Sledog Alaskan Malamutes and Greenland Dogs

We can not express how important it is to do your research of these breeds before deciding that one is for you.
There is no excuse for not being well prepared for Malamute or Greenland ownership as information is easily available.
See below for a list of book titles available. The internet is also a valuable tool for research, there are numerous sites that have information on both breeds.
Both the Malamute club and the Greenland club will issue you with an information booklet to read. Links to both are on this site.
Please ensure that you are completely certain that you can give a home for life to these wonderful breeds before joining a breeders waiting list.
Also see below for a list of FAQs which are enquiries received from potential Malamute owners, most of these also apply to Greenland dogs as they are of a similar nature, although Greenland dogs may be a bit more of a challenge than Malamutes.
Ensure you also research the kennels that you want to enquire about puppies from, as that can make a huge difference. Health checks must be carried out on all breeding stock and the appropriate code of ethics adhered to. Always ask to see the kennel area and dogs, check the dogs are approachable and that there is not a problem with temperaments. Ask the breeder what they hoped for with the mating. Why they are breeding and are they keeping a puppy.
These breeds are big boisterous dogs and temperament is of paramount importance.
Health test results can be checked on the KC website - Click here
Eye tests will be either unaffected (clear) or affected for HC.
Hip score comparison chart  
 
BOOKS

A NEW OWNERS’S GUIDE TO ALASKAN MALAMUTES

Author: Mary Jane & Al Holabach

Publisher: TFH Publications, Inc

ISBN: 0-7938-2789-2

ALASKAN MALAMUTES – a complete pet owners guide

Author: Betsy Sikora Siino
Publisher: Barron’s

ISBN: 0-7641-0018-1

ALASKAN MALAMUTE – a compleat canine compendium

Author: Thomas Stockman

Publisher: Pet Love

ISBN: 1-902389-03-4

ALASKAN MALAMUTES

Author: Bill Le Kernec

Publisher: TFH Publications, Inc

ISBN: 0-87666-711-6

THE NEW COMPLETE ALASKAN MALAMUTE

Author: Maxwell Riddle & Beth J Harris

Publisher: Howell Book House

ISBN: 0-87605-008-9

THIS IS THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE

Author: Joan McDonald Brearley

Publisher: TFH Publications, Inc

ISBN: 0-87666-650-0

THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE – yesterday and today

Author: Barbara A Brooks & Sherry E Wallis

Publisher: Alpine

ISBN: 0-931866-96-0

GREENLAND DOGS – on the Eiger Glacier

Author: A U A Phillip

Publisher: Marion Hildebrand Verlag

ISBN: 3-923164-03-3

HEALTH CONCERNS - ALASKAN MALAMUTES
Below is a brief outline of some of the health issues affecting the Alaskan Malamute. Although an idea of the problems faced can be gained, this information is in no way exhaustive. To research these issues fully, please refer to any of the books listed in the Malamute reading section.
Gastric Dilation – Volvulus (Bloat / Torsion)
This is a life threatening condition and almost always requires surgery. It is prevalent in most deep chested breeds. Although extensive research has been carried out, a definite cause cannot be established and a genetic link has not been identified. The dog will swallow excessive amounts of air or produce excessive amounts of gas, which causes the stomach to “bloat” (dilation); it may also twist on its axis (volvulus).
Identifying the onset of the condition is of up most importance as veterinary care must be sort immediately. There will be an abnormal enlargement of the abdomen behind the rib cage and then usually non-productive vomiting follows. The general condition of the dog deteriorates rapidly.
The treatment, although opinions vary, will include rapid intravenous fluids and treatment for shock. If the twisting of the stomach is suspected then corrective surgery will be required.
Rapid food consumption is blamed as one cause due to the gulping of air while eating. Avoid allowing competition for food or kennelling males next to females while they are in season, as this causes rapid consumption of food so attention can be given back to the female quickly. Try to limit food and water intake, water before feeding not after and not to frequently change diets to reduce the risk involved. Do not exercise too close to feed time as this is also another suspected cause.
Unfortunately it seems that a dog, which has suffered from bloat, is more that likely to have another episode.
Hip Dysplasia (HD)
Although this is found in almost every breed, large dogs find it more difficult to cope as the extra weight puts more strain on the joint. The cause is an abnormal hip joint structure. The ball and socket joint must rotate and support the weight of the pelvis. Should the joint alter shape in any way this leads to degenerative joint disease and eventual osteoarthritis - a bony change. Diagnosis is carried out by x-raying the pelvic area.
Should a dog have severe abnormalities then stiffness and severe lameness may be noticed as early as 5/6 months old. If a dog has mild abnormalities then lameness may not be shown but stiffness in the hindquarters and a reluctance to stand still without shifting feet may be noticed. An affected dog may “bunny hop” when running where both rear legs appear tied together.
Unfortunately hip dysplasia is not consistent with age of onset, visual identification, and degree of pain or movement. As this condition cannot be cured the only corrective surgery involves removal of the femoral head or a hip replacement.
As it is believed to be an inherited disease all breeding stock must be x-rayed, although this will not guarantee progeny is free from the disease, it will certainly reduce the risk.
Posterior Sub Capsular Cataracts
Although not found especially frequently in the UK this condition does occur in Malamutes and is similar to the condition reported in Siberian Huskies. The condition usually appears by the dog’s first birthday as a triangle in the sub capsular area, which expands to cover the sub capsular cortex. The cataract does stabilize after a variable length of time, so complete blindness is unusual. As it is believed to be an inherited disease all breeding stock must be eye tested, although this will not guarantee progeny is free from the disease, it will certainly reduce the risk.
Coat Funk
Although not prevalent in the UK it is something that may occur as it is thought that the disease is dormant in the breed until triggered off with another ailment. The apparently normal puppy, usually male, once reaching mid age will develop the condition. It appears first around the neck with the guard hairs breaking off, eventually all of the guard hairs break and leave behind the woolly under coat. The head, face and spinal area may be unaffected but the guard hairs will be sparse here. The coat will not shed properly and so the dead hair will have a reddish tinge.  One shaved the dog may grow a normal coat but the condition usually reappears.
Chondrodysplasia (Dwarfism)
Although not found in the UK, knowledge of this condition is important due to the number of imports arriving here from affected countries. This condition may be similar to dyschondroplasia found in humans, a simple dwarfism is found in other breeds but the Malamute exhibits a more complex condition involving related anemia, which can exist partially in seemingly unaffected carriers.
Dwarf puppies have angular limb deformities in early puppy-hood, which varies in severity. An x-ray at 3-12 weeks of age will confirm the diagnosis. The front legs are shorter and appear bowed, and puppies will appear uninterested in exercise. The adult dog will appear as normal but with a shorter front stature due to the truncated front legs. Extensive research has been carried out in the USA and findings have been assisting the AMCA in trying to eliminate the affected gene.
Hypothyroidism
Adult onset is the result of lymphocytic thyrioditis or idiopathic atrophy of the thyroid, the cause has yet to be determined. Juvenile onset is very rare. The symptoms are lethargy, dullness, hair loss and obesity most of which relate to the basic metabolism. Some bitches do not have a season or have abnormal ones. Darkening of the skin, a cold intolerance and a lowered heart rate can also be signs. As the signs appear gradually it may be the diagnosis is not made until the dog is between 4-10 years old. Diagnosis is carried out by a blood test and treatment is a synthetic hormone given orally. It should be assumed that this condition has a genetic origin and so affected dogs should not be used in a breeding program.
Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke)
As with all heavy coated breeds the Malamute is susceptible to heatstroke and treatment must be given immediately. This is not restricted to warmer countries and may be caused by over exertion.
The signs are raspy breathing, an increased production of saliva, which appears thickened, mucus membranes turning dark red, and the whites of the eyes become bloodshot. This may be followed by heavy respiration and laboured breathing. The dog may then lay down and become comatose as the condition worsens. Spray the dog with cold water and pack him in ice around the groin, armpit and pads this should be done before transporting to a vet. Call ahead to the veterinary surgery while transporting the dog to alert them to the emergency. Keep the car as cool as possible by opening all windows and turning the air conditioning on full. Never leave dogs in cars as this is the most frequent cause of heat stroke.
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - ALASKAN MALAMUTES
  • What colours do Malamutes come in?

    Malamutes come in a variety of intermediate shadings from light silver through to black. They also come in a variety of red shadings from gold through to liver. Always with a white under body, part legs and part face. Face markings can be a number of combinations of caplike or masklike. The only solid colour permissible is white.

  • I already have a cat, can I introduce a Malamute puppy into my home?

    Yes, providing this is done correctly when you first bring the Malamute into the home. An existing family cat will soon put a new puppy in it’s place. This will not extend to trespassing cats and of course they should never be left unsupervised with kittens.

  • Are Malamutes good guard dogs?

    No. A Malamute should never show aggression to people and that extends to complete strangers, they may however be a visual deterrent.

  • Are Malamutes good with game or stock?

    No. A Malamute should never be trusted with either.

  • I already have a dog, can I introduce a Malamute into my home?

    Malamutes are easier to introduce to existing dogs of the opposite sex. That is not to say that you can’t keep two dogs of the same sex together but it is quite unusual for this to work out and requires much time and effort on your part and is not guaranteed to succeed.

  • We are out of the house at work for most of the day, can I have a Malamute?

    This is not the best environment for a Malamute, as they are highly intelligent and easily bored. When boredom sets in they can howl excessively, destroy the home and become depressed. Malamutes do much better if someone is at home most or all of the day.

  • Can a Malamute live outside?

    Yes. Malamutes are quite happy living outside but to ensure you have a happy Malamute they should always be provided with good stimulation as they bore easily. They should be kept in a secure dry area and will do better with canine companionship of the opposite sex.

  • How much grooming does a Malamute need?

    A good brush out once a week will be sufficient for general care. Twice a year the coat "blows" which lasts about a week each time and at this time a daily brush would be required to ensure all dead coat is removed as quickly as possible. Malamutes keep themselves very clean and do not have a doggy odour, bathing is not generally essential, however, it helps around the blowing of the coat period to loosen undercoat and help the shedding process.

  • How much exercise do Malamutes need?

    A Malamute puppy should never be over exercised and a gradual increase over a number of months would be best. A mature Malamute however exercising at a steady pace will go on for as long as you can. A usual daily walk in excess of an hour will keep them both fit and happy.

  • Will Malamutes pull on the lead?

    Not if corrected at an early age. Malamutes are bred to pull and lead training is essential from puppy hood. It will take a lot of patience but it can be done. If you are going to work your dogs, teach them a command that will allow pulling.

  • Can Malamutes have blue eyes?

    No. A Malamute should never have blue eyes.

  • Will a Malamute dig in the garden?

    Not if corrected from an early age, if sufficient distractions are provided for them during the day i.e. toys and bones etc, then it can be avoided. Alternatively provide them with a "safe" digging area and direct them to this when digging starts in the no go areas.

  • Are Malamutes good at agility?

    Some are, a good few Malamutes have achieved great success at this. This will involve a good training relationship between handler and dog.

  • Where can I find a good breeder?

    The AMCUK has a self-regulated breeder’s list which is available. Breeders on this list adhere to the criteria set out. Never buy puppies from unrecognised sources.

  • What happens if my circumstances change and I am no longer able to keep my Malamute?

    A good breeder will always take back a dog they have bred. The AMCUK runs a very good rescue scheme, they provide advice for owners who do not want their dogs to go into rescue but need help and also are very careful where they re-home any dogs. However if there is any way it can be avoided for a dog to be signed over to rescue then that would be best, ensure you know exactly what you are taking on before pursuing Malamute ownership.

  • Where can I research the breed?

    There are several books on the Alaskan Malamute (see above) published both here and abroad. They are readily available to order from most book stores.

  • Are Malamutes a dominant breed?

    Yes. This dominance has to be controlled from a very young age, a puppy has to know his place in the family hierarchy from the moment it enters your home, if not they will become wilful and uncontrollable. They also go through an "adolescent" period and at this time, it is equally important to reinforce the hierarchy, depending on how this period is handled will determine the dog that emerges at the other end. Firm, patient and consistent training is needed. They do not respond well to physical correcting.

  • How will I know which puppy to choose in a litter?

    Depending on if you want your Malamute to participate in either showing, working or as a family pet, will determine the puppy you should have. A good breeder will give you advise in this area and will help explain the personalities of the litter and give an indication of potential showers, workers etc in their opinion. It is never fool proof though.

  • Where do I get advice from once my puppy is home?

    All good breeders will help and advise you for the dog’s entire life. Any problems you have can usually be sorted out with a little help from them, as an experienced breeder will have come across most questions before.

  • How much will a Malamute puppy cost?

    Puppies from good breeders can range anything from £750 to £1000, however remember that price does not equal quality.

  • Will Malamutes try to escape from the garden?

    While they probably would not expend much energy trying to escape, they would not ignore any weakness in the fencing if they discover it. A secure garden or run is a must.

  • Are Malamutes good with children?

    They should be. Malamutes are of a very friendly disposition and if they are not teased would enjoy the company of children. Obviously they should not be left unsupervised with small children.

  • How do Malamutes cope with Summer heat?

    You need to provide them with plenty of fresh water, somewhere in the shade, they love cold tiled floors and a child’s paddling pool is another favourite. They do shed most of their coats just before Summer. Ensure that you do not exercise them during the heat of the day and you will be surprised how adaptable they are. Never leave them in cars in direct sunlight.

  • How will a Malamute cope with living indoors?

    Malamutes are pack animals and will do very well as a member of the family. They should not however think that they are higher than you in the hierarchy. As long as they have their own area that they can retire to if they wish, you should not have a problem.

  • Breeders I have visited have said I have to sign a contract, is this normal?

    Yes. Responsible breeders will have certain criteria that they expect to be met. These will often be, ensuring that you return the dog should you not be able to keep it. Also the endorsements that are on the registrations to prevent indiscriminate breeding are explained. Usually such a breeder will give you copies of the parents’ hip score and eye tests along with the contract. This is beneficial to you as whilst hip scoring and eye testing stock will not prevent occurrences in progeny it certainly reduces the risk.

  • I want to give a home to a rescue dog, what should I consider?

    You would have asked yourself the normal questions regarding the ownership of a dog. You should also consider why a dog has been placed in rescue, does it have a problem (medical, behavioural etc) that you are willing to take on. Expect to be questioned very closely before you are chosen to give a rescue dog a home.

  • Why do I have to visit a breeder before they will consider me for their waiting list?

    Responsible breeders are very careful where their puppies are placed and will be questioning you to ensure that you are going to provide a good home. They will also be assessing you to see what puppy personality would fit in with your needs. This visit is also your chance to question the breeder to ensure that you are happy with them. Is their kennel clean, are the puppies wormed, socialised and healthy? Are they experienced breeders? Will they give you a starter kit and explain the paperwork to you? This visit is important for both breeder and the new owner.

  • Can Malamutes be walked off the lead?

    There are two schools of thought here. Although they may not run off they certainly would not return immediately if called. Dogs should be on leads in public places. It is down to the Mal, one may be better as two tend to encourage each other.

  • How much do Malamute puppies eat?

    Malamute puppies require feeding 3-4 times a day, reducing down to twice a day at 6 months old – a good quality protein diet with added raw meat or a natural diet is recommended, however, always take the advice from your breeder, who should supply you with a full diet sheet and food samples to take home with you.

 
 
 
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