Using an Alaskan Malamute As a Sled Dog

by Sleddoggin Staff on February 20, 2012

An Alaskan Malamute is commonly known as an Arctic sled dog and is the oldest sled dog breed in the world. The dog is very powerful and has a strong build, which are qualities that make it ideal for pulling a sled through the snow. A Malamute has a strong, deep chest and a body that is very muscular, more so than other breeds of comparable size. When living in a colder climate, a person could need assistance pulling loads and an Alaskan Malamute is a very helpful companion. The dog is very affectionate and loyal which are qualities that make for an ideal family pet.

With regards to the dog’s gait, an Alaskan Malamute walks in a steady, balanced way that makes it an effective sled dog. Through the years, the Malamute was born to be a dog with great energy and stamina, the dog can pull a fully loaded sled over great distances. Richard Byrd used Alaskan Malamutes as sled dogs during his South Pole expedition; the endeavor would have been fruitless without the assistance of the dogs. Malamutes were also used during World War II for the transportation of weapons and ammunition, and many died fulfilling their duties.

The dog has a firm and imposing posture, with a broad head held straight up. Looking at an Alaskan Malamute and one can just tell the dog is lively and energetic. The dog has bright, alert eyes that display curiosity and eagerness, while the triangle shaped ears show a sharp and attentive nature. An Alaskan Malamute has coarse hair which allows the dogs to withstand even the most harsh climates and environments. Having a heavy bone structure, the dog has the ability to withstand great physical tasks and is able to overcome even the densest of snow. The dog has strong legs and various other physical attributes that makes it an ideal sled dog.

If you own an Alaskan Malamute, and the dog shows signs of being splay-footed, straight shouldered or has a titled gait, the dog will not likely be well suited for sled duty or competition, but rather better suited as a family pet. When in a dog show, an Alaskan Malamute is judged on its abilities as a sled dog and the more the dog steers away from the sled dog description, the more the judges will penalize the dog.

Alaskan Malamutes are also used for sporting and recreational purposes such as mushing, bikejoring, skijoring and canicross. The Alaskan Malamute is one of the most natural and “unaltered” of all dog breeds which means it retains much of its original form and function. Malamutes as a whole are generally considered quiet dogs, seldom do they bark like other breeds. The dogs do not necessarily bark so much as they howl like a wolf or coyote.

When selecting an Alaskan Malamute, it is important to look at the dog for attributes that belie a good sled dog. If you decide to get a Malamute with good working qualities, you can rest assured knowing you will be getting a great worker as well as a loving family companion.

This article was written by John Jackson and has been contributed by For more information on the Alaskan Malamute, please visit our page

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