So You Want an Alaskan Malamute Puppy?
Finding the breed that is right for you and your family and then finding the right breeder are the two most essential steps in finding a puppy. We've compiled a few helpful tips to aid prospective owners in their search.
Questions You Should Think About
- What are common misconceptions that are spread about malamutes and is the Alaskan Malamute a good dog for me and my family?
- Where do I find a good breeder?
- What makes a reputable breeder?
- What to be aware of when searching websites for malamute puppies?
- How can you be sure that the parent malamutes were really tested for clearance on hips, eyes etc.
What are the common misconceptions about malamutes?
- Rare coat colors: There is no such thing as rare coat colors. Coat color is of very low importance when a breeder plans a litter of Malamutes. Responsible breeders are selecting for health, temperament, overall structure and working ability. They are not selecting for specific colors, therefore, the less common colors are not produced very often. Breeders who plan breedings around color traits should be carefully questioned. ANY breeder that advertises puppies for sale with rare colors is most likely using this gimmick to sell puppies.
- Giant malamutes: The malamute is not intended to be much over 100 lbs (usually they are between 60-100 lbs) The breed standard states the desirable size and weight for males are 25 inches at the shoulders, about 85 lbs and for females, 23 inches from the shoulders and about 75 lbs. see the breed standard (http://alaskanmalamute.org/malamutes/breed-standard Again the selling of “giant malamutes” is most likely a gimmick to sell puppies.
- The cost of a malamute is much higher with a show breeder: False. In most cases the cost of the malamute is less than the “backyard breeders” and commercial breeders. Responsible breeders will have performed the appropriate certifications for hips, pennHIP, eyes, thyroid, elbows and cardiac. Don’t take their word for it, you can search on-ine for yourself http://alaskanmalamute.org/malamutes/finding-a-malamute.
Is the Alaskan Malamute the right breed for you?
Where should I look for a reputable breeder?
First, start by educating yourself on all of the questions you should think about. Then, attend a local dog show. This is a good way to see for yourself what a well bred Malamute looks like and meet some malamute owners and breeders. You can locate shows via https://www.onofrio.com/ and look under closed or upcoming shows. The shows are listed by location and dates.
Typically, at the show, you can meet several of the exhibitors that are also breeders who can further educate you about the malamute. Do not expect they will have puppies to sell (in fact it is against rules to sell puppies at dogs shows); rather this is the time you can ask a lot of questions and talk to them face to face. You can also see the grooming equipment they use, and their setup.
Another great place to find reputable breeders is at the Alaskan Malamute Club of America’s site (http://alaskanmalamute.org/malamutes/finding-a-malamute/instructions-to-using-the-breeders-list-database). They have a breeder’s database where you can find the local breeders in your area. Most if not all, breeders are members of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America and have agreed to follow the code of ethics ( http://alaskanmalamute.org/join-amca/application-links ).
Note however, that participation in the club is not an implied endorsement. It is the buyer’s responsibility to get satisfactory answers to their questions and feel comfortable with the breeder before getting a puppy from them. Ask if you can speak with several prior buyers of their puppies. This will give you a feel of the support you can expect from your breeder.
How to recognize a reputable breeder?
Reputable breeders are very involved with the breed in some way. They will likely show their dogs, or participate in obedience/rally/agility and/or work their dogs in harness, weight pull or other activities. They are often involved in local clubs or other organizations.
Dogs from reputable breeders will have titles (champions in the show ring, titles in agility, etc.), demonstrating that the breeders have achieved established breed-specific standards, goals, etc. with dogs from their breeding program. And, these titles will not just be associated with past dogs but rather occur throughout their dog family trees and often in the mother and father dog of a specific litter. Beware of anyone that sells puppies based solely on past pedigrees only since they may have purchased a dog from a reputable breeder so they can state their dogs come from long lines of champions (all in under the guise to sell dogs and make money). Which brings up our third point...
Reputable breeders breed for a reason and that reason is NOT money. Reputable breeders often try to achieve the ideals of the breed standard with each successive litter. Such breeding then translates into dogs that are sound physically and mentally/emotionally.
Getting a Puppy from a Reputable Breeder
When you find a reputable breeder for a puppy, you might be surprised to find you won’t get to choose the puppy you want. Quality breeders live with the litter and its mother (and sometimes father) from the birth and are constantly gathering information and evaluating the puppies. Good breeders know that, with each litter, there are vast differences in personality, temperament and structure.
Reputable breeders often will pick out “the best of the best” for future breeding or placement in other breeders/show homes. For the remaining pups in the litter, they will carefully match the needs and activity level of prospective families (based upon prior conversations, questionnaires, etc.) to their puppies. A good breeders primary concern is to find the best home for each of their puppies; a home in which the puppy with thrive. And, above all, not getting the “pick of the litter” doesn’t mean that you didn’t get an amazing, loving, high quality dog; in fact, it probably means that you did.
Finally, beware of breeders who allow buyers to pick their own puppies without their guidance. In such cases, those breeders usually don't know or care very much about their own dogs. Most likely their primary interest is making money, and whether that pup is best suited for that home isn't even considered. If you encounter this type of breeder, your best strategy is to run away and don’t look back.
Visiting the Litter
Hopefully, you can visit at least once before you take your puppy home. Your visit to meet the puppies will provide you with only a short glimpse into each pup's personality. For example, during your visit, you may observe a puppy that is calm, quiet and snuggles with you - perfect for your family. What you didn’t see, in the hours before you arrived, was that same puppy bouncing off the walls and dominating his litter mates. That puppy would make a great dog for an athletic, energetic family, but would be ill-placed in a home that needs/wants a calm and quiet dog. Bottom line, if you have done your homework and are comfortable with the breeder you've chosen, then trust that person to choose your puppy for you (it is quite all right to express a preference for a specific sex and to let the breeder know if a certain puppy has caught your eye).
The Reputable Breeder Promises:
1) they will provide their puppy owners with a well bred, beautiful malamute pup
2) to choose the best pup for you and your family given the information that you have exchanged
3) to support you after your purchase and to be a lifelong resource for you.
Once you've done the hard work by finding and selecting a good breeder with top quality malamutes, you will love ANY puppy you take home! The hardest part will be choosing a name! We also recommend the following resources to help in the puppy months and into adult life, http://www.columbinealaskanmalamutes.com/important-resources.html
Searching the Web for a Malamute (warning signs)
- Taking payments upfront and on line: So called “breeders” who list pricing and payment methods are showing their true colors, money above all other.
- The breeder states upfront on their website they are not a puppy mill: That should send up a red flag if they feel the need to state it.
- The selling rare coat colors and using adjectives such as "giant" malamutes
- The feeling that you are "shopping" for a malamute that you can put into a "shopping cart"
Quality, Healthy Parents
Get the details about hips, eyes and other tests from the National Alaskan Malamute club http://alaskanmalamute.org/?s=cerf&x=0&y=0. As a buyer, you can and should check online to confirm if the appropriate testing was conducted on the parents before the breeding.
To check on health clearances of the parents, you can either enter in the name of the dog or their registration number at this site, http://www.offa.org/ Responsible breeders will have performed the appropriate certifications for hips, pennHIP, eyes, thyroid, elbows and cardiac. Don’t take their word for it, you can search on-line for yourself . Or at the very least they should be able to provide photocopies of any health certificate that is not listed in the online database.