What's good about 'em
What's bad about 'em
If you want a dog who...
* Is large, rugged, and furry, with a wolf-like appearance
* Loves the great outdoors and thrives on vigorous activities, especially in cool climates
* Looks imposing, so makes an effective deterrent, yet is usually good-natured with everyone
An Alaskan Malamute may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
* A very large dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
* Vigorous exercise requirements
* Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
* Destructiveness and howling when bored or not exercised enough
* Aggression toward other animals
* Escaping from your yard in search of adventure
* Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
* Extreme possessiveness of food -- children and other animals should not approach an Alaskan Malamute who is eating
* Heavy shedding
An Alaskan Malamute may not be right for you.
If I were considering an Alaskan Malamute...
My major concerns would be:
1. Providing enough exercise. Alaskan Malamutes MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by howling and destructive chewing. Bored Alaskan Malamutes are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.
Unless you specifically want a large dog for sledding, carting, weight-pulling, or other outdoor-related activities, preferably in a cold climate, I do not recommend this breed. Alaskan Malamutes were never intended to be simply pets. Trying to suppress their "hardwired" drive to work, without providing alternate outlets for their energy, can be difficult.
2. Bounciness. Young Alaskan Malamutes (up to about two years old) can be bulls in a china shop. When they romp and jump, they do so with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people.
If you have small children, or if you or anyone who lives with you is elderly or infirm, I do not recommend Alaskan Malamute puppies. The temptation to play roughly is too strong in many young Alaskan Malamutes.
3. Animal aggression. Most Alaskan Malamutes will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Most Alaskan Malamutes have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures, including deer and livestock. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
To keep your Alaskan Malamute in, and to keep other animals out, fences should be high, with wire sunk into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks. Many Alaskan Malamutes are clever escape artists who will go over, under, or through fences in search of adventure.
4. The strong temperament. Alaskan Malamutes are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and many are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Malamute to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Alaskan Malamute Training Page discusses the program you need.
5. Heavy shedding. Alaskan Malamutes shed a LOT. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops -- even in your food. Frequent vacuuming will become a way of life. Make sure you're REALLY up for this.
6. Noise. Unless you live way out in the boondocks and have no neighbors, Alaskan Malamutes should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their deep voice carries a LONG way and the mournful howling will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance -- or quietly letting your Alaskan Malamute out of his yard so he'll wander away.
Frankly, most Alaskan Malamutes are "too much dog" for the average household. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge, facilities, or skills necessary to manage this breed, or to provide the types of activities that keep him satisfied.
Not all Alaskan Malamutes are alike!
* There are energetic Malamutes, and placid Malamutes.
* Hard-headed Malamutes, and sweet-natured Malamutes.
* Serious Malamutes, and good-natured goofballs.
* Introverted Malamutes, and Malamutes who love everyone.
If you acquire an Alaskan Malamute puppy, you can't know for sure what he or she will grow up to be like. Because a good number of purebred puppies do NOT grow up to conform to the "norm."
If you're considering an adult Alaskan Malamute...
There are plenty of adult Alaskan Malamutes who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics. If you find such an adult, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you.
When you acquire a puppy, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important. But when you acquire an adult, you're acquiring what he already IS."
· 1 decade ago