Showsight Presents The Alaskan Malamute

alaskan malamute Q&A WITH GENA BOX, ARLENE RUBENSTEIN, NANCY RUSSELL & WENDY WILLHAUCK

“THIS IS A BREED THAT LIKES TO EAT, RUN AND BE WITH THEIR PEOPLE, IN THAT ORDER. THEY DO NOT ALWAYS GET ALONG WITH OTHER DOGS OF THE SAME SEX, BUT THEY TYPICALLY LIKE PEOPLE.”

AR: In my opinion, the breed has improved from when I started in the 1970s. They have gotten bigger. The standard says desireable height is 25" on males but you cannot show a 25" male and win. Their temperament has softened and it would not be unusual to see them jump- ing around in the ring. NR: No, I do not see that much difference but certainly a lot less are being shown. There are many changes since I started showing 50 years ago. WW: It depends upon the day. I am seeing more pretty heads, but also more dogs with not enough length of neck, short upper arm and longer hocks. 8. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? GB: By Far, the #1 mistake new judges make is their defini- tion of heavy-boned. The Alaskan Malamute standard was written in contrast to the Siberian Husky. Heavy-boned means in comparison to the Siberian Husky, not an Akita or St. Bernard. AR: Our breed gets much better as they age. An eight or nine year old can compete in breed and group and win hands on. Going to a specialty is the best way to learn about the breed. I saw a beautiful 14 year old out move and out show younger bitches. She was stunning. NR: You cannot judge this breed without getting your hands on them as the coat and a good groomer can cover up many faults. You must check with your hands the depth of chest, width of chest and prosternum, the angula- tion of shoulders and upper arm (markings can be very deceiving), the topline and slope of the croup. Note: In 2017, we measured the top winning dogs and the top weight pull dogs at the National Specialty. The difference from the top of the withers to the croup was one inch or less on almost all the dogs. Leg coat and grooming can make the bone look much heavier than it is, so check the bone with your hands. WW: Many judges don’t understand that this dog must be true to our standard, and our priorities are much more

than a pretty dog. We want a functional sled dog; built correctly, with good feet and coat.

9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? GB: This is a breed that likes to eat, run and be with their people, in that order. They do not always get along with other dogs of the same sex, but they typically like people. They are not the easiest breed to obedience train, but can be bribed with food to do what you want. A good Mal is like an Olympic athlete and a beauty to watch standing or in moton. NR: Do not penalize a dog that drops his head to level with the topline or even below. He/she may be a working sled dog or weight puller. The head of the dog is heavy and when he moves it down, it brings the center of gravity down and forward, which is an advantage in moving a heavy load. Trimming: our standard says trimming is allowed only to neaten the feet. Trimming of any other part of the coat should be penalized. Trimming can alter the ability of the coat to resist moisture and which would be a real detri- ment to survival in arctic conditions. WW: A Malamute can be a clown. Dangling jewelry can very well cause an embarrassing situation in the ring. They are also very food driven and competitive. Bait should be cleaned up before they enter the ring. 10. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? WW: I’ve had several, most of which I have succeeded in trying to forget. When I first started judging, I was doing Siberians at a particular show. I was wearing a new suit with large gold buttons. I stepped back to look at their outlines, took a breath, and one of the buttons flew across the ring and hit one of the dogs on the heard. He was unperturbed. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop laughing.

396 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018

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