Alaskan Malamutes are typically portrayed as having grey and white coats, but they can actually be born in a wide variety of colors. Distinguishing between the official color names can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with the breed, so we’re here to help make it a breeze.
Use this complete guide to Alaskan Malamute coat colors to determine what type of coat appearance your Malamute has, and whether it is rare or not.
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What Does the AKC Breed Standard Say on Alaskan Malamute Coat Colors?
The appearance of Alaskan Malamutes varies greatly, which can make it difficult to determine what coat colorings reflect purebreds and which are a result of crossbreeding.
The best way to determine what is permissible as ‘an official Alaskan Malamute coat color’ is to look at the AKC’s (American Kennel Club) breed standard. The AKC provide breed standards for all officially recognised dog breeds. They describe a hypothetical ‘ideal’ example of the breed, including their appearance, primarily to be used for judging in competitions.
According to the AKC, ‘the usual colors range from light gray through intermediate shadings to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red’ for an Alaskan Malamute’s coat. They note that the only acceptable solid color is all white.
Regarding markings, they say that white is always a predominant color on the underbody, parts of the legs and face, and the feet.
The breed standard does not specifically go into official color variants that are acceptable for Alaskan Malamutes. Don’t worry though, that’s why we’re here to help!
The Different Possible Alaskan Malamute Coat Colors
In this section we’re going to outline the different color variants you can expect to find within the Alaskan Malamute breed.
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you to determine your Malamute’s coat color with key identifiers and approximate rarities. Images have been included where possible to help distinguish the different Alaskan Malamute coat colors as much as possible.
Grey and White
Description: In grey and white Malamutes, guard hairs are grey and typically darker than so-called ‘silver’ Alaskan Malamutes. Their undercoat is white, cream or light grey. There may be the occasional black hairs, usually located on their back, but these are few and far between. No red hairs are evident.
Within the category of grey and white Malamutes, there can be a lot of variation in the shades of grey within the coat. From a distance though, the Alaskan Malamute should appear undeniably grey.
Grey and white Malamutes are the most common coat variation within the breed and their appearance is often used as a representation for the breed as a whole.
Common Identifiers: Grey and white Alaskan Malamutes have a clearly banded coat and a white face. Their face ‘mask’ is also defined and will typically have large white eyebrows.
Silver and White
Description: Silver and white Alaskan Malamutes have a similar coat appearance to grey and white Malamutes, but the pigmented guard hairs are significantly lighter. The undercoat is usually solid white. Silver and white Malamute puppies may appear solid white at birth but their coat color will become more evident as they age.
Common Identifiers: Their appearance lies somewhere in between that of a grey and white Malamute, and an all-white Malamute. Their mask is less distinctive due to the lighter color of their guard hairs.
Red and White
Description: As suggested by the name, red and white Alaskan Malamutes will have various shades of red colored guard hairs. No black hairs should be visible. The undercoat may be white, cream, or a pale reddish color. There is a large variation in the possible shades of red, from very light to deep mahogany.
Common Identifiers: All pigmented areas of the Alaskan Malamute, including the nose, lips and eye rims, will appear red or brown instead of black. White mask and eyebrows are clearly defined on the face.
Black and White
Description: Black and white Alaskan Malamutes have black guard hairs. What distinguishes them from ‘seal and white’ Malamutes is that their undercoats are also very dark, usually black or a dark grey. Their black coat will typically extend partway down the legs.
Common Identifiers: Black and white Malamutes have a very distinct white mask and eyebrows. Unlike most other Malamute coat colors, their undercoats are also a dark color rather than the typical white or cream.
Seal and White
Description: Seal and white Alaskan Malamutes are similar to black and white Malamutes in that their guard hairs are black. The difference is that their undercoats are white or light cream. They will have a distinct white mask and eyebrows.
Common Identifiers: From a distance, Seal and white Alaskan Malamutes are often indistinguishable from black and white Malamutes. Their coats need to be examined up close to determine the difference, by looking for their light undercoat.
Sable and White
Description: Sable Alaskan Malamutes are unique in that their distinct coloring involves their undercoat and lighter areas. The areas of a Malamute that usually appear as white (their underside, legs, face mask etc.) will have a reddish/orange appearance.
Referring to an Alaskan Malamute’s coat color as ‘sable and white’ is usually reserved for Malamutes who would otherwise be classed as grey and white. In theory, however, any of the previously mentioned coat variations can be sabled apart from all-white Malamutes.
In these cases, owners will refer to the color of their Malamute’s coat by dropping the ‘and white’ portion and adding ‘sable’. For example, a sabled red and white Malamute would be a ‘red sable’.
Common Identifiers: The lightest parts of the Alaskan Malamute will have a reddish tinge to them, making them easily distinguishable from other Malamutes. They are not to be mistaken with red and white Malamutes who do not have a red tinge to their lightest areas.
Description: All-white Alaskan Malamutes are, as the name suggests, entirely white. Both the guard hairs and the undercoat are white or a very pale cream color. There should be no black or grey guard hairs anywhere on the coat. Biscuit-color shading may be found around the eyes and in the ears.
Common Identifiers: All white Malamutes are very distinctive due to their solid-colored coat. This is the only solid-color variation allowed in the Alaskan Malamute breed standard.
What Are The Rarest Alaskan Malamute Colors?
The rarest Alaskan Malamute coat colours are all-white and silver and white.
Red and black and white are also pretty uncommon to see, but it’s usually the all-white and silver and white varieties that are thought of as the rarest.