Alaskan Malamute, one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, is a powerful and substantially built dog with a deep chest and strong, well-muscled body. The Malamute stands well over the pads, and this stance gives the appearance of much activity and a proud carriage, with head erect and eyes alert showing interest and curiosity. The head is broad. Ears are triangular and erect when alerted. The muzzle is bulky, only slight diminishing in width from root to nose. The muzzle is not pointed or long, yet not stubby. The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat. Malamutes are of various colors. Face markings are a distinguishing feature. These consist of a cap over the head, the face either all white or marked with a bar and/or mask. The tail is well furred, carried over the back, and has the appearance of a waving plume.
The Malamute must be a heavy boned dog with sound legs, good feet, deep chest and powerful shoulders, and have all of the other physical attributes necessary for the efficient performance of his job. The gait must be steady, balanced, tireless and totally efficient. He is not intended as a racing sled dog designed to compete in speed trials. The Malamute is structured for strength and endurance, and any characteristic of the individual specimen, including temperament, which interferes with the accomplishment of this purpose, is to be considered the most serious of faults.
Size, Proportion, Substance
There is a natural range in size in the breed. The desirable freighting sizes are males, 25 inches (62cm) at the shoulders, 85 pounds (38kg); females, 23 inches (57cm) at the shoulders, 75 pounds (34kg). However, size consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. When dogs are judged equal in type, proportion, movement, the dog nearest the desirable freighting size is to be preferred. The depth of chest is approximately one half the height of the dog at the shoulders, the deepest point being just behind the forelegs. The length of the body from point of shoulder to the rear point of pelvis is longer than the height of the body from ground to top of the withers. The body carries no excess weight, and bone is in proportion to size.
Often we tend to guess what our dogs weight, and guess how tall they are. This has got to be the most miss-leading thing about our dogs. We used to have matches where we would bring scales and a measuring device for all to weight and measure their dogs. Believe me, you have never seen so many dogs lose weight and shrink in height in a matter of minutes.
When measuring your dogs, always part the hair on the top of the shoulders. Never include the undercoat or guard hair, as you will not get a true reading. The coat tends to make the dog look as though it weights more than it does. Next time you are at the vets, weight your dog. You should be able to feel the backbone, ribs, hipbones, etc. even with a profuse coat. Place your fingers into the coat when feeling for bones. there should be a slight covering of fat. If you can feel a deep indentation between the ribs, he might be underweight.
The bone proportion to size is another thing that can be questioned. You do not want a massive body with Siberian Husky legs, nor do you want a Malamute with Saint Bernard legs. Does the bone size match the body size? Does the dog have a skinny body with tree trunks for legs, of a massive body with toothpicks for legs?
The head is broad and deep, not coarse or clumsy, but in proportion to the size of the dog. The expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition. The eyes are obliquely placed in the skull. Eyes are brown, almond shaped and of medium size. Dark eyes are preferred. Blue Eyes are a Disqualifying Fault.-
The head should not look like a basketball sitting on a neck. Does the head appear larger than the rest of the body? Again, in proportion.
The eyes–I think the words obliquely, almond shaped, and medium size should all be in the same sentence to describe the eye. Round eyes do not fit into the description. Color–it states it very well, brown, but the darker the better.
The ears -are of medium size, but small in proportion to the head. The ears are triangular in shape and slightly rounded at the tips. They are set wide apart on the outside back edges of the skull on line with the upper corner of the eye, giving ears the appearance, when erect, of standing off from the skull. Erect ears point slightly forward, but when the dog is at work, the ears are sometimes folded against the skull. High set ears are a fault.
Compare the erect ears of a Siberian Husky to a Malamute. Siberian Husky ears point to the sky and are close together when alert. Just a note, the Malamute will folds it’s ears against the skull when it’s in trouble with us human moms and dads, and usually when working. Siberians have high set ears.
The skull- is broad and moderately rounded between the ears, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes, rounding off to cheeks that are moderately flat. There is a slight furrow between the eyes. The topline of the skull and the topline of the muzzle show a slight break downward from a straight line as they join. The muzzle- is large and bulky in proportion to the size of the skull, diminishing slightly in width and depth from junction with the skull to the nose. In all coat colors, except reds, the nose, lips,- and eye rims’ pigmentation -is black. Brown is permitted in red dogs. The lighter streaked “snow nose” is acceptable. The lips are close fitting. The upper and lower jaws are broad with large teeth. The incisors meet with a scissors grip. Overshot or undershot is a fault.
Slight break– the “stop” should not look like a backward “L”, more like a beginner’s ski slope. Snow nose– what is that? It’s a streak in the middle of the nose that is lighter than the rest of the pigmentation on the nose. The streak is usually a very light gray color that the pigmentation can be seen as being there. Other streaks that are pink in color that show no pigmentation, are not a snow nose. Snow noses usually occur in the winter time, and will darken during the summer time.
Lips close fitting– drooping lips that look like a Saint Bernard’s are not acceptable.
Overshot or undershot– this one used to confuse me quite a bit, I could never get them right. An overshot bit is where the top teeth go past the lower teeth leaving a space. Remember top = over. The undershot is just the opposite. The bottom teeth go past the upper teeth leaving a space. Bottom = under.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is strong and moderately arched. The chest is well developed. The body is compactly built but not short coupled. The back is straight and gently sloping to the hips. The loins are hard and well muscled. A long loin that may weaken the back is a fault. The tail -is moderately set and follows the line of the spine at the base. The tail is carried over the back when not working. It is not a snap tail or curled tight against the back, nor is it short furred like a fox brush. The Malamute tail is well furred and has the appearance of a waving plume.
Short coupled: coupling is the distance between the last rib and the start of the hipbone area in the middle of the body of the dog.
Loin: the top portion of the coupling, just under and along the spine.
Tails: we are starting to see more problems in this area. At the National Specialty in Salt Lake City, Utah, our judge was Ms. Penny Devaney, a long-time breeder. At the banquet that night she made comments in regards the structure of our current dogs. She made one comment that made me sit up and take notice. Her comment was in regards the distance between the top protruding hip-bones, and the start of the base of the tail, and how it has shortened over the years.
Could this be where the snap-tails are coming from? The following day, I started to ask the exhibitors that I knew, let me feel the distance on each dog between the hip-bones and the base of the tail. Of all the dogs I examined, only 5 or so had snapped tails. Sure enough, the distance was extremely short, compared to the dogs with the proper tail. Could this be our problem with snapped tails?
The shoulders are moderately sloping; forelegs heavily boned and muscled, straight to the pasterns when viewed from the front. Pasterns are short and strong and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. The feet are of the snowshoe type, tight and deep, with well-cushioned pads, giving a firm, compact appearance. The feet are large, toes tight fitting and well arched. There is a protective growth of hair between the toes. The pads are thick and tough; toenails short and strong.
The rear legs are broad and heavily muscled through the thighs; stifles moderately bent; hock joints are moderately bent and well let down. When viewed from the rear, the legs stand and move true in line with the movement of the front legs, not too close or too wide. Dewclaws on the rear legs are undesirable and should be removed shortly after puppies are whelped.
Stifles– The stifles of a German Shepard dog would be considered overly bent for the Malamute, and the stifles of a Chow Chow would be considered straight in stifle. Well Let Down– means short.
The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet.
The usual colours range from light grey through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red. Colour combinations are acceptable in undercoats, points, and trimmings. The only solid colour allowable is all white. White is always the predominant colour on underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of face markings. A white blaze on the forehead and/or collar or a spot on the nape is attractive and acceptable. The Malamute is mantled, and broken colours extending over the body or uneven splashing are undesirable.
Trimmings – Shadings of gold, cream, buff, brown or reddish hues often found on legs, ears, tail and face between white areas of the underbody and the dark colour above