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Is an Alaskan Malamute Aggressive? Breed Temperament & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

An Alaskan Malamute dog running in the snow

Alaskan Malamutes are known for their sled-pulling abilities, double coats, beautiful, almond-shaped brown eyes, and unique howling sounds. They are working dogs, hailing from the cold, harsh climates of Alaska, hence the thick coat. They are also known for their endurance, strength, and loyalty; however, an important question to ask when considering an Alaskan Malamute is: Are they aggressive? While they require early training and socialization to be well-behaved, they are not typically aggressive.

In this post, we’ll discuss the temperaments of the Alaskan Malamute and other valuable information to help you determine if an Alaskan Malamute is right for you and your family.

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The Alaskan Malamute Temperament

The Alaskan Malamute breed has many attributes: They are loyal, affectionate, playful, and highly intelligent. However, these are powerful dogs weighing between 75 to 85 pounds. They do not naturally have an aggressive streak, but their size should not be taken lightly. They require early training and socialization to be well-behaved, and they can have a stubborn streak.

The general window of opportunity is roughly 3 to 14 weeks of age. It is during this time that the Malamute will be receptive to new experiences and will help shape their future adult temperament. In other words, expose your Malamute to as many experiences as you can—go to dog parks, your friend’s home who has dogs, or any public place that permits dogs. The more exposure, the better.

These dogs are recommended for experienced dog owners who can train them properly. During training, it’s imperative to show you are the leader of the pack and not the other way around; otherwise, you’ll have an Alaskan Malamute who thinks they run the show.

Alaskan Malamute in the snow
Image by: Malachi Jacobs, Shutterstock

Are Alaskan Malamutes Aggressive?

Despite common misconceptions, no dog breed is born aggressive. Rather, dog aggression is typically a learned behavior from bad dog ownership or inbreeding. These dogs are sociable by nature and love interaction with their humans, but aggression can be present if the dog is brought up to be aggressive, much like in any dog breed. Abuse or being neglected in a shelter could make a Malamute aggressive, but that’s true for any dog breed.

Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Family Dogs?

Alaskan Malamutes indeed make good family dogs with proper early training and socialization. They are patient and gentle with children; however, due to their large size, children should be taught how to respect the Malamute, and supervision is recommended. If you have children, ensure they know not to pull the ears, tail, or fur, as this may spark agitation in the Malamute.

They love having a job to do and are more suited for active families; otherwise, they will become bored and destructive. Hiking, swimming, backpacking, and organized dog sports, such as agility and obedience events, are ideal for the Malamute. These dogs require adequate exercise, so before committing to adding one to your family, ensure you have the time and ability to keep a Malamute exercised and entertained.

Alaskan Malamute
Image by: anetapics, Shutterstock

Are Alaskan Malamutes Aggressive With Other Pets?

The Alaskan Malamute gets along well with other dogs and pets, and they generally prefer the company of other dogs, but early socialization is recommended. One important aspect to keep in mind is that Malamutes of the same sex might not get along famously, but early socialization can help curb this type of agitated behavior. However, one should know that, given the power of these dogs, if a fight breaks out, it can be bloody and violent.

Malamutes have a strong prey drive, so it’s crucial to introduce your Malamute as early as possible to smaller animals in the home. If you own guinea pigs, gerbils, or any other type of small animal, it’s best to avoid interaction with your Malamute to be on the safe side.

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Final Thoughts

The Alaskan Malamute is a fun dog to own, but these dogs require a knowledgeable dog owner to grow into a well-behaved adult. The key is to expose your Malamute to as many different things as possible as a pup. They are not born aggressive but can become so if placed in the wrong environments; for example, abuse, neglect, or both.

If you decide to rescue an adult Alaskan Malamute, ensure you get as much info on the dog’s background so you can assess the temperament before exposing the dog to other animals and people.


Featured Image Credit: travelarium.ph, Shutterstock

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