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Alaskan Malamute

Tags: working, Large-sized, Kid-friendly, Challenging for first-time owners, Requires firm, dedicated training

The Inuit tribe of Northeastern Alaska, the Malamute people, wanted a sturdy dog to haul heavy loads through many miles of Arctic snow in sub-zero temperatures. That's what they got with the dog now known as the Alaskan Malamute -- not a sprinter or a racer but a dependable long-hauler with a weatherproof coat. I might resemble a wolf especially in my colors and markings, but there's probably not much truth to the legend: that the Malamutes would stake out female dogs in heat to breed with passing wolves. Rather, I share parts of my gene pool with the Samoyed, the Siberian Husky and the American Eskimo Dog. My great strength with heavy loads really was legendary during the Yukon gold rush, and my breed was recognized by the AKC in 1935.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, devoted family friend
  • Agile and active
  • Dignified
  • Born to run, happy to walk
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Courageous canine
  • Energizer doggie

Report card

  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Independent thinker
  • Dominant toward other dogs
  • Loves kids and vice-versa
  • Novice owners might be challenged with this breed
  • Outdoors enthusiast -- does not tolerate heat well
  • Likes to howl and dig
  • Training must be firm

What to expect

Early, firm and consistent training will get me off to a great start. Make sure I learn to heel on the leash -- I'm a long-hauling sled dog by nature -- or your leash arm will soon be dislocated from the socket. My dense, heavy coat requires twice-weekly brushing. Air conditioning would be appreciated, too, during the hottest time of the year. If you don't have a sled to pull, some vigorous activity like Agility trials will keep me occupied and exercised. And if you do live with snow and can outfit me with a harness, skijoring (the dog is supposed to pull you!) could be a blast.

Watch for

Possible hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, pituitary dwarfism, skin disorders, copper/zinc deficiency.

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