How to Care for an Alaskan Malamute
Before owning your own Alaskan Malamute, it’s essential first to understand all that goes into taking care of one. These dogs are large, powerful, and active, and they are not conducive to living in all types of households.
The pivotal part of being a Malamute parent is exercise, exercise, and more exercise. Malamutes were bred to work hard and do tough jobs, so being active and staying busy comes naturally. If your busy-bee of a friend isn’t allowed to burn off their extra energy, then they will most likely become disruptive and destructive.
Thankfully, there are many outlets for your dog to get their needed exercise. Walking and hiking are excellent options available for practically any dog parent. Malamutes also appreciate the opportunity to run around outside, as long as they are in a securely fenced-in area. If you leave them unattended, don’t be surprised if you come back to a few new excavation sites.
To help keep your pal active, you can also take advantage of your dog’s natural abilities. Many people to this day still use Malamutes to pull sleds either with people or items on them. These working dogs can also be used in recreational sports such as skijoring, bikejoring, carting, and canicross. Although these arctic dogs are not the fastest, their endurance is impressive.
Before owning a Malamute, you will also need to keep in mind where you and your dog will be living. These dogs thrive in cold climates, and they do not adapt well to hotter, more humid conditions. An ideal location for a Malamute is someplace that does not average high temperatures. If this location gets frequent snowfall, that’s even a bonus for this breed.
Training A Malamute
As a Malamute parent, providing proper training is a must. Due to their large size, these canines can very quickly become a handful. For instance, these dogs were bred to pull heavy sleds, so you can imagine what it would be like trying to walk an untrained Malamute on a leash—you’d be in for a ride.
Training should begin the very day you bring your dog home, no matter their age. Commands to work on can include sit, stay, down, off, come, and heel. You may also quickly discover how valuable it is to crate train your dog. Putting your dog in a crate when they are left alone not only protects your items from being chewed up but also makes sure that your dog will not consume something harmful while you are away.
Going hand-in-hand with training is socialization. Socialization is a crucial part of raising a well-rounded Malamute. It should also begin as early as possible (young puppies should wait until they are up to date with shots) and should continue throughout your dog’s entire life—this should help decrease your dog’s chances of becoming antisocial.
Opportunities for socialization and training are all around us, but sometimes you may have to get a little creative. Great items to begin with include:
- Going to a puppy obedience class
- Visiting new parks and dog parks
- Walking in new and varied areas
- Introducing your dog to other dogs, cats, and various animals
- Having new people come to your home
As you can imagine, the list of socialization and training options can be nearly endless.
With such a dense coat, you may be hesitant that the grooming needs for a Malamute will be quite extensive, but that is surprisingly not the case.
Don’t be mistaken. These curly-tailed dogs do need brushed multiple times a week, but they do not require frequent baths. Malamutes are not known to carry that “dog smell,” and they even prefer to keep themselves well-maintained. Unless your dog has a run-in with some mud puddles, you could easily go multiple months in between doggy baths.
About once a month, or sometimes more frequently, your dog’s nails will need to be trimmed. On a weekly basis, you should check your dog’s ears for signs of redness or a bad odor, which could be the sign of an infection. To help reduce the chance of ear infections, be sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly—monthly will often suffice.
At least once a week, you should brush your dog’s teeth—multiple times a week is even better. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth can help prevent dental-related health issues, plus it can keep that stinky dog breath at bay.
Health & Nutrition
Dog nutrition is important, and, independent from genetic factors and calorie intake, an imbalanced gut microbiome has been linked to:
- Food Allergies & Intolerances and Inflammatory-related conditions such as:
- skin complaints
- digestive disorders
Processed dog food loaded with additives, synthetics, and chemicals can upset the balance of microbiome by fuelling the harmful bacteria. This type of imbalance can contribute to 'leaky gut', a condition where the intestine lining becomes permeated. There is a delicate intestinal mucosa lining protecting the gut, which allows digested nutrients to pass through the system into the bloodstream. This mucous lining provides an effective barrier against toxins passing through and entering the dog's system. When this lining becomes compromised, food particles and toxins 'leak' through and trigger an immune response, prompting systemic inflammation, all of which makes your dog more prone to illness. DEFRA-approved and raw green tripe for dogs can promote a healthy microbiome and support their digestion.
Build her routine care into your schedule to help your Mal live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep her out of trouble and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth.
- Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly.
- Alaskan Malamutes often have serious problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week!
- Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- She's a large dog with lots of energy, so keep her mind and body active, or she'll get bored. That's when the naughty stuff starts.
- Mals are expert diggers and climbers. It is recommended that you bury your fence and that it is at least 6 feet tall.
- Malamutes can be affected by snow nose, which is a loss of pigment from the nose, making her prone to sunburn. She will need dog-safe sunscreen.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give her people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for her age.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.