The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed of dog that was developed in Alaska and the Arctic regions of Canada. Large and powerful, the Malamute was bred for its endurance in pulling sleds in bad weather. Malamutes have varying coats of gray, black, and tan, but always have a characteristic face mask of lighter fur, which contrasts with the surrounding darker fur. Malamutes are good pets, but they have a lot of energy and need exercise. Although the dog is generally friendly with children and other dogs, its high energy level can make the Alaskan Malamute difficult to train.
Impressive in size, adult Alaskan Malamutes stand approximately 23 to 28 cm (58 to 71 inches). They are known for their muscular body, deep chest and wide face. Their somewhat rough outer coat is frequently mixed and may contain sandy, gray or black colors, and their coats often have white markings. Adults weigh an average of 85 pounds (39 kg), but they can weigh up to 120 pounds (54 kg). Other features include brown eyes, an erect head posture, and a feathered tail that is usually kept curled over the back when the dog is standing.
The Malamutes take their name from an Inuit tribe native to western Alaska called the Mahlemuts. The breed was probably already well developed when Europeans first made contact with this tribe and other native Alaskan tribes. Early explorers always associated the Mahlemuts with their dogs and admired the people and their distinctive breed. Rather than being bred for speed, malamutes were developed for transport and thus inherited a lot of natural energy and stamina. Today, they are even better stored in cooler climates.
Due to their inquisitive nature and high activity level, the best owner of an Alaskan Malamute is someone who is naturally active or enjoys exercise. The malamute requires moderate grooming and has a fairly large appetite. The breed is generally known as a gentle giant, getting along with other adults, children, and dogs. If not properly trained, the Alaskan Malamute can have behavioral issues around other dogs.
Since the Alaskan Malamute was bred for pulling, training classes are recommended to make walking and exercising comfortable for both owner and dog. Well-trained malamutes should not present any other handling problems. Their naturally playful and gentle temperament will be encouraged by frequent exercise. In areas with snowy winters, they are still used as sled dogs for recreation or for sport.