If you have older children, the Alaskan Malamute temperament may well suit your family. This cuddly big dog is easy-going, loyal and intelligent, and he just adores his master.
However, even as a puppy, his bouncy nature and his rapidly increasing size can cause problems. For example, he can easily injure small children and elderly people, purely because he is enthusiastic to see them.
If your dog is well raised and trained, he will mature into a gentle and laid back companion.
The Alaskan Malamute sounds like the ideal family pet, but don't be too quick to choose this breed.
There are some things about the dog's temperament that you must know before you bring that gorgeous fluffy puppy home.
Intelligence and Independence – the Challenging Parts of Dog Temperaments
The Malamute is a very independent dog, and likes to be the boss. He can be difficult to train, and therefore not really suited to new dog owners.
The ideal handler for this type of dog temperament is someone who is experienced with dogs, and who can act as a fair and consistent leader of the family pack.
In spite of the difficulty, it's important that you do teach your Alaskan Malamute good manners from the day you bring him home.
We are all tempted to let a cute puppy get away with things, but it won't be so cute when he is a mature adult with a mind of his own. Start as you mean to finish and you'll be able to better manage your dog's temperament.
Watch Video of Alaskan Malamute
Animal Aggression and Prey Drive
The most frightening part of any dog temperament is aggression, and unfortunately this can be a problem in the Alaskan Malamute. While they are very reliable with people, they can't be trusted with other animals.
Many Malamutes are so aggressive with a canine companion that you can't house him with another dog of the same sex. Some won't put up with the opposite gender either. They are often best suited to an only-dog household to prevent dangerous fighting.
This breed is also very predatory with small animals such as cats and rabbits. If it runs, he will chase. Some Malamutes have been well socialized with other pets and they can live harmoniously with other species, but you should never be complacent. Always supervise your Malamute when there are other animals around.
Give your Malamute some space at mealtimes. He is very possessive of his food, and will become aggressive if he fears it is going to be taken away from him. Click here to learn how to stop dog food aggression.
The Alaskan Malamute Temperament Demands Activity
This dog was bred to haul a sled over ice for miles and miles, and he has astounding endurance.
This can be a burden on his owner – the Malamute needs an hour or more of exercise each day to be happy. He won't be content with being a stay at home pet without the opportunity to expend his energy.
If you decide to adopt a Malamute, then be prepared to walk him for miles. Take him hiking or rollerblading to tire him out. The best thing to do would be to join a sledding club and let him do what he was bred to do.
By doing so, you reduce the chances of boredom related behavior problems such as digging and howling. In fact if your Malamute is misbehaving you might be pleasantly surprise to see what exercise can do for his behavior problems.
You can expect your Alaskan Malamute to howl when he is bored, or when he is left alone for too long. This won't endear you to your neighbors! This is typical of the sled dog temperament, and can be prevented by giving him enough exercise and training. Do not confuse this specific reaction with dog separation anxiety which is itself different challenge.
If you go out often, then you will need to lock your Malamute away to dampen the noise. Or better yet, don't get a Malamute if you can devote the time that it requires.
Your Canine Escape Artist
The Malamute's independent streak can lead him to escape his yard and go exploring around his neighborhood. This can lead to him being hit by a car or becoming involved in a dog fight. Your dog needs sturdy 6 foot fences around his property to stop him getting out.
While these attractive dogs are great with people and children, there are many characteristics that make them difficult to live with. The Alaskan Malamute temperament is really only suited to someone who knows how to train and manage these assertive animals.
Other Working Dogs
The Alaskan Malamute falls in the dog group known as the Working Group. Dogs in this group are strong, large, and excel at tasks such as rescue, pulling, and gauarding. It should come as no suprise to you that they are typically smart, resourceful, fast learners and make great companions. To decide if another breed might be a better fit for you, check out the temperaments of other dogs that fall in the Working Group:
- Bullmastiff temperament
- Boxer temperament
- Akita temperament
- Great Dane temperament
- Great Pyrenees temperament
- Bernese Mountain dog temperament