Historical ties with wolves:
Does the malamute contain a wolf strain? Some believe not; that the modern Malamute has no more ties to wolves than any other breed, assured by the Malamute's dependable temperament that the breed is 'all dog'. Others suggest that domestic dogs herald either from wolves, or had a common ancestor, due to the ability of dogs, wolves, and even jackals to successfully interbreed and produce fertile offspring.
It seems certain that wolves played a role in the development of the northern breeds, and it widely known that the Eskimos would occasionally tether a bitch in season where male wolves might cover her, thus strengthening the breed. Whether there is truth to this 'common knowledge' is unknown. However, today's Malamute is entirely domestic, sharing only some colouring similar to the wolves and very little else (LeKernec 1998).
Thick coats protect against cold.
Illustrated by Tana HakansonThough every dog breed contends with the errors of irresponsible breeding, there exists a unique and unfortunate dilemma for Alaskan Malamutes - Wolf/Dog hybrids.
Malamutes are often mistaken for wolves because of their size and colouring, and thanks to Hollywood's use of the smiley-faced Malamutes as wolves on television and in movies. They have thus become the ideal breed in misguided attempts to breed a wolf with the temperament of a dog. Genetics, however, does not work that way.
With few exceptions, the hybrid offspring is unpredictable and unstable, and all too often poorly-treated by their breeders, before being homed with status-seeking individuals who have no business living with a wolf hybrid, never mind a domestic dog.
Hybrids tend to be large, powerful animals with destructive propensities and predatory reflexes that makes them dangerous around children.
Most cannot be trained nor housebroken, and are entirely inappropriate as household pets.
All too often hybrids are found beaten and imprisoned, or dumped, and end up in shelters where there is little to no possible chance of being successfully re-homed. In such cases euthanasia is the kindest solution.
The problem actually became so prevalent in the early 1990s that communities began banning hybrids, and those trying to sell them started registering them as Malamutes instead. Unfortunately for the Malamute, the breed is judged against the behaviours of wolf-dog hybrids, and many communities have labeled them as being too dangerous, thus banning them too. When a hybrid bites, the Malamute is blamed, and many Malamute enthusiasts fear the situation will eventually lead to the breed's undoing (Siino 1997).
The Alaskan Malamute is a big-hearted domestic dog that may or may not have past affiliations with the wolf. However, to consider it a near relative now is a disservice to the breed whose affinity for human companionship outweighs and overrules any physical resemblance to wolves.