Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute

Table of Contents

The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a large and powerful breed known for its strength, endurance, and dignified presence. Originating from Alaska, they were bred by the Mahlemut Inuit tribe for heavy freight pulling and have a thick double coat, wolf-like features, and a plumed tail carried over the back. Males typically stand 25 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 85 pounds, while females are slightly smaller. Their coat comes in various shades of gray and white, sable and white, or all white, and they have a broad, powerful head with erect ears and deep, almond-shaped eyes.

Alaskan Malamutes are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions, though not necessarily good watchdogs due to their amiable disposition. They are highly intelligent and independent, traits that can sometimes translate into stubbornness, making consistent, firm training essential. This breed thrives on regular exercise and enjoys activities like hiking, pulling, and sledding, which cater to their historical working background. Socialization from an early age is important to manage their strong prey drive and tendency to be dominant with other dogs. Despite their size, Malamutes are known to be gentle and playful, fitting well into active families who can meet their exercise, grooming, and companionship needs.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

10 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level

Very High

Best For

Alaskan Malamutes are best suited for active owners who can provide them with ample exercise and mental stimulation, aligning with their high energy and working heritage. They thrive in environments where they can engage in activities like hiking, pulling, and outdoor play. Due to their independent and strong-willed nature, they are ideal for experienced dog owners who understand the need for consistent training and socialization.

Alaskan Malamute Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Alaskan Malamute is a large, powerful breed with a thick double coat, known for its endurance, strength, and friendly, affectionate nature. They are intelligent and independent, requiring consistent training and ample exercise to channel their energy and working instincts effectively


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Alaskan Malamute boasts a sturdy, muscular build with a thick, weather-resistant double coat, predominantly in shades of gray, black, and white, often with distinctive facial markings. They feature a broad head, erect triangular ears, and a plumed tail that curls over their back, creating a wolf-like, majestic appearance.

1. Ears
Malamutes have medium-sized triangular ears with slightly round tips that point forward.
2. Eyes
Mals have brown, almond-shaped eyes with a curious and friendly expression.
3. Nose
An Alaskan Malamute puppy or dog typically has a black nose, except for red-and-white dogs, who have brown noses.
4. Height
Male: 25 inches
Female: 23 inches
5. Coat Length
An Alaskan Malamute is double-coated—the top coat is coarse and thick, and the undercoat is oily and wooly. Their fur is shorter on the sides and longer on the back and shoulders and legs.
6. Coat Color
Malamutes can be all white, but usually, they’re a combination of white with gray, silver, black, sable or red markings.
7. Tail
The typical Alaskan Malamute has a furry tail that looks like a plume and curves around their back when they’re not working.
8. Weight
Male: 85 pounds
Female: 75 pounds

Alaskan Malamute Temperament

The Alaskan Malamute is known for its friendly, outgoing, and affectionate temperament, making it a beloved family companion. These dogs are known for their loyalty and playful nature, often forming strong bonds with their human family members. Despite their large size, they are often gentle and good-natured, showing patience and a friendly demeanor towards both adults and children.

Malamutes are intelligent and independent, traits that can sometimes lead to stubbornness. This independence means they require consistent, firm training from an early age. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and require patience and persistence from their owners. Due to their strong prey drive and tendency to be dominant with other dogs, early socialization is also crucial.

These dogs are active and thrive on exercise, making them well-suited to active families or individuals who enjoy outdoor activities. They are not well-suited to being left alone for long periods, as they can become bored and destructive. Their friendly nature generally makes them poor guard dogs, as they are more likely to greet strangers with enthusiasm rather than suspicion.

In summary, the Alaskan Malamute’s temperament is characterized by friendliness, loyalty, and playfulness, coupled with a dose of independence and intelligence. They require an owner who understands their need for exercise, training, and companionship.

How to Care for a Alaskan Malamute

Caring for an Alaskan Malamute involves providing them with regular, vigorous exercise to match their high energy levels and working dog heritage. They need consistent, firm training and early socialization due to their intelligence and independent nature. Additionally, regular grooming is essential to maintain their thick double coat, and they thrive in environments where they can be active and engage with their family.

Grooming an Alaskan Malamute is an important part of their care routine, due to their thick double coat:

  1. Brushing: Frequent brushing, ideally several times a week, is necessary to manage shedding and prevent matting, especially during their heavy shedding seasons in the spring and fall.

  2. Bathing: Bathe your Malamute only as needed – typically every few months – as overbathing can strip natural oils from their coat. Use a dog-specific shampoo to keep their fur and skin healthy.

  3. Nail Trimming: Regular nail trimming is important to prevent discomfort and maintain good foot health. Check and trim their nails every few weeks.

  4. Ear Cleaning: Clean their ears regularly to prevent wax buildup and infections, particularly since they can be prone to ear issues.

  5. Dental Care: Incorporate regular dental care, including teeth brushing and providing dental chews, to maintain oral health.

  6. Paw Care: Check their paws regularly, especially in winter, as ice and snow can accumulate between their toes, and in summer to ensure their pads are not burnt on hot surfaces.

Proper grooming not only keeps an Alaskan Malamute looking good but also promotes overall health and provides an opportunity to check for any signs of health issues.

Training an Alaskan Malamute effectively involves understanding and adapting to their unique breed characteristics:

  1. Start Early: Begin training and socialization at a young age. Malamutes are intelligent and learn quickly, but their independent nature can make early training essential for manageable behavior later on.

  2. Consistency and Patience: Due to their intelligence and independent streak, consistent and patient training is crucial. They may not respond as quickly to commands as some more eager-to-please breeds.

  3. Positive Reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and play. Harsh methods are not effective and can damage your relationship with your Malamute.

  4. Socialization: Socialize them with various people, animals, and environments to develop a well-rounded temperament. This is especially important to manage their strong prey drive and tendency to assert dominance over other dogs.

  5. Mental Stimulation: Include activities that provide mental stimulation, such as advanced obedience training, agility courses, or problem-solving games, to keep their minds engaged.

  6. Leash Training: Effective leash training is important for safe and enjoyable walks, given their size and strength.

  7. Addressing Stubbornness: Be prepared to deal with moments of stubbornness. Finding what motivates your Malamute, be it treats, toys, or praise, can be key in overcoming these moments.

  8. Avoid Repetitive Training: They can get bored with repetitive tasks, so vary your training routines to keep them interested and engaged.

Remember, each Malamute is an individual with its own personality and learning style. Adapting your training methods to suit your specific dog will yield the best results. Regular, enjoyable training sessions strengthen your bond and ensure a well-behaved companion.

Caring for the diet and nutrition of an Alaskan Malamute involves several key aspects:

  1. Balanced Diet: Provide a high-quality, well-balanced diet suitable for large, active breeds. Look for dog food that caters to their energy levels and nutritional needs, and consider foods formulated specifically for larger breeds.

  2. Portion Control: Monitor their food intake to prevent obesity, a common issue in large breeds. Follow feeding guidelines based on their age, weight, activity level, and adjust portions as necessary.

  3. Regular Feeding Schedule: Maintain a consistent feeding schedule, typically two meals a day for adult dogs, to help with digestion and weight management.

  4. Treats in Moderation: Treats should be given sparingly and accounted for in their total calorie intake. Opt for healthy treat options.

  5. Access to Fresh Water: Ensure they have continuous access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise.

  6. Special Dietary Needs: Be aware of any specific dietary requirements or sensitivities your Malamute may have. Some may require a special diet due to health issues or food allergies.

  7. Regular Weight Checks: Keep an eye on their weight and adjust their diet as needed. Obesity can lead to health issues, particularly in large breeds.

Consulting with a veterinarian can provide guidance on the specific nutritional needs of your Alaskan Malamute, ensuring they receive a diet that supports their overall health and lifestyle.

Caring for the exercise needs of an Alaskan Malamute involves a mix of physical activity and mental engagement:

  1. Regular Physical Exercise: Malamutes are energetic and require daily exercise to maintain their health and happiness. Activities like brisk walks, hikes, and playtime in a secure area are ideal.

  2. Mental Stimulation: They are intelligent dogs and benefit from mental challenges. Incorporate training exercises, puzzle toys, and games like hide-and-seek to keep their minds active.

  3. Activities that Mimic Working Tasks: Given their sled-pulling heritage, activities like weight pulling, sledding, or skijoring can provide excellent physical and mental exercise.

  4. Avoid Overheating: With their thick double coat, Malamutes are prone to overheating. Exercise them during cooler parts of the day and provide plenty of water.

  5. Consistency: Establishing a consistent exercise routine helps maintain their physical health and manage potential behavioral issues.

  6. Socialization Through Exercise: Socializing with other dogs during walks or play sessions is beneficial, but interactions should be supervised due to their strong prey drive.

  7. Appropriate for Age and Health: Adjust the type and intensity of exercise according to their age and health status, especially as they grow older.

Regular exercise tailored to their size and energy level is essential for keeping an Alaskan Malamute healthy, content, and well-behaved. It not only aids in their physical development but also in maintaining their mental well-being.

Creating an ideal environment for an Alaskan Malamute involves accommodating their specific breed characteristics:

  1. Spacious Living Area: Malamutes are large, active dogs and thrive in environments where they have ample space. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is ideal for them to exercise and play.

  2. Indoor Family Time: Despite their size, Malamutes are family-oriented and should live indoors with their human family, not isolated outside. They enjoy being involved in household activities and can be quite affectionate.

  3. Mental Stimulation: Provide plenty of mental stimulation through interactive toys, training, and engaging activities. They are intelligent and thrive on challenges.

  4. Climate Consideration: Their thick coat makes them well-suited for cooler climates. In warmer climates, it’s important to provide a cool, shaded area, and limit exercise during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating.

  5. Regular Exercise Routine: Establish a consistent routine for daily exercise to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated.

  6. Secure Environment: Due to their strong prey drive and tendency to roam, a secure environment is essential to prevent them from wandering off.

  7. Comfortable Resting Area: They should have a comfortable place inside the house to rest and sleep, preferably a cool area in warmer climates.

By considering these factors, you can create a living environment that caters to an Alaskan Malamute’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, ensuring they are a happy and healthy companion.

Alaskan Malamute Health

The Alaskan Malamute is generally a robust and healthy breed, but like all large breeds, they are prone to certain health issues. Awareness and proactive care can help ensure their well-being:

  1. Hip Dysplasia: This is a common condition in large breeds where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, potentially leading to arthritis. Weight management and regular veterinary check-ups can help manage this condition.

  2. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): Malamutes are at risk for bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and may twist. Recognizing the signs and seeking immediate veterinary care is crucial.

  3. Chondrodysplasia: A genetic disorder affecting bone and cartilage development, leading to dwarfism and other deformities. Responsible breeding practices help minimize this risk.

  4. Hypothyroidism: This condition, where the thyroid gland is underactive, can lead to issues like obesity, lethargy, and skin problems.

  5. Cataracts: Malamutes may develop cataracts, which can impair vision. Regular eye exams are recommended.

  6. Skin Issues: Due to their dense coat, they can be prone to skin irritations and hot spots, which require attention to grooming and diet.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise are key in maintaining an Alaskan Malamute’s health. Early detection of potential health issues through routine health screenings is crucial for their well-being. As with all breeds, responsible breeding practices are important to minimize the risk of genetic health problems.

Alaskan Malamute Breed Comparison & Consideration

When considering an Alaskan Malamute, it’s important to compare them with other breeds to understand their unique traits and how they might fit into your lifestyle:

Alaskan Malamute vs. Siberian Husky:

  • Siberian Huskies are smaller and more agile than Malamutes. They are known for their endurance and speed rather than strength.
  • Malamutes are larger and stronger, originally bred for heavy pulling. They have a more laid-back personality compared to the more energetic Husky.

Alaskan Malamute vs. German Shepherd:

  • German Shepherds are highly trainable and versatile, often used in working roles such as police and service dogs.
  • Malamutes are less focused on pleasing their owners and more independent, making them less adaptable to varied training roles.

Alaskan Malamute vs. Labrador Retriever:

  • Labradors are generally more adaptable and sociable, making them great family pets and suitable for first-time dog owners.
  • Malamutes, with their strong independence and physical strength, require an experienced owner who can manage their size and exercise needs.

Alaskan Malamute vs. Saint Bernard:

  • Saint Bernards are comparable in size but are typically more relaxed and less active than Malamutes.
  • Malamutes require more exercise and mental stimulation and are more independent in nature.

Considerations for Choosing an Alaskan Malamute:

  • Ideal for owners who can provide ample exercise and enjoy outdoor activities.
  • Requires consistent, firm training and early socialization, especially to manage their strong prey drive.
  • Not recommended for first-time dog owners due to their size, strength, and independent nature.
  • Needs a cool climate or accommodations in hot weather due to their thick coat.

In summary, the Alaskan Malamute is a loyal, affectionate, and powerful breed best suited for experienced owners who understand and appreciate their need for exercise, training, and companionship. They are a great fit for active households that can provide them with the physical activity and mental engagement they require.


Malamutes can struggle in hot climates due to their thick double coat. It’s important to provide them with a cool environment, shade, and plenty of water, and to limit their exercise during the hottest parts of the day.

Generally, Malamutes are good with children, displaying patience and gentleness. However, due to their size, interactions with small children should always be supervised.

While Malamutes can adapt to apartment living, they are best suited to homes with more space, such as a house with a yard, due to their size and exercise needs.

Malamutes require a significant amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily vigorous exercise like long walks, hikes, and play sessions are ideal.

Despite their size and intimidating appearance, Malamutes are generally too friendly to be effective guard dogs. They are more likely to greet strangers than to guard against them.

Malamutes have a strong prey drive, which can be managed with proper training and socialization. They should be supervised around small animals.

Common health concerns include hip dysplasia, bloat, and thyroid problems. Regular veterinary check-ups are important.

Yes, Malamutes are known for their independence, which can sometimes be perceived as stubbornness. This trait requires a consistent and firm approach to training.

While they can be trained for such activities, their independent nature might not make them the best candidates for competitive obedience or agility where quick responsiveness is key.

Regular brushing, at least weekly, is needed to manage their thick coat, along with occasional baths and routine nail trims. They shed heavily twice a year.

Top Takeaways

When considering an Alaskan Malamute, here are the top takeaways:

  1. Suitable for Cold Climates: Alaskan Malamutes are well-adapted to colder climates thanks to their thick double coats. In warmer climates, they require special care to avoid overheating.

  2. High Exercise Needs: They are a high-energy breed that requires ample daily exercise, making them ideal for active families or individuals who enjoy outdoor activities.

  3. Independent and Strong-Willed: Malamutes are known for their independent nature, which can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. Consistent, firm training from an early age is essential.

  4. Friendly and Social: Despite their size and strength, Malamutes are known for being friendly and sociable, both with their families and strangers, making them poor guard dogs but great companions.

  5. Large Size: Their large size requires ample living space, making them more suitable for homes with yards rather than small apartments.

  6. Regular Grooming Needs: Their thick coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and manage shedding, especially during seasonal changes.

  7. Good with Children: Generally good with children, showing patience and playfulness, but interactions should always be supervised due to their size.

  8. Strong Prey Drive: They have a strong prey drive and should be monitored around small animals; early socialization can help manage this trait.

  9. Not Ideal for First-Time Owners: Their size, exercise needs, and independent temperament make them a challenging breed for first-time dog owners.

  10. Health Considerations: Awareness of breed-specific health issues like hip dysplasia and bloat is important for early intervention and care.

In summary, the Alaskan Malamute is a loyal, affectionate, and active breed best suited for experienced owners who can provide the exercise, training, and space they need. Their friendly nature and impressive appearance make them a popular choice, but they require commitment to their physical and mental well-being.

Top Alaskan Malamute Names

These names capture various aspects of the Alaskan Malamute’s personality and appearance, from their strength and resilience to their majestic and serene nature.

Female Names











Male Names











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