Alaskan Malamute - King Of The North

The Alaskan Malamute was first bred by the Mahlemiut people. They lived in Alaska on the huge Kotzbue Sound region between the Rivers Kobuk and Noatak. This was originally a part of the Russian Empire but was sold to the United States of America in 1867 for $7 200 000. The Mahlemiut people were highly respected for their bravery and fishing skills. They were tall with soft faces and they treated their dogs somewhat better than other people did. Their dogs were bigger and stronger than other Nordic dogs and were very similar to the Artic Wolf. It is cited in historical sources that from 1870 to 1880 reindeer - caribou, for unclear reasons, changed their migration route. Thus they took away the Mahlemiut people's primary source of food. During these times, families could not afford more than two or three dogs, so women and children helped to pull sleighs. The people began to die out and the same fate almost befell their dogs.

When gold was discovered in Bonanza Creek, Klondike in 1896, gold fever broke out and the Alaskan Malamute became the most valued dog for pulling. At that time they started to mate them with other dogs, but fortunately the Malamutes had such strong genes that their characteristics remained intact even in the third generation crosses. This crossing is the reason for the differences which we find in today's Malamutes.

These dogs were later used, after 1888, by Frederik Cook and Robert Elwin Peary in their conquering of the North Pole. Roald Amundsen conquered the South Pole with Malamutes on 14 December, 1911. Around the same time Robert Falcon Scott made the same journey with ponies but they perished in the cold and ice. Scott himself also never returned from the expedition.

Today's advancements have presented man with a large choice of means for expeditions. However, there are still people who, together with dogs, still come to blows with the cruelty of nature. In 1982 the Russian, Sergej Soloviev, travelled 10000 km in 243 days with his team of dogs between Velen and Murmansk. An international expedition to the North Pole travelled 6000 km in 6 months with these dogs, returning to Mirny on 3 March, 1990.

The first written records of the Alaskan Malamute date from 1824 in 'The Private Journal of Captain G. F Lyon'. In Tappan Adney's book 'The Klondike Stampede', published in 1899, the author also includes very good drawings of dogs and teams. He wrote that the best dog in Yukon was an Eskimo dog, which the gold seekers called Malamute. Knud Rasmunsen and Amundsen described the following to the author of the book on Malamutes. There has never been a dog better suited to life in the cold north. Its hair is so thick that it protects it from the terrible Artic cold. Its paws are strong and compact so that snow and ice do not gather between its toes. It is not a fussy eater. It eats anything and requires essentially less food than other dogs of the same size. The Malamute is a friendly and loyal dog. It enjoys being pampered but at the same time is a very jealous and fearless contender. This dog will not jump enthusiastically around you and greet you. It is self-assured, headstrong and can sometimes even be a difficult friend, but it is not true that a dog which causes a little difficulty, cannot offer a lot of pleasure.
Anyone who has tackled researching the history of this breed would agree with the finding that it originated in a specific part of the Artic. When we wish to research the history of today's Malamute, our research can only begin with the years 1930 to 1940, the time at which individuals began to rear this breed and deliver pedigrees, holding the name ALASKAN MALAMUTE, to their buyers. We can trace some 50 Malamutes from this period whose ancestors were stated on the pedigree as UNKNOWN. In the beginning nobody knew how to describe or clarify a typical representative of this breed. Unfortunately, the Inuits did not have their own canine associations were the first dog-lovers of this breed could try to find the necessary clarification. Therefore the representation of this breed was initially dependent on the many different opinions of individuals. This is also why the breed still has so many different types of dog today.


In 1947 huge 70 kg weight Malamutes were still appearing in the show ring, wich were actually half St Bernard or Newfoundland. New immigrants in Alaska crossed the Malamute with the Saint Bernard, as they wished to breed a dog which could pull heavier loads. Therefore they got huge Malamutes, which were really exceptionally strong, but unfortunately a new and also large problem emerged for these people. The additional weight which these giants could pull meant additional food. In the hard Artic conditions, food was most precious and the Inuits particularly valued these dogs because they only required half as much food as other dogs of the same size.

f you have decided, that you like the Alaskan Malamute because of its appearance and size, you probably wish to know more about its character and temperament, etc. Above all this dog is big friend of people of all ages. It has a lively and attentive temperament and is easily adaptable to any environment.
A feature of the Malamute's character is their great independence and because of this nature these dogs were very much cherished for pulling. During blizzard they had to choose their own safe routes across thin ice and past cracks in it, as man could not direct the sleigh due to bad visibility of the dogs.

Sources: This Is The Alaskan Malamute - by Joan McDonald Brearley 1975
The Complete Alaskan Malamute - by Maxwell Riddle and Eva B. Seeley 1981
The Alaskan Malamute Reference Journal - The Alaskan Malamute Club of America Inc. volume 1 - 8

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