The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed of dog that was originally bred for their strength and endurance to haul heavy freight as a sled dog and hound.
It is a sled dog developed by the Malemiut, an Eskimo (Inupiat) group from which it takes its name.
They are very fond of people, a trait that makes them particularly sought-after family dogs, but unreliable watchdogs as they do not tend to bark. Malamutes are nimble around furniture and smaller items, making them ideal house dogs, provided they get plenty of time outdoors meeting their considerable exercise requirements.
The average lifespan of the Alaskan Malamute is 10 to 12 years.
The Alaskan Malamute stands about 58 to 63.5 cm (23 to 25 inches) high and weighs 34 to 39 kg (75 to 85 pounds).
The Alaskan Malamute is a strongly built dog, with a broad head, erect ears, and a plumelike tail carried over its back. The eyes of the Alaskan Malamute are almond-shaped and are varied shades of brown – however, the darker eye is preferred.
Its thick coat is usually gray and white or black and white, the colours frequently forming a caplike or masklike marking on the head.
The Malamute dog has had a distinguished history – aiding Rear Admiral Richard Byrd to the South Pole, and the miners who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush of 1896, as well as serving in World War II primarily as search and rescue dogs in Greenland, although also used as freighting and packing dogs in Europe. This dog was never destined to be a racing sled dog; it was used for heavy freighting, pulling hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds of supplies to villages and camps in groups of at least four dogs for heavy loads.
Although it is believed that the first dogs arrived in the Americas 12,000 years ago, people and their dogs did not settle in the Arctic until the Paleo-Eskimo people 4,500 years ago, followed by the Thule people 1,000 years ago, with both originating from Siberia. Malamutes were thought to be bred by the Malemiut Inupiaq people of Alaska’s Norton Sound region.
It is believed that the breed may have been developed with wolf lineage many generations back.
These dogs were used by the Mahlemiut tribe to pull heavy sledges in teams and on hunting expedition trips for seal and polar bear, or as decoys when bear hunting. The point is that the dogs have been bred to be versatile workers, though steadiness and strength are the breed’s strong points. This is in contrast to the smaller Siberian husky, which was bred for speed over the tremendous strength of the supersized malamute.
The interdependent relationship between the Mahlemut and their dogs fostered prosperity among both and enabled them to flourish in the inhospitable land above the Arctic Circle.
Interestingly, the strength of the Alaskan malamute was put to use during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. Prospectors recognized the strength and stamina of these hardworking canines as a real asset when navigating and mining the Klondike for gold.
The Malamute has been identified as a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the 19th century.
In 2010 the Alaskan Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska.
Alaskan Malamutes are still in use as sled dogs for personal travel, hauling freight, or helping move light objects – some, however, are used for the recreational pursuit of sledding, also known as mushing, as well as for skijoring, bikejoring, carting, and canicross. However, most Malamutes today are kept as family pets or as show or performance dogs in weight pulling, dog agility, or packing.
Malamutes are generally slower in long-distance dog sled racing against smaller and faster breeds, so their working usefulness is limited to freighting or traveling over long distances at a far slower rate than
required for racing. They can also help move heavy objects over shorter distances. An adult male Alaskan Malamute can pull around 500–1,500 kilograms (1,100–3,300 lb) of weight, depending on build and training.
Usually, the average price of an Alaskan Malamute puppy from a reputable breeder is between $1,200 and $2,000, while a top-quality Alaskan Malamute puppy can cost as high as $3,000.