Big, fluffy, and loyal, this breed is absolutely wonderful and can be quite the character. Like other spitz dogs, Alaskan Malamutes have a thick double coat that helps with temperature regulation and a strong, energetic personality. They were originally bred to be, among other things, sled dogs in Alaska and northern Canada and still have a strong build, steady gait, and fun personality. Among other things, Malamutes will definitely need an active home that can entertain them and take care of their coats.
Alaskan Malamutes, as the name suggests, are originally from Alaska and are descendants of the Arctic Wolf; like their cousins, Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds, these dogs were used as sled dogs for thousands of years. While Huskies were built for speed (comparatively speaking), Malamutes have tremendous strength and endurance, which is why they were able to pull heavy sleds over long distances or help with hunting in the Arctic. The second half of their name comes from the Mahlemuts, an Inuit tribe that originally bred the breed to be strong, tough working dogs.
To this day, Malamutes are powerfully built, have a steady and balanced gait, and are stubborn but fun. Thanks to their thick coats and history, they often love cold weather and the snow and many can be defiant when it comes to leaving it (to come inside, for example). They can get destructive without regular exercise and fun activities, so an active home would be the perfect place for a Malamute. Additionally, these dogs aren’t great apartment dogs or for first-time owners, as their size and temperament make them a handful. These dogs can stand 22-27 inches tall and weigh 74-90 pounds.
While they can be defiant and stubborn at times, Malamutes are generally very happy, friendly dogs. They often love to be a part of the family but also have a strong potential to wander off when they feel like it. A fenced-in yard would be great for shorter bouts of play but daily walks, runs, or other activities are needed. Like huskies, they also love to “talk” and often bark, howl, or otherwise vocalize (think Sherlock the Husky on TikTok!). Like with any dog, positive reinforcement training is great for a Malamute but expect to receive some sass!
Grooming-wise, these dogs tend to shed a lot all year round and will blow their coats twice a year. Their coats come in a few different colors combined with white, like grey and white, red and white, and black and white. Their double coats are meant for the cold, snowy weather of places like northern Canada and Alaska, which means Malamutes are going to have a more difficult time in places that are much warmer for longer periods of time. But these double coats help with temperature regulation in all weather and shaving their coats could disrupt that. (Although, there are times when shaving parts of a double-coated dog is necessary! Medical procedures and severe matting are two of the most common reasons.)
Ultimately, Alaskan Malamutes are fantastic dogs that would love to be the family dog in a lively home. They’d make terrible guard or apartment dogs, as they are often too friendly, vocal, and large for either. Like any dog of this size and temperament, Malamutes definitely require a lot of time, love, and money from their humans, with grooming, training, and exercise being just a few things. But if you know what you are getting into and would love a sassy, floofy companion, a Malamute could be a great canine companion!