The Alaskan Malamute is a majestic and powerful breed of dog known for its strength, endurance, and gentle nature. They are sometimes mistaken for Siberian Huskies but you can tell the difference by looking at their considerably fluffier coat, wider head, perky ears, and plume-shaped tail that is carried over their back. Quick fact: Malamutes were raised to be powerful to pull heavy loads while Huskies were raised to be fast and pull lighter loads.
Originating from Alaska, this canine breed has a rich history deeply intertwined with the native Inuit people. The breed’s name is derived from the Mahlemiut, Inuit people who resided in Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska. With their striking appearance and remarkable capabilities, Alaskan Malamutes have captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. If you are thinking of training an Alaskan Malamute for service dog duty there are things you should know!
Alaskan Malamute Size
One of the most distinctive features of the Alaskan Malamute is its impressive size. These dogs are large and robust, with males typically weighing between 75 to 85 pounds (34 to 39 kilograms) and standing around 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 centimeters) at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller but still impressive in stature. Their muscular build and heavy bone structure make them well-suited for pulling heavy loads, which was one of their primary tasks in the past.
The Alaskan Malamute possesses a thick, double coat that provides excellent insulation against the harsh Arctic climates they were bred to withstand. Their coat consists of a coarse outer layer and a dense undercoat, which helps them stay warm even in freezing temperatures. These dogs come in a range of colors, including various shades of gray, black, and sable. Their expressive almond-shaped brown eyes, set wide apart, often display a friendly and playful gaze.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good With Other Animals and People?
If you plan on taking a service dog to public settings like your local shops, the mall, or the local dog park you need to know that these canines require a firm and loving hand. The Alaskan Malamute puppies have to be socialized from an early age and as often as possible. The specimens can be domineering and they are essentially pack animals. You need to teach them you are the leader of the group and they will follow.
The Malamute dogs are very adaptable and they do well with other dogs. Malamutes have been described by dog trainers as highly intelligent but also independent and willful which can be perceived as stubbornness sometimes. Beneath their formidable appearance, Alaskan Malamutes have a gentle and affectionate disposition. They are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families. They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being an integral part of the household. While they may appear imposing, their friendly and sociable nature makes them poor guard dogs.
What to Expect at Home
Malamutes have a strong pack mentality and get along well with other dogs when properly socialized from a young age. However, their instinctual prey drive can make them unsuitable for homes with small animals such as cats, rabbits, and small birds. They have a strong work ethic and thrive on physical activity, requiring regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. These canines are very high-energy and should be allowed at least two hours of active playtime and walking or running outside. Activities such as hiking, sledding, or pulling a cart are ideal outlets for their energy if you live in an area that permits this.
The Mals are known to love digging and so you need to make sure your fence goes at least one foot (30 centimeters) into the ground. Additionally, keep in mind that the Alaskan Malamute is unable to live comfortably in apartments and we recommend them only to people with a medium-sized house with a properly fenced yard. The Malamute is good with children if they are shown respect and we do not recommend leaving them unsupervised during playtime with children.
The canines of this breed shed moderately and will require weekly grooming. If you have poor hand control you may need to use professional grooming services. The Alaskan Malamute is long-lived and can reach 13-14 years. We recommend doing hip evaluation and Ophthalmologist evaluation twice a year.
The Alaskan Malamute as a Service Dog – Will It Work?
The powerful build of the Malamute combined with their endurance, makes them well-suited for sledding and other dog-powered activities. However, it is important to note that their independent nature can sometimes make training a significant challenge. The service dog training for an Alaskan Malamute may involve training them to pull a wheelchair, assist in opening doors, carrying groceries, and potentially training them to do Deep Pressure Therapy if their temperament is sufficiently mellow. Consistent and patient training methods and using positive reinforcement yield the best results with this intelligent breed.
The Mals are not made for hot climates and will not enjoy the summer heat so you may need to invest extra care in keeping them properly cooled. Their large size is not suitable for buses and most public transportation services. Most Mals have a strong prey drive and will not be very responsive in areas with wildlife like big city parks and national parks.
In short, most specimens of the Alaskan Malamutes breed do not appear to have a suitable temperament for service dog duty. Service dogs need to be very responsive to commands, go well with other animals and you must be confident you can leave them unsupervised for a short period without fear of them becoming out of control.
In conclusion, the Alaskan Malamute is a remarkable canine breed with a rich history and striking appearance. Their strength, endurance, and gentle nature make them beloved companions for those who appreciate their unique qualities. Whether as a working dog or a beloved family pet, the Alaskan Malamute continues to leave an indelible mark on the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world. If you are looking to train them and build upon their temperament we would recommend the Therapy Dog Training Course. Alaskan Malamute puppies can be purchased from verified breeders via the AKC Marketplace and the dedicated Alaskan Malamute Club of America. Of course, you can always look for rescues in shelters and give a gentle soul a new forever home.