Alaskan Malamutes Pros and Cons
Life with Malamutes (Photo: @lifewithmalamutes / Instagram)
helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on August 13, 2019

Alaskan Malamutes have their pros and cons like any dog breed.

The sled dogs were bred to haul heavy loads thanks to their powerful physiques.

Alaskan Malamutes are used to a pack and tribe setting, which explains why they’re reasonably sociable.

The American Kennel Club say everything about Mals points to their origin as an arctic sled dog, including the heavy bone, deep chest, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coat.

Malamutes usually shed twice a year at the changing of the seasons. They’re not a hypoallergenic dog breed.

These large northern canines are the 58th most popular dog breed in the USA, according to the American Kennel Club.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of the Alaskan Malamute breed.

We’ll also get the input of Life of Malamutes, who are the biggest Alaskan Malamute account on photo-sharing social media platform Instagram with over 380,000 followers.

Pros

Alaskan Malamutes pulling a sled (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Alaskan Malamutes pulling a sled (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Intelligence

Alaskan Malamutes have a reputation for being intelligent dogs. These sled dogs were ranked at number 50 in the famous “Intelligence of Dogs” book. They thrive with a task to complete, putting their IQ to use. This breed usually have an inner confidence when making decisions and like to be independent thinkers. To get the best out of your Alaskan Malamute pup, you’ll want to take your Mal to puppy manners and obedience classes.

Life With Malamutes writes:

They are super smart once you find what works for your pet and invest time in training them well as pups it pays dividends for years to come.

Loyalty

Alaskan Malamutes have a pack mentality, which in turn creates a deep loyalty to their family members. Let’s not forget the Alaskan Malamute were bred by the Mahlemuit Inupiaq tribe to play an important role in the day-to-day lives of these nomads. In doing so, an incredible bond was forged between dog and human. Generally speaking, this northern breed will develop a strong bond with the family members. This adoration means Malamutes will do their utmost to protect the unit. Having said that, these Alaskan dogs are still friendly with new people and new dogs.

Life With Malamutes writes:

They are super loyal. You are their world, they will die for you.

Protection

Although Alaskan Malamutes are a friendly breed, they can also act as adept protecting dogs. The northern dogs are large: males can weigh up to 85 pounds, females can weigh up to 75 pounds. They’ll usually grow to a height between 23 and 25 inches. These are big dogs whose stature alone should be enough to warn off any unwanted intruders. Their loyalty to the family means they’ll do what it takes to protect those in their pack.

Life With Malamutes writes:

They’re very protective. They make good guard dogs if needed.

Pack mentality

These sled dogs have a pack mentality. Although owning one Alaskan Malamute is perfectly acceptable, you may find two Malamutes together will make life that little bit more exciting for your dogs (and owners!). The breed were bred to work together to haul heavy loads over long distances as part of a pack. Therefore, they’re used to being around other Malamutes and large dogs. If you look at some big Malamute accounts on Instagram, you’ll notice that they usually come in pairs (or in some cases, threes, fours or more). Speaking from my experience with my Alaskan Klee Kai (companion-sized northern dogs), a second dog will usually make life a little easier. The American Kennel Club do have a warning for Malamute owners: “Mals are pack animals. And in your family ‘pack,’ the leader must be you.”

Life With Malamutes writes:

They work well together – its good to have more than one for a pack life.

Playfulness

These striking dogs have a playful side that will put a smile on the faces of their owners and everyone they meet. Alaskan Malamutes are often described as “cheerful” dogs. They can be great playmates. For this reason, they do well in a home with older children. Due to their sheer size, they may not be a good fit for families with young children or elderly people. However, this is could be a personal preference after some careful consideration. The American Kennel Club write: “a well-behaved Mal is a joy to be with—playful, gentle, friendly, and great with kids.”

Life With Malamutes writes:

You can get into sports with them: rallying, racing, sledding and mountain climbing. We do all sorts of extreme sports with ours.

Cons

Alaskan Malamutes walking in winter forest (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Alaskan Malamutes walking in winter forest (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Hard to train

While Alaskan Malamutes are smart dogs, they’re not necessarily easy to train. The breed have a reputation for being independent thinkers with a stubborn streak. Therefore, you’ll want to bring your Malamute to training from early puppyhood in order to establish basic obedience and some ground rules. The American Kennel Club offer some advice on this potential issue:
“If a Mal doesn’t respect you, he will wind up owning you instead of the other way around. Firm but loving training should begin in early puppyhood.”

Life With Malamutes writes:

They do take a lot longer to train than some breeds as they are so stubborn. It’s not that they aren’t intelligent but they choose to ignore you after a while.

Ability to overpower

Due to their sheer size, Alaskan Malamutes can easily overpower their owners. It’s something to consider, especially if you’re a lightweight individual attempting to handle one or more of these sled dogs. Given they can weigh up to 80 pounds (although some are even heavier than this), you’ll want to ensure you’ve got their ear. It comes back to training!

Life With Malamutes writes:

Two is very hard for me if I have them on leads and a squirrel runs past or something. They can – and have – overpowered me in the past. I have been dragged down hills into puddles, into lakes and all sorts due to their sheer strength.

Require a lot of exercise

You won’t be surprised to learn that Alaskan Malamutes require a substantial amount of exercise. These northern dogs have a lot of energy, which makes sense given Malamutes were bred to pull loads on sleds. You’ll want to ensure your Alaskan Malamute gets around 90 minutes of exercise a day. Some of the activities that Mals will enjoy include hiking, running and swimming. Regular exercise could help to dissuade your Malamute from naughty behaviour inside the home.

Life With Malamutes writes:

We do 10,000 steps a day which is an hour power walk plus more at weekends – but they need more than this really.

Expensive to insure

Alaskan Malamutes are large dogs that can leave a large dent in your wallet! These northern dogs aren’t cheap to insure. It’s something that pet owners will need to consider before they bring home one of these magnificent dogs. The insurance will creep up as these big dogs get older – too.

Life With Malamutes writes:

Honestly the quotes we get to insure these pets is insane especially as they get older. We are actually thinking it’d be better to just put the monthly insurance premium into an ISA and spend it as and when needed rather than trying to claim.

Expensive to feed

They’re not cheap to insure – and they’re not cheap to feed, either. You’ll want to make sure you’re giving your Alaskan Malamutes a diet that provides all the nutrients these dogs need to be happy and healthy. The American Kennel Club add that they should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. If you were to provide them with a freshly cooked meals from a dog food delivery company, you could pay £95 a month. That equates to nearly £1200 a year on dog food!

Life With Malamutes writes:

We feed them high quality. A lot of people feed raw which is equally as expensive. We are passionate about feeding grain free which comes at a cost. To adequately feed two Malamutes, it costs roughly £220 a month.