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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Playful
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 59 of 194
  • Height: 25 inches (male), 23 inches (female)
  • Weight: 85 pounds (male), 75 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Alaskan Malamute sitting facing forward
Alaskan Malamute standing sideways facing left
Alaskan Malamute head facing left
Alaskan Malamute coat detail
Alaskan Malamute

Find a Puppy: Alaskan Malamute

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume.

HEAD

The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue eyes are a disqualifying fault. The ears are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.

COAT

The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.

HINDQUARTERS

The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.

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Alaskan Malamute Illustration

About the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute stands 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs 75 to 85 pounds. Everything about Mals suggests their origin as an arctic sled dog: The heavy bone, deep chest, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coat all scream, “I work hard for a living!” But their almond-shaped brown eyes have an affectionate sparkle, suggesting Mals enjoy snuggling with their humans when the workday is done. Mals are pack animals. And in your family “pack,” the leader must be you. If a Mal doesn’t respect you, he will wind up owning you instead of the other way around. Firm but loving training should begin in early puppyhood. That said, a well-behaved Mal is a joy to be with—playful, gentle, friendly, and great with kids.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Alaskan Malamute

Find a Puppy: Alaskan Malamute

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Alaskan Malamute Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Alaskan Malamute should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The thick, waterproof double coat of the Alaskan Malamute is beautifully adapted to harsh Arctic life, but it requires constant upkeep. A Malamute should be brushed every day with a pin brush and metal comb, all the while checking for mats, which can harbor fungus, and hot spots, which can become infected. Twice a year, during shedding season, an undercoat rake should be added to the regimen. Show Malamutes are often bathed weekly, but a pet Malamute can go six to eight weeks between baths. Conditioner can be used, in moderation, if the coat feels dry. As with all breeds, the Malamute’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

EXERCISE

While the Malamute was not bred for racing, he was bred to work. A strong, athletic dog with tremendous endurance, designed to carry heavy loads, a Mal requires daily exercise. Romping in a well-fenced yard or other enclosed space will suffice, but Malamutes also enjoy hiking, running, and swimming with their owners. And should the owner have sufficient time and interest, Malamutes often take part in agility and obedience trials, weight-pulling competitions, backpacking (yes, you can buy a backpack for your dog), recreational or competitive sledding, and skijoring (pulling a person who is on skis).

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Socialization and obedience training are necessary in order to prevent a Malamute from becoming pushy with children and other pets, or dominant over adults he or she doesn’t respect. Malamutes are highly intelligent but also independent and willful, often to the point of stubbornness. While fairness and patience can yield a devoted, trustworthy companion, there are certain behaviors that may be impossible to train out of a Mal, such as digging, so any yard fencing must continue into the ground. And Malamutes are not especially suited to be guard dogs because they tend to be friendly with everyone they meet.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

A responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip joint that is the most common skeletal condition in dogs), elbow dysplasia, thrombopathia, chondrodysplasia (“dwarfism”), hypothyroidism, inherited polyneuropathy, von Willebrand’s disease, and day blindness. As with all breeds, an Alaskan Malamute’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and his teeth should be brushed regularly.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Polyneuropathy DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Alaskan Malamute face.
Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute

History

The Alaskan Malamute is among the oldest sled dog breeds of the Arctic. The breed name is derived from the Mahlemiut, an Inuit tribe that settled in Kotzebue Sound of northwestern Alaska a long, long time ago. The dog the Mahlemiut people developed is a sled dog, created to work in packs to haul heavy loads at low speeds over long distances. (Sled dogs, like the Siberian Husky, pull lighter loads at faster speeds. Huskies are racers; Malamutes are freighters.)

Did You Know?

Named after the native Innuit tribe called Mahlemuts, who settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in the northwestern part of Alaska.
The Malamute is the native Alaskan Arctic breed, cousin to the Samoyed of Russia, Siberian Husky, and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador.
In 1933, some Malamutes were selected to aid Adm. Richard Byrd with his Antarctic expedition.
Malamutes typically don't bark much, but they are vocal and will "talk." they also will how. Sirens will often set them off, although humans can often persuade them to sing as well. Malamutes who are lonely or bored will often howl.
Most Malamutes love to dig in the ground. You cannot train them to stop, but you can give them a designated place to dig
The Malamute is the native Alaskan arctic breed, cousin to the Samoyed of Russia, Siberian Husky, and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador.
The Alaskan Malamute was one of the four pure-bred dogs featured on the AKC centennial stamps issued in 1984 by the U.S. Postal Service. The breed has appeared on stamps in at least 14 countries.
The Alaskan Malamute became the official state dog of Alaska in 2010, thanks to a campaign started by a group of school children.
In 1933, some Malamutes were selected to aid Adm. Richard Byrd with his Antarctic expedition.
When sled racing enjoyed its heyday in the early 1900's the Alaskan Mal breed was intermingled with some outside strain, leading to the period from 1909-1918 to be called the age of the arctic sled dog.
They have a tendency to roam and go long distances in a very short time. Because they are so trusting, they'll go with anyone.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume.

HEAD

The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue eyes are a disqualifying fault. The ears are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.

COAT

The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.

HINDQUARTERS

The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.

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Alaskan Malamute Illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Agouti & White Check Mark For Standard Color 001
Black & White Check Mark For Standard Color 019
Blue & White Check Mark For Standard Color 045
Gray & White Check Mark For Standard Color 105
Red & White Check Mark For Standard Color 146
Sable & White Check Mark For Standard Color 165
Seal & White Check Mark For Standard Color 170
Silver & White Check Mark For Standard Color 182
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Markings 002
Gray Mask 041

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