General AppearanceThe Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume. The Malamute must be a heavy boned dog with sound legs, good feet, deep chest and powerful shoulders, and have all of the other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job. The gait must be steady, balanced, tireless and totally efficient. He is not intended as a racing sled dog designed to compete in speed trials. The Malamute is structured for strength and endurance, and any characteristic of the individual specimen, including temperament, which interferes with the accomplishment of this purpose, is to be considered the most serious of faults.
Size, Proportion, SubstanceThere is a natural range in size in the breed. The desirable freighting sizes are males, 25 inches at the shoulders, 85 pounds; females, 23 inches at the shoulders, 75 pounds. However, size consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. When dogs are judged equal in type, proportion, movement, the dog nearest the desirable freighting size is to be preferred. The depth of chest is approximately one half the height of the dog at the shoulders, the deepest point being just behind the forelegs. The length of the body from point of shoulder to the rear point of pelvis is longer than the height of the body from ground to top of the withers. The body carries no excess weight, and bone is in proportion to size.
HeadThe head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue Eyes are a Disqualifying Fault. The ears are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault. The skull is broad and moderately rounded between the ears, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes, rounding off to cheeks that are moderately flat. There is a slight furrow between the eyes. The topline of the skull and the topline of the muzzle show a slight break downward from a straight line as they join. The muzzle is large and bulky in proportion to the size of the skull, diminishing slightly in width and depth from junction with the skull to the nose. In all coat colors, except reds, the nose, lips, and eye rims' pigmentation is black. Brown is permitted in red dogs. The lighter streaked "snow nose" is acceptable. The lips are close fitting. The upper and lower jaws are broad with large teeth. The incisors meet with a scissors grip. Overshot or undershot is a fault.
Neck, Topline, BodyThe neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.
ForequartersThe shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.
HindquartersThe rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.
CoatThe Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.
ColorThe usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red. Color combinations are acceptable in undercoats, points, and trimmings. The only solid color allowable is all white. White is always the predominant color on underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and acceptable. The Malamute is mantled, and broken colors extending over the body or uneven splashing are undesirable.
GaitThe gait of the Malamute is steady, balanced, and powerful. He is agile for his size and build. When viewed from the side, the hindquarters exhibit strong rear drive that is transmitted through a well-muscled loin to the forequarters. The forequarters receive the drive from the rear with a smooth reaching stride. When viewed from the front or from the rear, the legs move true in line, not too close or too wide. At a fast trot, the feet will converge toward the centerline of the body. A stilted gait, or any gait that is not completely efficient and tireless, is to be penalized.
TemperamentThe Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a "one man" dog. He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful in invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity.
IMPORTANT: In judging Malamutes, their function as a sledge dog for heavy freighting in the Arctic must be given consideration above all else. The degree to which a dog is penalized should depend upon the extent to which the dog deviates from the description of the ideal Malamute and the extent to which the particular fault would actually affect the working ability of the dog. The legs of the Malamute must indicate unusual strength and tremendous propelling power. Any indication of unsoundness in legs and feet, front or rear, standing or moving, is to be considered a serious fault. Faults under this provision would be splay-footedness, cowhocks, bad pasterns, straight shoulders, lack of angulation, stilted gait (or any gait that isn't balanced, strong and steady), ranginess, shallowness, ponderousness, lightness of bone, and poor overall proportion. Disqualifications Blue Eyes
Alaskan Malamutes are a very people friendly breed and demand a lot of attention. They are a very pack-oriented breed and therefore do best when included in the family rather than shut outside away from the rest of the "pack." Since they are pack oriented, Malamutes are generally not a "one-man" dog. They are an extremely intelligent breed that can be very stubborn and easily bored. They are not typically recommended to a first-time dog owner as mistakes are easy to make and sometimes hard to correct unless you really know what you are doing. They can be a challenge to train, due to their stubbornness. It is said that to teach a Malamute to do something once or twice is very easy, because they are quite intelligent and quickly learn new tasks. To get them to repeatedly do something over and over again is much more challenging, due to their stubbornness and the fact that they become easily bored. This trait is quite common in all of the northern breeds. The sheer size of the Malamute can become an obstacle to novice dog owners. Many Malamutes end up in the pound and even destroyed because an owner fell in love with the cute puppy but could not control the large, stubborn, powerful adult.
Owing to their strong pack nature, Malamutes can be more aggressive towards other dogs than other breeds. Because of this, great care should be taken on the part of the owner to socialize their Malamute puppy as much as possible with other dogs.
Due to the character of the Malamute, they should never be trained ( NEVER USE A SHOCK COLLAR ) to be protective, vicious, or aggressive. Their very nature makes them lousy watch dogs. It is against their instincts to make them into watch or guard type dogs. It has been tried in the past with disastrous results. They are a visual deterrent only, as the uninitiated may be hesitant to approach property or family in the company of such a large, impressive looking animal. However, Malamutes are as likely to greet a potential thief as warmly as a trusted family member. This is part of what makes a Malamute a Malamute.
The Alaskan Malamute is generally a very good family dog. They seem to enjoy the company of children, though common sense must be used when mixing any dog with young children. They are a very powerful dog and children should not be left in total control of the dog. Alaskan Malamutes are generally patient by nature and will tolerate young children fawning over them, but this should be strictly supervised for the sake of the dog as well as the child. With this in mind, since Malamutes love attention, well behaved children get along wonderfully with well mannered and socialized Malamutes.
Coat and Grooming
The Alaskan Malamute is a double coated breed. This coat consists of a woolly undercoat and longer guard hairs. Twice a year, Malamutes "blow" their undercoats, that is, they shed their undercoats completely. It is a very intense shedding period that can last weeks from start to finish. The good news is that this only happens twice a year. The remainder of the time, Malamutes are relatively shed free. The bad news is that the shedding period can be rather messy. The hair comes out in large and small clumps. Lots of vacuuming and brushing are in order.
The Alaskan Malamute is a very clean and relatively odor free dog. It tends to clean itself like a cat. Even when a Malamute becomes covered in mud, it will clean itself. Therefore, bathing needs are minimal. Some owners only bathe their dogs once a year or less.
Other than during coat-blowing season, the Malamute needs very little grooming. Trimming of the hair around the pads and feet to keep them neat is recomended and shaving of the coat not recommended. Regular brushing to remove dead hair and keep the coat fresh and shiny is required. Their nails should be checked and kept short, a dremel works best..
Alaskan Malamutes are happiest when they can share in family activities. The best arrangement is one in which the dog can come in and out of the house of its own free-will, through a dog door. Outside, the dog should have a large, fenced yard. The fence should be strong and at least 6 feet tall. It is also a good idea to bury wire in the ground to discourage digging out. Malamutes are notorious diggers. It is usually best to set up a sand box somewhere in a shaded part of the yard and encourage digging there, if possible. Malamutes should not be allowed to roam the neighborhood. If one chooses to kennel a Malamute, the kennel should be chain link, with a concrete run, and should be large enough for an active larg dog. It should be at least 6 ft high with chain link or roof across the top of the kennel and it should be in a shaded location.
Because the Malamute is an arctic dog, it can remain outside in very cold weather. However, it should be provided with shelter from the elements in the form of a insulated dog house, straw bedding is perfect for a Malamute that spend most of it's time outside.
Training Alaskan Malamutes can be a challenge. With this breed, it is important to start young. Establish rules of the house early, and make sure that the puppy knows that you are in charge. For example, if you do not want the dog on the bed as an adult, do not allow it as a puppy. The rule of thumb is that if you train a dog to do something, expect him to do it. Therefore, if the puppy learns that certain things are allowed, it will be difficult to train them not to do them as adults. Things that are cute as puppies may not be all that cute when the dog weighs 80 lbs or more.
Since Malamutes are pack-oriented, it important to establish yourself as the head of the pack, or alpha, very early. Once you do this, the dog will respect you and training will be much easier. It is best to enroll in a puppy training class soon after your dog is home and has all of its vaccinations. This training is good for the dog and for you as the owner, as it will help you understand your new puppy and establish you as alpha very early in the puppy's life, which is extremely important with this breed. Once you have completed the puppy class, and have been working with the dog for a few months, a basic obedience class is a must.
Obedience training this breed can be very interesting and extremely challenging. Many owners will complain that their dogs act perfectly in class, but will not obey at home. This breed is intelligent enough to differentiate situations very well, and will apply different rules of behavior for different situations. You must stay on top of the dog and maintain control ( NEVER USE A SHOCK COLLAR ), which is easier to do while the dog is of manageable size than with a stubborn adult that has been allowed to get away with undesirable behaviors for a long time. Malamutes are extremely intelligent working dogs. People often mistake the fact that they can be difficult to train as a sign of stupidity. Malamutes are very clever and easily bored. The key to training them is to keep them interested and to challenge their intelligence. A Malamute probably knows what you want him to do, he just may not want to do it!
Never use a shock collar to train a Malamute, this is a cruel abusive training tool that should be outlawed! We have outlawed the electric chair, why would anyone torture their dog in such a manor! Aggressive training only gets aggression in return! If you are someone that is mentally, physically and/or emotionally incapable of train a dog by normal obedience and socialization skills, you should not own a dog!
It is very important to remember that Alaskan Malamutes are a working breed, they need something to do. Putting them in the backyard and tossing them a bone and expecting them to be happy is a very bad idea. They need a lot of exercise and interaction to be happy. The exercise can come in the form of frequent walks, hikes, playing, obedience, agility, rally and weight pulls. Malamutes make wonderful hiking companion, and with a dog pack, can carry food and water.
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