Alaskan Malamutes are beautiful dogs so a lot of people are curious about what they’re like to have as pets. Or you may have already heard about their strong temperament and wonder if that’s something you can deal with.
With the proper training and the right environment Alaskan Malamutes make wonderful pets. But there are some things about their temperament you need to know and think about before you commit to getting one.
Alaskan Malamutes are fascinating dogs with a strong history. And if you know what to watch out for with their behavior, they will be a loyal pet for you and your family.
What It’s Like Owning An Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a working dog who loves to be outdoors. They love to pull sleds through snow and help their owners. This breed of dog is content in the cold and snow and loves to be kept busy through work or play.
They are social dogs who enjoy attention from anyone they come upon. They require more exercise than most other dog breeds so you must be prepared to have the time, energy, and equipment to play with them regularly. However, you must be very careful to keep your Alaskan Malamute on a leash or in a high-fenced area since they can escape quite easily.
Fully grown male Alaskan Malamutes can stand about 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 85 to 100 pounds while females stand about 23 inches and weigh roughly 75 pounds when fully grown. They have a heavy coat of fur which allows them to comfortably be in cold temperatures for long periods of time, and because of this heavy coat they require frequent brushing and other maintenance.
Alaskan Malamutes have a lifespan of about 10 to 14 years if well cared for. They are prone to hip dysplasia (like many other large breed dogs are) as well as Von Willebrand’s disease so these are things you’ll need to watch out for.
Do They Like Their Independence?
While an Alaskan Malamute is a social creature and a great working dog who is proud to be with, and help, their owners, they also have a strong independent streak. This independence can cause them to be incredibly stubborn on occasion and will ignore commands and even happily trot off after strangers.
What’s Their Prey Drive Like?
Alaskan Malamutes were originally used to hunt seals — and occasionally polar bears. They still are known to chase small animals like rabbits, squirrels, and occasionally cats if they’re not trained properly.
Do They Show Any Food Aggression?
Alaskan Malamutes can be quite possessive about their food, even when you feed them at regular mealtimes. So, it’s very important to give them some space after feeding them. If they fear someone is getting too close to them and may take their food away, they may lash out aggressively.
Alaskan Malamute Temperament
You’ve probably figured out by now that the Alaskan Malamute has a strong temperament! They can be stubborn, and they don’t like to be bored. As already mentioned, they love their independence in many situations but can become prone to aggression if they’re left alone for too long or with nothing to do.
What Are Some Characteristics Of Their Strong Temperament?
A few characteristics of an Alaskan Malamute’s strong temperament include:
Aggression. As mentioned before if they feel like there is a threat to themselves or their food, they may lash out in an attempt to protect themselves.
Becoming Alpha. Alaskan Malamutes love to be in charge, and it’s their natural tendency to dominate other dogs and other humans in certain situations.
Destructive Behavior. These dogs don’t like to be bored and often make that fact known to their owners by chewing on furniture and destroying other items around the house.
How To Manage Their Strong Temperament
Here are a few steps you can take to manage your Alaskan Malamute’s strong temperament:
Train Them. If you can start training your Alaskan Malamute as a puppy that’s ideal, but you can still have at least some training success even if you can’t start until their full grown. You may want to consider consulting your veterinarian or qualified dog trainer for help to do this.
Give Them Plenty Of Exercise. Although you don’t have to put your Alaskan Malamute to work every day, you will need to play with your dog daily and ensure they get enough exercise to counteract their destructive behavior.
Socialize Them. Alaskan Malamutes love to be social with other dogs and people — including children. But they must be started at a young age or trained before it’s safe to let them play freely.
How Do They Get Along With Children?
Alaskan Malamutes are patient, social, and friendly. While they may not be a great first pick for a family dog, but they can and will get along with children if they’re around them from a young age and are taught they’re not the alpha of the family.
How Do They Get Along With Other Pets?
Alaskan Malamutes enjoy socializing with other animals — but you must exercise caution. They are bred to chase small animals, including cats, so they shouldn’t be around these animals unless they have since they were very young. And Alaskan Malamutes can clash with other dogs who are the same sex as them, so be wary if you’re putting two males or two females together.
Since they’re prone to aggression when they feel threatened, it’s extremely important to ensure your Alaskan Malamute doesn’t feel threatened by the other animals — this is when they can lash out. And they can cause a lot of damage to other animals!
Can I Force My Alaskan Malamute To Do Something?
While your Alaskan Malamute likes to please you, they are also very stubborn dogs as well. So, if they’re going to do something you’ve asked them to do it has to be because they’re well trained — or you’ve made it tempting for them to want to do it.
Are Alaskan Malamutes A Good Fit For You?
There are a few things you need to think about before deciding if an Alaskan Malamute will be a good fit for your family:
Do You Have Time To Exercise And Play? As mentioned, Alaskan Malamutes require plenty of exercise and play time or they will rebel and could become destructive with your property. If you, or someone else in your house doesn’t have the time each day to devote to your dog this may not be the breed for you.
Do You Have Time To Groom Them? Alaskan Malamutes have very thick coats of fur and require frequent brushing and other help grooming to keep their coats tangle free and healthy.
Do You Have The Time To Train Them? Alaskan Malamutes require training in order to manage their strong temperament and to let them know they’re not the alpha of the household.
Do You Have Other Pets? If you get your dog as a puppy and raise them with other pets you shouldn’t have much to worry about. But if you get an older Alaskan Malamute they may not get along with your pets — and possibly may see small ones as prey.
Do You Have Space In Your Home? Alaskan Malamutes are not small dogs! So, if you don’t have the room for them to roam around or be comfortable in your home you may want to consider a smaller breed of dog.
Do You Have The Right Yard? Alaskan Malamutes are known to be escape artists! They can get over or around a fence if it’s not totally secure and can wander away. And, as you know, they need a lot of space for exercise so having a large fenced yard is ideal.
What’s Their Temperament For Training?
Alaskan Malamutes want to please their owners and although they can be stubborn, they will usually adapt fairly well to training. The younger your dog is when you start the training, the better. If you’re training an older dog it may take longer to see results.
Changes In Behavior Which Could Signal Health Problems
There are a few health issues that Alaskan Malamutes are prone to, so see your veterinarian if you notice any of these changes in their behavior:
Weakness. If your dog suddenly seems weak or lethargic it could mean they have a blood clotting disorder which would require immediate medical attention.
Limping. You may notice your Alaskan Malamute start to limp and have difficulty getting around — especially as they get older. It’s not uncommon for them to suffer from hip dysplasia or another joint problem — especially since they are large dogs. Your veterinarian can give you some options for helping relieve the pain in your dog’s joints.
Scratching. If you notice your Alaskan Malamute is scratching or has skin issues this requires attention. Often the cause is simply food allergies or another minor skin condition, but it could be caused by hypothyroidism or something else more serious.
Hesitation. Eye problems aren’t uncommon in dogs — especially Alaskan Malamutes. If your dog is starting to show signs of hesitation when they move or exhibiting other behavior that indicates they are losing their sight this needs to be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.