Showsight Presents The Alaskan Malamute

alaskan malamute Q&A

each other. Of course between these two extremes were also some very good examples of the breed. These two extremes have tended to merge, so that today we general- ly have a group of dogs that look more similar than differ- ent. For a time I was seeing too many long and low dogs, but that might be reversing itself now. There are some coats that still tend to be incorrectly soft. Huge, massive dogs are also making an appearance, despite the fact that our standard calls for a large, but moderate dog. It is my impression that this size issue often seems to do well in the show ring, so it encourages people to breed in that direction. We will lose breed type if we continue this trend. And finally there are the numerous poor fronts! It is disconcerting to me to watch a dog that is not athletic, that lumbers around the ring and moves from the elbow rather than with an open shoulder, that paddles coming at you and has pasterns that are down—in short, a dog that really could not do the job for which he was made. NR: The breed has certainly improved in compatibility with other dogs. Dog aggression was a big problem when I started in the breed in 1965. Today the breed participates successfully in all of the different performance events without issues. Unfortunately, I see the breed becoming the generic show dog with huge reach and drive being rewarded along with over angulation and exaggerated sloping toplines. In an effort to have a big impressive head the stop is being increased resulting in round eyes which would be subject to injury in blowing snow and ice. Muzzles are getting shorter which results in smaller teeth, missing teeth, bad bites and the drooping flews which we are seeing in the show ring today. All of these things are wrong for a dog that is supposed to live and work in the high Arctic and they are wrong according to our standard. For more details and explanations of breed survival characteristics, please refer to my article “Pre- serving the Alaskan Malamute” published in the October 2015 issue of ShowSight Magazine .

obviously being sculptured. There is also so much product being used that it is often difficult to tell the correct texture of a dog’s coat. This is very worrisome for a natural breed. Also, a coat should be healthy; it should not be dry and brittle. I am seeing too many dogs with very small teeth. This is a breed that should be able to chew frozen meat; we ask for big teeth. I am also seeing dogs with not enough prosternum, a short upper arm, straight shoulder and a short neck. Many dogs are set too far forward. This is a sledge dog; it needs some layback of shoulder to do its job. Another problem in the breed is long hocks. An endurance animal needs a short hock. I am also seeing more diversity of style, especially in the class dogs. The dog should not be ponderous, nor should it be light boned—neither of these would be able to per- form the job for which it was bred. 3. Is there anything you feel many judges don’t under- stand about the breed? SB: We want to present to judges a dog in natural full coat. Coat length can be quite variable in this breed, but the quality of the coat is to be the primary consideration. Recently members have been concerned about dogs being presented with trimmed coats. Our standard clearly states the “Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of the feet”. I do not want judges to overlook a great specimen just because it has not been trimmed to look sharp. A natural coat is being presented correctly and should be judged on its attributes. RG: Firstly, the issue of size. Malamutes are not getting big- ger today, as some people think. Their coat and sub- stance give the appearance of being bigger than they real- ly are. It is a hands-on breed that you have to feel under the coat. Forty years ago there were a lot of 27" males that we don’t see often today. There were a lot of 27" dogs even back in the 1940s. The standard makes allow- ances for the variation in size. Under the section titled “Size, Proportion, Substance”: “The desirable freighting sizes are males, 25" at the shoulders, 85 pounds; females, 23" at the shoulder, 75 pounds. However, size consider- ation should not outweigh that of type, proportion, 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 Standard Summary reemphasizes the importance of the function as a sledge dog for heavy freighting. I’m flexible on size if type, substance and movement are there. If a large dog is athletic, graceful and moves well, I would certainly consider him. If a dog is ponderous and clumsy, then he or she should be penalized. On the other hand I’ve seen 24" males that I’ve liked when they had good substance, balance, type and movement. The way I interpret the standard is to judge the dogs first and when two dogs are equal, go with the dog closest to the desired size. The Malamute standard was revised officially May 1994 to satisfy AKC for a common breed format. At that time AKC would not approve a scale of points. The essence and content weren’t really changed, more of making clarifica- tions of the 1960 standard. The 1960 standard had a point scale as follows: General Appearance: 20 points; Head: 15 points; Body: 20 points; Legs & Movement: 20 points;

Correct hock extension, excellent topline and head carriage, good reach and perfect timing.

SW: I think the biggest change is temperament. Years ago you didn’t need a judging program to know where the Malamute ring was. You just listened for the growling! I also believe we have managed to get size under control. We don’t have the large disparity as years ago. I believe the breed in general, is in good shape. WW: Although our standard dictates that scissoring is allowed only on the feet, we are seeing dogs that are

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