Just as their name implies, these strong, hardy dogs evolved in artic regions. The name mahlemut is dervied from the Inuit people; it means “tribal dog” of these ancient arctic dwellers…Like many other “cold weather” dogs, the Malamute is of the “spitz family, meaning that his long curved tail arches in a bow across his back. The Inuits originally used him for hunting large game like seals and polar bears. He isn’t a fast dog, but has the enormous strength to haul an animal carass for miles across the ice for his owner. In an Inuit tribe, a Malamutes were considered as full members of their families and they have never been fully domesticated as pets.
During the Alaskan gold rush time, the Malamute was introduced to Americans and Europeans as being able to haul heavy sleds across the ice. In 1933 Malamutes accompanied Admiral Byrd to the South Pole. During World War II they were used to haul freight, carry heavy packs and search and rescue operations. The Malamute was recognised by the AKC in 1935.
His wolf-like appearance belies the fact that the Malamute is a very affectionate and loyal family dog. In temperament, he is not only affectionate, but playful as well. He will bark the alarm with an approaching stranger, but gets along well with new people to whom he is properly introduced. The Malamute has good protective insticts for the safety of his family. He is not friendly with other dogs and pets, but does well with children who learn to treat him with respect.
The Malamute is completely unsuited for apartment life; without enough space and time with his family, he can become very destructive and domineering while howling his displeasure at being lonely and bored. In cities, he does fairly well in a large household but needs daily vigorous exercise in a large yard or dog park. Although the Malamute has a very high cold tolerance, he needs to sleep inside and must be protected from heat because of his deep, rich white, silver and black coat.
The Malamute is notoriously difficult to train in basic obedience; he has a strong, independent and stubborn streak. He operates within his own agenda, not his owner’s. It takes a strong and patient human trainer to own and train him. A mannerless, unsocialized and aggressive Malamute will quickly become the “Alpha” (leader) of the home unless he is trained in puppyhood to accept people as his master.
The Malamute’s primary health concerns are hip dysplasia and cataracts. Gastric tortion, bloat, and hypthyroidism have also been seen. He has a long life-span of up to 14 years or even more if he is cared for properly.
Unless you’re an unauthorized stranger in his territory, his wolfish appearance is tempered by his golden eyes; his expression is soft and intelligent. With the right family in the right place, the Malamute makes a wonderful, affectionate member of the household.