your pet.


The Alaskan Malamute is an exceptional breed known for its history, unique physical characteristics, and friendly personality. They require proper training, exercise, and care to maintain their well-being and live healthy lives.

With this comprehensive guide, you have everything you need to know about the Alaskan Malamute to determine whether it is the right breed for you.

Scroll to Top