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...



Understanding the Alaskan Malamute:  Temperament

  Dominance & Pack Hierarchy

  Independence & Stubbornness

  Interaction with other dogs & pets


Dominance & Pack Hierarchy

Because the Malamute was required to live and work with any number of people in the Eskimo tribe, they had to be a friendly dog that could be handled by any human adult or child. Any dog that showed true aggression towards humans could not be tolerated in such an environment, and would have been culled by the Eskimos.

This aspect of the friendly Malamute temperament has thus been nurtured by the Eskimos over thousands of years, and remains with the Malamutes we have in our homes as pets today. Any serious aggression towards people is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, however with indiscriminate breeding with dogs of bad temperament, dogs not receiving the necessary discipline, and ignorant breeders releasing pups too young (under 8 weeks) to new homes, we are still seeing the occasional truly people-aggressive Malamute.

Aggression in this breed, however, is not to be confused with a dominant or protective nature, or with the normal rough play and "mouthing" action of the Malamute.  Mouthing is an attention-seeking behaviour which should be discouraged and trained out of the Malamute as a pup, but should not be mistaken for biting.  A truly people-aggressive Malamute is best off being put to sleep.

Malamutes are not suitable as guard dogs, although their appearance may act as a visual deterrent to a stranger who is not familiar with the breed. Nor can Malamutes be attack trained. It is reported that those who have tried to attack train this breed had to use such extreme training methods in order to get the Malamute to attack a human that the dogs became unpredictable and dangerous around all people. Tampering with the Malamute's naturally friendly temperament is not to be recommended - those seeking a dog for guarding or attack training purposes are strongly advised to consider another breed.


Independence & Stubbornness

The Malamute's independent and stubborn nature can also be attributed to its arctic origins. To survive in the unforgiving arctic environment, a Malamute needed to have the independence and stubbornness to act first and foremost to ensure its own survival. A Malamute that obeyed the commands of the Eskimo to pull the sled over thin ice, for example, would not live to pass this obedient characteristic on to their offspring. In the original environment of the Malamute, it was the independent-minded dog that put his own survival above the willingness to blindly follow commands that lived to see another day.

The Malamute's independent nature was also relied upon by the Eskimos for their survival. For instance, in conditions of low visibility the dog team would have to find its way home on instinct, unaided by instructions from the musher. A dog that relied solely on commands from the musher had no place in such an environment.

This independent and stubborn streak remains with most Malamutes today, often causing much frustration and grief to those wishing to achieve success in obedience and related activities.

The Malamute, being extremely intelligent, will often progress in these areas quite rapidly as a pup, often giving their owners false hope of achieving great heights. However, the independent and easily bored nature of the Malamute nearly always comes to the fore in good time, and it is only those owners with exceptional patience, tolerance, adaptability, plenty of time and understanding of the Malamute mind who will go on to succeed in these activities.

So, unless you have boundless patience, love a challenge and are prepared for regular disappointment, we do not recommend you get a Malamute solely for the pursuit of achievement in obedience and related activities.  Having said that, it must be stressed that a Malamute owner must be prepared to participate religiously in obedience with their puppy from an early age to ensure a well-mannered dog as well as a good understanding of training techniques - a necessity for any Malamute owner.


Dominance & Pack Hierarchy

The Malamute is renowned for its potentially dominating nature and its strong pack orientation, and this is one of the reasons is it not highly suitable as a first dog. The Malamute is by nature a pack animal, and the owners, their children and other animals (including cats) in the family will become the Malamute's "pack".

The Malamute will look at all creatures in the pack, human or otherwise, and study their behaviour and their interaction with the Malamute in order to determine everyone's place in the "pecking order". Those that the Malamute sees as being in control, being firm but fair, and not putting up with any nonsense will often earn the Malamute's respect and be recognised by the Malamute as being someone in authority who is higher up in the pecking order - that is the "alpha" or "pack leader". The more the Malamute respects the individuals in the family, the more likely he is to listen to them, obey their commands and be a well behaved pet.

There are certain things you can do to help attain the alpha position:

  • When going through a gate or door you should go first and always make the Malamute wait. Do not let the Malamute barge through ahead of you. 

  • Do not let the Malamute sit up on the couch or on the bed at your level, and likewise don't sit or play with the dog on the floor - both indicate to the Malamute that he or she is your equal.

  • Do not feed the dog at the same time you are eating, always feed the dog after you've eaten.  In a dog pack the leaders would eat first followed by the dogs on the next highest level in the pack.

  • Never lose your temper with a dog - the dog considers this as a sign of weakness and will lose respect for an owner who loses control.  Remember that dogs do not understand shouting or hitting as these are behaviours they don't use to discipline each other.

  • Do not play tug-of-war games with the Malamute, don't throw something and then fetch it yourself because your dog did not, and do not roll around in play with your Malamute on the ground - these are behaviours of a pack equal, not a pack leader.

The Malamute should be reprimanded (negative reinforcement) when necessary with a quick and meaningful growl at the time the dog is committing the unwanted behaviour.  Dogs do not understand lengthy or delayed "punishments", such as being locked in a shed or being disciplined hours later for having pulled clothes off the line.  They will sense from your body language and voice that they have done something wrong, but won't know what, so your attempt at punishment will not help correct the behaviour because the dog does not associate their action with your reaction.

Anyone in the family who spoils and molly-coddles the Malamute, doesn't follow through with commands, lets the Malamute have his way or is not confident with the Malamute will quickly be recognised and relegated to a lower position in the family pecking order. Those that fall into this category will find that the Malamute is quick to take advantage of their weakness at any opportunity and will often ignore their commands.

Your position in the pecking order is nothing to do with size or sex, how loud you can yell or how deep you voice is - it is purely based on how you interact with your dog and how much respect your Malamute has for you based on that interaction.

Ideally everyone in the family, including children, should be above the Malamute in the pecking order. The whole family needs to be firm, fair and consistent with their treatment of the dog and know how to interact with the Malamute to discourage unwanted behaviours and encourage good behaviours.


Interaction with other dogs

The friendliness of the Malamute towards people unfortunately does not always extend towards other dogs, and this is one of the downsides to the breed. As with all the instincts of the Malamute, this is not without reason and owners need to understand this and take necessary precautions.  

In an arctic environment, a canine intruder on the Malamute's hunting territory would mean sharing of a very scarce food supply, and in the case of a bitch, a threat to the survival of her pups or future litter. For these reasons other dogs not belonging to the pack could not be tolerated and needed to be dealt with and either warned off or despatched by the Malamute.

Back to "Understanding the Malamute"

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


This site was last updated 29/01/17

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