Alaskan Malamute Sophie

Malamute:Origin and North American
History of the Breed

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

pulling contests.

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

breedingprogram.

KOTZEBUE LINE

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.

M'LOOT LINE

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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