With his fluffy, magnificent coat, the Alaskan malamute is one show-stopping canine. Not to be confused with the smaller-boned and speedier Siberian husky, malamutes are muscular powerhouses capable of some pretty impressive physical feats. These dogs were bred to pull heavy loads, and it shows—they’re incredibly strong, rugged, and built for endurance.
One of the oldest arctic sled dogs, malamutes also make incredible family pets—provided, of course, you can keep up with their demanding exercise needs. If you’re looking for a dog who will hold you accountable for your workout routine, the malamute is a strong contender.
The positive traits of this breed are many—he’s affectionate, loyal, and playful—but he’s not for everyone. Check out the rest of our breed guide to see if a malamute puppy could be right for you.
Alaskan Malamute puppy facts
Think you’re ready to welcome a malamute puppy into your home? As with any puppy, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. Use our handy breed profile to help guide your decision.
|Size||Large. Most male malamutes will reach a height of 25 inches, while females will usually be 23 inches tall. Typically, males clock in at 85 pounds, with females only slightly smaller at an average of 75 pounds.|
|Breed Characteristics||Built to carry heavy loads, malamutes are the “bodybuilders” of the canine world. Along with their strong and athletic build, malamutes have a wolfish, almost feral look, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier dog. His thick double-coat, while stunning, is more than just a fashion statement—it shielded him from the harsh Alaskan climate where he was put to work pulling heavy loads across the ice and snow.
A fluffy, plumed tail and distinctive facial markings complete the malamute’s dignified look.
|Temperament||If you’re looking for a fierce watchdog, you may want to take your search elsewhere. These dogs aren’t exactly threatening, even when it comes to strangers. People-oriented and trusting, malamutes have no trouble making new friends, and they love to be around children. They make terrific family dogs, as long as you can keep up with their extraordinary exercise needs.|
|Grooming and Health Needs||If you plan to bring one of these dogs home, prepare to arm yourself with some serious grooming tools. The American Kennel Club recommends brushing your malamute every day with a pin brush and a metal comb. When his bi-annual shedding season comes around, you’ll need to add an undercoat rake to get the job done.
Unfortunately, the Alaskan malamute is prone to a few health problems, including hip dysplasia and chondrodysplasia—a developmental condition that can result in dwarfism. There is also the risk that your malamute could inherit a nervous system disorder called poly-neuropathy, which causes weakness and a chronic lack of coordination.
|Training||The clever malamute is a star student in the classroom, but even though he’s usually a quick learner, he can be resistant when it comes to taking orders. Early socialization and obedience training is critical with this strong-willed and independent breed.
There is also one pesky habit that most malamutes share: they love to dig! In the words of the AKC, this behavior “may be impossible to train out of a Mal.” You’ve been warned!
|Energy Level||Daily strenuous exercise is a must for this high-energy breed, making people with an active lifestyle an ideal match for the dog. If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, running, or swimming, a malamute will be thrilled to get in on the action.
They also excel in agility and obedience trials, competitive sledding, and weight-pulling competitions, and a few activities you may have never heard of before: bikejoring (pulling someone on a bike), skatejoring (pulling someone on skates), and skijoring (pulling someone on skis).
|Life Expectancy||An Alaskan malamute will usually live 10-14 years.|
Who is the best human for an Alaskan malamute puppy?
Could an Alaskan malamute puppy be in your future? Owning and training one of these dogs isn’t for the faint of heart, as they require slightly more attention than the average canine. Let’s explore what life with a malamute could look like.
First, if you’re less of a gym junkie and more of a Netflix-and-chill kind of person, you may want to pass on a malamute puppy. Vigorous exercise is a top priority for this breed. If they’re not given the opportunity to channel their extra energy into a healthy outlet like running or swimming, a malamute can develop some less than desirable habits—like gnawing your tennis shoes or howling at all hours.
If you bring one of these pups home, get ready to put your vacuum to work. Twice a year, a malamute will “blow coat,” which will send his hair flying. Regular brushing makes his hair situation more manageable, but a pristine, completely hair-free home is just not in the cards with this breed.
Another thing to understand about this breed: they are notorious diggers. Again, if you get antsy when things are out of place or messy, you’re not going to be pleased with what a malamute could do to your yard.
Take note if you live in a hot and humid area: malamutes are highly sensitive to heat. When the temperature kicks up, she’ll need ample shade and water to keep her comfortable.
If you can handle the hair, the digging, and the steep exercise requirements of this breed, you’ll be rewarded with an endlessly affectionate and friendly companion. Malamutes adore children, and they love to be around their family. Loyalty is their strong suit, and once they’ve secured you as a part of their “pack,” you’ll have a friend for life.
Getting an Alaskan malamute puppy
The decision to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new malamute puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or a breeder who offers healthy, ethically-sourced malamute puppies.
Adopting an Alaskan malamute puppy
It may come as a surprise, but adopting a malamute puppy is possible. According to the AKC, most shelters report that the majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender due to a lifestyle change or an incompatibility with the dog. What this means for you: there may be adoptable purebred dogs and puppies out there who are looking for a new forever home.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs that have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find an Alaskan malamute mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in.
Finding a malamute rescue can be as simple as searching the internet. You can check out the Alaskan Malamute Club of America to find local rescues.
Finding a malamute breeder
The first step is to do your research. Sadly, there are many puppy mills posing as reputable breeders along with many online scams. Be aware, and reach out to different online forums for conversations about getting your future furry family member.
Be sure to ask questions, and make arrangements to meet the parent dogs or mother. In the end, you must follow your gut. If something seems wrong at a breeder you visit, or the malamute puppy seems too good to be true, there’s probably something fishy going on. The AKC also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get a malamute puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find an ethical breeder or are planning to adopt, prepare yourself for an affectionate and friendly addition to your household.
Alaskan malamute puppy resources
After you find the right malamute puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.