The Alaskan Malamute is the oldest and largest of the Arctic sled dogs and they have a long and illustrious history. They were chosen by the Mahelmuts tribe for their stamina and endurance as they used them for hunting and hauling their catch across their villages. These beautiful dogs are considered a natural breed and as such humans have had very little impact on how these dogs have evolved over time. They have been used for centuries as working dogs hauling sleighs carrying freight across the Alaskan Continent. Even today they are used for endurance-based recreational activities.
Due to their personality traits and characteristics, Malamutes make great domestic pets. Their powerful stature and independent personality definitely make them great for families but they cannot be left alone for more than a few hours or they’ll start to get bored. They need to be trained and socialized from an early age or they will be a nightmare. Unfortunately, due to the demanding nature of these dogs, they often end up in rescue centers because people just cannot look after them and give them the loving care and attention they need.
So, if you’re interested in getting an Alaskan Malamute, here are our 7 reasons why they’d make good domestic pets.
Their loving nature
Malamutes are a super gentle and loving breed. They are very fond of people which makes them perfect family dogs and therapy dogs. Due to their loving nature, Alaskan Malamutes are often used as therapy dogs in hospitals or with children. Another great thing about Malamutes is that they are relatively quiet and when they do vocalize they tend to do so by howling or “talking” which can make them quite entertaining.
You’d be forgiven for thinking these dogs make great guard dogs, but sadly as they love human interaction and are rather docile it makes them pretty unreliable for this. The most they will do for your property in terms of protection is intimidate possible trespassers.
Their physical appearance
Alaskan Malamutes have strong athletic frames beneath their thick coat of fur, which is one of their defining characteristics. Malamutes have a dual coat of fur. Their underneath coat is soft and insulating which is great for cold climates where they thrive, and their topcoat is coarse. Due to this, they do shed quite heavily.
Malamutes have been used to pull sleds throughout history which means they are incredibly powerful and they have great stamina. They are large dogs with facial features that can be likened to that of a wolf although they are not related. The average Alaskan Malamute can weigh around 80 pounds. Due to their size and imposing figure, many people are often scared of them but actually, there really is nothing to be afraid of. They are softies at heart.
Alaskan Malamutes are often too intelligent for their own good. They are smart and tenacious, and training a Malamute can be challenging. You need to be tough and keep up with your training techniques as it can take between 25 to 40 repetitions for your Malamute to grasp the command.
Alaskan Malamutes have been known to test their owners as well as question your authority, so you’ll want to establish your dominance over them early on so that they gain your respect. If you don’t, they won’t be afraid to walk all over you. Due to their intelligence, Alaskan Malamutes are known to manipulate their owners when they want something. Some Malamutes may even try different things to see how you’ll react, this shows they definitely know what they are doing. Although they require high amounts of mental stimulation to stop them from getting bored, the easiest way to do this is to take them out for long hikes, runs, or walks.
An Alaskan Malamutes’ loyalty is second to none, simply because they are pack dogs. Unlike other breeds the malamute isn’t just loyal to a single person, they are loyal to the whole family. It’s this loyalty that leads them to be protective of the family, especially children or the more vulnerable members. This protectiveness if not formed into the correct behavior from an early age can quickly spiral out of control. They also have a natural instinct to lead the pack, and unless you insert your dominance they will rule the roost, which can lead to control issues and possible aggression. If you prove you’re the alpha and the leader they will forever be your friend.
Alaskan Malamutes struggle with small dogs, animals, and very small children, this is due to their natural prey instincts. However, don’t let this put you off as early socialization and training is the key to keeping these behaviors in check. Malamutes are extremely friendly towards humans. After all, they’ve worked alongside them for centuries and they thrive on being within a family unit. When raised properly they can be an absolute joy to be around.
Despite their intimidating appearance, these dogs love a cuddle which makes them great with children, but as with all large breeds of dog, you should never leave your Alaskan Malamute alone with a child. Experienced Malamute owners will suggest that they are best for families of children over the age of 10. Malamutes are notoriously territorial when it comes to food so be wary of this and make sure your child doesn’t try to take food off them.
Alaskan Malamutes aren’t independent in the sense that you can leave them alone all day while you’re at work. They are more independent thinkers. This independent streak will often lead them to be curious and unless you have a very high, solid fence around your yard, be mindful that they will escape if left unsupervised.
Alaskan Malamutes will easily find things to do if they get bored, are left alone all day, or don’t get the exercise they require. You’ll want to try and avoid leaving them for more than a few hours on their own as they tend to turn to destructive behaviors like chewing (walls, sofas, toys) or digging when they get bored. Exercising them sufficiently before leaving them is a good way to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Alaskan Malamutes are working dogs so they constantly need mental stimulation and need plenty of exercise especially when growing up. Whether that’s through brain training, walking, running, or recreational sports like sledding, skijoring, or canicross. But for the most part, your Alaskan Malamute will be happiest when it’s with its family. You’ll also want to give your Malamute a job to do whilst they exercise as this is what they are bred for and you’ll also find they’ll enjoy it a lot more too.
So, do Alaskan Malamutes make good pets?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes do make good pets, but they aren’t for everyone. They are great family pets and would be perfect if you love the great outdoors and are very active yourself.
Their intelligence combined with their stubbornness can make them challenging pets for first-time owners and those not savvy in dog behavior. As long as you are aware of their needs and the lifetime commitment you need to make then there is no reason these fun-loving dogs wouldn’t be a perfect choice. Remember to take into consideration these factors before making the commitment:
- They are working dogs and will require a minimum of 2 hours of hard exercise a day.
- They require at least 3 hours of your undivided attention per day.
- They are ‘lifestyle’ dogs which means they are high maintenance but they are also highly rewarding.
- They are great with children over the age of 10.
- They tend not to bark but they will howl and ‘talk’ a lot when bored or as a way of expressing themselves.
- They are best suited to houses with large yards and cooler climates. If you live in a hot country then air conditioning is paramount.
- You are best to get them as puppies so that training can be established early.
- They aren’t huge fans of smaller dogs or animals but early socialization will help combat their natural prey instincts.