Hardy working dogs, Alaskan Malamutes are really just great big puppies. Though they take their jobs pulling sleds or searching out lost humans very seriously, they love to run, romp and play and have a never-ending energy reserve. Their playful, easy-going nature and friendliness toward strangers makes them a great family companion.
This breed requires a lot of activity in order to stay happy. Malamutes who do not get enough exercise will let their owner know by barking, howling, or becoming destructive. As sled dogs, their endurance is what makes them appealing. They can haul heavy loads for miles, requiring few stops for rest and food. As family dogs, their endurance means Alaskan Malamutes can become a challenge. At least one hour of vigorous exercise per day is recommended for this breed.
They should not be kept in a warm climate as they can dehydrate very easily. As the name suggests, this breed hails from the far north, and they love cold weather and playing in the snow. Malamutes should live in a house with a fenced in yard, as their yen for adventure can lead them to scale fences.
Families with children should welcome an Alaskan Malamute. They are patient enough to handle children climbing all over them, and energetic enough to keep up with children engaged in rumpus outdoor play. However, small children can be in danger of getting knocked over by a Malamute, so adult supervision is required.
Though they instinctively love to work, Alaskan Malamutes are difficult to train in the home. Independent and willful dogs, a patient, consistent hand is needed when working with this breed. They like to be in charge, so the moment they see an opening to manipulate a situation, Malamutes will take it.
Their high endurance level made them the ideal choice for sled races and northern expeditions. Admiral Byrd famously used Alaskan Malamutes in his North Pole expeditions because of their high energy and endurance levels. They are also used in search and rescue missions across the north, including avalanche missions.
Howling is guaranteed when an Alaskan Malamute is left alone, so families who live in close proximity to other people should think twice about adopting one. Separation anxiety is also common, as the Malamute loves to be with his people. Proper exercise and activity will prevent this problem from growing.
Food aggression is also common in the Alaskan Malamute, and difficult to train out of them. Children should be taught never to disturb this dog while he is eating.