Alaskan Malamute

AKC Working Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Alaskan Malamute was originally used 2,000 to 3,000 years ago by the Mahlemuit Eskimos of Alaska. The dogs helped hunt large animals and were the only form of transportation for the Eskimos. They pulled light traveling sleds and hauled heavy loads, including food supplies. The dogs were highly valued but never pampered. Almost lost from interbreeding during the Alaskan Gold Rush, the breed was recovered. Later, the Malamute went with Admiral Byrd’s 1933 expedition to the South Pole. This breed has amazing strength, endurance, and heart.


The Alaskan Malamute is a large, strong, heavy-boned Arctic dog with a thick, coarse double coat and a well-furred plumed tail held over the back. The breed is built for endurance and strength, not for speed. The powerful chest is about half as deep as the height at the shoulder. The feet are furry and have tough pads. The head is broad with erect ears and brown, triangular, wide-set eyes (the eyes should never be blue). There should be a slight furrow between the eyes.

The Alaskan Malamute has a double coat made of a coarse, outer-guard coat and a dense, wooly, oily undercoat. Colors are white, black and white, wolf gray, wolf sable (red undercoat with dark gray outer coat), or red, often with darker highlights and sometimes with a dark mask or cap. White is the only solid color allowed. All the other colors should be in combinations, with white as the predominant color on the underbelly. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar is a plus. For every coat color, except the reds, the rims of the eyes, the nose, and the lips should be black. A scissors bite is standard. In some areas, dogs may be either smaller or larger than the official standard.

Key Facts

  • Height: Males 25 to 28 in.; females 23 to 25 in.
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: Averages 85 to 100 lbs. (male); 70 to 90 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: Might take some effort to find
  • Talents: Search and rescue, sledding, carting, weight pulling, and sled racing


Beware of puppy-mill dogs as health and temperament problems are occurring. This breed can be difficult to housebreak. The Malamute likes to roam in what he considers to be his territory, so he must have a well-fenced yard. Massively heavy shedder during his shedding periods. Quiet compared to most dogs, but likes to howl. Can be a digger. The Malamute should be supervised around unfamiliar small animals, as he has a strong prey instinct. However, Malamutes have been known to raise small kittens as their own. The Malamute’s coat allows him to withstand extreme cold, but care will be needed to keep the dog cool in hot climates. The Malamute should be given shade and plenty of cool water. Proper socialization with people and other dogs is imperative. Obedience training is highly recommended. Both sexes can be very combative with other dogs, especially with the same sex and breed. Generally a very hardy dog, the Malamute lives to about 12 years, which is a fairly long life span for a large breed. Prone to hip dysplasia (but no more than other large breeds and less than many) and chondrodysplasia, a type of dwarfism. Require PennHIP or OFA hip-dysplasia clearance, current CERF or OFA eye clearance, and ChD (dwarfism) certification of both parents.


A rambunctious puppy, this breed is great with children who are old enough to play with him safely. Generally matures into a dignified and mellow adult. Very friendly—not suitable as a guard dog. Malamutes are happiest living outdoors as long as they receive enough companionship, but they also enjoy living indoors where their human “pack” lives. Without attention, these dogs may become destructive nuisances. In one case, a single dog ruined an entire living room of furniture valued at $15,000 in just three hours! Malamutes love outdoor activities and even do well in obedience with firm encouragement. Although it can be difficult to train Malamutes for formal obedience, it is not particularly hard to train them to be well-mannered because they love to please. Males can be very dominant.


  • Children: Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness: Loves everyone
  • Trainability: Fairly difficult to train
  • Independence: Very independent
  • Dominance: Fairly high, especially males
  • Other Pets: Might be aggressive with dogs of the same sex; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness: Very dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Likes to howl
  • Indoors: Fairly active indoors
  • Owner: Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Double off-standing (“puffy”) coat
  • Shedding: Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging: An excellent jogging companion.
  • Apartments: Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space: Best with a large yard
  • Climate: Best in cooler climates
  • Longevity: Average 10 to 12 yrs.

Useful Links

AKC® Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard

Alaskan Malamute Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute Gifts