About Alaskan Malamutes
Following is information from a sheet we provide to all who purchase Kaviak puppies. It was developed in part from a booklet put together by NCAMA. I hope this information is useful to you as you research this magnificent breed. Malamutes aren't for everyone. Carefully consider the following information as you determine whether an Alaskan Malamute is the right companion for your family.
A big key to understanding the malamute lies in knowing the background of the breed. Malamutes originally were the workhorse of native Inuit eskimos who were a peaceful, nomadic people living in extremely harsh conditions. While these dogs served as companions to adults and children, the Inuits primarily viewed their dogs as hunting partners, freight pullers and pack animals. These were primitive dogs surviving in the harshest climate possible; there was no place for "pets" on the frozen tundra, so the malamute evolved as a tough, survival-oriented animal. The malamute of today is still very close to these primitive origins and this is often reflected in his behavior.
The malamute is friendly and playful by nature. Malamutes bond well with children, but they should always be supervised during play--no exceptions. Malamutes are large and energetic, and injuries to young children are almost always accidental. Children should NEVER be allowed to abuse or mishandle these dogs and if they are to have a healthy relationship, they must learn how to properly handle and care for them.
Malamutes make ideal companions for the athletic person or outdoor sports enthusiast. They excel in many activities, including skijoring, hiking, sledding, packing and biking. Malamutes enjoy exercise and social interaction, and they require fenced space and room for activity. Too much confinement or isolation will cause a malamute to become restless and destructive. Malamutes--puppies especially--have a tendency to chew. All malamutes enjoy digging. They are not typically a noisy breed, but they do often howl, and most will vocalize while dinner is being prepared. While the malamute is too friendly to make a good guard dog, the dog's size and appearance is often imposing to potential intruders.
Malamutes have a high prey drive and can be a menace to small animals such as cats, smaller dogs and rabbits. While malamutes acquired as puppies can be successfully raised with an existing family dog or cat, they usually are not tolerant of strange animals with which they come into contact. A certain degree of aggression toward other dogs is common in the breed, especially toward dogs of the same gender. Do NOT expect your malamute to get along with every strange dog he meets! The responsible owner will ALWAYS have his malamute under control in a fenced yard or on a leash to avoid problems. While these dogs enjoy outdoor activity, your malamute will be miserable if he is isolated or confined to the back yard constantly. Like all dogs, malamutes are pack animals that crave and require social contact. Responsible and loving owners will want their dog to live in the house as a member of the family.
Although the malamute is friendly and affectionate, he is also dominant and independent, and can become quite a handful if not properly socialized and trained. It is important to remember that temperament is part genetic and part learned. This means that a good temperament can be ruined by poor treatment or lack of proper socialization and training. It is your responsibility to shape your dog's behaviors from the moment you bring him into your home. Your malamute's behavior--good or bad--is dependent on the training and socialization you give him. Consistent training and intense socialization beginning in early puppyhood are critical to ensuring that your malamute is a "canine good citizen" and will provide you with the most satisfying companionship possible. Malamutes require a lot of love AND a lot of discipline. Harsh training methods are not effective; the responsible owner is both patient and consistent, correcting the wrong behavior and rewarding good behavior. Controlled socialization and gentle but firm training should begin the moment the puppy arrives home. Your puppy will require patience, love and consistency in your training methods. It is required that you enroll your puppy in puppy kindergarten, followed by a formal obedience course.
Any good quality PREMIUM dry dog food provides a good diet for a malamute. I feed my dogs twice daily (morning and evening), and I moisten the meal with cool water in summer and warm water in winter before I give it to them. Canned dog food should only be used as a supplement, if it is used at all. I prefer a dry formula that provides 24% (or more) protein and 15% (or more) fat. Good brands that are readily available include Eukanuba, Purina Pro Plan and Eagle Pack. Keep your new puppy on a high quality adult maintenance formula to ensure steady, even growth. Fresh protein foods like cottage cheese, plain yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, small amounts of boiled liver (occasionally), boiled chicken and lightly browned hamburger are a welcome treat that can be added to the dry meal to enhance health and enjoyment. These additions should not exceed 10% of the dog's total diet. I often give my dogs canned mackerel as an inexpensive, healthy supplement to their meals. My dogs also enjoy fruits and vegetables--carrots and apples are their favorite. A multivitamin tablet (such as Pet-Tabs) is a healthy daily addition for adult dogs. A frozen raw knucklebone or femur is an inexpensive treat that provides several hours of enjoyment and cleans the teeth. Always supervise your dog when chewing bones to ensure they do not shear off and swallow small pieces. Caution: some sources recommend adding garlic to the daily meal for parasite control. Do NOT do this! Not only is this an old wives' tale, as garlic has no effect whatsoever on parasites, but garlic (and similar foods, like onions) can cause fatal anemia in dogs. One breeder lost her malamute to this anemia after giving him small daily doses of garlic for years.
Your malamute should always have access to shade and fresh water, especially during summer. When it's hot out, I provide my dogs with a plastic kiddy bathing pool and refresh the water in it daily. If temperatures rise to dangerous levels, bring your dog inside into the air conditioning. Remember that nothing is more dangerous to a dog than sudden, unseasonable heat. If you have an extremely hot day when it's been cool recently, it's best to keep your dog inside.
A sturdy insulated doghouse must be provided to ensure shelter from the elements when the dog is outdoors. I also highly recommend providing your dog with a den inside your home by giving him/her a 400- or 500-size airline crate. You can help the dog get used to the crate by feeding him/her in it. You will find that your dog will enjoy the crate and be in and out of it often. The crate will be a tremendous help to you during housetraining, as well.
Your malamute will enjoy daily walks or runs for as long a distance as you wish to go--the more physical activity you can give your dog, the better. Use caution when the weather is hot; walk your dog in the evening or early morning to avoid high temperatures.
Please take your new puppy to the veterinarian for a physical exam within 72 hours of bringing him/her home, and then annually after that. Provide your veterinarian with the sheet I've given you that lists the vaccines and worming medicines that the puppy has so far received. Please be sure to complete the puppy series of shots at your veterinarian's instruction, and continue to booster these shots throughout your dog's life as recommended by the new vaccination protocols.
The New Complete Alaskan Malamute; Riddle/Harris
The Alaskan Malamute, Yesterday and Today; Brooks/Wallis
Any book by Ian Dunbar
www.alaskanmalamute.org (Alaskan Malamute Club of America)