Showsight Presents The Alaskan Malamute

ALASKANMALAMUTE THE

1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. Large and impressive, this beauty is easily recognized around the world. How do you feel he is perceived by the general public? 3. The Malamute is currently ranked by AKC as #58 out of 192. Has his popularity fluctuated during your involvement? Why do you think this is so? 4. How does this big guy fit into a household? 5. What is his most endearing quality? 6. At what age do you choose a show prospect? 7. What is your favorite dog show memory? 8. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. KATEMCCALLUM I live in Northville, Michigan. I am a public high school teach- er—I advise the school newspaper and teach English. I am also the Varsity Equestrian Head Coach for our school. My husband and I race competitively as our schedule allows—I have finished two Ironman Triathlons. Large and impressive, this beauty is easily recognized around the world. How do you feel he is perceived by the general public? By fanciers in other breeds? Many people recognize them but call them Huskies. We like to clarify that they are the “body builders” and Huskies are more like the “marathon runners”. Both are equally athletic and powerful—just different. Has the breed’s popularity fluctuated during my involvement? Popular movies like 8 Below always bring some extra awareness to the breed. However, I feel the breed’s public persona has remained pretty constant over time. They are so large and can be dominant so they aren’t for everyone. I think this, above all, factors into our breed’s popularity. We tend to need enthusiasts who are active and energetic themselves to own the breed. That being said—I have seen a big decline in Malamutes showing conformation, and an increase in those who are household pets. I think that many feel that it is a very difficult breed to learn to show and also a difficult sport to break into. We have more popularity in things like back- packing or trail endeavors, and our breed follows public trends in this area. Typically, the Malamute is sort of an under-dog in big group competition. Our breed has minimal health concerns and a large gene-pool compared to many breeds which make them desir- able pets. They live an average of 12-14 years, so owning one is a long term commitment. How does this breed fit into a household? Malamutes can make wonderful family companions inside the home. My own Malamutes have a combination of indoor and outdoor living. We have families

that own several at a time. They prefer ample space, a fenced yard and a job. They need time outdoors. If these are neglected, then they can be terrors—mostly out of boredom and physical needs. They are highly intelligent and so strong, they can virtually figure out how to free themselves in any situation. Once they establish loy- alty to you and respect for you—they are really sweet and fun. That being said, there is never a dull moment with a Malamute. If you don’t have a sense of humor—it isn’t a good match for you. Many are surprised to know that they are wonderful with kids (if properly raised). I have a 2-year-old who has grown up with our dogs and they are so good to her. I myself grew up with Malamutes at a very young age. Their breed history even suggests that one of their many jobs included time with Inuit kids. But they need training and a sound environment to thrive. What is the breed’s most endearing quality? They each have a distinct personality. They can be extremely loyal and connected with their owners. Malamutes want to be with people and can have an amazing work ethic. At what age do I choose a show prospect? In stages. At eight to twelve weeks, about six months, and again at about two years. Mal- amutes tend to have staged growth spurts. A 12-18 month puppy is at it’s most difficult physical and mental development and should not be judged at this time. Good breeders rely on consistent lineage to support their decision making. If I own the sire and grand sire for example, I have a good prediction of how the rear-movement will develop, etc. Conditioning is also vital to a Malamute’s growth and an unfit dog can be overlooked to an untrained eye. Likewise, a beautiful coat and face can be appealing but shouldn’t be cho- sen over structure, balance, and movement. The cutest pup is not always the best Malamute. My favorite dog show memory? I have so many, but one of the most unforgettable is winning the breed at Westminster in 2008. Not just becauseI won, but because the night before my dog broke out of his crate, destroyed my suitcase, ate a whole tin of “puppy chow” snack mix and managed to get loose in the hotel. He got so sick from all the chocolate/peanut butter that we literally spent all night remedying the situation. Of course it was all worth it in the end! Afterwards (since we couldn’t leave him unattended, obvi- ously) we took this big Malamute with us all over NYC and were treated like royalty. He didn’t fit in our purse like most NY dogs, but they welcomed him anyway. I have had many judges ask me about the tail of the breed. While it IS a distinguishing feature, it shouldn’t be highlighted above oth- er important characteristics such as movement. While working, it is perfectly acceptable for the dog to hold its tail straight out—paral- lel to the topline. It should not be a “snap tail” but it is acceptable/ fine to touch the back. Really, the main concern of a tail is that it

“TYPICALLY, THE MALAMUTE IS SORT OF AN UNDER-DOG IN BIG GROUP COMPETITION. Our breed has minimal health concerns and a large gene-pool compared to many breeds which make them desirable pets.”

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

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