The Alaskan Malamute: Powerhouse of the Tundra


One of the oldest breeds of Artic sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute is named after the native tribe of Innuits, known as the Mahlemuts, who were first discovered using these powerful sled dogs as draft animals to haul sledges across the frozen ice and snow. Since their discovery, the Alaskan Malamute has been known, above all else, as a sled dog and a working animal. This is for good reason; rather than being bred for delicacy or beauty, the Alaskan Malamute is bred for strength, stamina and power – they are the workhorses of the Artic.

Related to other Artic breeds, such as the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed, the Malamute is the only one to have developed in Alaska. How he came to be there is unknown for, like the tribe of native people that the breed is named for, the exact origins of the Malamute remains shrouded in mystery. It is known, for a fact, that the Alaskan Malamute was present, however, for many years prior to the Asiatic sailors first landing on the Alaskan shores and reporting back of the strong sledding dogs being used in this frozen land.

For a time, with the influx of the white man, the Alaskan Malamute breed was at severe risk of being lost. The newcomers brought their own dogs with them, who then interbred with the native dogs. Also, with the rising interest in the sport of sled dog racing, the desire for faster animals was also created. Together, these factors led to a period during the early 1900ís, coined the ìAge of Decay of the Artic Sledge Dog.î Fortunately, by the year 1926, American breeders had decided to preserve this unique breed of dog and protect it from further taint.

While many breeds of dog are often refined once they become recognized, the Alaskan Malamute breed standard stresses that this animal is to be judged based on his ability to perform the tasks that he was originally bred for. Bred for strength and endurance rather than speed, the breed is actually faulted for being too lightly built or quick-looking. They are a powerfully-built dog with a broad chest, muscled hindquarters, and strong, thick-boned legs. The Malamuteís beautiful coat is dense and well-suited to protect him from the harsh Artic winds and, while it comes in a wide variety of colors, the only solid shade that is recognized is pure white. Their almost wolf-like appearances endear them in the hearts of many, as well as the proud way that this dog has of carrying himself – they are truly a beauty to behold, even if they are not bred to be just another pretty face.

Few who have had the privilege of knowing an Alaskan Malamute have many complaints; they are a proud and noble beast, extremely affectionate and are not prone to being one-person dogs. Malamutes are openly friendly to most and possess a strong desire to work and to please, quick to jump into the harness and throw those powerful shoulders into any task set before them. Malamutes are, occasionally, known to have problems with hunting smaller animals, such as birds and cats. For this reason, it’s best to supervise any interactions with a new dog or, even better, to start with a puppy and raise him with the other animals of the house.

While the Alaskan Malamute is bred as a powerful workhorse of a dog, he is extremely loving and very gentle. Treating him with a kind hand and lavishing lots of praise upon him are sure to win his devotion, and you’re sure to be enchanted by his outgoing, playful nature. The Malamute is a definite heart stealer – there is no avoiding this; you have but to meet one and you’ll fall in love.

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One comment

  1. I love Malamutes! I had a Malamute named Nanook when I was younger. She was an awesome dog, and I have great memories of her.

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