Everything about your Alaskan Malamute - LUV My dogs

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Everything about your Alaskan Malamute

  A close cousin to the Samoyed, Siberian Husky and American Eskimo Dog, the Alaskan Malamute is a Nordic sled dog named after one of Alaska's native tribes. Not a racing breed, the Alaskan Malamute is built to pull heavy sled loads over lengthy distances. Very respected, this dog not only has a high endurance level and athletic ability, but a high willingness to work as well. A smart breed, the Alaskan Malamute enjoys any form of activity and has a deep love for its owner.
  The Alaskan Malamute features a powerful, sturdy body built for stamina and strength. It reigns as one of the oldest dog breeds whose original looks have not been significantly altered. This intelligent canine needs a job and consistent leadership to avoid becoming bored or challenging to handle.

Overview
  The Alaskan Malamute is a big, powerful dog who was bred to pull sleds in harsh terrain and brutal climates. Consider that fact carefully if you're at all unsure about your ability to walk a dog like that on a leash. And a leash is not optional equipment when it comes to a Malamute; not only does he roam, often for miles and days, but he’s usually ready to mix it up with other dogs and will hunt and kill wildlife and cats.
  Malamutes also extremely difficult to keep behind a fence, as they are expert diggers and climbers. If you want them back, Malamutes need to be microchipped and have an ID tag on their collars at all times. And while working Malamutes often live happily in kennel situations – because they get lots of exercise and plenty of interesting work to do -- relegating a Malamute to the backyard isn't a great idea, unless you like holes the size of a swimming pool, and your neighbors like howling. Not to mention that he'll probably not be there when you get home, since he considers fences to be interesting challenges rather than genuine obstacles.
  If none of that deters you, then you might be ready to consider some of the pluses to the Alaskan Malamute. He's handsome, with a primeval look that can make you feel the snowy winds of the tundra even when you're standing on a suburban lawn. And he absolutely adores children, although as with all large, powerful dogs, careful supervision is required.
  Malamutes can be affected by a few genetic diseases, and there are temperament problems in the breed, so be careful to get your dog from either an experienced breeder who does genetic screening and temperament tests on her dogs, or a reputable rescue group that evaluates them for temperament and suitability for your family and lifestyle.

Highlights
  • Not recommended for the first time dog owner as their intelligence combined with stubbornness can make them a challenge for someone not savvy in dog behavior.
  • Malamutes will challenge for alpha or top position in the household. Everyone who lives with the dog must be able to properly deal with this and clearly establish all family members as higher ranking than the Malamute.
  • Alaskan Malamutes are notorious diggers. Any fencing should be buried so they cannot dig out of their yard.
  • Alaskan Malamutes are a powerful, independent dog who, if not properly trained or exercised, can become destructive or bored.
  • With early socialization and training, Malamutes can learn to get along with other dogs and indoor cats. They'll view outdoor cats and other small animals as fair game.
  • Their high prey drive can cause a Malamute to stalk and kill small animals, including birds, squirrels, cats and even smaller dogs. They need to be properly socialized and introduced to other companion animals.
  • Alaskan Malamutes shed heavily twice a year. Their thick double coats are not suited for hot climates.
  • Generally a quiet breed, Malamutes rarely bark. They do hold conversations with you, vocally expressing themselves with "woo woo" sounds or loud, extensive howls.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Other Quick Facts
  • The Alaskan Malamute is a freighting dog, built to pull heavy loads for long distances. He is highly athletic with a well muscled body, deep chest, strong legs and a plume of a tail that waves over his back.
  • An Alaskan Malamute’s head is broad with prick ears and dark-brown eyes. He has distinctive markings: a cap over the head and a face that is either all white or marked with a bar or mask. The coat comes in several colors, including white , and gray, black, sable and red, all with white on the belly, legs, feet and face.
Breed standards
AKC group: Working group
UKC group: Northern Breed Group
Average lifespan: 13 - 15 years
Average size: 75 - 85 pounds
Coat appearance: Double coated with thick, coarse top coat and oily, wooly undercoat
Coloration: Wolf gray, black, black and white or sable with possible red markings
Hypoallergenic: No
Other identifiers: Athletically built with strong frame, erect ears, almond-shaped eyes that are dark in color, large fluffy tail
Possible alterations: May be all white in color or have blue eyes.

Comparable Breeds: Akita, Siberian Husky

History
  In some accounts, the Alaskan Malamute is described as a descendant of dogs of the Mahlemut group of Inupiat in upper western Alaska. These dogs had a prominent role with their human companions – as a utilitarian dog, working, hunting, and living alongside humans.The dogs were renowned for their excellent hunting abilities and were used to hunt large predators such as bears. They also aided their owners in finding seals by alerting to seal blow holes. The interdependent relationship between the Mahlemut and their dogs fostered prosperity among both and enabled them to flourish in the inhospitable land above the Arctic Circle.
  For a brief period during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, the Malamute and other sled dogs became extremely valuable to recently landed prospectors and settlers, and were frequently crossbred with imported breeds. This was often an attempt to improve the type, or to make up for how few true Malamutes were available to purchase. This seems to have had no long-standing effect on the modern Malamute, and 2004 DNA analysis shows that Malamutes are one of the oldest breeds of dog, genetically distinct from other dog breeds. A study in 2013 showed that the Alaskan Malamute has a similar east Asian origin to, but is not clearly related to, the Greenland Dog and the Inuit Sled Dog (Canadian Eskimo Dog), but contains a possible admixture of the Siberian Husky.
(AKC) "Breed recognition came in 1935, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Eva B. Seeley. At that time many dogs were of unknown ancestry. Those who appeared purebred were used for breeding, others weeded out. After a few years the registry was closed." 
  "Losses from service in World War II all but eliminated the breed. In 1947 there were estimated to be only about 30 registered dogs left, so the stud book was reopened. Mr. Robert J. Zoller became involved in the breed and took this opportunity to combine M’Loot and Hinman/Irwin dogs with selected Kotzebues to create what became the Husky-Pak line. All modern Malamutes are descended from the early strains, and show combinations of characteristics in greater or lesser degree. Thus the natural differences we see today.
  The Malamute dog has had a distinguished history; aiding Rear Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole, and the miners who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1896, as well as serving in World War II primarily as search and rescue dogs in Greenland, although also used as freighting and packing dogs in Europe. This dog was never destined to be a racing sled dog; it was used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds (maybe thousands) of pounds of supplies to villages and camps in groups of at least 4 dogs for heavy loads.
  The Alaskan Malamute is a member of the Spitz group of dogs, traced back 2,000 to 3,000 years ago to the Mahlemuits tribe of Alaska.
  In 2010 the Alaskan Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska.

Temperament and Personality
  Alaskan Malamutes are friendly and love people. This makes them a wonderful choice for the active family who has an electronic burglar alarm and doesn’t need a Malamute for his watchdog abilities. That’s because he doesn’t have any.
  He is moderately vocal and will howl along with sirens or talk to you with expressive “woo-woos.” For a spitz breed, though, he’s pretty quiet and doesn’t typically become a nuisance barker.
  This dog is smart and curious, and he wants nothing more than to share his discoveries with his human family members. Discoveries like exactly how the sofa was put together, for example, or what the interior of your car would look like without all that carpeting and upholstery.
  The good news is that destructiveness in the Malamute is preventable and treatable. The cure is exercise, and lots of it, no matter what the weather is, or if you have the flu. Lots and lots of strenuous exercise. Hiking, pulling sleds in winter and carts in summer , competitive weight pulling and formal obedience are all good outlets for his brain and his brawn.
  The Malamute is smart, learns quickly and loves you, but he’s also strong-willed and independent.
  Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines  to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines  have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. These experiences as a young dog will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.
  Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Alaskan Malamute, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.

Health
  The Alaskan Malamute, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, occasionally suffers from gastric torsion, seizures, hemeralopia, and polyneuropathy. The major health problems that can ail the breed are canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and cataract, while minor concerns include osteochondrodysplasia (OCD) and hypothyroidism. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may conduct eye, hip, and thyroid exams on this breed of dog, as well as tests for osteochondrodysplasia.

Living Conditions
  Alaskan Malamutes are not recommended for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and should have at least a large yard. If you live in a suburban area, a high fence is a must, but bury the base, because they are likely to dig their way out. The Alaskan Malamute likes to roam in what he considers to be his territory. The Malamutes coat allows them to withstand extreme cold, but be careful to keep the dogs cool in hot climates. Make sure they have shade and plenty of clean cool water.

Exercise
  Malamutes need a reasonable amount of exercise which include long daily walks. But be careful not to overdo it in warm weather.

Care
  As the dog can run for great distances, it needs adequate exercise daily, in the form of a good run or walk on a leash. The breed is fond of cold weather and loves to pull a sledge or cart through snow. It can be comfortable in cold or temperate climates, but should be kept indoors during summer. The Alaskan Malamute's coat, meanwhile, needs to be brushed weekly and even more frequently during the shedding season.

Grooming
  The Alaskan Malamute has a thick, coarse double coat. It’s not especially high maintenance — brush it a couple of times a week to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils — but it sheds year-round and more heavily on a seasonal basis.
  A Malamute owner's best friend, after his dog, is his vacuum cleaner. Twice a year Malamutes "blow coat." Picture mountains of hair drifting all over the house and attaching itself to every surface. The rest of the year their shedding is much less – so much so that you might be able to get away with vacuuming only twice a day instead of every four hours.
If you can put up with that, the Malamute is a pretty easy-care dog. Bathe him every few months or whenever he’s dirty. He doesn’t need any special trimming to maintain his distinctive look.
  The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Introduce your Malamute to grooming at an early age so he will accept it gracefully.

Is this breed right for you?
  Requiring a lot of activity, this affectionate and athletic breed requires and enjoys a lot of physical play, including hiking, swimming, sledding and more. Friendly, it does best in a family rather than being a one-to-one dog. Due to its thick coat, it is best that the Alaskan Malamute receive regular grooming and live in a cooler climate where it is provided a lot of water and shade in warmer months. Not good for apartment life, this breed needs a yard to roam, play and spend the majority of time in. Without proper training and respect for its owner, the Alaskan Malamute may become temperamental and destructive.

Children and other pets
  Malamutes are patient with children and love the attention they get from them, but fast-growing, energetic Alaskan Malamute puppies can easily overpower a young child under age 5. In their exuberance, they can knock a child over.
  Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
  With early socialization and training, your Malamute should get along well with other dogs. He may chase small animals such as cats unless brought up with them and taught not to. It's vital to properly introduce him to other animals in the household and supervise their interactions. He'll consider outdoor cats and other small animals fair game.

Did You Know?
  The Alaskan Malamute is perhaps the oldest and definitely the largest of the Arctic sled dogs. The breed is named after the Mahlemut, an Inuit tribe from Alaska’s Kotzebue Sound area.

A dream day-in-the-life
  The Alaskan Malamute will likely sleep outside and come in to greet its family. After a brisk walk around the yard, he will come inside and hang out with those that it loves most. After a few rubdowns and games of catch, the Alaskan Malamute would love to engage in some type of sport before the end of its day. Once it gets the brunt of its energy out, it will settle in with its favorite humans.

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