The Alaskan Malamute is a large-sized, powerful dog that is strong-willed and independent yet obedient and loving towards its owners. They are a family-oriented dog breed that is friendly towards people but can be overly aggressive towards other animals, especially dogs. These dogs love running and pulling a sled.



History Of The Alaskan Malamute

As its name suggests, the Malamute originated in Alaska, where its original job was hunting big game animals and as a sled dog. Today the Alaskan Malamute is primarily for sled pulling.

Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute, two years old

Like other members of the Spitz family, the Alaskan Malamute started in the Arctic regions and is home to a cold climate. These dogs lived with people known as the Mahlemuts, who lived on Alaska’s northwest coast near the Norton Sound. “Mahlemut” comes from Mahle, a tribal name, and “mutt” means village.



The breed was used for hunting big game, specifically seals and polar bears. The dog’s talent lay in their strength and size rather than speed, so the Malamute would often hunt with several smaller, faster dogs to find the prey. They would then use their great size and strength to drag the carcasses back to their masters’ villages.

The breed likes to be one of the family. They were essential to the survival of the Arctic people. However, the Alaskan Malamute was not pampered like today’s house dog. The Arctic weather can be very unforgiving; if a dog was not helpful for hunting, they were often killed.



Military Service

During World War II, the Malamutes were service dogs used for search and rescue missions, freight haulers, and pack animals. After the war, their numbers continued to grow as the breed became more and more popular. The AKC officially recognized the breed in 1935.

Taking Care of the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a breed at home in cold weather. They love to haul heavy sleds in the snow and can run for miles without stopping. The dog can become frustrated and destructive without proper daily exercise to work these high-energy levels, so outdoor fun and games are necessary.



The Alaskan Malamute has two coats on its body. The undercoat can be up to two inches thick and has an oily, fuzzy texture.  The outer guard coat is rough and protrudes more from the body at the withers but not farther than one inch from the sides.

When at attention, the ears are small in relation to the head and are firmly upright. Compared to the Siberian Husky, developed for speed, the Alaskan Malamute is a heavy dog with a more intimidating demeanor and structure. The initial purpose of the Alaskan Malamute, as well as what the breed standard demands of Alaskan Malamute breeders, is power and endurance.

As Family Pets

These dogs are among the most affectionate dog breeds. For this reason alone, they need lots of human interaction. Although they can sleep outside at night in cold temperatures, they are well-mannered and prefer to be inside and close to the rest of the family. Their heavy coat needs a good brushing twice weekly or daily during shedding season.

Malamutes are extremely devoted to their owners, making them popular family pets but unreliable watchdogs because they don’t usually bark. Malamutes are agile around furniture and other tiny objects, which makes them perfect house dogs—as long as they receive enough time outside to meet their high exercise needs.

Due to their kind demeanor, Alaskan Malamutes frequently participate in animal therapy programs like visiting hospital patients. Letting them play in a baby pool with cold water in the summer will keep them cool if they are year-round outside dogs. They prefer snow in the wintertime.

Health Concerns

The Alaskan Malamute has an average lifespan of between ten and twelve years. The two main health concerns are cataracts and CHD. Minor health problems that may show up are hypothyroidism and chondrodysplasia. Veterinarians suggest that Alaskan Malamute dogs get tested for potential hip, thyroid, and eye problems.

More Information

The Alaskan Malamute Club of America, Inc. is AKC’s parent club for this breed.