At first glance, Giant Alaskan Malamutes may seem intimidating.
After all, they look like a cross between an enormous wolf and a woolly bear. But once you get to know them better, you will be surprised by how lovable and cuddly they are.
They are known for their fierce loyalty and incredible strength – no wonder these gentle giants are a family favorite.
Some people would argue that there is no such thing as a ‘giant’ malamute. But if a malamute weighs over 100 pounds, it is technically considered a giant.
Want to know more about this beloved breed? Here are ten fascinating facts about them.
1. They are absolutely massive, and can come in many colors
Other than their exceptional size, the Giant Alaskan Malamute looks similar to its smaller siblings. They have a broad head, erect and triangular wide-set ears, thick muzzles, and a fluffy and bushy tail that waves like a plume. Their furs are usually gray, silver, black, brown, or red.
Giant malamutes have white markings on their legs, stomach, and face. Some have these marks on the crown of their head and snout. Underneath their thick and coarse topcoat is a soft, dense, and woolly undercoat that serves as extra protection from the cold.
A lot of people mistake them for a Siberian Husky. But unlike their cousins, giant malamutes do not have blue eyes. Instead, their almond-shaped eyes typically range from dark brown to brownish-amber.
2. They can reach a weight of up to 180 pounds
Giant Alaskan Malamutes are selectively bred Malamutes that weigh over 100 pounds. The males weigh between 120 to 180 pounds, while the females weigh around 100 to 110 pounds. They can grow to over 89 centimeters or 35 inches in height.
Originally bred to pull heavy sleds, giant malamutes have a body structure that is robust, muscular, and sturdy. Their thick, long, and shaggy coats cause them to appear bulkier than their actual size.
3. The exact origin of the Alaskan Malamutes remains unknown.
Researchers believe they are descendants of wolves that stayed with the nomads who walked to North America through land bridges 5000 years ago.
For years, the Mahlemut people used these dogs for hauling heavy loads carrying food and supplies. They were helped in hunting seals and fended off polar bears. The tribe produced huge malamutes by taking the largest puppies and mating them to develop a breed of canines that exceeds 100 pounds.
In the 18th century, settlers exploring Alaska learned about the Giant Alaskan Malamutes. The popularity of this breed grew during the 19th century upon the discovery of gold in Alaska. These robust, weather-resistant dogs were used to transport goods and supplies across the cold and barren region, as well as for search and rescue missions. Giant malamutes also helped during World Wars I and II by serving as sled dogs in expeditions to Antarctica.
These days giant malamutes are mainly kept as pets instead of working dogs. They make excellent companions for sporting events such as bikejoring and skijoring.
4. They are active, curious, and enthusiastic dogs with a good temperment
Despite this, if they get bored, they may do something destructive, such as chewing off objects and furniture. Giant Alaskan Malamutes thrive on attention and companionship and will howl from loneliness if left alone for a long time. These dogs love to run and explore, so they tend to roam around in open spaces. A small apartment or condo is not suitable for them.
Giant malamutes are poor guard dogs as they are very social and friendly, even to strangers. They typically get along well with other dogs and household pets, such as cats. However, they have a very high prey drive, so they may chase and sometimes kill small animals, such as squirrels, birds, stray cats. Though very intelligent, they can be stubborn and may display dog tantrums. Proper training and early socialization usually avert this type of behavior.
5. Giant Alaskan malamutes are highly intelligent but also fiercely independent and obstinate.
They should get obedience training at an early age to ensure they follow commands as adults. Expose the dogs to new surroundings and different situations to hone their intelligence and give them treats and praise whenever they show good behavior. Be sure to continuously provide challenges by teaching them new commands and tricks even when they’re already grown-up.
6. The thick double coat of giant malamutes requires a lot of maintenance.
These dogs shed twice a year and a lot, especially when their undercoat blows out. Because they are prone to matting, they need long hours of bathing and brushing. Their fur is odorless, so it’s acceptable to bathe them only once a month. Their coat, however, requires regular brushing, ideally daily but twice a week minimum to stop their long hair from tangling. Be sure to brush their teeth at least once a week to remove tartar build-up. Their toenails require clipping to prevent splitting, which can be painful to the dogs.
7. Giant Alaskan Malamutes love meat
These giant dogs need lots of protein in their diet, so meat is good for them. It is crucial to give healthy portions because they are prone to overeating, which is harmful as too much weight can strain their bones and joints. What they eat should also be based on their age, activity level, size, and growth. It is best to consult with a vet.
8. Giant malamutes are prone to certain ailments
From hip and elbow dysplasia to hypothyroidism, and day blindness, also known as impaired vision in bright light. They may also get cataracts, which are curable with surgery. Some suffer from Von Willebrand’s disease, a bleeding disorder due to lack of a specific protein, and polyneuropathy, a neurological disease that causes a weakness in the legs.
9. They make good pets
Giant malamutes are loyal, friendly, engaging, affectionate, and outgoing. They are excellent pets, especially for very active households. However, if they get super excited, they can easily knock down young children or the elderly. This dog breed is generally low maintenance but requires regular training, exercise, and plenty of space to roam. Giant Alaskan Malamutes can live up to an average lifespan of 12 years.