WHAT IS AN ALASKAN MALAMUTE?
The word “Malamute” comes from the word “Mahlemute” or “Mahlemuit”. An Alaskan malamute is the biggest and the most stylish of the Nordic breeds. They were originally bred for the pulling of heavy sleds over long distances. Although not as fast as Siberian Huskies, but so much stronger.
Mahlemuits (sometimes called Mahlemiuts) were native Inuit people from Alaska that have created the Alaskan Malamute Breed for their own purposes by crossing the wolf with unknown types of Spitz dogs. For sled pulling, back-pack carrying and hunting purposes. The Alaskan malamute belongs to Spitz Breed family because of their small erected pointing ears, curled tail carried over the back, longer hair around the neck and thick isolating hair among the toes. Alaskan Malamutes have played very important roles during Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
In modern day they are well known for participating in Iditarod Sled Racing.
THE BIG MYSTERY:
DOGS AND HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP
The Alaskan malamute actually descends from the wolf and therefore the familiar looks alike the beautiful wild canine. When we look at the Alaskan malamute character, it is a different story, the wolf is naturally afraid of people whereas the Alaskan malamute loves people. Two exterior differences exist between the Alaskan malamute and the Wolf. The Alaskan malamute is stylish with a curled tail with a more friendly character, with the most important difference being the Alaskan Malamutes temperament and behaviour.
No one really knows why dogs have decided to live with humans in losing their shyness in becoming our best companions? We can truly call this one of the biggest mystery of nature. Dogs had to change their lifestyle radically by accepting the culture and laws of humans. They are not only lying before our fireplaces, but also reproduce near us, feed near us and sleep near and with us without showing any fear.
Wolf or other wild carnivore will never totally trust people, even if they live with them from childhood. They are different creatures to dogs with different behaviour patterns. A Theory exists that dogs do not see us as humans, but rather as strange big dogs. With wolves being without this thought, can never be fully domesticated which will leave your animals or children as easy pray and at risk.
Did you know?
The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, was named after the native Innuit tribe called Mahlemuts, who settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in the upper western part of Alaska. The Mahlemuts are believed to have developed the breed to pull sleds and as a pack animal.
The Alaskan Malamute is the native Alaskan Arctic breed, working cousin to the Samoyed and Siberian Husky (Kolyma River Region)of Russia, and the Eskimo dogs of Canada. Some believe that the Greenland Dog is related to the Canadian Eskimo Dog.
The Alaskan Malamute was recognized for AKC registration in 1935 and is also the national state dog of Alaska.
ORIGIN AND NORTH AMERICAN HISTORY OF THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE BREED
ONE OF THE OLDEST BREEDS EVER...
The Alaskan malamute is a very old breed. We can probably date its origin back several thousands of years. This theory is confirmed by the archeologically finds from the period before 12-20 thousands of years, that coincide with the contemporary type of the Alaskan . We can dare to say that an Alaskan malamute is then one of the oldest breeds, or maybe the oldest breed ever. These archaeological researches have also confirmed that the Alaskan Malamutes have been used as sled dogs for the last 3-5 hundred years, although as pack carriers or weight pullers, they have been used even earlier than that.
We don't know for sure what breeds have played a role in creating of the Alaskan malamute. Some people believe that the Malamute was created by crossing the wolf with a dog and that may explain Mal's wolf-like appearance. On the other hand, there are many character and other differences between dog and wolf and this theory is disputed by them. The truth is maybe somewhere in the middle: Alaskan Malamutes have been created and bred with other dogs, but perhaps the crossing with a wolf may have occurred. But with high probability, these dogs haven't played any important role in the producing of the Malamute. The wolf look of the Mal is possibly due to the "neutrality" of the breed - Alaskan Malamutes and wolves have lived in the same conditions and biotopes. This point in the history of the Malamute is still a big mystery.
The name of the breed is derived from the name of the Eskimo tribe called the Mahlemuts (or the Mahlemuits), that have for ages used these dogs for many different purposes which included hunting, pulling and carrying packs. These Inuits that probably lived in the northwest part of Seward Peninsula were humane and kind to their dogs and cared about their good condition. After all, in those times sled dogs were the only means of transport and humans and dogs often depended on each other - as they wouldn't survive have been able to survive alone. On the other hand, Eskimo people used strict character selections - dogs that had been aggressive to people or other dogs in the pack were put down. Only the friendly, less aggressive and fully controlled Alaskan Malamutes that could cooperate with the pack and their master were bred. Possibly the true "heroes of the north" (dogs that were distinguished in some way) were the ones that were intentionally mated with the convenient bitches.
IN SEARCH FOR FOOD
Migrations have also played an important role in the history of the Alaskan malamute because Inuit’s regularly moved to new hunting grounds and places that had enough food resources. Seaside areas offered possibilities of hunting and also fishing and that explained the higher occurrence of these sled dogs north and south of the place of their original place of origin - surroundings of the Kotzebue Sound. Alaskan Malamutes of the pure type have lived especially in this area. The name "Kotzebue" is also a title of one of the 3 (respectively 2) main breeding lines of the Alaskan Malamutes.
The period of the Gold Rush (1896 - 1899) is one of the most critical periods in the history of the breed. Eskimo people had settled in one place so they didn't need large numbers of sled dogs anymore. Therefore they started to sell them to arriving prospectors. In those times, the packs of Alaskan Malamutes were most sought after and valued. Unfortunately still, the breed was almost destroyed because it was during this time crossed with smaller and faster dogs for sled dog races and with bigger, Saint Bernard type dogs for dogfights and weight pulling contests.
REVIVAL OF THE BREED
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the situation was critical. But then an important reversal in the history of the Alaskan Malamutes took place. Fortunately, a small group of fans became interested in this remarkable breed and with their help; the Alaskan malamute was admitted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935. In this year too the AMCA (Alaskan malamute Club of America) was formed. Registration of this new club closely followed, when there were enough dogs for a breeding program.
Its story starts again only in 1947, with three different bloodlines:
1. KOTZEBUE LINE
The first, called "Kotzebue", derived directly from Short Seeley's dogs.
In 1923 a young teacher from Massachusetts happened to read a newspaper which spoke about them. She thought a team of sled dogs would be a real attraction in her town's carnival and so decided to get one. Eva Seeley, nicknamed "Short" because of her height, would never have imagined she would fall in love with those dogs and, with her husband Milton, she would become the most famous American breeder of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.
Eva got to know all the greatest sled dog champions of the period. It was thanks to her ability as a breeder (and a promoter) that the American Kennel Cub recognized the Siberian Husky in 1930 and the Alaskan Malamute in 1935. That year's "Book of Origins" saw the registration of the first official Malamute in history: Gripp of Yukon, who was to become the first American "Best of Breed" one year later. "Short" Seeley, since the very beginning of her activity, had bred more Siberians than Malamutes; in fact this breed was already dying out, together with its people. The Mahlemiut tribe lived almost exclusively by hunting and fishing; their main food was the caribou, but this animal had inexplicably moved away from Kotzebue toward the second half of the nineteenth century. Eva Seeley's Malamutes met honour and glory during Byrd's first expedition to Antarctica, and they were later "enrolled" in the army at the beginning of World War II; but they paid dearly for that glory: by the end of the war the breed was almost wiped out.
The registration of the Mal by the AKC was credited mainly to the Seeleys, Arthur Walden and Allan Alexander because of their big enthusiasm and a lot of work they had done to help to the breed. At Arthur Walden, who have owned dogs of the resembling type (this Alaskan Malamutes haven't looked like today ones), Alexander met Eve Seeley and showed her one of his dogs and he said that this dog is the true type of the Alaskan load dog. The dog didn't have any name, so they gave him one: Rowdy of Nome. Later, they had successfully obtained more dogs resembling type of Rowdy of Nome: A bitch Bessie and male Yukon Jad. From their mating, 4 puppies were born in 1929: The males Tugg, Gripp, Finn and Kersage of Yukon. It was the first litter that arose from equal breeding material. Litters from the Seeleys' kennel "Chinook”, which were bred from these dogs, established a basis for the Kotzebue line. Dogs from Chinook have taken part in two Antarctic expeditions and were trained and transported for these purposes by the Seeleys. The true and purebred Kotzebue dogs are always grey and white, not too tall; they are less irritable and aggressive and are more active.
2. M'LOOT LINE
M’Loots and Kotzebues were quite different: pure Kotzebues had a beautiful head, but were short in height and were a single colour, wolf grey. M'Loots were taller but had narrower chests, long ears and pointed snouts. Besides, as their rear leg angles were less marked, their gait was not as free as today's Malamutes'. Unlike Kotzebues, M'Loots had a wide variety of colours, including red. Finally, M'Loots' tended to be a little aggressive, while Kotzebues' temperament was sweeter.
The two lines were not crossbred for a long time until Robert Zoller, the owner of Husky-Pak Kennels, decided to try and obtained outstanding results. Since then, the two lines have increasingly intermingled, and almost every modern pedigree includes them both.
This line was established by Paul Voelker and it's still found in many kennels. Dogs from this line are still common especially in the Middle Western USA.
Although the main Voelker's interest belonged to Alaskan Malamutes, he worked with little diverse types and he didn't endeavour to register his dogs with the AKC. Typical M'Loot dogs are bigger, and comes in many different colours (such as grey and white, black and white, seal, sable, red and white, brown and white or pure white).
3. HINMAN (IRWIN) LINE
Few dogs came from this line, but it still has a big impact on the quality of the breed.
It has been created by mating the M'Loot dogs with the Kotzebue lines.
The breeding basis of "Husky-Pak Kennel" owned by the Zoller's, have played the biggest role in this line's breeding program because it provided an excellent representatives of the Alaskan Malamutes for this program.
Their best dog, Ch. Cliquot of Husky-Pak became the official symbol of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America. This line is very rare today.
CHANGING ROLES OF ALASKAN MALAMUTES
During World War II. many sled dogs were used for war purposes (the registered Alaskan Malamutes were also included). After the war, the same dogs safeguarded the triumph of an Antarctic expedition. Unfortunately, the war and circumstances almost completely decimated the numbers of Alaskan Malamutes. The registry was opened again for the Mal owners by the AKC, although under strict conditions. During this period, the dogs of the M'Loot and Hinman lines were also registered. Regrettably it was a very short period that was suddenly stopped by the AKC in defiance of protests of AMCA. So every "purebred" Malamute of today is originated from Kotzebue line or from "open period" at the end of 40. years.
WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
In the present, the Alaskan malamute is one of the most popular Nordic breed. The breed has spread from North America to almost all countries of the world. We can find Alaskan Malamutes in Europe, Australasia and also Africa. Without the help of a few people, who’s had a love and enthusiasm for the breed, and some circumstances, the Mal would probably vanish forever like many other breeds. Almost no one would know the name of the Malamute. So it is necessary to regard these people who devoted and dedicated their lives to this beautiful animal with the kindness of your heart.
The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a "one man" dog. He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful on invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity. Even when a Mal grows up he is usually a playful dog. My Sophie was very lazy and didn't want to play in the summer but she acted like a puppy again in the autumn and winter. Some Alaskan Malamutes don't very much like the hot summer weather but of course they can adapt to almost all conditions. The fact is, that there are some Alaskan Malamutes living in Australia, South Africa, Spain and other warm climates without problems.
Some Alaskan Malamutes have a strong hunting instinct. It goes back to the time when they were used for many different purposes - including hunting - by their Inuit owners. They hunt almost everything smaller than she and that moves - including birds, chickens etc. This instinct may be stronger than the Mal himself. When some Alaskan Malamutes encounter "prey" nobody (if he isn't on a lead) and nothing can stop him.
The water is usually a source of fun for Alaskan Malamutes. Some love to swim, some not. Almost all Alaskan Malamutes, especially young ones, like to put their paws in their water bowls and dig. When it's hot, it's a good idea to refresh a Mal by sprinkling him a little with a hose. One very interesting fact about Alaskan Malamutes is that they bark very little. They use howling to communicate and sometimes they can be very talkative. Truly, they sometimes seem to be trying to talk with us and the sounds they make sound quite similar to human speech. Alaskan Malamutes are very clean and they have a nice smell that is different from other dogs. Alaskan Malamutes usually lose their coat two times per year This can be a difficult time for their owners - but for the rest of the year they won't drop any hair. Some Alaskan Malamutes (especially those with longer hair) may lose their coat slightly throughout the year, but only in small patches. It isn't necessary to keep a Mal as a pack animal with other dogs. Of course a Mal can enjoy your company without any other dogs around. Some people that have become familiar with this breed sometimes can't help themselves and a friend of the same breed may arrive soon afterwards.
Some Males and females can be aggressive to dogs of the same gender, but aggressiveness to people, puppies or dogs of the opposite sex is unwanted and usually not tolerated. Females may be more aggressive and less obedient before, in and shortly after their heat cycle. Bitches, in almost every case, have two heat cycles per year. Females may be great mothers and are usually very careful with their puppies. Litters may be quite big (around 6 puppies) but sometimes only one puppy will arrive.
The Malamute is a true pack animal with the natural instinct to "lead or be lead"; therefore, training must begin as early as three to five months of age. Some people think that Alaskan Malamutes are dumb, but they really aren't. They're very very clever, especially when they want something. They can do almost anything to get it.
A Mal can be trained as any other dog, the problem is that they're sometimes strong-headed. On the other hand, on occasion has been more obedient than German Shepherds and other similar breeds. The key to having a (relatively) obedient Malamute is careful and kind training that must start early. If the trainer becomes angry and hysterical, he will "create" a similar behaviour in his dog.
Alaskan Malamutes (especially males) can sometimes be dominant, especially during their teens (12 months-3 years). You need to show them as early as you can that you're their master and leader. This will avoid many problems in the future. When they're well trained and educated, Alaskan Malamutes make friendly, playful and kind companions.
They can be kept together with a small children, but of course (as with all other breeds), always with adult supervision. Not only their appearance but also their special character makes the Malamute a jewel in the dog world.
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