The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog originally bred for use hauling heavy freight because of their strength and endurance, and later an Alaskan sled dog. They are similar to other arctic breeds, like the Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed.
Alaskan Malamutes are still in use as sled dogs for personal travel, hauling freight, or helping move light objects; some however are used for the recreational pursuit of sledding, also known as mushing, as well as for skijoring, bikejoring, carting, and canicross. However, most Malamutes today are kept as family pets or as show or performance dogs in weight pulling, dog agility, or packing. Malamutes are generally slower in long-distance dogsled racing against smaller and faster breeds and their working usefulness is limited to freighting or traveling over long distances at a far slower rate than that required for racing. They can also help move heavy objects over shorter distances. An adult male Alaskan Malamute can pull at least 1,000-3,000 pounds of mass, depending on how well structured and well trained it is. They are also very intelligent animals, though they can be hard to train.
The Malamute retains more of its original form and function than many other modern breeds. The Malamute personality is one of strong independence. If a dog owner cannot cope with a dog that will not comply with the owner’s every command, a more compliant breed should be selected. This dog has a long genetic foundation of living in the harshest environment imaginable, and many of its behaviors are evolved to survive in such environments. Independence, resourcefulness, and natural behaviors are common in the breed. Because of their intelligence, they can be difficult dogs to train. However, if the trainer understands Malamutes and how to keep them motivated, success is possible.
Malamutes sometimes cope poorly with smaller animals, including other canines; however, this has been difficult to document in detail beyond observational data. Many Malamute owners have observed this behavior with smaller animals. Due to their naturally evolved beginnings, Malamutes tend to have natural hunting instincts which often leads them to chase smaller animals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and cats. So while Malamutes are, as a general rule, particularly amicable around people and can be taught to tolerate other pets, it is necessary to be mindful of them around smaller animals.