Breed Information

Alaskan Malamute Breed Information

Weight: 70-198 pounds


  • Mellow, but playful
  • Eager to please
  • Loves children and people in general

Ideal Human Companions

  • Cold-climate dwellers but do well in warmer climates
  • Outdoorsy types
  • True dog lovers who spend a lot of time with their dogs

What They’re Like to Live With

Alaskan Malamutes may look like lone wolves, but they could be funny, playful and friendly. They love to goof around, play games and be rowdy. As Alaskan Malamutes mature they do become more mellow and easygoing, but they never really lose touch with their inner-puppy. Take them outside any day and they’ll frolic with the best of them. They love to play tug-of-war or with tennis balls. Almost any outdoor activity that you enjoy, they will participate in. They enjoy
hiking, camping, boating, sledding and pulling. While they do possess intimidating looks, they have no real guard-dogging qualities. They are very friendly and outgoing. They rarely see a stranger.
Malamutes have tons of hair.  They should be brushed weekly to keep the hair floating around your home to a minimum. Malamutes do better when other animals are present in the home, as they are the “Pack Animals”.

Things You Should Know

As you can tell from looking at them, Malamutes prefer cooler temperatures. If you happen to live in a warmer climate, keep your Malamute in the cool indoors or in the shade on hot days. Give them plenty of cool water to drink.  Or a kiddie pool to stay cool in. They can drink an unusual amount of water in hot weather. Mine love to have a swim before their naps. They will thank you for it.

The Northern Group of dogs is a direct descendant of the rugged northern wolf (Canis lupus). This group, like their undomesticated ancestors, maintained the characteristics that protect from the harsh environment of the upper European countries. Weather-resistant coats protect from the rain and cold. There is a long, coarse outer-coat that sheds snow and rain and a dense undercoat that insulates against subzero temperatures. These coats are especially abundant around the and mouth should the animal be forced to sleep in the snow. Small prick ears are not as easily frostbitten or frozen as the large and pendulous ears of some of the other breeds. The muzzle has sufficient length to warm the frigid air before it reaches the lungs. Leg length is sufficient to keep the chest and abdomen above the snow line. Tails were carried horizontally or up and over the back rather than trailing behind in the snow.  (Jane Holabach)

Bred to  run great distances, Alaskan Malamutes are very active and need lots of exercise.  They might not do well in  an apartment unless exercised regularly. Ideally, they should have a big yard with a high fence. Be warned, these dogs like to dig. So unless you don’t want some cheap landscaping done in your yard, a Malamute may not be for you. Most of our dogs don’t dig and the ones that do are either trying to catch a mole or are nesting, getting ready to whelp. Some of
them dig a 10 foot trench trying to catch a mole. Malamute to roam around and patrol the borders. Our dogs walk our fence line daily.   

A healthy Malamute can live as long as 15 years. The oldest living Malamute on record was over 20 years old.

They shed fairly heavily in the spring and fall. Malamutes possess a “double coat” which is nothing but two layers of coat  called a topcoat (long “guard hairs”) and an undercoat (a layer of thick, downy fuzz next to their skin under the guard hairs). The undercoat acts as an insulator and grows thick during winter so that they shed and be discarded during spring and summer. Generally, the male dogs only shed heavily in spring and summer. But the females frequently shed at the time of their estrus or heat cycle also. Malamutes do not have that “wet dog” smell like other dogs do. Regular bathing is unnecessary as the Malamutes coat sheds dirt readily and the dog is clean and has little odor. They are a very clean dog, grooming themselves frequently. Some of my dogs go to bed filthy dirty from swimming in the pond and wake up squeaky clean. The Malamute Bath Fairy must come in the night and bathe them.~

The Alaskan Malamute was ranked 58th out of 174 dog breeds in 2004 AKC registrations.

There is only one known health survey of Alaskan Malamutes, a 2004 UK study. The median lifespan of 10.7 years measured in that survey is very typical of a breed their size. The major cause of death was cancer (36%). However, Malamutes in the US typically have longer life spans (12.6 yrs) and less genetic issues than those in the UK, since the UK population stemmed from a smaller number of imports with a higher proportion of inbreeding. Much anecdotal evidence suggests they have on average one of the longest lifespans of large dogs, up to 15 years.

Who Needs a Malamute?

After all, he will excavate your backyard, chew up your favorite shoes, get lost easily, and will howl if ignored.

Who deserves a Malamute?

Only someone who can keep him safely confined, exercised, trained sufficiently, fed and groomed for his life time.

What is a Malamute Really Like?

Of the three arctic breeds (Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes) he is the largest. His strength and endurance are second to none. As a puppy, he is affectionate and full of life. Chewing is one of his bad habits, therefore, crate training is recommended when you are unable to supervise him indoors. He may argue about leash-breaking but he is highly intelligent and will learn quickly, enjoying the camaraderie and exercise from daily walks. He will learn to relinquish his food and toys on command, but these lessons must be accomplished with fairness and patience. As an adult, he is majestic and dignified, strong-willed and self-confident. He may be reserved with strangers.

The Malamute loves children but, like all large dogs, should be supervised during interaction. He is unsuitable for guard work, although the size alone will discourage intruders. It is not unusual for a Malamute to become intolerant of other dogs of the same sex; therefore, caution must be exercised when introducing him to other canines, regardless of their size.

Now That You Have Him, What Will You Do With Him?

Because he is independent and smart, he may be a little harder to train than other breeds, but don’t become discouraged. He is true athletic dog with which you can enjoy sledding, weight-pulling, back-packing, jogging, hiking, swimming, or almost any outdoor activity you enjoy.

The Malamute cannot be allowed to grow up lacking controlled socialization with humans and animals, or he may become dominant over people he doesn’t respect and aggressive with other dogs and cats. A sensible combination of love and discipline will result in a devoted, trustworthy companion.

For his general care, the Malamute should be fed a high-quality diet. His body should be trim and hard with no excess fat. He should receive yearly inoculations and be checked for parasites regularly. Your vet should likewise check his ears and teeth with each visit. While not a high-maintenance dog, the Malamute coat should receive regular brushing to remove dead hair. Bathing is occasionally necessary to remove dirt and oil to keep the coat in a healthy, shining condition.

-Alaskan Malamute Club of America-

The Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard

General Appearance

The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume. The Malamute must be a heavy boned dog with sound legs, good feet, deep chest and powerful shoulders, and have all of the other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job. The gait must be steady, balanced, tireless and totally efficient. He is not intended as a racing sled dog designed to compete in speed trials. The Malamute is structured for strength and endurance, and any characteristic of the individual specimen, including temperament, which interferes with the accomplishment of this purpose, is to be considered the most serious of faults.

Size, Proportion, Substance

There is a natural range in size in the breed. The desirable freighting sizes are males, 25 inches at the shoulders, 85 pounds; females, 23 inches at the shoulders, 75 pounds. However, size consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. When dogs are judged equal in type, proportion, movement, the dog nearest the desirable freighting size is to be preferred. The depth of chest is approximately one half the height of the dog at the shoulders, the deepest point being just behind the forelegs. The length of the body from point of shoulder to the rear point of pelvis is longer than the height of the body from ground to top of the withers. The body carries no excess weight, and bone is in proportion to size.


The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue Eyes are a Disqualifying Fault. The ears are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault. The skull is broad and moderately rounded between the ears, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes, rounding off to cheeks that are moderately flat. There is a slight furrow between the eyes. The top-line of the skull and the top-line of the muzzle show a slight break downward from a straight line as they join. The muzzle is large and bulky in proportion to the size of the skull, diminishing slightly in width and depth from junction with the skull to the nose. In all coat colors, except reds, the nose, lips, and eye rims’ pigmentation is black. Brown is permitted in red dogs. The lighter streaked “snow nose” is acceptable. The lips are close fitting. The upper and lower jaws are
broad with large teeth. The incisors meet with a scissors grip. Overshot or undershot is a fault.

Neck, Top-Line, Body

The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.


The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.


The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.


The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.


The usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red. Color combinations are acceptable in undercoats, points, and trimmings. The only solid color allowable is all white. White is always the predominant color on underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and acceptable. The Malamute is mantled, and broken colors extending over the body or uneven splashing are undesirable.


The gait of the Malamute is steady, balanced, and powerful. He is agile for his size and build. When viewed from the side, the hindquarters exhibit strong rear drive that is transmitted through a well-muscled loin to the forequarters. The forequarters receive the drive from the rear with a smooth reaching stride. When viewed from the front or from the rear, the legs move true in line, not too close or too wide. At a fast trot, the feet will converge toward the center-line of the body. A stilted gait, or any gait that is not completely efficient and tireless, is to be penalized.


The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a “one man” dog. He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful in invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity.


IMPORTANT: In judging Malamutes, their function as a sledge dog for heavy freighting in the Arctic must be given consideration above all else. The degree to which a dog is penalized should depend upon the extent to which the dog deviates from the description of the ideal Malamute and the extent to which the particular fault would actually affect the working ability of the dog. The legs of the Malamute must indicate unusual strength and tremendous propelling power. Any indication of unsoundness in legs and feet, front or rear, standing or moving, is to be considered a serious fault. Faults under this provision would be splay-footedness, cowhocks, bad pasterns, straight shoulders, lack of angulation, stilted gait (or any gait that isn’t balanced, strong and steady), ranginess, shallowness, ponderousness, lightness of bone, and poor overall proportion.

Disqualifications: Blue Eyes

Illustrated Coat Color Guide

Black and White

Seal and White

Gray and White

Red and White

Sable and White

Silver and White

Blue and White

Pure White




A cap of color covers the top of the head and the ears, usually comes to a point in the middle of the forehead.


Dark areas under the eyes, extending sideways to the cap.


The dark area extending from the center point of the cap down the nose.


A combination of a cap and googles.

Full Mask

A combination of a cap, mask and bar.

Eye Shadow

Dark marking under the eyes that do not extend out to the cap.


A small white spot in the center of the forehead.


A white mark extending from the center point of the cap back up the forehead. Width and length can vary.

Open Face

A cap covering the head with no other markings on the face.

Closed Face

Dark color covering the face with no white markings on the face.

Chest Markings


White band across the chest forming a pattern resembling the eagle emblem.

Neck Markings


White band of color encircling the neck.

Wither Spots

White marks varying in size but centered at the withers or at the base of the neck.

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