Dog Talk: Malamutes are big dogs with big hearts but difficult to keep as pets

Alaskan Malamutes need space and cold temperatures to thrive. Photo:

Alaskan Malamutes are huge dogs. Big boned, topping 60cm at the shoulder, and with a massive double coat, they project an image of toughness and action.

Malamutes are an ancient breed. Studies have shown Malamutes are closely related to Siberian Huskies and Greenland sledge dogs, as well as the Chukotka sled-dogs from Siberia. Their common ancestors can be traced back 9,500 years.

Today's Malamutes are associated with the Malimiut Inupiaq people who live on the coast of the Bering Sea in Alaska. They were working dogs, bred to haul fully loaded sleds across the Arctic wilderness.

Although Malamutes still work, motor sleds and specialist trucks have taken over much of the business. Today's dogs are companions and some compete in sled races.

They're well loved, but Malamutes don't do well as guard dogs because they almost never bark.

Also, although they're sweet with people, they're difficult to keep as pets. They need space and they need cold temperatures to thrive. Also, a bored Malamute can easily destroy a sofa. Constant company and entertainment is essential.

Malamutes are big dog with big hearts but, as pets, they’re definitely a difficult handful.

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