Below is some of our information on the Alaskan Malamute. Please also read an excellent article written by Nichole Royer of Kwest Malamutes: About Malamutes Are you sure a Malamute is what you want? Check out the REALITY, here, of sharing your life with this breed!
Alaskan Malamutes are NOT a dog for everybody. These are large, strong dogs. They shed a lot. A LOT. Hair everywhere! Like to wear black, or dark blue? Not around a Malamute you won't! Malamutes are NOT known for their ability to get along well with other dogs- mine generally accept those dogs they've been raised with, such as those in my own pack, and those dogs belonging to close friends which my dogs have been exposed to frequently from puppy hood. This has a LOT to do with how much socializing they get as puppies- if they meet a lot of different types of dogs, and have good experiences with those dogs, they will usually grow up with a greater regard for many dogs. SOME Malamutes can be bossy, domineering dogs- pack organization is highly important to these dogs- it does not take strength or aggression or heavy-handed training methods to make a pack leader- it takes BRAINS, and firm fairness. If you are not clearly in charge- and fair about it- your Malamute will take over leadership of the pack, and will expect you (and all your subordinates) to obey his or her orders. Some Malamutes never care to have a higher status in their pack (like my Ashlar), others are trying to take control from puppyhood and spend their lives trying to outsmart you! (like my Stony) Puppy Temperament testing, as well as constant observance, helps to figure out which puppies will lean toward which end of that spectrum!
Malamutes are highly intelligent dogs- however their development and history required them to be smart enough to make better decisions than their humans, and determined enough to override the demands of those humans- the lives of dogs and people often depended on this ability. Malamutes were originally kept by the Mahlemut tribe of Arctic natives, assisting them in many aspects of their life in harsh conditions. Mals were employed to help haul sledges of belongings as the groups moved from place to place, to haul the results of successful hunts, to aid in those hunts- often alerting their people of the approach of seals or smaller whales to established blowholes in the ice...Mals, so we are told, aided in hunting (or protection from) Polar Bears, and for caribou or other prey. History also tells us these dogs were turned loose to fend for themselves in summertime. Malamutes were often among the children of their people, and the breed is usually very fond of children to this day- however, NO large dog should ever be left alone with small children- their sheer size and strength could lead to unintentional injury. And there are always exceptions to the rule- not EVERY Malamute will enjoy children- it is up to us to know our dog. To survive in the native environment that formed them, these primitive-type dogs had to be intelligent, confident, strong-minded as well as strong-bodied, bold and opportunistic. Today, they are predatory, cunning, and often sneaky or bossy. Most Malamutes would make poor guard dogs, as they seem to have never met a human they didn't like! Mals rarely "Bark", but they are by no means silent, "speaking" in various tones of howls, moans, growls, and "woo"s...usually if they want to tell you something, or ask for something (my Stony had a story for me every day- and quite a story it was!)- sirens always set my dogs off into song, and sometimes they enjoy a morning "chorus", just to rejoice in being a Malamute! When not having a sing-a-long or telling us about something, they ARE very quiet, and brief visitors to our home often aren't aware they are there.
What all of this translates to in today's world is a very smart dog, easily bored, and often amused by our silly demands! To train a Malamute, you have to be smart enough to stay one step ahead of them, and interesting enough to keep their attention!! When you've felt the return of love and affection from such a dog....it's beyond words...
Here are a few things I was warned about when I first got into Malamutes:
Malamutes dig. Some dig small holes, some would make the sewer company's job easier! (Mine only occasionally dig a small hole in the back lawn, usually when hunting snakes or bugs)-
Malamutes hunt. I agree...yes, they do. Anything small and fast-moving is potential prey.
Malamutes shed. WOW, do they shed!!
Malamutes LOVE the cold weather. As long as it's not a cold RAIN, or sleet (which could be just as dangerous for their health to be left out in as ours)- but they love snow, can't get enough of it...
Malamutes need a JOB to do. ABSOLUTELY! A bored Malamute is a destructive Malamute! This can be a big job, such as a daily sledding excursion, or a smaller one, such as a daily walk and some training sessions- whatever it takes to burn energy and exercise the mind!
Malamutes need a strong pack order. Again- YES! As a primitive dog, Mals behave and read body language much as would a wild canine- they respect a kind but firm and fair leader. A Mal will not tolerate over-rough or abusive treatment- they will either "shut down", or react defensively and violently. I don't blame them. Treat your Malamute right, and they will treat you right.
Malamutes HATE repetition. Make training fun and interesting, don't waste time rehashing something they've already done right- they'll get bored and disinterested, fast.
Malamutes have a great sense of humor. Much of the time, they use this against us, not for us...but it is still often funny, and unlike many other dogs, Mals seem to enjoy being laughed AT as much as being laughed WITH! Nothing will teach you humility like training a Malamute...
Food is the all-consuming priority of Malamutes. For many, this is exactly the case- perhaps some instinct drives them to eat ANYTHING even remotely edible- you never know when you might eat again! This can be a dangerous thing- we have to make sure to keep our homes and yards picked up and free from anything our dogs could pick up and swallow- just because WE know it's not food- our Mals will likely try it anyway...
To learn more about Alaskan Malamutes, we'd like to recommend the following books and periodicals: The Alaskan Malamute; Yesterday & Today The New Complete Alaskan Malamute New Owner's Guide to Alaskan Malamutes This is the Alaskan Malamute
Also, there is The Alaskan Malamute Annual (see www.hoflin.com for this) And, The Alaskan Malamute Club of America's monthly newsletter (subscriptions can be obtained through the AMCA website, at www.alaskanmalamute.org
There are also a few places to learn on the internet, such as the Malamute-L group list. There are many people on this list with a great deal of experience in training Malamutes to be wonderful family members.