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Alaskan Malamute dog breed profile

Can you guess how many color combinations Alaskan Malamutes’ fur grows in?

Whether your dog is a purebred Alaskan Malamute or an Alaskan Malamute mix, learning about the breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt an Alaskan Malamute and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

Alaskan Malamutes are furry, large-breed dogs with even bigger hearts. They’re known for being friendly, gentle and loving exercise. However, there are some caveats you need to know before taking one out on a run.

What’s the average Alaskan Malamute size? 

If you’ve never seen an Alaskan Malamute in real life, imagine this: an extra fluffy wolf. 

These large-breed dogs have wide bodies, pointed ears and curled tails. Typically, they weigh between 75 to 85 pounds and are up to 25 inches tall, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. 

What colors are Alaskan Malamutes?

Alaskan Malamutes’ fur grows in several color combinations, which is usually white paired with another color, like red, agouti, black, gray, sable or seal, Dr. McCullough explains. However, they can also be solid white. 

Do Alaskan Malamutes shed? 

Because this dog breed is so fluffy, it’s no surprise they have a thick double coat that sheds seasonally. This means Alaskan Malamutes can be expected to drop fur consistently but will experience a heavier shedding period twice during the year.

“Alaskan Malamutes’ fur requires grooming, including regular bathing and brushing,” Dr. McCullough recommends. “These dogs should be brushed frequently during heavy shedding periods, too.”

RELATED: Great Pyrenees dog breed profile

What are Alaskan Malamutes’ personalities like? 

These fluffy pups usually act as soft as they look. “Alaskan Malamutes are generally known to be friendly, eager to please and gentle, as well as very smart, independent and strong-willed,” Dr. McCullough says. 

Alaskan Malamutes also have a lot of energy, so if you have a fenced-in backyard or enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or swimming, this dog breed might be the perfect match for you. 

Keep in mind that you’ll want to check out the weather before embarking on an adventure, as their heavy coats can cause them to overheat when it’s too hot outside

What health issues do Alaskan Malamutes face?

Alaskan Malamutes are more likely to develop certain health issues than other dog breeds. However, knowing about them while your pup is young or when you first welcome them home can encourage an informed conversation with their veterinarian about preventive methods. 

These are the most common health issues that Alaskan Malamutes develop, according to Dr. McCullough: 

Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia happens when one (or both) hip bones become loose. Although some pups might not show obvious signs of the condition, look for symptoms like lameness, a swaying gait, rear leg muscle loss, difficulty laying down or getting up and hesitance to use the stairs, Dr. McCullough says.

Your veterinarian might recommend pain medications, steroids, acupuncture, laser or physical therapy or surgery as treatment, depending on the severity of your dog’s condition. 

Elbow dysplasia 

“Elbow dysplasia is a combination of four different abnormalities in the elbow joint that contribute to arthritis,” Dr. McCullough shares. Lameness, a stiff gait, pain and muscle loss are the most common signs of this genetic disease. 

According to Dr. McCullough, treatment usually includes surgery and methods to manage arthritis, such as keeping your pup at a healthy weight, low-impact activities (like hydrotherapy!), physical therapy, joint supplements or anti-inflammatory medicine. 

Von Willebrand’s disease

Von Willebrand’s disease is a genetic disorder that decreases the amount of blood cells that form blood clots, Dr. McCullough explains. Some pups don’t show any symptoms, while others will bleed heavily after surgery, injury or even after having a blood sample taken.  

“There’s no specific therapy for von Willebrand’s disease,” Dr. McCullough adds. “Dogs with active bleeding episodes may receive a blood transfusion.”

Adopting an Alaskan Malamute

Are you interested in adopting an Alaskan Malamute, Alaskan Malamute mix, or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend. It might also help to research breed-specific rescue organizations in your area. 

“Pet parents should research Alaskan Malamutes before adopting one by talking to their veterinarian, other Alaskan Malamute pet parents and rescue groups,” she adds. “Ensure they have the necessary supplies and time to properly acclimate their new pet to their home environment, including training and socialization.”

We also recommend enrolling in a dog insurance plan as early as possible after adopting. That way, you can focus on pet parenthood with peace of mind knowing that you'll be prepared for any unexpected emergencies.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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