Alaskan Malamute

  • Overview

    Alaskan Malamutes are often confused with Siberian Huskies, a similarly-colored sledding breed. Malamutes are actually harder workers, on whom the brunt of the weight falls.

    Because of their more substantial size, they are slower-moving, but they're built to haul quite a bit of weight for quite a long time. They're also more substantially built, standing about 2 feet tall and weighing up to 100 pounds.

  • Personality

    Although these substantial dogs are hard-working, capable and athletic, they are not ferocious or even effective guard dogs. In fact, they are exceedingly friendly. They much prefer to goof around in the snow with their owners or affectionately greet strangers as new friends than defend their turf. Alaskan Malamutes are used to hauling cargo with sled teams of other dogs, sometimes dogs of different breeds, so they're conditioned to get along well with other dogs. Their pack mentality means that unless they have a dominant, firm owner, they'll try to become the alpha dog in the household. Training should emphasize the Alaskan Malamute's role in the household and teach him to obey his master before trusting his own instincts.

    Alaskan Malumutes require quite a bit of stimulating exercise each day to stay trim and healthy and to avoid destructive behaviors. They love to poke around in the trash and slide their noses over kitchen counters for an extra bite to eat, so a preoccupied Malamute means a happy household. They have a distinctive bark that sounds more like a train engine than a howl, and they aren't afraid to use it if they are left home alone or if they feel they've been neglected.

  • Coat Care

    Alaskan Malamutes have oily outer coats that wick away moisture and trap warm air to keep the dogs warm in absolutely frigid, sub-zero temperatures. Their coat is thick, coarse and heavy, and it sheds fairly consistently, but it isn't overly long.

    All Alaskan Malamutes have distinctive, striking white markings. Their white markings frame their face like a mask or an outline. The feet, legs and underbelly are usually white. Otherwise, Alaskan Malamutes are gray, black, sable or red.

Alaskan Malamute
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Brushing your dog two or three times a week with a slicker brush and a metal rake comb will help cut back on the amount of hair he drops around your house, but twice a year, he'll blow his coat. During those times of heavy shedding, you'll have to brush him almost daily to keep on top of the amount of hair he's losing.

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Alaskan Malamutes are unique because they are mostly odorless. They also have the cat-like habit of licking their paws and bellies clean, so they do not need to be bathed very often. In fact, keeping the coat natural helps trap in the oils that keep Malamutes warm and dry.

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Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, it is simple to give your dog a haircut and save expensive trips to the groomer.

Dogs with double coats generally require regular trimming. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him.  Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use trimmers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Trim around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, if needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Trim with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Corgis, Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas and Collies have sensitive ears that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If your dog is prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.