The Alaskan Malamute (/ˈmæləˌmjuːt/) is a large breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for their strength and endurance to haul heavy freight as a sled dog. They are similar to other arctic, husky, and spitz breeds such as the Greenland Dog, Canadian Eskimo Dog, the Siberian Husky, and the Samoyed.
Although it is believed that the first dogs arrived in the Americas 12,000 years ago, people and their dogs did not settle in the Arctic until the Paleo-Eskimo people 4,500 years ago, followed by the Thule people 1,000 years ago, with both originating from Siberia. Malamutes were thought to be bred by the Malemiut Inupiaq people of Alaska's Norton Sound region.
The Malamute has been identified as a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the 19th century. A study in 2013 showed that the Alaskan Malamute has a similar east Asian origin to, but is not clearly related to, the Greenland Dog and the Canadian Eskimo Dog, but contains a possible admixture of the Siberian Husky.
In 2015, a study using several genetic markers indicated that the Malamute, the Siberian Husky, and the Alaskan husky share a close genetic relationship between each other and were related to Chukotka sled dogs from Siberia. They were separate from the two Inuit dogs, the Canadian Eskimo Dog and the Greenland Dog. In North America, the Malamute and the Siberian Husky both had maintained their Siberian lineage and had contributed significantly to the Alaskan husky, which showed evidence of crossing with European breeds that was consistent with this breed being created in post-colonial North America.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard describes a natural range of size, with a desired size of 23 inches (58 cm) tall and 75 pounds (34 kg) for females, 25 inches (64 cm) tall and 85 pounds (39 kg) for males. Heavier individuals (90 lb (41 kg)) and dogs smaller than 75 pounds (34 kg) are commonly seen. There is often a marked size difference between males and females. Weights upwards of 100 pounds (45 kg) are also seen.
The coat of the Alaskan Malamute is a double coat. The undercoat has an oily and woolly texture and can be as thick as two inches. The outer guard coat is coarse and stands off the body longer at the withers but not more than one inch off the sides of the body. Ears are small in proportion to the head and stand firmly erect when at attention. The Alaskan Malamute is a heavy dog, with a more formidable nature and structure than the Siberian Husky, which is bred for speed. The Alaskan Malamute is bred for power and endurance, which is its original function and what the standard of the breed requires of Alaskan Malamute breeders.