Breed Center Stage – Alaskan Malamute

With their striking appearance accented by their almond shaped brown eyes, Alaskan Malamutes are very strong and are capable of pulling extremely heavy loads. These decendents of the arctic sled dog are affectionate pack animals who are loyal to their human families and particularly good with children.

Many people mistakenly believe that Malamutes are used for sled dog racing. But they are not racing dogs, as their talent is in their ability to pull heavy loads over long distances, not racing.

In spite of the breed’s popularity today, during World War II, the breed nearly became extinct. In 1947, there were only thirty registered Alaskan Malamutes remaining. Fortunately, due to the determined efforts of a single breeder, Robert J. Zoller, the breed was renewed.

Alaskan Malamutes are heroic dogs and were faithful companions to the Klondike gold miners who came to Alaska in 1896. They helped Rear Admiral Sir Richard Byrd in his quest to reach the South Pole and served as rescue dogs in Greenland during World War II.

Although Malamutes make good family pets, they are not for the novice dog owner, as they have loads of energy and need vigorous exercise as well as constant companionship. They shed hair year round and even more so during shedding season, so expect to be constantly cleaning up dog hair. True to their name and heritage, these highly intelligent dogs don’t do well in warmer climates. But if you can provide for a Mal’s needs, you will be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion…for life!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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