ALASKAN MALAMUTE: Appearance and Character
WHAT IS A BREED STANDARD?
We can dare say it's a description of an ideal representative of thebreed.
The AKC Alaskan Malamute standard is the original standard thatinfluences
cynological organizations in other countries like the FCI or ANKC. The
land of origin of the breed is almost always the biggest source of
information about that breed.MAL'S AKC (American Kennel Club) STANDARD
The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful
and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled
body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the
appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and
eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are
triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight
diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or
long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of
sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of
various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These
consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with
a bar and/or mask.
The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance
of a waving plume. The Malamute must be a heavy boned dog with sound
legs, good feet, deep chest and powerful shoulders, and have all of the
other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of
his job. The gait must be steady, balanced, tireless and totally
efficient. He is not intended as a racing sled dog designed to compete
in speed trials. The Malamute is structured for strength and endurance,
and any characteristic of the individual specimen, including
temperament, which interferes with the accomplishment of this purpose,
is to be considered the most serious of faults.
Size, Proportion, Substance:
There is a natural range in size in the breed. The desirable freighting
sizes are males, 25 inches (63,5 cm) at the shoulders, 85 pounds (38,5
kg); females, 23 inches (58,4 cm) at the shoulders, 75 pounds (34 kg).
However, size consideration should not outweigh that of type,
proportion, movement and other functional attributes. When dogs are
judged equal in type, proportion, movement, the dog nearest the
desirable freighting size is to be preferred. The depth of chest is
approximately one half the height of the dog at the shoulders, the
deepest point being just behind the forelegs. The length of the body
from point of shoulder to the rear point of pelvis is longer than the
height of the body from ground to top of the withers. The body carries
no excess weight, and bone is in proportion to size.
The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to
the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an
affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull.
Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are
preferred. Blue eyes are a disqualifying fault! The ears are of medium
size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in
shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the
outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the
eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the
skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work,
the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a
fault. The skull is broad and moderately rounded between the ears,
gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes,
rounding off to cheeks that are moderately flat. There is a slight
furrow between the eyes. The topline of the skull and the topline of the
muzzle show a slight break downward from a straight line as they join.
The muzzle is large and bulky in proportion to the size of the skull,
diminishing slightly in width and depth from junction with the skull to
the nose. In all coat colors, except reds, the nose, lips, and eye rims'
pigmentation is black. Brown is permitted in red dogs. The lighter
streaked "snow nose" is acceptable. The lips are close fitting. The
upper and lower jaws are broad with large teeth. The incisors meet with
a scissors grip. Overshot or undershot is a fault.
Neck, Topline, Body:
The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed.
The body compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and
gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A longloin
that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail is moderately set and
follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the
back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the
back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well
furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.Forequarters:
The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and
muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns
are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The
feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads,
giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight
fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between
the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.Hindquarters:
The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles
moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When
viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the
movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the
rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppiesarewhelped.
The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The
undercoat is dense, from one to two inches (2,5 - 5 cm) in depth, oily
and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the
undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the
body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and
neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume.
Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer
months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable
except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.
The usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to
black, sable, and shadings of sable to red. Color combinations are
acceptable in undercoats, points, and trimmings. The only solid color
allowable is all white. White is always the predominant color on
underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A whiteblazeon
the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and
acceptable. The Malamute is mantled, and broken colors extending overthe
body or uneven splashing are undesirable.
The gait of the Malamute is steady, balanced, and powerful. He is agile
for his size and build. When viewed from the side, the hindquarters
exhibit strong rear drive that is transmitted through a well-muscled
loin to the forequarters. The forequarters receive the drive from the
rear with a smooth reaching stride. When viewed from the front or from
the rear, the legs move true in line, not too close or too wide. At a
fast trot, the feet will converge toward the centerline of the body. A
stilted gait, or any gait that is not completely efficient and tireless,
is to be penalized.
Important: In judging Malamutes, their function as a sledge dog for
heavy freighting in the Arctic must be given consideration above all
else. The degree to which a dog is penalized should depend upon the
extent to which the dog deviates from the description of the ideal
Malamute and the extent to which the particular fault would actually
affect the working ability of the dog. The legs of the Malamute must
indicate unusual strength and tremendous propelling power. Any
indication of unsoundness in legs and feet, front or rear, standing or
moving, is to be considered a serious fault. Faults under this provision
would be splay-footedness, cowhocks, bad pasterns, straight shoulders,
lack of angulation, stilted gait (or any gait that isn't balanced,
strong and steady), ranginess, shallowness, ponderousness, lightness of
bone, and poor overall proportion.
Approved April 12, 1994 Effective May 31, 1994
The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a "one man"
dog. He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful on invitation, but
generally impressive by his dignity after maturity. Even when a Mal
grows up he is usually a playful dog. My Sophie was very lazy and didn't want
to play in the summer but she acted like a puppy again in the autumn and
winter. Some Mals don't very much like the hot summer weather but of course they can
adapt to almost all conditions. The fact is, that there are some Mals living in
Australia, South Africa, Spain and other warm climates without problems.
Some Mals have a strong hunting instinct. It goes back to the time when they
were used for many different purposes - inluding hunting - by their
Inuit owners. My girl Sophie hunts almost everything smaller than she
and that moves - including cats (on occasion she has a respect for them),
chicken, shares, pheasants, etc. This instinct may be stronger than the Mal
himself. When some Mals encounter "prey" nobody (if he isn't on a lead) and
nothing can stop him.
The water is usually a source of fun for Mals. Some love to swim, some not. My
Sophie is quite a good retriever too, she likes to retrieve logs and
other things that I throw in the water. Almost all Mals, especially
young ones, like to put their paws in their water bowls and dig.
When it's hot, it's a good idea to refresh a Mal by sprinkling him a
little with a hose.
One very interesting fact about Mals is that they bark very little.They
use howling to communicate and sometimes they can be very talkative.
Truly, they sometimes seem to be trying to talk with us and the sounds they
make sound quite similar to human speech.
Mals are very clean and they have a nice smell that is different from
other dogs. Mals usually lose their coat two times per year
This can be a difficult time for their owners - but for the rest of the
year they won't drop any hair. Some Mals (especially those with longer
hair) may lose their coat slightly throughout the year, but only in small patches.
It isn't necessary to keep a Mal as a pack animal with other dogs. Of
course a Mal can enjoy your company without any other dogs around. Some people
that have become familiar with this breed sometimes can't help
themselves and a friend of the same breed may arrive soon afterwards.
Some Males and females can be aggressive to dogs of the same gender,but
aggressiveness to people, puppies or dogs of the opposite sex is
unwanted and usually not tolerated. Females may be more aggressive and
less obedient before, in and shortly after their heat cycle.
Bitches, in almost every case, have two heat cycles per year.Females
may be great mothers and are usually very careful with their puppies. Litters may be
quite big (around 6 puppies) but sometimes only one puppywill arrive.
The Malamute is a true pack animal with the natural instinct to "lead or
be lead"; therefore, training must begin as early as three to fivemonthsof age.
Some people think that Mals are dumb, but they really aren't. They're
very very clever, especially when they want something. They can do
almost anything to get it. A Mal can be trained as any other dog, the
problem is that they're sometimes strong-headed. On the other hand, my
Sophie on occasion has been more obedient than German Shepherds and other
similar breeds. The key to having a (relatively) obedient Malamute is
careful and kind training that must start early. If the trainer becomes angry and
hysterical, he will "create" a similar behaviour in his dog.
Mals (especially males) can sometimes be dominant, especially duringtheir
You need to show them as early as you can that you're their master and
leader. This will avoid many problems in the future.
When they're well trained and educated, Mals make friendly, playful and
kind companions. They can be kept together with asmall chidren, but of
course (as with all other breeds), always with adult supervision.
Not only their appearance but also their special character makes the
Malamute a jewel in the dog world.
Photos & text copyrighted 2000 by Katerina Scheuflerova
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