MAINTANANCE

 

Tools

Long tooth Undercoat rake

Large Pin Brush

Metal Comb

Nail Clipper

 Shedding 

Malamutes are seasonal shedders.  This means once (males) or twice (females) a year they will "blow" out their coat. It is important to comb often to get the dead and old coat out for the health of the skin and so the dog will look presentable.  If coat is not combed out, it will have the appearance of "molting" during season changes (clumps of dead hanging fur remain in the coat and become dirty and matted). "Woolies" will not drop their coat - it will mostly all remain on the dog so it's even more important to comb often and deeply to avoid matts.   

Malamutes are a double coated breed and will often only shed the soft undercoat, usually happens in the spring.  The fall shed is usually just undercoat.  Density of coat will depend upon the climate where the dog lives.   Males will not blow as often or as completely.  There is often a massive shed when the puppy reaches adulthood at about 1 1/2 - 2 years of age.  He/she is shedding his puppy coat for his adult coat.   

The best way to avoid some heavy shedding is to feed a quality food.  Combing often, keeps the coat clean, good smelling and looking nice.  A warm bath when the coat is close to coming out will often help it along so the dog is not shedding for as long a period. Ideally a high-speed blower can blow out most of the loose coat as you dry.   Be sure to dry thoroughly after a bath to prevent hotspots. Even if the surface feels dry, it may not be completely dry underneath and hotspots can develop in areas that remain damp. 

Grooming & Bath 

Coat grooming can be enjoyable for you both. Lie the dog on the floor in front of you while watching television in the evening. Comb him when you are relaxed and not rushed. Always make an effort (even if it's just a little at a time) to do the inside of the legs, breaches (butt), belly and tail. Many Malamutes do not like these areas done, but they are also the most likely to matt and knot so are most important. You can concentrate on a different area each time so you aren't yanking and pulling the entire time - for example: first the back, next time the belly, next time the inside left back leg, next time right back leg and a quick skim over everywhere else.  

Limit each session to 10-15 minutes at first. If you comb every day, it normally will take only about 5 minutes per dog (10 for  a woolly or a very thick coated dog). Don't buy a pin brush, run it over the back a few times and consider your dog "groomed" - sorry but that won't cut it!  

Line Combing 

It's important to get the comb or rake down to the SKIN. When they are "blowing coat", a technique called "line combing" is very effective in getting out the old dead coat. What this involves is parting the fur, taking a greyhound comb or rake, and from the skin out, pulling out the old coat. Part again about an inch away and do it again. Eventually you'll want to do this over the entire body of the dog. If the coat is not quite "ready" to come out, it can "pull" so be gentle so it doesn't hurt. A warm bath can move along a coat that is almost ready to blow and make it come out faster. A coat that is "ready" and loose, will come out easily. Line combing does not have to be done in one session - that could be a 4 or 5 hour project! Most Malamutes only have the patience for sessions much shorter than that! But slowly, if you keep at it you will get the whole dog finished. Resist the urge to "pluck" those tufts that come out - it is SOOOOOO embarrassing to your Malamute. They know they are losing their beautiful coat and that just lends insult to injury (though it's so hard to resist!).  

Regularly groomed, your Mal will stay cleaner and begin to enjoy grooming because it isn't a painful or BIG chore. Eventually it becomes fun and part of their routine.  Once they know what to expect (especially that treat afterwards...) many dogs will willingly volunteer to be brushed.  While most malamtues love getting their back and sides brushed, tails are another thing altogether.  Most are not fond of the tail brushing so I usually leave that for last - just before they get their treat.  This lets them know we are almost done and tail brushing is associated with the treat.  We've never needed to take our dogs to a groomer to "make them look nice" since they always look nice.  

If you don't have time for an in-depth brushing - you can always use the pin brush for quick touchups behind the ears, on the back and tail...but don't think this is all you need to do to keep your Malamute looking nice.   

Teeth Cleaning 

One thing we don't do is brush teeth. Instead of brushing daily, give lots of large knuckle bones, rawhides and feed dry food (with a little water on it). If you're lazy about brushing, giving the dogs REAL raw bones will get them sparkling in no time. You can freeze them.  You can safely give a Malamute the leg bones, hip bones, and neck bones if you can figure out a way to cut it up (one neck is WAY too much and your mal will just vomit what he doesn't need!).  Never give cooked bones - they'll splinter!  The trade off with raw bones is while he'll have sparkling teeth - his legs might get pretty messy from the bones.   

Bathing 

A housedog Malamute doesn't need a bath very often unless they are diggers. Baths can have a drying effect on the skin and soften the coat if given too often.  A Malamute's guard coat is supposed to be somewhat stiff - that's what protects the undercoat from the weather. So you don't want a shampoo that will make the guard coat too "soft".  There are special shampoos that are just for a double coat that will not soften the guard hair too much, and also shampoos that are specifically made to brighten the white parts of the coat (legs, belly, face, tail).   

If the dog is not throughly dried after a bath, dampness against the skin can cause hotspots. Malamute fur is very dirt resistant, and even if they get muddy, by the time they dry it will often flake off so that the dog looks just fine. Malamutes also tend to keep themselves clean by grooming themselves like a cat. When they eat something greasy or messy it's common to see them liking and cleaning their paws afterward. Malamutes use the front dew claw like a thumb, so I suppose it's no different than when we wash our hands after eating something messy! Some prefer to give baths every 1-3 months but they can go as long as 6 months or more between baths and look just fine (unless you have a persistent digger!).  

Place a longer hose on a Handheld Showerhead, close the bathroom doors to prevent escapes and have a cookie handy for when they get out - and that works wonders.  (Expect everything to get soaked!)  Some like it and some do not, but they all get their treat afterward so are pretty good about baths. It's also important to give young puppies baths more often. First, because puppy fur is not as soil-resistant, second because they will be much better about bathing if they have had regular baths from a young age. If you give a treat afterwards, are patient, and make it fun, your dog won't mind a bath. 

Make sure you put lots of old towels in the bathroom with you and wear something you don't mind getting soaked.  I'm still looking for the solution to teaching a dog not to "shake" at an inappropriate time - but I suppose what they consider inappropriate is not MY idea of inappropriate!  Most of our guys don't like a wet neck for some reason so that always triggers the shake response - but if you want a clean neck area, be prepared for a good soggy shake.  I always depart from the bathroom soaked to the skin, but with a happy frolicking dog - so I guess it's all in how you measure success.  

Ticks & Fleas 

Fleas and ticks do NOT have to bite your pet for Frontline Brand Products to work and Frontline is one of the best defenses you have for pets. Frontline kills fleas and ticks if they simply come into contact with your pet's hair coat. And it does make a difference.  So if you live in Tick country, Frontline does a pretty good job in my opinion. 

Nail Trimming 

One of the most important parts of grooming your Malamute is maintaining nails and feet. If you have a normal coated dog, other than brushing, it's the only trimming you will need  to do. Most Malamutes, however, are BIG babies when it comes to nail clipping. Many will even scream, cry and whine so much, you'd think they were being abused! You'll understand when your big tough Mal is reduced to squirming, begging and generally running for cover when you get out the nail clippers. The best way to teach a dog it needs to submit for this "torture" (in the Mal's eyes) is a really special treat. With a Malamute, is not that the actual clipping is so uncomfortable, but it's also an "alpha" gesture. A very dominant dog can have more difficulty with submitting than with the actual nail clipping, so it's always preferable to start young.  

IF YOU DONíT HAVE THE PATIENTS TO MAINTAIN YOUR MALLIE, GET A PROFESIONAL GROOMER TO HELP. 

BIG PLEASE: DONíT SHAVE YOUR MALLIE !

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