Monday, 9 February 2015

Breed Histories - Malamute

Please note: This series of breed histories came about quite organically. I have a large archive of images I have taken through my work as a pet photographer - rather than have them sit on my hard drive, and together with my love of anything ‘history’ I decided to develop the Breed History Series here on the blog. It is important for me to make clear that I am an advocate of rescue dogs – I do not promote breeders. At the end of each of these articles there is a link to appropriate breed specific rescues. If you are looking for a dog to join your family, please do consider adoption before searching for a breeder.

The Malamute

Yesterday I posted a picture of the handsome Simba as my Black & White Sunday image, so I thought I'd include some of his other pictures here today on his breed history.

One of the oldest breeds of dog in the world – the Malamute, with its strength and capacity for endurance has partnered man for centuries.

It is thought that a spitz type dog (a group of canines to which the Malamute belongs) accompanied prehistoric man through their migration from Siberia to Alaska.

The Mahlemut Inuit tribe of Alaska are noted as the originators of the Malamute breed. Their dog was crucial to the survival of the tribe’s nomadic lifestyle. Not only were the dogs capable of hauling heavy sled loads over long distances in extreme conditions, they were also accomplished hunters who lived every part of their life with their people. The Mahlemut’s valued their dogs greatly, and treated them with the utmost kindness and compassion.

During the Alaskan Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, many prospectors and settlers flooded the area to gain promised riches. The early Malamute was much sought after - being big and strong with a willingness to work, newcomers could see the malamute’s value too, but they were expensive and rare – the Inuits weren’t just going to give them away!  Sled-dog racing was also gaining popularity around this time - and the Malamute proved to be too hefty to excel in the sport - it was subsequently mixed with imported breeds to produce smaller sleeker dogs for racing.

During the 1920s two separate well-known sled-dog enthusiasts began developing the Malamute breed. Eva Seely bred her lines for working, focussing on dogs that would thrive whilst taking their part in the expeditions of the day. These were the Kotzebue dogs. Similarly, Paul Voelker was breeding too, his dogs were not only for working, but also advertised as companion dogs. These were the M’lute dogs. In 1935 Eva Seely gained American Kennel Club recognition for her dogs and all Malamutes registered before 1950 were from the Kotzebue line.

During their development, Malamutes were called upon for service in World War II, many given on-loan to the army to haul much needed supplies, munitions and medicines as well as assisting in search and rescue. Regarded by their men as ‘Hero Dogs’, the Malamute suffered heavy losses during the conflict and the breed’s numbers dwindled. With just 30 registered dogs by 1947, the American Kennel Club opened registration for the breed which boosted numbers as Paul Voelker’s M’lute line was accepted and joined the Kotzebues kennel as producers of the official Malamute breed. The Malamute hit UK shores in the 1950s.

Unlike many breeds, the looks of the modern Malamute haven’t changed much from their predecessors. They have often been used in film to depict wolves, and whilst they do have certain wolf-like similarities, they aren’t wolf-dogs - they are a fully domesticated breed.

Whilst the Malamute can look fierce when they put their mind to it, they are known for their friendliness and make terrible guard dogs! They can be stubborn to train but are willing to please.  With consistent training and plenty of vigorous exercise, they make wonderful companion animals…just don’t let them get bored…you’ll regret it!

The Sled Dog Support Network are a UK based Northern breed specific rescue - please take a look at this post for more information about the fantastic work they do.


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  1. Simba is a gorgeous dog and don't your photographs illustrate that wonderfully!

  2. Your blogs are so informative and helpful, let alone your beautiful photographs. Thank you!

  3. Simba is a beautiful dog and the photographs are a breathtaking capture. The history of the Malamute is intriguing. I blog about breed histories as well. Should you be interested, my site - Puppy Love - is Your blog is quite noteworthy.


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