Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan MalamuteAlaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is the sled dog that was described by early Euro-American explorers. They gave the impression of being powerfully built. Their deep, chest and and strong, well-muscled body that ended with a bushy tail that was carried well over the back. Consequently the tail resembled a waving plume. Today, the Alaskan Malamute should still display their active, but proud appearance.  

History of the Alaskan Malamute

Eskimo (Inuit) Family with a MalamuteEskimo (Inuit) Family with a Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute shares a common heritage with native arctic dogs found along the north western shores of Alaska. By the 1800s when the Euro-Americans first arrived in what is now Alaska, dog sleds had become an essential means of winter transport. This expanded to include general exploration, trapping, hauling supplies and later, mail delivery. Consequently, dog powered sleds and toboggans travelled together in dog-trains averaging 25 - 50 miles a day.

The Alaskan Malamute Becomes a Pure Breed

Alaskan MalamuteAlaskan Malamute

On March 30, 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million. Then gold was discovered. By 1896, dog sleds had become even more significant for hauling not only food and freight, but also gold mining equipment. As the demand for gold increased, so did the price of dogs! Meanwhile, before Alaska became a possession of the United States, a Inuit tribe called the Mahlemuts had settled along the shores of north-western Alaska. It was from these people the name Alaskan Malamute originated.

Breed Records of the Alaskan Malamute begin in 1935 when the Alaskan Malamute Club Club of America was first formed. However, the initial lines came to a halt during World War Two but were revived in the late 1940s.

An early woman sled dog owner said:

"The Malamute is too fine and distinguished a breed to be changed into anything but what centuries of adaptability to its environment has produced. Our efforts should be to breed not only beautiful Malamutes, but as good specimens physically as were originally found in Alaska. It isn't a question of breeding a better Malamute, but as good an Alaskan Malamute."[1] 

However, it would be 1994 before the American Kennel Club finally approved the current Breed Standard.

History of the Alaskan Malamute in Australia

Alaskan Malamute pupsAlaskan Malamute pups

Records show that first Alaskan Malamute to be imported into Australia came from the USA via New Zealand in 1978 and was owned by Irene Gates. There is no further information about this dog or what Irene did with him. However, when a second dog came Australia also via New Zealand in 1978 it was a different story. This dog was also bred in the United States, but his name was H.O.T.'s BURAN (the abbreviation H.O.T.'s stood for House of Treasures). This dog went to Yvonne Harris and she showed him through to his New Zealand Championship show title. She then leased him to Australians Merilyn Syme and Mick Mooney who showed him through to his Australian title in fine style, winning several Best Exhibit in Groups as well as Best Opposite Sex in the Non-sporting Group at Sydney Royal 1979.

Alaskan MalamuteAlaskan Malamute

By the time BURAN was returned to Yvonne, she had arranged to import more Malamutes into New Zealand. From her first litter, the only bitch became 'Ch Chimo Silver Noon'. In 1981, she was mated to H.O.T. BURAN. The resultant litter of eight was the first Malamute litter to whelped in Australia. Also in 1981, 'Snow Eagle of Highnoons' came here from UK and went to Delia and Ron Wells. In 1983 three more came here from America and went to Max Wortman. Together, these pioneered Australia's Alaskan  Malamutes[2].

The Alaskan Malamute Today

Alaskan MalamuteAlaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a powerfully built dog with distinguishing  face markings. Its friendly, affectionate character makes it a loyal, devoted companion.The desirable size is height at shoulder dogs, 63.5 cm (25 ins) and bitches 58.5 cm (23 ins) and weight dog, 38.5 kg (85 lbs) and bitches 34 kg (75 lbs). The Malamute is double-coated with a dense undercoat covered by thick coarse guard hairs forming the outer coat. They come in light grey through shadings to black, sable and red which can extend over the body. Solid white is also acceptable. Dogs should never be penalised for their facial markings or for uneven white splashes on the legs and feet, forehead or part of the face markings.  

The head should be broad and deep but should always be in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull should be broad and moderately rounded and the cheeks should be moderately flat. The head should gradually narrow from the skull between the ears to the slight furrow or stop between the eyes. The width of the large muzzle should be proportion to the skull but should diminish as it approaches the nose. The strong jaws house large teeth which close in a normal scissors bite. The pigmentation of close-fitting lips and the nose, lips and eye rim pigmentation may vary from black to brown according to the coat colour. The medium sized preferably dark eyes are brown and almond shaped. The thick, triangular shaped erect ears are small in proportion to the size of the head and are set wide apart on the skull.

Alaskan Malamute Alaskan Malamute

The neck is strong and moderately arched. The well laid shoulders support heavily boned and muscled forelegs with short, straight pasterns slope slightly when viewed from the side. The chest is well developed and the body is compact without being short in the loin. The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled, especially through the thighs. The stifles are well bent and the hocks are well let down. The feet are tight with well arched and well cushioned pads, protected by protective hair between the thick, tough pads with their short, strong toenails. The tail set and well plumbed tail follows the topline and is carried over the back when not working.

The gait is steady, balanced and powerful. When viewed from behind, the legs should stand and move true in line with the front legs, but not too close or too wide.

References and Further Reading


[2] Vanda Parker and Mick Mooney, 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' The Alaskan Malamute published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 Pages 17 - 18