Photo credits from left: @alaskan_malamut_kennel, @kannanaqs, @charlieboymalamute on Instagram.

Alaskan Malamute

A complete breed guide for Alaskan Malamute Dogs

Last Updated 15 NOVEMBER 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc

Alaskan Malamute Facts

Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Large Arctic region, specifically Alaska Mal
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Working / Spitz High Females 32-38kg, Males 36-43kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
10 - 12 years Low Females 56-61cm, Males 61-66cm at shoulder
Drool factor: Coat tyype: Colours:
Low Thick, dense double coat, medium-long Range from light grey with shadings to black, sable, and red
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Social needs:
High Moderate Very friendly but can be cautious towards new people or dogs

How big do Alaskan Malamutes get?

Alaskan Malamute males are typically 61-66cm tall at the shoulder and weigh 36-43kg. Females typically measure 56-61cm tall at the shoulder and weigh 32-38kg.

Do Alaskan Malamutes shed?

Yes, Alaskan Malamutes shed heavily twice per year and a moderate amount year long. During a seasonal shed, regular hair brushing is essential, as is feeding them a top quality diet to keep their fur silky and smooth. For Malamutes, we recommend a slicker brush and an undercoat rake, and consider a deshedding brush too!

How much does an Alaskan Malamute cost?

Alaskan Malamutes can cost anywhere from $500 at a Malamute rescue to $3500 from a registered breeder. It is always worth checking a rescue organisation first - not only will this likely be cheaper than purchasing a dog from a breeder, but you will be saving a life! Malamute rescues in Australia include Arctic Rescue Victoria, Alaskan Malamute Rehoming Aid Australia (AMRAA), Husky & Malamute Rescue WA (HAMR) and the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute Rescue of Queensland (SHAMROQ).

Are Alaskan Malamutes good pets?

With the right training and socialisation, Alaskan Malamutes can make excellent pets. However it's important to do your research and be aware of the level of training and care required - Malamutes are not for beginners. They can be difficult to train, strong (both physically and mentally!) and are known for pulling on their leash and being unfriendly to other dogs. They also require a lot of mental stimulation and exercise, so dedication as well as a firm and consistent hand is essential.

How long do Alaskan Malamutes live?

The Alaskan Malamute lifespan is 10-12 years. As with any breed, they will live much longer if you feed them a premium quality diet, never let them become overweight, and keep their teeth in top condition!

Do Alaskan Malamutes bark a lot?

Alaskan Malamutes do not bark a lot, but they can be vocal in other ways. They will happily 'talk' and howl like their wolf ancestors, and make their characteristic 'woo woo' calls at you. A group of Malamutes will howl in concert with their heads tilted to the sky, which is a mystifying and beautiful thing to behold. Any excessive barking is unusual and should be addressed, as it may be a sign your Mal is bored, anxious, or not getting enough exercise.

How do I choose an Alaskan Malamute breeder?

When looking for an Alaskan Malamute, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and selectively breed healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Are Alaskan Malamutes good with kids?

If you have young children and are considering getting a dog, an Alaskan Malamute might not be the best choice. They may be cuddly and fluffy as puppies, but they will grow and can be dominant, strong, and require a lot of attention - more so than other breeds. Sadly, many families with kids end up rehoming Alaskan Malamutes as they don't have the time to commit to proper socialisation and training. That said, Alaskan Malamutes can be wonderful pets for families with older kids, especially families who are very active, but the children should be trained how to act around large dogs first. Furthermore, caution is advised around children unknown to the dog, as Alaskan Malamutes can be wary of strangers and may perceive the boisterous, confronting energy of children as a threat.

Alaskan Malamute History

Left to right: Leonhard Seppala and his dog team in Canada, 1931; Malamutes in syncronised howl, and inuit children with their malamutes (from University of Alaska Archives).

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest breeds of Arctic sled dogs. It is believed to be a descendant of the domesticated wolf-dog species that lived with the Paleolithic hunters who migrated over land bridges into North America around 4000 years ago.

The name 'Malamute' is derived from the Mahlemiut Inuit people who resided in northwestern Alaska. The original dog was created to pull sleds and work in packs to haul heavy loads slowly over long distances. They were also used for assistance hunting bears and locating seal breathing holes in the ice.

Interestingly, Malamutes were designed to pull heavy loads on sleds at a slow pace whereas other Arctic dog breeds, like the Siberian Husky, were trained to pull lighter loads at faster speeds. It is said that 'Huskies are racers; Malamutes are freighters.'1

The first Alaskan Malamutes arrived in Australia in 1978 via New Zealand and were officially registered not long after this. The first litter of Australian-born Malamute pups were born in 1981. Nowadays there are hundreds of Alaskan Malamutes registered in Australia, with approximately 300 in New South Wales alone.2

Alaskan Malamute Personality


Alaskan Malamutes are not recommended for first time dog owners. They have a pack mentality and can be very strong-willed and stubborn. They are an incredibly clever breed which means they can be bored easily and require lots of mental stimulation. These traits, when combined with their physical strength, can lead to a lot of problem behaviours such as leash-pulling, chewing, and digging - particulary as puppies.

Malamutes should be socialised early and extensively. Their instinct is to be wary of new or unfamiliar dogs and animals, and so they should be kept under close control and supervision until they are fully trained and socialised.

Obedience training is essential. The Alaskan Malamute's independent temperament, extreme intelligence and strong dominance mean that training and socialisation must start as young as possible. It is essential that you establish yourself as the pack leader very early and maintain consistency. This doesn't mean you must practice harsh discipline - just ensure you exert calm assertive energy and maintain consistent rules. It can help to crate train your Malamute.

Malamutes are not fully mature until 18 months of age, which means that there is a long window of requirement for consistent training. It also means that unless they are correctly educated, they may become a large, unmanageable and stubborn young adult. Sadly, many cases of abandonment occur with Malamutes at this age, as many inexperienced people buy them as a cute fluffball pup and underestimate the work required.

Top toy recommendations for Alaskan Malamutes

Tasty Bone

These nylon bones come in a range of delectable flavour and withstand hours of intense chewing. Go large or mega for maximum durability.

Ruff Play Toys

Ruff Play toys are designed for durability to stand up to the toughest of dogs. Look for large toys in this range for a Malamute.

Kong Extreme

Made from the most durable KONG rubber, the KONG Extreme can be filled with treats, paste, kibble or even frozen stock to prolong play time. Choose XL or XXL for power chewers.

Paws for Life Snuffle Puzzle Mat

Hide some of your dog's kibble or treats in the nooks and crannies to keep their mind busy and occupied.

Alaskan Malamute Diet and Nutrition

Alaskan Malamute Puppies

Alaskan Malamute puppies require a diet that is less energy dense than a standard puppy food, because overfeeding and an overweight body condition are important risk factors for the development of orthopaedic disease such as hip dysplasia. A high quality puppy food specifically designed for large breed puppies will be designed with this in mind. Diets formulated for large breed puppies also contain an appropriate amount of calcium and phosphorus with a lower overall calcium content than a regular growth diet. Puppy diets should be fed in controlled amounts, and never in excess, to promote a slow rate of growth and a lean body condition score.

Raw diets for Alaskan Malamutes? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for Malamute puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination, which can lead to food poisoning and upset their sensitive tummies. Plus, an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

When should you transition an Alaskan Malamute from puppy to adult food? As a general guide, Malamutes can usually be transitioned from a 'puppy' food to an 'adult' food at around 18 months of age. This does, however, vary depending on your dog's body condition score - if your pup is underweight, they may require a puppy food for a little longer. Likewise, if they're starting to show a bit of 'pudge', it may be time for a lower-in-calories 'Adult' diet.

Top food recommendations for Alaskan Malamute Puppies

Royal Canin
Maxi Puppy

This premium dry food is specifically formulated to support the health and wellbeing of large breed puppies.

Puppy Large Breed

An Australian made diet to support the unique nutritional requirements of large breed puppies. Added green lipped mussel to support joint health.

Ivory Coat
Grain Free Large Breed Puppy

Natural, grain free dry food for large breed puppies. Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

Hills Science Diet
Large Breed Puppy

Contains optimal levels of calcium, phosphorus and energy for controlled bone growth and to minimise the risk of developmental bone and joint problems.

Photo credits: the adorable @havelwoelfe

What to feed an Adult Malamute?

It's important to feed your adult Alaskan Malamute a complete and balanced diet, and veterinarians particularly recommend feeding one that has been formulated for large breed dogs.

Most Large Breed Adult Food from premium brands including Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Advance are suitable for Alaskan Malamutes. These scientifically-formulated diets also contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing.

Large Breed

This high quality, grain free dry food contains functional ingredients like pumpkin seeds and blueberries to promote immunity, and chicory root for natural sources of prebiotic fibre to support gut health.

Pro Plan Large Breed Adult

This premium, large breed food is fortified with key nutrients to support healthy joints as well as high levels of scientifically proven antioxidants to help fight the challenges of ageing and support a strong immune system.

Royal Canin Maxi Adult

This premium dry dog food is made from high quality, highly digestible ingredients to support healthy digestion and deliver balanced nutrition that keeps your adult large breed dog in peak condition.

SavourLife Large Breed
Grain Free Ocean Fish

This Australian made, grain free kibble contains highly palatable salmon and ocean fish, combined with omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and, glucosamine and chondroitin.

Alaskan Malamute Health Concerns

Health concerns affecting the Alaskan Malamute are common in pups that have not been bred responsibly, but may occasionally occur even when the best parentage and health screening has been done. Many conditions are those that affect large and giant breed dogs in general, the most common of which are orthopaedic diseases and gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV).

Hip dysplasia:

The term 'dysplasia' means abnormal growth, therefore 'hip dysplasia' means abnormal growth or development of the hips. The condition is primarily genetic in origin. The degree of hip dysplasia will vary between dogs due to a combination of factors such as body weight, nutrition, hormonal factors and other environmental considerations such as exercise. It's important to note that the inheritance of the gene is not simple, and breeding dogs with 'normal' hips can give rise to offspring with dysplastic hips and vice versa.

How to prevent hip dysplasia? Responsible breeders will ensure their breeding stock is tested prior to breeding. Since 2016, the Australian National Kennel Council Ltd (ANKC) have been responsible for the Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Scheme (CHEDS) which is weighted towards secondary joint changes associated with hip dysplasia.


Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is under active and does not perform its normal functions. The thyroid gland regulates the body's metabolic rate. If the thyroid is underactive, the metabolism slows down, and symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, cold intolerance, dull fur, balding, and dark pigmentation on the skin. The dog might also be more prone to skin and ear infections. Hypothyroidism can't be cured but it can be managed easily with medication.

GDV or "Bloat" - Gastric Dilation and Volvulus

Bloat is a life-threatening condition whereby the stomach stretches many times its normal size and in many cases twists and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply. The spleen is usually an innocent bystander that gets pulled into the rotation, also compromising its blood supply. This condition is common in deep-chested breeds like the Malamute. The main signs to look out for are sudden onset of abdominal distension, distress, anxiety, pain (such as panting, guarding the belly), drooling and multiple unproductive attempts to vomit. What should you do in this situation? Transport them to a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic immediately where urgent treatment and surgery is required. Do not attempt to give anything by mouth.

In breeds with a high risk of bloat, a preventative surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy can be performed at the same time as desexing. The surgery involves securing the stomach to the inside of the abdomen to prevent it rotating. For more information about bloat and preventative surgery, we recommend speaking with your regular veterinarian.

Degenerative Polyneuropathy

Degenerative polyneuropathy (also called Idiopathic polyneuropathy or Alaskan Malamute Polyneuropathy) is an inherited disease of the peripheral nerves. Sypmtoms can include progressive paralysis of certain parts of the body. It is believed to be genetic in nature and ineherited from the breeding line. Dogs with this condition may show a lack of coordination, difficulty getting up, or stumbling while carrying out daily activities. It is not necessarily painful, but dogs are rather weak. Unfortunately, the condition can not be treated or cured, however physical therapy can help preserve muscle mass.

Top health and supplement recommendations for Alaskan Malamutes:


Glyde is a joint supplement containing New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to help reduce joint inflammation. It helps prevent joint pain and can even improve the coat quality.


Contains Epiitalis, a unique plant oil extract combined with marine concentrates including green lipped mussel, shark cartilage and abalone to target joint inflammation. It is and safe to give long term.

Anti Gulping Bowl

Eating rapidly is a risk factor for the development of bloat. Anti gulping bowls help to slow down the rate of food intake and minimise excessive air intake during feeding.

Canine Care Dog Ramp

A lightweight, non slip ramp ideal for helping eldery or sore dogs in and out of the car.

Related Breeds to the Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is part of the Working breed dog group, of the Spitz type. It is the native Alaskan Arctic breed of spitz, cousin to the Samoyed of Russia, Siberian Husky, and the Eskimo dogs of Greenland and Labrador. In 2015, a study using several genetic markers indicated that the Malamute, the Siberian Husky, and the Alaskan husky share a close genetic relationship between each other and were related to Chukotka sled dogs from Siberia. They were found to be genetically separate from the two Inuit dogs, the Canadian Eskimo Dog and the Greenland Dog.3

When discussing related breeds, it is also important to mention breed crosses or 'designer breeds' that are emerging. Like many breeds, the Alaskan Malamute has been crossed with others to yield different designer crosses - the most popular of which include the Alusky.

Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky, also called generally the Husky, is a very close relative of the Alaskan Malamute. With its striking facial markings and intelligent mind, the Siberian Husky looks more like a small wolf than almost any other domestic breed of dog. Just like the Malamute, this tricky breed is incredibly independent and known for its ability to escape from just about anywhere.


The Samoyed is a medium-sized Spitz breed originating from Russia. It tends to grow to be 16-27kg in weight and 46-56cm in height. They are very fluffy and sport a thick, white double coat and a curled tail, just like many spitz breeds.


Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog (also called the Canadian Inuit Dog) is another Working breed originating from the Arctic. This breed is very rare and threatened with extinction, with a 2008 estimate of only 300 purebred dogs. Like other spitz breeds, it has erect, triangular ears, and it carries its heavily feathered tail over its back. The breed has a stronger prey drive than other breeds, as they were accustomed to forraging and hunting for their own food while out working with sleds.


Husky X Alaskan Malamute, ie the 'Alusky'

The Husky-Alaskan Malamute mix is one of the most popular designer crossbreeds. Aluskies are said to be the ideal pet for those who want the Husky's playful side with the Mal's large size and majestic nature.


1. Alaskan Malamute. American Kennel Club.

2. Alaskan Malamute. 2020. Burke's Backyard.

3. Brown, S K; Darwent, C M; Wictum, E J; Sacks, B N (2015). Using multiple markers to elucidate the ancient, historical and modern relationships among North American Arctic dog breeds. Heredity. 115 (6): 488-95.

Further Reading

Complete Beginner's Guide To Puppy Care

How To Spot A Good Pet Food

5 Facts To Know About Parvovirus

Which Flea and Worming Product Does YOUR Dog Need?

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