The Alaskan Malamute, Dog of the North

The Alaskan Malamute, Dog of the North

By Michael Russell

When Jack London wrote the novel “Call Of The Wild”, the main canine character “Buck” was more than likely a dog which had at least some Alaskan Malamute in his bloodline. This dog is a native of Alaska, tracing his roots back to the Mahlemut tribe , an ancient Indian culture which is seldom mentioned without a mention also of their faithful dogs. These dogs helped them with almost every aspect of their daily living, from fishing and hunting to hauling in the hunt. The Alaskan Malamute is just one representative of the many different breeds which were used in the settling of the great territory of Alaska, a region whose vast reaches of inhospitable climate required a beast of burden who could live off the land, who had great speed and who could pull heavy loads. The fact that there were already large numbers of dogs being used for these purposes made it natural that the cold reaches of the northern territory would be mostly explored and populated with the help of the dogs.

There is a historical possibility that the Alaskan Malamute, one of the largest of the sledge dogs, owes some of his size and strength to the Arctic Wolf, a very large white animal nearly twice the size of the Alaska Malamute. This may be true or not. Crosses are routinely engineered today in captivity, but no one really knows whether such a cross would occur in the wild. If it is true that he descended from a cross with the wolves, this may account for his strong acceptance of being a “pack dog” in the sled dog teams and his willingness to be within such a group. There are few “societies” of animals which are as similar in their interactions to human society than the “society” of a team of sled dogs. In the animal kingdom, the society of wolves is very similar. Despite his “pack” mentality, the Alaskan Malamute possess an affinity to humans, loving not only to work for man, but loving humankind altogether and without reserve.

The Alaskan Malamute is a beautifully marked dog, with sharp contrast of white and black or white and gray, with the darker colors being grizzled with silvery tips on the ends of the hairs. He gives the impression of great strength and heavy bone, even though he is not particularly tall and is not considered a giant breed like the Mastiff or the Newfoundland. His height is 25 inches at the shoulder. The coat is double and dense and off standing, one or two inches in length all over the body with a large ruff around the neck of longer hair, providing weather resistant protection against the elements. Weekly brushing is required for good coat care and skin health.

The Alaskan Malamute has a long history of being a companion to man, so it is no wonder that he is so affectionate. He is one of the dogs that often excels as a Therapy Dog, seeming to have an understanding of people that is beyond the norm and many people react to this large, loving, bushy haired dog in the same way. He has gained popularity as a pet in the rural areas and loves to go on camping trips with his family, or jogging, or almost any outdoor activity. In the city this is a dog that brings admirers while out walking and can do quite well in a townhouse or apartment as long as he is exercised daily.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Dogs

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