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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a northern breed frequently mistaken for a Siberian Husky. The breed descended from dogs in the Mahlemut tribe of northwestern Alaska; these dogs worked, hunted and lived alongside their owners. It was often used for freighting ““ pulling hundreds of pounds of supplies to camps. It is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. Today, this trait is still one of the things the Alaskan Malamute is judged on in competitions. Even though the breed is still sometimes used for hauling freight or recreational sledding, the Malamute is mostly kept as a family pet or a show dog.

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the most well retained breed. Its original form and function have had staying power over time. The Alaskan Malamute usually weighs between 75 and 85 pounds and is 23 to 25 inches tall. However, the sizes can vary greatly but are not in accordance with show standards.

The coat is a double coat, usually grey and white, sable and white, black and white, red and white or pure white. The feel of the coat is harsher than the coat of the Siberian Husky. The eyes of the Alaskan Malamute are brown and almond shaped. The body of the Alaskan Malamute is compact and heavy. It has a plume-like tail that hangs over the back which aids in keeping it warm and protected in the snow.

The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate breed not useful as a watch dog. Despite their gentle nature, they deal poorly with small animals, perhaps due to cross-breeding with wolves. Overall, Malamutes are quite fond of people, but they may react unfavorably to unfamiliar guests. They are typically very friendly and loving. Malamutes are also much more quiet than other northern breeds, but when it does vocalize, it makes a trilling sound, similar to Chewbacca (the characteristic vocalizations of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films are based upon a Malamute named Indiana once owned by George Lucas). They occasionally may howl, a sound almost indistinguishable from a wolf.

The Alaskan Malamute typically lives for close to 11 years. The most common health problems for the breed are those associated with their muscles, skin and reproductive systems. Some Malamutes have eye problems. Their dense coats make the Alaskan Malamute unsuited for hot climates

Alaskan Malamute