When you’re in the market for a new dog but are aiming for a pet that can be a companion and a guard dog, there are almost too many breeds to choose from!
If the Alaskan Malamute is a breed that you’re interested in, you should know that the Malamute isn’t the best choice as a guard dog.
Read on to get to know the Malamute better and learn why they aren’t good guard dogs. There’s also a list of breeds that are known to be excellent protection canines.
The Alaskan Malamute’s Background
To better understand the Alaskan Malamute, let’s first take a look at their background and what they were bred for.
The traits of what a dog was originally bred for partly determine their temperament and strengths. The Malamute is one of the oldest of the sled dog breeds from the Arctic. They were developed by the Malemuit, a people from North Alaska from the Kotzebue Sound.
The Malemuit bred these dogs to work in a pack to pull heavy loads by sled at slow speed. But Malamutes were also used for hunting seals and protecting their families from bears. They additionally served as close companions to the Malemuit. They would play with the children and sleep with the family to keep everyone warm.
The Alaskan Malamute today are largely unchanged from where they started. While they were used for protecting their families, Malamutes aren’t at all bothered by strangers and actually seek attention from everyone they meet.
They are extraordinarily loyal and affectionate and can be dignified yet playful. They are also known to be independent-minded and highly intelligent, so they can be stubborn and challenging to train.
What Traits Should a Guard Dog Have?
The dog’s physical appearance is one of the first things that likely springs to mind when you think of a guard dog. Being big and intimidating seems to work best—it can act as an excellent deterrent before the dog needs to take any action.
The Malamute does have the advantage here, as they are large dogs that can be intimidating if the person isn’t aware of their friendly nature. Malamutes can be up to 85 pounds and are quite muscular, solid dogs.
Guard dogs must be able to take to training easily and have the ability to follow commands and keep their aggression in check. They also must be responsive—they should be able to stop any action that they have taken the moment that you give the command.
This is where the Malamute might fall short. This breed can be quite stubborn and almost willful at times. While they are devoted and super smart, they might not always obey commands every time.
The best guard dogs are naturally wary and suspicious of strangers. This essentially places them on guard much of the time. Dogs that are on high alert around strangers don’t make instant friends and instead need to get to know them before they might let their guard down.
This is an area where the Malamute does not do well, as these dogs love people and are super friendly! They will greet intruders with barking but also a wagging tail.
Can Malamutes Be Watchdogs?
Absolutely! The difference between guard dogs and watchdogs is quite different. A guard dog can also be a watchdog, but not all watchdogs can be guard dogs.
Watchdogs sound the alarm to a potential threat. Some dogs are watchdogs as part of a job, while others are watchdogs because of their nature.
But a good watchdog will know the difference between an unusual and a usual event. Dogs that are oversensitive might bark at everything, which isn’t particularly helpful. This kind of hypervigilance is often fear based, which is also not a great quality for a watchdog.
Watchdogs must also bark loudly, which means they can be any size, so even a Chihuahua has the potential to be a good watchdog, regardless of their tiny size.
Guard dogs do tend to bark but are also trained to restrain or attack people or other animals. The bark is more of a warning and a threat to the intruder. If barking doesn’t work, the dog will resort to the restraining or attacking part of their job. They tend to wait and see what happens and then respond appropriately. Unlike a watchdog, a guard dog requires special training that will help them to tell the difference between a friend and an enemy.
Also, different dogs will react differently. For example, Mastiffs will knock an intruder down and hold them there until their owner releases them, and Rottweilers are more likely to follow that “wait and see” approach.
Aggression and Guard Dogs
Having an aggressive dog doesn’t necessarily make them a good guard dog. They must know when to stop when given a command, so “mean” dogs are not good guard dogs. They are also more unpredictable, which might be unsafe for anyone visiting or even your family. They need behavior modification with a professional, not guard dog training.
The good news is that Malamutes fall more into the “docile” category and don’t have any overly aggressive tendencies. That said, most dogs can become aggressive if abused and mistreated, so an Alaskan Malamute rescued from an abusive or neglectful situation could have aggressive behavioral issues.
Will an Alaskan Malamute Protect Their Family?
Technically, no. Most Malamutes are social and friendly and seem to enjoy meeting new people. This isn’t a good fit for a guard dog.
However, since these dogs are large and slightly resemble wolves, their appearance alone might act as a deterrent for any ne’er-do-wells.
They are more likely to protect their family against other animals. After all, their ancestors helped protect their families from bears! They are also known to be potentially aggressive against other dogs of the same sex.
Breeds That Can Make Good Guard Dogs
Many dog breeds have the potential to be excellent guard dogs. They have natural instincts to protect their family, home, and territory. These breeds tend to be strong, fearless, devoted, and watchful but still need proper socialization and training.
If you’re reading this because finding a guard dog is important to you, you should keep looking at different breeds. The Alaskan Malamute is not a good choice for a guard dog.
But if you’re interested in a wonderful family dog that’s active and loving and you have the space for them (a fenced yard is practically a requirement), the Malamute might be perfect!