alaskan malamute Q&A
GH: Handlers who are inconsiderate to other exhibitors in the ring are not an asset to our sport. If they throw bait in the middle of the ring or near another dog; it is very distracting to the dog. It also makes showing your dog an unpleasant experience if the handler steps out of line and blocks the judge’s view of your dog. We want people to remain interested in our sport and we want to encourage new people to join us, so it is beneficial if we all play fair. There is far too much trimming going on in our breed. This is supposed to be a natural breed and trimming is unacceptable, except to make the feet look neat! NR: Handlers, please gait your dogs in a straight line on the down and back. Dogs looking for bait in your hand are not going to gait properly. Don’t race around the ring. Malamutes are not racing dogs. As far as grooming, our standard only allows trimming of the feet. Do not trim anywhere else. We are seeing dogs with belly hair and pants trimmed. To me, trimming indicates that you feel your dog has faults you are trying to disguise. SW: Most handlers do a great job showing this breed. The only thing I would say is for handlers to be ready when a judge is looking at their dog and if the front is what’s being studied have the front ready, if it’s the rear have that ready. Be ready! I don’t see as much product being used now as years ago. There is concern by some about trimming. Trimming to make a long soft coat shorter is highly unacceptable. WW: Many handlers try to pull up the dog’s head when mov- ing. This breed needs to move with its head forward as if pulling a heavy load. Yes, there are grooming practices that bother me. A Malamute should be shown clean with the feet tidied up—that’s it. Overgrooming seems to tak- ing the place of good breeding. 5. If you have watched or worked with Malamutes in harness, how has that affected what you look for? SB: David and I have worked all of our dogs in harness and it gives me a deep appreciation for a structurally sound dog that moves effortlessly. The summary paragraph of our standard clearly states that the function of the Alaskan Malamute as a sledgedog for heavy freighting in the Arc- tic must be considered above all else. The description of what is considered a fault in the breed relates heavily to structural issues. RG: I did some fun sledding with my earlier dogs. Since then I road worked most of my show dogs biking or running, I could definitely see the importance of good movement related to endurance. Since so many Malamute owners work their dogs, maybe that’s a factor on why the breed hasn’t changed or become exaggerated over the years. GH: I have only had my dogs in harness briefly when I first got involved and went to a weight pull. During that time I also attended several local races to watch, and was able to observe the enthusiasm of the dogs for their job. NR: I have run my dogs in freight races and have had top winning weight pull dogs since the 1970s. I am still run- ning a 6-dog team, as I love to go out early morning to spot the wildlife and see the majestic Rocky Mountains as the sunlight strikes them. The two most important attri- butes are structure and drive. Unfortunately one cannot judge drive in the show ring, so that makes movement
and the structure that produces it most important. I am pleased with the Working Program of the AMCA because at least some of the show exhibitors are working their dogs to get these titles. This is critical to maintain “drive and breed function.” SW: Although we have not been able to work our dogs, we have done recreational sledding. I have watched dogs working at sledding events, as well as videos. I believe this helped me understand how our breed should move with powerful efficiency, balance and ease without roll- ing, pounding or bouncing of topline. WW: I have worked my dogs in harness, although my aging body instructed me to stop well over fifteen years ago. It has taught me that the dog must move with the head forward. Soundness of body is of primary concern. 6. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? SB: There is nothing like a Malamute to make a fool of you in the ring. They can be clowns and at times, quite enter- taining. I have been fortunate to have only slipped in the mud once and once had a Mal in obedience that left me to retrieve the dumbbell for the Poodle in the next ring. But most memorable was a lovely substantial dog I showed in the early 90s. He had taken Winners Dog and on the go around in the breed ring, his collar broke. He continued to the end of the line and turned to face me for his treat as if nothing had happened. Everyone was laugh- ing as my friends scrambled to find me another collar. He took the breed that day over a number of specials. GH: I always love it when a Malamute gets silly and makes their handler look like a fool. You never know when to expect one to go belly up when they are supposed to stack, spin around to go in the opposite direction on the down and back or just generally ignore whatever it is that you want them to do. Predictability is not a word that applies well to this breed, but they are fun! NR: I was grooming near a new Malamute exhibitor and he was generously spraying a coat product and brushing his dog. The AKC Rep walked by; watched for a moment and then said, “Young man do you know that you can not have foreign substances on your dog?” The owner quickly looked at the label on the spray bottle and inno- cently said, “But see, this is made in the USA.” SW: There have been many numerous moments over the years, but one that stands out is when a friend was show- ing one of my dogs he had been asked to do the down and back. When he came back, not only did he jump up on the judge, he began to spin around and around while the audience laughed hysterically. Not only was I embar- rassed, but my friend was horrified! Fortunately the judge was a Malamute breeder. Another funny time was with this same dog. Upon winning BIS, the dog began jumping around and barking. The judge told the handler he had seen lots of people that excited, but never had he seen a dog so excited to win BIS. WW: I have had several funny experiences at dog shows and have probably shared them in the past. Once I was wearing a magnetic bracelet. When I was giving out ribbons, the bracelet flew off my wrist and attached itself to a dog’s col- lar. I had to run out of the ring to get my bracelet back.
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