An Online Guide to Alaskan Malamutes
Hi! My name is Amelia Beare, and I created this website many years ago as part of a class project. It has come to my attention that a lot of people visit this site as a resource for information about the beautiful Alaskan Malamute breed. I am really excited to discover that my project has been useful to people, but I must assure visitors that I am not an expert, and that most of this information comes from books I've referenced throughout the site. I've had Alaskan Malamutes for 15 years and am close to losing my last and dearest friend to old age. My experience is first-hand, and absolutely biased by love and adoration of my beloved companions, Kulan (deceased) and Spirit (now very old). I often write about my dog and share pictures of her on my blog, and you're very welcome to visit and make contact with me directly at ameliabeare.com. :)

The Family Pack:

The Alaskan Malamute is especially sensitive to the protocols and dynamics of the pack; from habits to hierarchy, the Malamute is perhaps more aware of it than their human pack members.

Ideal family dogs, Illustrated by Tana Hakanson
Malamutes are ideal family dogs.
Illustrated by Tana Hakanson
From the first day, whether a puppy or an adult, the new Malamute in the family will not rest until it has established where it fits in the pack order. Ignoring its need to know its place, and neglecting your role as leader - or alpha - will encourage the Malamute to assume that role itself. Even as young as a puppy the Malamute will recognise wavering resolve, and for the sake of the dog, as well as yourself, it is best to remain resolute, even in the face of a bumbling, tumbling puppy. Don't wait to begin training your puppy, you won't be doing the young Malamute any favours by pandering to its 'cuteness'.

Firm, consistent and assertive handling from patient owners will foster a calm, happy Malamute who understands where in its pack it belongs (Siino 1997).

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Development:

Puppyhood - The puppy arrives blind and immobile, almost completely helpless and dependant in the first few weeks on its mother's care for food, warmth, and survival. Its eyes open at four or five weeks and attempts are made to interact with its environment, all the while under the constant supervision of its mother.

At eight weeks the puppy is weaned and ready to find a new home with another family, eagerly learning through the next few months the ropes of housebreaking, the basic training commands, and the dynamics of their new pack.

Adolescence - Between four and six months the puppy enters adolescence, losing the chubby puppy appearance and gaining longer legs, bigger ears, and a teenager's frustrating disposition. Adolescence is as much a trial on the young Malamute as its owners, and for all the same reasons the phase is difficult on human teenagers and their families.

As the puppy gets bigger, it can take longer walks and begin more intensive training, as well as preliminary exercises in sledding exercises it is destined for such things as an adult.

Sharing experiences with the adolescent Malamute will channel the dog's energy and forge a strong relationship later in life. It can be a trial, but if you keep your sense of humour, this, too, shall pass (Siino 1997).

Maturity - As the Malamute is a large breed, it takes longer to mature than smaller varieties of dog. It can take two years to reach physical maturity, and years more to complete mental development. By five or six the Malamute should be fully mature and ready to settle into its adult life.

Which is not to say the Malamute will slow down much as an adult. It may lose the frustrating qualities of selective deafness inherent in adolescence, but it will be just as eager to exercise. For its human counterpart, it will be an easier stage in the dog's life, and, hopefully, the most lasting.

Some say five or six years of age is the ideal time to bring a Malamute into the home, and given the easy nature of the breed, this may suit some people more than others, forgoing the trials of a Malamute teenager (Siino 1997).

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Training:

Boredom breeds a destructive Malamute, Illustrated by Tana Hakanson
Boredom breeds a destructive Malamute.
Illustrated by Tana Hakanson
It takes a village to raise a Malamute. In the days of the Mahlemuts, these dogs lived in the village with their humans and other dogs, belonging, perhaps, to one family, but obedient to all. Malamutes are rarely 'one-man' dogs, and certainly prefer the company of many. As such, when embarking on training for your Malamute, it is important to agree, as a family, as to how the dog will be trained; including words and gestures for basic commands, ensuring all members of the pack (including the dog) - 'speak' and understand the same language.

Consistency is key.

Make training positive, fun, and interesting, for yourself as well as your Malamute. Keep the training sessions brief and frequent rather than one long half hour to an hour. The Malamute is intelligent and learns quickly, but becomes easily bored with repetition, evidenced by a stubborn streak that may require extra convincing to perform the same trick yet again (Siino 1997).

It is best to incorporate training sessions with your Malamute in every day activities. Get your Malamute to sit and wait before he can eat. Require he sit or lay down before he comes inside. If there is something your Malamute wants - be it a treat or affection - require your dog obey you before receiving their reward. In this way the Malamute's training is not only consistent, but constant, rather than relegated to certain times and situations, which may result in a dog who is obedient only at certain times and in certain situations.

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