Malamute:Origin and North American
by Katerina Scheuflerova
ONE OF THE OLDEST BREEDS EVER...
The Alaskan Malamute is a very old breed. We can probably date it's
origin back several thousands of years. This theory is confirmed by the
archeological finds from the period before 12-20 thousands of years,
that coincide with the contemporary type of the Alaskan Malamute.We can
dare say that an Alaskan Malamute is then one of the oldest breeds, or
maybe the oldest breed ever. These archeological researches have also
confirmed, that the Alaskan Malamutes have been used as sled dogs for
the last 3-5 hundred years, although as pack carriers or weight
pullers, they have been used even even earlier than this.ORIGIN
We don't know for sure what breeds have played a role in creating of
the Alaskan Malamute. Some people believe that the Malamute was created
by crossing the wolf with a dog and that may explain Mal's wolf-like
appearance. On the other hand, there are many character and other
differences between dog and wolf and this theory is disputed by them.
The truth is maybe somewhere in the middle: Malamutes have been created
and bred with other dogs, but perhaps the crossing with a wolf may have
occurred. But with high probability, these dogs haven't played any
important role in the producing of the Malamute. The wolf look of the
Mal is possibly due to the "naturality" of the breed - Mals and wolves
have lived in the same conditions and biotopes. This point in the
history of the Malamute is still a big mystery...MAHLEMUTS
The name of the breed is derived from the name of the Eskimo tribe
called the Mahlemuts (or the Mahlemuits), that have for ages used these
dogs for many different purposes which included hunting, pulling
and carrying packs. These Inuits, that probably lived in the northwest part
of Seward Peninsula, were humane and kind to their dogs and cared about
their good condition. After all, in those times sled dogs were the only
means of transport and humans and dogs often depended on each other -
as they wouldn't survive have been able to survive alone. On the other
hand, Eskimo people used strict character selections - dogs that had been
agressive to people or other dogs in the pack were put down. Only the
friendly, less agressive and fully controlled Mals that could cooperate
with the pack and their master were bred. Possibly the true "heroes of
the north" (dogs that were distinguished in some way) were the ones that
were intentionally mated with the convenient bitches.
IN SEARCH FOR FOOD
Migrations have also played an important role in the history of the
Alaskan Malamute because Inuits regurarly moved to new hunting
grounds and places that had enough food resources. Seaside areas offered
possibilities of hunting and also fishing and that explained the higher
ocurrence of these sled dogs north and south of the place of their
original place of origin - surroundings of the Kotzebue Sound. Alaskan
Malamutes of the pure type have lived especially in this area. The name
"Kotzebue" is also a title of one of the 3 (respectively 2) main
breeding lines of the Alaskan Malamutes.GOLD RUSH
The period of the Gold Rush (1896 - 1899) is one of the most critical
periods in the history of the breed. Eskimo people had settled in one
place so they didn't need large numbers of sled dogs anymore. Therefore
they started to sell them to arriving prospectors. In those times, the
packs of Alaskan Malamutes were most sought after and valued.
Unfortunately still, the breed was almost destroyed because it was
during this time crossed with smaller and faster dogs for sled dog races
and with bigger, Saint Bernard type dogs for dogfights and weight
REVIVAL OF THE BREED
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the situation was critical. But
then an important reversal in the history of the Alaskan Malamutes took
place. Fortunately, a small group of fans became interested in this
remarkable breed and with their help, the Alaskan Malamute was admitted
into the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935. In this year too the
AMCA (Alaskan Malamute Club of America) was formed. Registration of
this new club closely followed, when there were enough dogs for a
The registration of the Mal by the AKC was credited mainly to the
Seeleys, Arthur Walden and Allan Alexander because of their big
enthusiasm and a lot of work they had done to help to the breed.
At Arthur Walden, who have owned dogs of the resembling type (this
Mals haven't looked like today ones), Alexander met Eve Seeley and
showed her one of his dogs and he said that this dog is the true type of the
Alaskan load dog. The dog didn't have any name, so they gave him one:
Rowdy of Nome. Later, they had succesfully obtained more dogs
resembling type of Rowdy of Nome: A bitch Bessie and male Yukon Jad.
From their mating, 4 puppies were born in 1929: The males Tugg, Gripp,
Finn and Kersage of Yukon. It was the first litter that arose from equal
breeding material. Litters from the Seeleys' kennel "Chinook", that were
bred from these dogs, established a basis for the Kotzebue line. Dogs from
Chinook have took part in two Antarctic expeditions and were trained and
transported for these purposes by the Seeleys.
The true and purebred Kotzebue dogs are always grey and white, not too
tall, they are less irritable and agressive and are more active.
This line was established by Paul Voelker and it's still found in many
kennels. Dogs from this line are still common especially in the Middle
Western USA. Athough the main Voelker's interest belonged to
Malamutes, he worked with little diverse types and he didn't endeavour to
register his dogs with the AKC. Typical M'Loot dogs are bigger, the come
in many different colours (such as grey and white, black and white, seal,
sable, red and white, brown and white or pure white). They're often more
agressive and larger.
HINMAN (IRWIN) LINE
Few dogs came from this line, but it still have a big impact on the
quality of the breed. It have been created by mating the M'Loot dogs
with the Kotzebue lines. The breeding basis of "Husky-Pak Kennel",
owned by the Zoller's, have played the biggest role in this line's breeding
program because it provided an excellent representatives of the Mals for
this program. Their best dog, Ch. Cliquot of Husky-Pak became the
official symbol of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America.
This line is very rare today.
CHANGING ROLES OF ALASKAN MALAMUTES
During World War II., many sled dogs were used for war purposes (the
registered Mals were also included). After the war, the same dogs
safeguarded the triumph of an Antarctic expeditition. Unfortunately, the
war and circumstances almost completely decimated the numbers of
Malamutes. The registery was opened again for the Mal owners by the
AKC, although under strict conditions. During this period, the dogs of the
M'Loot and Hinman lines were also registered. Regrettably it was a very
short period, that was suddently stopped by the AKC in defiance of
protests of AMCA. So every "purebred" Malamute of today is originated
from Kotzebue line or from "open period" at the end of 40. years.
WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
In the present, the Alaskan Malamute is the second most popular nordic
breed. The breed has spread from North America to almost all countries
of the world. We can find Mals in Europe, Australia and also Africa.
Without the help of a few people, whose had a love and enthusiasm for
the breed, and some circumstances, the Mal would probably vanish forever
like many other breeds. Almost no one would know the name of the
Malamute. So it is necessary to regard these people who devoted and
dedicated their lifes to this beautiful animal - bear with a kindheart...
Photos & text copyrighted 1999 by Katerina Scheuflerova
© 1999, Planet-Pets.com, All rights reserved
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