Playful Extrovert, the Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed

a team of alaskam malamutes pulling a sled

Known as arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan malamute dog breed is a hard-working breed with a fun-loving, energetic personality. These pack animals love their families and can be very good with children. Despite their size and wolf-like appearance, the malamute is no guard dog. They love people and other animals and make friends easily.

Alaska Malamute vs Siberian Husky

What is the difference between the Alaskan malamute and the Siberian husky? According to the AKC, huskies are “racers” who were bred to carry loads at fast speeds, while malamutes are “freighters” who were bred to carry heavy loads at slower speeds.

Huskies and malamutes are distant cousins, the AKC says, and they are also related to the Samoyed.

What are the differences between Alaskan malamute and Siberian huskies?

  • Coat: Mals have a thick double coat, and huskies have a smoother coat of all one length and texture.
  • Ears: Mals’ ears point forward, while huskies’ ears are upright.
  • Size: Huskies are slightly smaller than malamutes. Malamutes average 75 to 85 pounds, and huskies top out around 60 pounds.

Do Alaskan Malamutes Bark a Lot?

Malamutes aren’t known to be barkers, but they can be vocal. Their barks can sound more like howls. These pack dogs can experience loneliness and separation anxiety when left alone for long periods, which can lead to barking, howling and destructive behaviors. To deter separation anxiety and loneliness barking:

  • Walk or exercise your dog before leaving it alone.
  • Use window coverings to remove sights that trigger excessive barking (like passersby).
  • Play a radio, television or smart speaker to drown out triggering noises.
  • Schedule a dog walker/sitter to check on your dog or take it for mid-day walks.

Facts About Alaskan Malamutes

The Alaskan malamute is a muscular dog that was bred to withstand Alaska’s cold temperatures and haul heavy loads. These are large dogs, weighing 75 to 85 pounds. They do very well in colder climates and in habitats where they can run, play and dig — Alaskan malamutes love to dig.

  • Size: Females stand about 23 inches and average 75 pounds, and males stand about 25 inches and average 85 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: They live 10 to 14 years.
  • Coat: Malamutes have a thick double coat that’s waterproof and requires daily brushing. They are seasonal shedders. See below for more information on this breed’s grooming needs.
  • AKC group: Working dogs

Are Alaskan Malamutes Easy to Train? Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Dogs?

Mals are great dogs. They’re playful and they love to be around people. Because they’re eager to please, they can be easy to train if you use positive reinforcement.

When training an Alaskan malamute with positive reinforcement, reward them with healthy dog training treats as some dogs can be prone to weight gain. Even an active dog like the Mal can overeat.

Mals are known diggers! They love to dig and they are very happy when their owners provide them their own space to dig. Learn more about why dogs dig and how to train them to stop or curb their drive to dig.

This is a dog breed that does well in a fenced-in yard and on a leash. Because Alaskan malamutes love people, they might not make for the best guard dogs. Their size and appearance can make them seem intimidating; however, they’re people dogs who make friends everywhere they go.

Do Alaskan Malamutes Need Grooming?

The Alaskan malamute’s coat is waterproof and thick. It’s made of a softer undercoat and a coarser outer coat. They are seasonal shedders and need to be brushed every day. Some experts say malamutes need to be bathed weekly, while others say they bathe their mals every few weeks. Bathing needs depend on how much time your dog spends outside. Defer to your vet’s recommendation for bathing your mal, as over-shampooing can dry the skin.

Trim or grind the malamutes’ nails regularly, especially if they spend more time indoors than outdoors. Active dogs that spend a lot of time on pavement, concrete, gravel or hard surfaces might need fewer manicures. Our blog post on nail grinding and trimming contains tips and recommendations for DIY nail grooming.

Do Alaskan Malamutes Shed?

This dog breed is a heavy seasonal shedder. They have a coarse and thick outer coat that somewhat hides a wooly undercoat, which can become matted if you don’t brush them regularly.

What If My Breed Is an Alaskan Malamute Mix?

When breeders mix the Alaskan malamute with other breeds, they try to get the best of both breeds. For example, a high-shedding breed like the malamute bred with a low-shedding breed could produce the perfect pet. Of course, you’re never guaranteed perfection, and much of a dog’s temperament is affected by his parents’ genetics as well as his owners’ training and environment.

Here are a few mixes to consider with the Alaskan malamute:

Resource Links for More Alaskan Malamute Info

Alaskan Malamute Club of America (AKC-approved)

Alaskan Malamute Club of Canada

Malamute Rescue — Alaskan Malamute Assistance League

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