Adopting an Alaskan Malamute
What you need to
know and think about before adopting...
The Alaskan Malamute is a very
attractive breed and often finds itself in unsuitable homes with owners who have
no understanding of the origins, instincts and needs of the breed. In some
cases owners simply find they do not have the time or room for a Malamute, or
perhaps are moving or have suffered a marriage breakup. Whatever the reason,
there is a constant need to find new homes for Malamutes.
Back to top
Adopt an Alaskan Malamute
Adopting a dog in need can be a
very rewarding situation and provide a happy outcome for an unwanted Alaskan
Malamute, but it is a decision that must not be made without a great deal of
consideration, research and objectivity. If you are not going to be able to
provide the dog with a caring and suitable long-term home please don't let your
emotions get the better of you.
When considering adopting a dog
you need to put as much thought into the breed of dog you are considering as you
would if choosing a puppy. Is this breed going to suit your lifestyle, and are
you going to be able to cope with the breed's instincts and needs?
If you are considering adopting
an Alaskan Malamute here are a few things you need to consider:
Back to top
expect from the Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is an arctic
sledding dog with a very strong hunting instinct. This breed has relied on
these strong instincts for its survival over thousands of years in the harsh
environment of Alaska, so in most cases these behaviours and traits cannot be
fully overcome with training.
Be aware that the Alaskan Malamute may well:
dig up your lawn and garden
chew on anything,
particularly things you don't want chewed!
not be friendly towards other
require very good fencing and
be difficult to train
pull on lead
run away if let off lead and
won't come when called
be too strong for children or
the elderly to walk
have a strong instinct to hunt other animals
not be friendly to other
dogs, particularly those of the same sex
require a lot of exercise,
obedience training and mental stimulus
do just about anything for
shed massive amounts of hair
at certain times of year
not require much washing but
will need a lot of brushing
not be a good guard dog
not bark much, but
require an owner that
understands the breed and is firm but fair.
Of course each dog is different - not all Malamutes will
display all of the above behaviours and there can always be the odd exception to
the rule. However, if you are not prepared to have a dog that does any of the
above, then the Alaskan Malamute might not be the breed for you.
Back to top
Practical issues you need
Are you going to be able to
provide a permanent home for the Malamute?
Are you financially able to
support a large dog? Take into account feeding, worming, registering, vet
Do you have time to exercise
a Malamute every day?
Are you fit enough to cope
with a large, strong dog and will you be able to walk it?
Are you confident with large
dogs? The Malamute needs a firm owner they can respect.
If you have another dog, are
the two going to get along?
Back to top
Choosing a Malamute to adopt
One of the advantages of getting an older dog is that you can
see the "end product" and can get a good idea of the dog's health, temperament
and behaviour, which is not always apparent or developed in a young puppy.
It is important that you
determine the reason that the dog is requiring a new home and, if there has been
a problem such as howling or escaping, if you are going to be able to cope with
or overcome that problem.
Please bear in mind that a dog
will not necessarily display those same behaviours when in a new home. If the
situation changes, it is possible that the behaviour of the dog may change as
well. Also bear in mind that many Malamutes are not needing new homes because
of behavioural problems, it may simply be that the owners are moving, have had a
marriage break-up or simply have decided they don't have the lifestyle or time
for the Malamute.
For instance, if a dog has been
escaping, abnormally destructive in the garden or howling because it's been left
alone all day and is bored, going to a home where it gets more activity and
attention may change this behaviour. Sometimes going to a new home where there
is the companionship of another dog may alter these behaviours, providing of
course that the two get along.
Likewise, if the Malamute has
been in a happy home where lots of time and attention has been spent on him or
her, or if he or she has always lived with another dog, taking it to a home
where it will be on its own and / or receive little attention may not work out.
There are some behaviours that
will almost certainly change with a new owner, depending on the level of
authority the new owner exhibits and how much the Malamute respects them. In
many cases where dogs are needing a new home simply because the owner doesn't
understand the dog and hasn't provided the necessary authority and discipline
(by this we don't mean physical abuse), a previously "naughty" dog can change
its behaviour completely if the new owner is seen by the dog as someone to be
Back to top
If you already
have a dog or other pets
Be aware that Malamutes are not
always friendly towards other dogs, and in many cases do not get along with dogs
of the same sex. If you already have a dog, we recommend you get a Malamute of
the opposite sex as this is much more likely to result in long-term harmony and
companionship between the two.
Introduce your existing dog to
the Malamute on a "neutral" territory, such as in a park or out on the
nature-strip, and always under good control on lead. If the two dogs exhibit
friendly body language allow them to play on lead. If at this stage the dogs
give signs that they are not going to get along, this is unlikely to improve
when in your backyard on your existing dog’s "territory".
Malamutes prioritise food very
highly as a result of its arctic heritage, so be cautious at feeding time. The
Malamute will initially need to be separated from your other dog at feeding
times, perhaps by tying both dogs up away from the other dog's food bowl or
feeding in separate areas. Once all food bowls are taken away allow the dogs
Be similarly cautious when giving
bones or even toys until you know your Malamute and can better predict his or
her reactions. It may be that the need to confine your dogs at dinner time or
when giving bones will be ongoing, however in some cases this may not be
necessary. As the old saying goes, "better to be safe than sorry". There is
nothing worse than a dogfight and expensive vet bills when they could easily
have been avoided by a bit of extra caution.
Make sure you give your existing
dog as much or even more attention and reassurance than the newcomer – you want
to avoid your dog’s nose from being put out of joint. Ill feeling towards the
newcomer and even fights can be caused by a decrease in attention to the
existing dog and the owner’s failure to acknowledge the correct pack order.
Unless the Malamute has been
brought up with a cat they are quite likely to see the family puss as something
to be hunted, so it may be wise to confine your cat to the house and Malamute to
the yard until you have a better indication of how the Malamute will react.
Even if the Malamute has lived with a cat before, it may not view your own cat
with the same friendliness so be cautious and introduce the two only when your
Malamute is under effective control. Malamutes and cats do co-exist quite
happily in many cases, and most often do when the Malamute is brought up with
the cat. Again, it is better to be safe than sorry so be sensible and cautious
when introducing cats and Malamutes.
If you have caged animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits,
birds, chooks etc. think carefully before getting a Malamute. If you do get a
Malamute make sure the cages are in a confined area away from the Malamute,
preferably separated by a strong fence as well as by the cage. Although
Malamutes may co-exist with caged animals for quite some time, many an owner has
come home one day to find that the Malamute has taken a sudden interest in their
caged pets with some very unpleasant results!
Malamutes are basically a hunting
dog and cannot be fully trusted around livestock. Once the livestock start
running often the Malamute's hunting instinct kicks in and they will take up the
chase and in most cases cannot be controlled by voice commands. Never let a
Malamute off lead around livestock for the protection of both - Malamutes most
often don’t have the same instincts as the herding breeds and can get kicked by
larger livestock, and may attempt to hunt smaller or newborn livestock.
If the Malamute is going to be living in an area with
livestock around, make sure gates are always kept shut and that your fences are
dog-proof and in excellent condition.
Back to top
your adopted Malamute home
Being introduced to a new home is
always a stressful time for a dog, so be prepared for your new Malamute to be a
little unsettled at first and be patient and understanding.
Make sure you get the contact
details of the previous owner and keep them on hand in case you need to contact
It is always advisable and
courteous if you warn your neighbours beforehand that you are getting a new dog
and that he or she may take a bit of time to settle into the new home.
Explaining the background of the dog and that you have "rescued" it will often
help your neighbours be more tolerant and understanding if they hear a bit of
howling or crying during the night. If your neighbours like dogs, introduce
them to your new Malamute - this might also help appease any concerns they may
have about the huge “wolf-like” dog that has moved in next door.
Remember, once neighbours have
been upset by a noisy dog, the damage is done and is harder to overcome – the
slightest noise from your Malamute can then become a big issue between you and
Back to top
your new Malamute settle in
Use common sense and think about
what you can do to help your Malamute settle in before you pick him or her up
from the previous owner.
Get as much information as you
can from the previous owner about health care (vaccinations, worming etc), diet,
accommodation (kennels, sleeping arrangements, etc.), where they got the dog
from, pedigree papers (if available) the activities the dog enjoys and so on.
If possible take a favourite toy, dog bed or blanket from the old home so the
dog has something familiar at the new home.
Always ask the previous owner
about the diet of the dog and try to replicate that diet initially. If
necessary, wean the dog onto a different diet gradually by replacing some of the
previous food with a new food in increasing proportions. Don't suddenly
introduce a vastly different diet as an upset stomach will add a further
obstacle to the settling in process.
If the Malamute has come from a
happy home, try to replicate the environment and routine of the previous home as
much as possible to start off with. Malamutes usually like to be outdoors but
as close to you and the house as possible so they can still hear what's going on
inside. A Malamute that has been indoors regularly in its previous home may be
stressed by being outdoors at the new home and vice versa. A Malamute that has
had a kennel / sleeping quarters by the back door is probably not going to like
being kennelled down the back of the yard or in a shed at night.
Often a small change can make a big difference to how well
your Malamute adjusts to the new home. If your new Malamute is not coping well
with a particular aspect of its new environment, try something different. If
you need help with solving a problem please feel free to phone us.
Back to top
Contact the Alaskan Malamute Club, Victoria Inc. for a free
Alaskan Malamute Information Pack or view online at www.users.bigpond.com/amcv/.
If you would
like to speak with someone about the Alaskan Malamute or about adopting a dog
please phone Sandy or Ralph on (03) 9714 8540, or contact us by email to
Sandy Koch for Malamutes 4 Adoption - not to be reproduced without