King of the North, the Alaskan Malamute never backs down from a challenge---at least, not when it comes to feats of strength and endurance.
According to DNA evidence, Malamutes are one of the most ancient breeds. First known as Mahlmuts, from Mahle (Inuit tribe name) and mut (dog), they were developed in Alaska to hunt seals and polar bears and to haul heavy loads. The breed was almost lost to interbreeding with other dogs during the Alaskan Gold Rush. They were revived in the 1920s.
Malamutes have been key players in several adventures, including Admiral Byrd's 1933 trek to the South Pole. They also served in World War II as freight haulers, pack animals and search & rescue dogs.
Malamutes are independent but fun loving. They have a habit of causing mischief unless they're adequately entertained. They enjoy tough---really tough---toys.
The Malamute's large size brings some special concerns, including joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia, and probably elbow dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size---just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, are also vital for protecting joint health throughout life.
Be careful to keep your adult Malamute at a lean weight. Too much weight stresses the joints, and can worsen arthritic changes. You may need to feed a low-calorie food. When dieting a dog, you must make sure he gets enough vitamins. We suggest supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and, if the coat is dry, a fatty-acid supplement.
One of the Malamute's largest concerns is bloat or gastric torsion, a condition in which the gases accumulate in the stomach and can't escape. The stomach may then twist, totally cutting off any ability for anything to leave the stomach. The dog's stomach enlarges as gases continue to accumulate, and the dog is restless and tries unsuccessfully to vomit. This is an extreme emergency that needs immediate veterinary attention to save the dog. Nobody knows exactly how to prevent it, but many veterinarians advocate feeding an anti-gas pill with every meal.
Like all Northern breeds, Malamutes can develop a coat problem related to insufficient levels of zinc in the diet. Adding a multi-vitamin daily may be helpful in some cases.
Use a shampoo designed to build body. A whitening shampoo can help bring out the coats highlights.
As Malamutes age, they may form calluses on their elbows. Encourage your dog to rest on soft surfaces (even carpeting can be abrasive, but is still better than hard tile). Using a cooling blanket or simply placing a fan so it blows over a soft cushion can help steer him to the better surface. Moisturizers applied to the calloused area can also help, as can wrapping the elbows with padding.
Brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.
Malamutes may be affected by age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, at an earlier age compared to smaller dogs. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him going strong!