Alaskan Malamute


Friendly and quiet

Life Expectancy
10-14 years

Average Height
23-25 inches

Average Weight
75-85 lbs

Coat Color
White, black & white, wolf gray, wolf sable, or red

Coat Length/Texture
Thick & coarse double coat

Shedding Propensity
Very heavy

Also known as Malamute, Mal

General Temperament

As a puppy the Alaskan Malamute is very rambunctious, but they grow into calm and mellow adults. They are very loyal dogs, especially to their primary owner. They are also exceptionally affectionate with just about anyone, including strangers, so they do not make good guard dogs. They need plenty of attention from their primary owner; without it, they can become incredibly destructive. They are intelligent and eager to please, so they can easily be taught good manners, but it can be difficult to teach them formal obedience. Don’t expect a Malamute to follow every command.

The Malamute loves to be outdoors and does very well living outside as long as they are given sufficient companionship, perhaps with other dogs of the same breed or size. They need plenty of space and therefore are not recommended for apartment life. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is best for this breed. They love to dig, so be sure to bury the fence deep into the ground.

Alaskan Malamutes are generally good with other dogs and household pets, even cats. But they should be supervised with other unknown animals as they have a strong prey instinct and can sometimes be aggressive towards stranger dogs.

Although it originated as a sled dog, the Malamute is better suited for endurance hauls or heavy loads as opposed to dog sled racing. They are quieter than other sled dogs, and when they do vocalize, they often sound like they are “talking.” Their howl is almost indistinguishable from that of a wolf.

Breed History

The Malamute found it’s origins with the Mahlemut tribe of upper western Alaska. The people of this area required a dog that could work, hunt and live alongside them. The symbiotic relationship between the dogs and their human companions allowed for prosperity of both. It is unknown how far back this relationship goes, but it is indeed known that the Malamute is one of the oldest arctic sled dogs. Although there have been attempts in the past to cross the Alaskan Malamute with other breeds to obtain a more efficient or faster sled dog, this seems to have had no long standing effect on the modern Malamute. In other words, the modern Malamute is no different than the ancient Malamute dating back thousands of years.

The Alaskan Malamute was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Body Structure and Composition

The Alaskan Malamute is a large and strong Arctic dog, wolf-like in their appearance. They have a thick, coarse, beautifully shaded double coat to keep them warm. The skull is wide and the ears held erect on the top of the head. They are a compact breed, meaning that they are slightly longer than they are tall. Their heavily-boned frame is well muscled for pulling work. The plumed tail hangs over the back but is usually not curled.

Medical Information

Although they are generally a healthy breed, overbreeding by for-profit puppy mills has promoted a few osteo-related medical issues in the Alaskan Malamute. Hip Dysplasia is a condition sometimes experienced by this breed, in which the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket. This causes lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to help prevent spreading this disease. Chondrodysplasia can also be a problem with Malamutes. Chondrodysplasia is a general term for disorders or the development of bone and cartilage, including dwarfism.

Alaskan Malamutes are also susceptible to a condition call bloat, also sometimes called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV). Excess gas trapped in the dog’s stomach causes “bloat,” and twisting of the stomach (volvulus or “torsion”) causes or is caused by said excess gas. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment. Feeding a dog two or three meals daily, instead of one large meal, can help to prevent GDV.

Malamutes can suffer from various eye conditions, including cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is characterized by degeneration of cells of the retina, beginning with loss of night vision and eventually to complete loss of sight. They can also be prone to some skin conditions.

The Alaskan Malamute is a clean and virtually odorless breed, but they do tend to shed heavily, especially in warmer seasons or climates. Brushing their coat twice a week will assist in shedding and help prevent matting. Be careful to not let this dog overheat in summer months or if you live in a hot climate.

Anecdotal Information

The characteristic vocalizations of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films are based upon a Malamute named “Indiana” once owned by George Lucas.

The mascot for the University of Washington is a Malamute named “Spirit.”

The Alaskan Malamute has had a distinguished history, aiding Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole and the miners who ventured to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush.

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