MALAMUTES IN THE HOME
Malamutes (also known as M'Loot or Maloot) come in standard and giant sizes. We specialize in giants. The standard is 65-75 for females and 80-90 for males. Giants typically run 90-120 for females and 120-180 for males.
Why would anyone in their right mind want a malamute? They have the exilaration of an athlete, the pulling power of a draft horse, skulls hard as granite (physical and stubbornness), most will steal food, raid the trash, chase critters and snuggle up to a burglar. When shedding, you'll be drinking fur in your morning coffee and wearing it to work. They are among the world's greatest diggers and world's worst obedience dogs (despite being very smart - or because of it). But as a friend, soulmate and intelligent companion in a close partnership, a dog the adores confident, well-behaved children, the beautiful Alaskan Malamute has no equal.
Some say Malamutes are not good house dogs. Bologna! These are the words of an inattentive owner that doesn't want to take time to properly train the puppy. Some owners (especially in the north) keep their Malamutes outdoors (they have the coat for it) but trust me, this is a breed that if asked, would rather be near the family pack. An unhappy Malamute can be a real problem child such as howling, digging and escaping.
Many times they can get underfoot (especially when making dinner), but that is mostly because they want to be part of the family pack. At times, you won't even know he's there unless a visitor comes to the door. He usually won't bark, but will rush to the door and excitedly wait for you to open it so he can say "hi". Mals tend to get bored. They love having their own "toy box" to dig through. We keep every type of toy made and plenty of real and rawhide bones to occupy them when we are busy or not home. Mals will sometimes be deadly to their toys, but this can and will save your house from carnage (and even your child's favorite toy or your wife's slippers).
Malamutes adjust great to any weather. They do just fine in warm weather and warm climates if a cool place such as shade, a basement, an air conditioned home or outside baby pool is available. Ours love to snooze on ceramic tile, block winter drafts coming under the door and lie near a cool toilet or the air conditioner intake vent in any weather.
Malamutes are in the working group according to AKC. This can not be any truer. They are happiest when active and useful. You'll need to think of a way to work your Mal. They love to join you in any exercise you can think of such as jogging, hiking, swimming, running alongside your bike on a leash, playing with kids, running from you with a toy hoping you will chase them and any winter or summer pulling activities. Pulling is their favorite job and what they were bred for. This can be ski-joring, bike-joring, weight pulls (especially competition pulling), wagons and sleds. A Mal less than two or three years old needs to be constructively active.
Malamutes are seasonal shedders. They are a northern sledding breed dog. These breeds all "blow coat" (almost a complete shed out at one time) in abundance. Your yard will look like it was snowing! You'll want to brush often, down to the skin. Use a wide bristled human brush for tangles on your "wooly". They love the feel of that, the steel flea comb or simply a curry brush. Combing every day usually takes only a few minutes and gets a bag full of fur. Combing 2-3 times a week is necessary to keep their skin healthy and coat looking good. A "wooly" may need occasional trimming to avoid mats. During "blowing coat" time, comb daily to avoid the appearance of "molting". Mals will blow undercoat yearly, twice yearly for unspayed females. When the underfur starts growing back in, they will sometimes shed the guard hairs and look scrawny. Unlike other dogs, you may want to comb and vacuum daily to contain much of the hair. Malamutes are proud, sometimes arrogant, and prefer to look nice (and just plain love the scratch sessions).
Malamutes adore kids when raised with them. They are unusually gentle and patient with their own. Being a pack animal, children are thought of as littermates. They enjoy the play of gentle children. Malamutes will watch children or pups play for hours. We observed with Tikaani's first litter that she would just lay there to watch and stand guard over her pups. She even watches critters in the yard (rabbits, birds etc.) without interfering until she notices us watching. Then she gets up and chases it out of the yard as if she was caught loafing on the job! Mals are extremely protective of their own children, sometimes getting between the child and an angry parent! When our special needs boys are arguing with each other, she will step between them to break it up. When our beagle mix is play growling at our male Mal, she steps in to referee. Her puppies have done wonderfully in homes with even very young children if trained properly and you are firm and patient with them. Content to be a TV pillow, play a game of ball or go for a swim, Mals and kids go together extremely well. But they won't be like this without some training! All dogs are opportunistic. An ice cream cone, a kitchen counter and a TV tray are prime targets for food theft.
Your Malamute will be a puppy a for long time. Expect their desire to chew, dig and be troublesome for up to 2 or 3 years. So if you can't watch him, put him somewhere he can't get into trouble, harm himself or your home. We would pen them in the bathroom while young. If the toilet was closed, they would climb it to get on the cabinet and sinks.
Bluerose Alaskan Malamutes
Of course, anything left on the counter was fair game! They would pull down the towels and drag the bath mat if we didn't secure them. Any carpet under the baby gate in the doorway was also fair game. Even with another dog in the house, a young Mal will need to be penned separate when you leave until he learns the rules. Mals can be great house dogs and very trustworthy if given their freedom slowly. Malamutes are very pack-oriented and their separation anxiety can be intense. It's best if someone can be home much of the time while the pup is young, to teach the rules and supervise. Crate training is helpful in making the transition to complete freedom in the house, but please use a crate or kennel of appropriate size. He must be able to move with ease if he is going to be in it most of the daytime. NEVER use a crate or kennel for punishment!
Growling or sassiness (such as guarding food or toys) should never be tolerated even in a very young puppy. Sometimes it's difficult to tell a growl from a complaining grumble, but you will learn the difference in time and learn to read your dog. Malamutes are talkers (they rarely bark) and will tell you just what they think about any person or situation. Often people will think your Malamute growled, when it was only talking. This trait of Malamutes, to talk, is sometimes misunderstood by the general public. They are sometimes referred to as the "woo-woo" dog. They make sounds like a feeble howl and it sounds like woo-woo.
All are excellent problem solvers which can be quite frustrating to some owners. In many ways they are like children. They will try to "get around you" when disciplined, will apologize when they've done wrong or "kiss up" when they want something. The males are up to 30% bigger, but their sweet, gentle disposition often makes up for their size.
One interesting characteristic of Malamute puppies is their tendency to look to the owner of the same sex as a role model, following him or her around to learn the family's routine. At puberty both sexes sometimes love to intimidate anyone they feel is afraid of them. At other times they will love on these same people to make friends with them. Even though their size and look is intimidating to many people, they will not always bark alarm and will never attack intruders. They are awful watch dogs and would gladly invite the burglar in for a belly rub. We have read about this and witnessed it first hand. We had a break-in of the house (thankfully the boys weren't home from school yet) when Tikaani was a pup and penned up in the bedroom. Although a pup, she was quite large and looked like an adult at about 80 pounds. The evidence showed they climbed in with her when they rummaged the room. As friendly as she was, we were shocked they didn't take her too!
If lonely or upset, Malamutes will sometimes howl. He may get a brilliant idea and just have to tell you about it! Neighborhood dogs bark at everything, but Malamutes will watch quietly. However, should a stray dog come into their territory, they will create a ruckus and even fence fight with the intruder. People, however, are usually greeted with howls of "pet me first" or "let me out"! As we said before, they will step between you and the threat to preserve the peace. With a silent rumble, they would defend their pack member (animal or human) to the death if it was necessary in their eyes. They will only do this for "their" children, or someone in the pack they respect and love.
"Woolies" is a long-coated Malamute. Most litters will have one or more "woolies" since the trait is in all Malamute lines. It is not preferred in serious sledding or showing dogs, but sometimes used in breeding programs to enhance the coat. Sometimes they have the best bone and gentlest temperaments in the litter. Although a wooly coat is more maintenance, it may be trimmed for ease of care. A well groomed wooly Malamute will always get the most attention because the coat is beautiful. The coat is similar to a Collie's in length and often has a soft texture.
Our Malamutes love being in the house with the air conditioner, but tend to want to be outside often. In the house on hot summer days they can be cool, and on rainy days they're dry. On winter days they love the outside (having a double coat) and hang out in the yard. We know they are safe when inside our home. Malamutes can be terrific house pets, have good manners, and will respect your property when properly trained. But they will drive you crazy about wanting out. Since they tend to want to be outside they will go in and out quite frequently. It's like they want you to keep the door propped open and will lay halfway in and out. A doggie door will work wonders.
Some Malamutes will gut and destroy a stuffed animal and others will shred squeekies. This is a need to chew and rip according to their instincts. Some will eat the pieces. This is harmless if they are soft like the strings of a pull rope. All things will pass! Others like wood mouldings, corners, even doors. Ours love sticks and twigs. They steal from our wood pile and play keep away. Others will merely cuddle and hold their toys. You need to know what kind of Malamute you have and plan accordingly. Allow him his own toys to shred. We have a doggie toy box and they have learned not to bother the kids toys or our possessions. Wood should be regularly coated with a bitter spray. Sometimes Tabasco sauce will work but it can stain. You must be there to correct with a firm NO and make them roll over belly up in a submissive position. Then hand him his toy or take him to his toy box and give him an allowed toy to play with. You want any toy destruction to be done when you are present so he doesn't associate it with his separation anxiety. His area should only contain toys he can find pleasure in destroying. Some puppies are quite reliable at six months, others will not be reliable with total freedom until three years.