ALASKAN MALAMUTE HISTORY
Alaska and Siberia, separated only by 55 miles of Bering Sea, with some of the smaller islands in the straits as close to each other as only 2 miles, have all through the ages shared their ancestry, a way of living and their life preserving dogs.
A Northern dog quite different from our Northern breeds of today
Some 35,000 years ago the people of Central Asia migrated farther and farther north to the extreme most regions of Siberia and the Arctic, and brought with them their jackal-type dogs (Canis aureus). Cross-bred with the Arctic wolves (Canis lupus), these animals developed over the centuries into what later came to be referred to as the Northern breeds, including the Malamute, Samoyeds, the Spitz, Keeshonds, Elkhounds, the Nootka dogs of Iceland and the Russian Laikas.
By the Neolithic age, 3500 to 2000 B.C., the Northern dogs had become established with their own type and characteristics which, with periodic breedings to the wolf, managed to endure down through the ages. All of these were referred to as "huskies". The term husky is a corruption of "esky", a slang word for Eskimo; it covered all the sled-pulling breeds that had rough, shaggy coats, pointed faces and plumey tails. Their coats were thick and woolly to protect them from the elements, and they came in almost every color; solids, brindles, white with spots, black with white, white with black patches, reds, yellow, yellow spotted, red spotted, etc. Today the term husky applies only to the Siberian Husky breed.
From the first days of the Eskimos' existence on earth the dogs had been there at their sides, living with them and hunting with them, thousands of years before sleds were thought of or necessary to their existence. As far back as Mesolithic times men traveled on skis, and there are also evidences that they used the travois for ages before they got around to building sleds.
As the wilderness opened up before them, and as their numbers grew, they began to develop a dog bred to meet the requirements of their specific needs, a dog with the necessary conformation to provide endurance over great distances with the least expenditure of energy.
And so the Mahlemut Indians in the vast Alaskan territory, with their settlement along the Kotzebue Sound in upper Western Alaska, took the husky dog and began by process of elimination to develop what we have come to know as the Alaskan Malamute breed. It was almost a case of the survival of the fittest, since only the strongest of the litters came to survive the elements and the work schedule given to them by their owners. Through this continuous culling program we now have the distinctive, strong, powerful working dog that is hailed as the king of the working dogs.
Malemut Men and Women with Lip Labrets - 1881
In the twentieth century the Malamutes came of age:
1909 brought about the Commander Robert Peary -Dr. Frederick Cook controversy on who reached the North Pole first. This remarkable exploration was made possible by the sled dogs, and nobody argues this point. Regardless of which man got to the North Pole first, history bears out the fact that the sled dogs were truly the first ones there.
The great serum run in 1925 when a group of drivers and their stalwart dogs fought their way through fifty below zero weather and an 80 mile an hour blizzard to get serum to the inhabitants of Nome to halt the march of diphtheria.
Later brought the two Admiral Richard Byrd expeditions on the Antarctic continent. To this day there stands a plaque in Little America, Antarctic dedicated to all the dogs whose lives were lost during these two expeditions to Little America, 1928-1930 & 1933-1935.
Milton and Eve Seeley, the pinnacles in the breed, received their first Malamute from Arthur Walden in 1924. Walden was a well respected Malamute owner and trainer. Walden was responsible for the training and preparation of the Antarctic expeditions for Admiral Byrd. The Seeley's were responsible for the Alaskan Malamute receiving AKC recognition in 1935. On April 17, 1935 the Alaskan Malamute Club was organized, it later became the Alaskan Malamute Club of America, as we know it today.
Eva "Short" Seeley
There are 2 original strains of Malamutes, the M'Loots and the Kotzebues. The M'Loots tend to be larger sized than the Kotzebue, but some were rangy, some considerably lacking in substance. Their fronts were generally better than the Kotzebues, who tented to be somewhat wide in the chest and sometimes out at the elbows. The M'Loots were lacking in rear angulation, and this led to stilted gait. The Kotzebues had a broader head, more compact body and more rear angulation. The M'Loots also tended to have long ears and long muzzles.
The Kotzebues were gray dogs with white trim. The M'Loots had a wider range from gray to black and white. Dispositions differed somewhat. The Kotzebues were less aggressive and easier to control. The M'Loots were often aggressive with other dogs, prone to fighting, and sometimes difficult to handle.
It was the Kotzebue size which became a proven factor in all of the Byrd expeditions that this was the size most desired to endure the pace and elements. This is where the size in the breed standard came from. It was the Kotzebue line which was first recognized by AKC as a breed, and later the M'Loots were allowed to be included. Both strains are named for the Eskimos (Mahlemiut), of their region, the M'Loot, and the Kotzebue tribes.
A team of AKC registered Alaskan Malamutes
Today, Malamutes are seen in most areas of the world. They are tremendous companions, they are shown in every state, and many foreign countries. They still work performing weight pulls, back packing, and sledding. They perform in the obedience rings, provide care to elderly folks as service dogs and on occasion they have been known to sit on your lap.
Malamutes are very smart, loving, devious and still the most powerful working dog in the world. All they ask for in return is love, a safe environment, and maybe, a pat on the head.
THE AKC APPROVED BREED STANDARD
The Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume. The Malamute must be a heavy boned dog with sound legs, good feet, deep chest and powerful shoulders, and have all of the other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job. The gait must be steady, balanced, tireless and totally efficient. He is not intended as a racing sled dog designed to compete in speed trials. The Malamute is structured for strength and endurance, and any characteristic of the individual specimen, including temperament, which interferes with the accomplishment of this purpose, is to be considered the most serious of faults.
Size, Proportion, Substance
There is a natural range in size in the breed. The desirable freighting sizes are males, 25 inches at the shoulders, 85 pounds; females, 23 inches at the shoulders, 75 pounds. However, size consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. When dogs are judged equal in type, proportion, movement, the dog nearest the desirable freighting size is to be preferred. The depth of chest is approximately one half the height of the dog at the shoulders, the deepest point being just behind the forelegs. The length of the body from point of shoulder to the rear point of pelvis is longer than the height of the body from ground to top of the withers. The body carries no excess weight, and bone is in proportion to size.
The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue Eyes are a Disqualifying Fault.- The ears -are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault. The skull- is broad and moderately rounded between the ears, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes, rounding off to cheeks that are moderately flat. There is a slight furrow between the eyes. The topline of the skull and the topline of the muzzle show a slight break downward from a straight line as they join. The muzzle- is large and bulky in proportion to the size of the skull, diminishing slightly in width and depth from junction with the skull to the nose. In all coat colors, except reds, the nose, lips,- and eye rims' pigmentation -is black. Brown is permitted in red dogs. The lighter streaked "snow nose" is acceptable. The lips are close fitting. The upper and lower jaws are broad with large teeth. The incisors meet with a scissors grip. Overshot or undershot is a fault.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail -is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.
The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.
The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.
The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.
The usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red. Color combinations are acceptable in undercoats, points, and trimmings. The only solid color allowable is all white. White is always the predominant color on underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and acceptable. The Malamute is mantled, and broken colors extending over the body or uneven splashing are undesirable.
The gait of the Malamute is steady, balanced, and powerful. He is agile for his size and build. When viewed from the side, the hindquarters exhibit strong rear drive that is transmitted through a well-muscled loin to the forequarters. The forequarters receive the drive from the rear with a smooth reaching stride. When viewed from the front or from the rear, the legs move true in line, not too close or too wide. At a fast trot, the feet will converge toward the centerline of the body. A stilted gait, or any gait that is not completely efficient and tireless, is to be penalized.
The Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, friendly dog, not a "one man" dog. He is a loyal, devoted companion, playful in invitation, but generally impressive by his dignity after maturity.
IMPORTANT: In judging Malamutes, their function as a sledge dog for heavy freighting in the Arctic must be given consideration above all else. The degree to which a dog is penalized should depend upon the extent to which the dog deviates from the description of the ideal Malamute and the extent to which the particular fault would actually affect the working ability of the dog. The legs of the Malamute must indicate unusual strength and tremendous propelling power. Any indication of unsoundness in legs and feet, front or rear, standing or moving, is to be considered a serious fault. Faults under this provision would be splay-footedness, cowhocks, bad pasterns, straight shoulders, lack of angulation, stilted gait (or any gait that isn't balanced, strong and steady), ranginess, shallowness, ponderousness, lightness of bone, and poor overall proportion.
Approved April 12, 1994