Showsight Presents The Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan

Malamute BY GENA BOX YOUNG

I n judging Malamutes, their function as a sledge dog for heavy freighting in the Arctic must be given con- sideration above all else. The degree to which the dog is penalized should depend upon the extent to which the dog deviates from the description of the ideal Malamute and the extent to which the particular fault would actually affect the working ability of the dog. I have a friend who likes history because it explains “why”. In the history of the Alaskan Malamute, we can see why the standard calls for many of the traits that it does. (Form follows function is so true.) The Alaskan Malamute has its origin in an Inuit tribe called the Mehlemuts around the Norton Sound area of Alaska. They were not only sled dogs, who were used to haul heavy loads long distances, they were used for hunting and packing in supplies and were capable of an enormous amount of work. They also were well equipped to thrive in those harshly cold environments. To fulfill their function, not only is soundness essential, but survival characteristics are of the utmost importance, as well.

Proper coarse double coats are thick, harsh guard coats with dense woolly undercoats that enable the dogs to survive in the elements. Their coat texture enables them to sleep under the snow all night, stand up and shake it all off. A proper coat is water repellent and never long and soft. Please note that it is primarily the texture of the coat is important, which may mean that the best dog (or bitch) in the ring could be out of coat, especially in summer months. Trim- ming, except around the feet is not acceptable. Small extremities are in keeping with artic survival and protec- tion from frost bite. Note that the ear is medium sized, but small in proportion to the head. Almond shaped eyes, obliquely set offer protection from driving snow. Proper feet are essential to the performance of the Malamutes’ job. They should be tight and deep. They are large with tight fitting toes that are well arched. They should not be small (cat like), flat or splay footed. Most mushers agree that their dogs must have good feet. Strong, short, but flexible pasterns that are slightly sloping are also important for long distance performance.

262 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2019

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