Malamutes for Adoption

Information about Alaskan Malamutes, Malamute rescue, adoption and
a list of Malamutes in Australia needing new homes.
Malamutes for Adoption is a service run by Windchill Dog Gear


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In Memory...

8 years ago we lost our friends...

Rob & Tash,
Jorja & Alexis Davey and their Malamutes Neo & Mishk

Sadly lost to us in the Black Saturday fires of
7 February 2009

It may have been 8 years ago that we lost you, but you are still sadly missed,
iving on in our memories...



Sledding with your Malamute

Most people think of dog-sledding as an activity that requires snow – not so. As access to alpine areas is very restricted for dogs, we have got around the problem in Australia by conducting "sledding" events on dirt tracks with our dogs pulling scooters or 3-wheeled rigs for larger teams. In fact the sport of sled dog racing has become so popular that, during the winter months, there is a sledding event or two being held on most weekends somewhere around the country.

You don’t have to participate in an organised event or even have an arctic breed for your dog to enjoy a bit of sledding, anyone can hook their dog up to a bike or scooter and just go for a trot around the local trails. Before you set off however, there are a few things you need to think about regarding the safety and well-being of your dog.


Sledding.jpg (209359 bytes)To do sledding activities with your dog you must have the correct equipment. Do not be tempted to use a car harness or hook a line up to your dog’s collar or, even worse, a "Halti". If you dog suddenly lunges forward, or your bike/scooter stops suddenly while your dog is at full speed you risk doing some serious damage to your dog (and maybe also yourself). The two pieces of equipment you will need to get are a sledding harness and an elastic 1-dog "bungee" line.

The "bungee line" is usually made of poly-rope and incorporates and elastic section which acts as a shock absorber. For a 1-dog team the line is around 2 metres in length – long enough to prevent you running into your dog but not so long that your dog is too far away for you to gain control of if necessary. Never attempt any harness work at speed (ie with your dog running) unless you have a shock absorber build into your lines.

The sledding harness is quite different in structure from the car/walking-type harnesses you can buy in pet shops. The sledding harness is specifically designed for pulling at speed, and will give your dog maximum comfort and pulling power, whilst reducing the risk of injury to the dog should unexpected incidents occur.

tugharns.jpg (8871 bytes)The harnesses are made from synthetic webbing which is pliable, strong, easy to clean and hard-wearing, and are padded around the neck and chest areas to increase the degree of comfort for the dog when pulling. The sledding harness is specifically designed to transfer the energy and load of the pull through the webbing to the neck and chest areas of the dog. The two most commonly seen designs are the X-back harness and the H-back harness – the X-back is generally more suited to stockily-built breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute, whereas the H-back is better for smaller framed dogs of lighter build such as the Huskies and Hounds.

The harness should fit like a glove to provide maximum comfort and minimise risk of rubbing or injury, so a harness should be fitted for each individual dog. Avoid the temptation to buy a harness "off the shelf", use a second-hand harness or borrow one from someone else, chances are that the harness will not be a good fit and in most cases will be a very poor fit. You’ll find it doesn’t cost any extra for a made-to-measure harness, so do your dog a favour and make the effort of measuring him/her for a harness, or better still get the outfitter to do it for you if possible. A good outfitter will have an exchange policy so you don’t get stuck with a harness you can’t use if you didn’t measure correctly.

scooter1.jpg (36573 bytes)Although you might be able to do harness work with a bike, we strongly recommend that you invest in a specially built sledding scooter. On a scooter you can easily jump off or steady yourself if the dog decides to do something unexpected, like suddenly take off into the bush after a cat or wildlife. You’ll need very good brakes and we also prefer a scooter with a seat so that we can sit down while using both feet to steady ourselves in very slippery conditions, or if passing another team with our dog held in close beside us by the harness. Roller-blading with a Malamute in harness is exceedingly dangerous and is not to be recommended.


We begin light training with our pups at around the age of 6 months just to get them used to the feeling of wearing a harness, the idea of pulling and the sound of a scooter bouncing along behind them. Our golden rule for training is to make it short and make it fun - our Malamutes have always loved to run in harness - to them it seems to be a bit of a game and we like to keep it that way. Training them together or with other dogs also makes it a bit of a competition for them and gets them used to the fact that other dogs on the trail are to be ignored.

As the pups get older and develop physically we increase the distance and load, but watch the pups carefully for signs of stress of injury. If this occurs the training has progress too rapidly and the training program needs to be altered accordingly. At the age of 12 months Alaskan Malamutes are permitted to compete in club sledding events and the 1-dog teams will be covering distances of 3 – 5 kilometres in these events.

TARNI99.jpg (57126 bytes)We do not recommend that a pup is trained in team with an experienced sledding dog to start with. The older dog will be working at a level far in advance of what a pup could be expected to do. An experienced dog that will obey commands to proceed slowly can be run as a 1-dog team in front of a young dog in training so the youngster can learn from the older dog without risk of being pushed too hard or dragged along.

Once the pup is older and can perform at the level of the older dog, putting them together as a team can be attempted. It is not advisable to team together any dogs that are not well matched in their ability - to do so may well put the slower dog off sledding activities and frustrate the faster team member.  As with all training, don’t push your dogs beyond what they can reasonably be expected to perform, and assess and adjust your training program accordingly.

By the age of 12 months the dog is reasonably mature and much of the dog’s structure has already developed and cannot be so easily damaged. From 12 months of age onwards a dog can be x-rayed for Hip dysplasia, and we recommend that this be done on any Malamute that will be participating in strenuous activities or being considered for breeding purposes.

Running in harness must never be made a chore to the dogs, and they should never be pushed to the point where they are really exhausted or struggling, particularly when training a youngster. In order to achieve this of course the dogs must be kept fit and in excellent health and physical condition. Sledding with an injured dog is out of the question – it will only serve to make the problem worse and could also put the dog off harness work for a long time.

racefini.jpg (16630 bytes)Sledding Events

Any self-respecting Alaskan Malamute will enjoy nothing more than to run in harness and we recommend anyone with a Malamute give it a try, provided their dog is reasonably fit and healthy. Most Malamutes take to it instinctively - the fact that they are a freighting breed doesn't stop them from loving the sport of sled dog racing.  Breed clubs and sledding organisations are often good sources of information and friendly advice and will be able to help with getting your Malamute started.

Anyone with a Malamute who would like to try, or have a look at, sled dog racing can contact their State breed club for further information about the sport and the events they conduct.  Some of these clubs have websites that are listed on our Related Websites page.

If you are interested in sledding equipment please visit the Windchill Dog Gear website at


Written by Sandy Koch for Malamutes 4 Adoption - not to be reproduced without acknowledgement


This site was last updated 29/01/17

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