Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Family Dogs?

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Alaskan Malamute walking towards the camera in the sun

One of the most frequent questions we receive is asking whether Alaskan Malamutes are good family dogs. We understand how important it is to find a dog breed that will get on well with everyone in the family and pose no potential danger to any animals already living there. Alaskan Malamutes may have an intimidating appearance but are actually a very friendly and patient breed as long as they are put into a household where they can thrive.

So, are Alaskan Malamutes good family dogs and who are they suitable to live with? Keep reading for everything you need to know about introducing an Alaskan Malamute into your family and whether they are suitable to live with children, cats, and other dogs.

Alaskan Malamute Temperament

To understand whether Alaskan Malamutes are good family dogs, we need to take a look at their temperament. It should be noted here that the personalities of two different Malamutes will never be the same and so this guide should be taken as a loose fit.

Firstly, Alaskan Malamutes love to spend time with people. This comes as a result of their working history as they were initially bred to pull large cargo, so they needed to be sociable around humans. They will happily spend most of their day around their owners and will typically become very attached to the perceived ‘alpha’ of the house. You may even find that they insist on being included in all family activities so they can be involved in the household pack.

Their friendliness isn’t just limited to their owners as most Alaskan Malamutes are particularly outgoing when it comes to meeting strangers and first-time house guests. This makes them especially good pets for households with large families or those who regularly have guests over.

Despite their fondness towards their owners, Alaskan Malamutes are also a very independent breed and will need their own space from time to time. They are usually a very patient breed but you may find that they become irritable if they are not given a suitable space to be by themselves. This should be considered if you are bringing an Alaskan Malamute into a home where certain household members don’t understand boundaries, such as children.

Alaskan Malamutes and Children

Ask any owner of an Alaskan Malamute and they will tell you that their dog is a gentle giant. Their large size can be intimidating but they are one of the most patient breeds out there, and so it’s unsurprising that they are suitable to live with children of any age.

Their love of human affection extends to people of all ages and so long as necessary safety measures are enforced, there is no reason why an Alaskan Malamute should not be introduced into a family that has children. As long time owners of Malamutes, we’ve always had children around them (even rescue Malamutes) and had no problems to date. In fact, we think our Malamutes actually prefer children to us adults as they tend to get more attention and fuss from them!

As with any breed of dog, there are certain rules you should put in place when allowing children near an Alaskan Malamute to ensure the safety of everybody. Before bringing an Alaskan Malamute into a home that has children, assess their behaviour around adults to ensure that they have been correctly socialised.

Whilst they are a naturally friendly breed, trauma from abusive homes or rescue shelters may lead to some Malamutes having aggressive tendencies towards humans.

Alaskan Malamutes are undeniably a large breed and so young children should not be left unsupervised around them as they have the potential to overpower them. Children should also never be allowed to walk an Alaskan Malamute on their own and shouldn’t be in control of the leash, even if supervised by an adult.

As we mentioned earlier, Malamutes enjoy their independence and can become grumpy if they are not given their own space when they need it. If you allow children to be around an Alaskan Malamute, make sure that they understand the dog’s boundaries and don’t allow them to pester the Malamute if they appear annoyed.

As long as you respect an Alaskan Malamute’s boundaries, they will make a wonderful addition to any family that includes children.

Alaskan Malamutes and Other Dogs

Two Alaskan Malamutes sat together

Dogs are an undeniably popular family pet and we regularly receive questions from those who want to introduce an Alaskan Malamute into a home that already has dogs living there. But is it safe to do so and can Malamutes live a happy life with other dogs?

Despite being very friendly around humans, Alaskan Malamutes unfortunately do not have the best reputation when it comes to living with other dogs. As previously mentioned, Malamutes deem their position within the household hierarchy to be very important and so having other dogs around them that may pose a threat to their status can lead to aggression.

Our advice when it comes to Alaskan Malamutes and other dogs is that adult Malamutes should not be introduced into a household that has another dog of the same sex living there, especially if they have no previous experience of living with other dogs. Malamutes can sometimes live with another dog of the opposite sex if you take the proper steps to introduce them safely.

Undeniably the safest way to introduce a Malamute into a family that already includes dogs is to get a Malamute puppy. This way, the Malamute should be able to find their position in the household hierarchy as they grow up and become accustomed to the other dogs, rather than having to challenge them on their first meeting.

As with all things in life, there are of course exceptions and if you look for stories of families that live with multiple Alaskan Malamutes of both the same and opposite sex, you are bound to find them. Whilst we agree that adult Malamutes can be safely introduced to living with other dogs, it usually takes an experienced hand to gain control of the situation and ensure that the Malamute is trained properly.

Before deciding whether an Alaskan Malamute is suitable for your family, consider the safety of your current dogs and be prepared to take in a Malamute puppy rather than a rescue.

Check out our full step-by-step guide on how to introduce an adult Alaskan Malamute into a home with other dogs for the safest possible method.

Alaskan Malamutes and Cats

We all know the stereotype that dogs hate cats, but with more and more households showing successful friendships between the two species is it possible for an Alaskan Malamute to live with a cat?

The reality is that Alaskan Malamutes have a high prey drive and if not specifically trained whilst they are young, they will typically chase after and hunt small furries. Whilst this can be distressing to you as an owner, there is very little you can do once their natural instinct has kicked in and a Malamute’s large size makes it almost impossible to stop them.

Alaskan Malamute and cat laid in the sun

This is why we wouldn’t personally recommend that an adult Alaskan Malamute is brought into a home where there is already a cat, or that a cat be added to the household where an Alaskan Malamutes who has no experience with them lives.

There are, of course, exceptions to this and there are many examples of Malamutes and cats at least tolerating each other under the same roof. If you know that the Malamute has lived with cats previously then it may be possible to introduce them into a cat household again, as long as the correct steps are taken during their initial meetings.

Alaskan Malamute puppies are much more likely to be friendly towards cats and so adopting a Malamute whilst they are young is going to be your best chance of having an amicable relationship between the two species.

You can read our complete guide on cats and Alaskan Malamutes, along with steps to ensure a safe introduction, by clicking here.

So, Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Family Dogs?

So, there you have it. Alaskan Malamutes make great family dogs, but extra consideration should be taken when introducing them into a household that already has pets such as cats or other dogs. If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment below or get in touch with us directly by clicking here.

4 thoughts on “Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Family Dogs?”

  1. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge with the breed…as a new Malamute puppy owner it’s really helpful…

    You mentioned to train the breed when young to deal with the high prey drive…any suggestions on how to do that during this pandemic? 2 of our neighbors have toy breed dogs …while they are accommodating & understanding that are pup needs more socialisation…I am a little anxious whenever I meet them outside as our Mal (Leo) gets too excited & jumpy….

    1. Hi, thank you for reaching out to us!

      When socialising our Malamute puppies, we use a lot of positive reinforcement and try to bring them into small interactions often. Understandably, this has been made more difficult given the ongoing pandemic.

      We recommend taking small treats with you on your walks to give your Malamute when they are in socialising situations – this could be as simple as passing another dog on the other side of the street. Alaskan Malamutes are typically very food motivated and using treats to keep the situation positive will reinforce good behaviour.

      If your neighbours are comfortable with it, you may want to allow your Mal to meet their dogs whilst both on leashes and in an open, neutral space. Once again, take plenty of treats with you and keep the environment as positive as possible. Remember that being curious and pulling to meet other dogs isn’t necessarily a bad behaviour, especially when they are still a puppy. Allowing them to be curious whilst they are still young and you have better control over them should lead to a more confident and calm adult Malamute.

      We hope this helps and we wish you and Leo all the best!

      – Caitlin

  2. Hi – we are considering adopting a rescue Malamute, 2 year old male. We are told he was abused but tends to be timid and lack confidence, rather than acting aggressively. He has been at a rescue that has a trainer and there are also cats at the rescue that this dog has been exposed to and seems curious about, but not predatory (we have indoor/outdoor cats, so that’s a concern). We are also told he does very well with and loves dogs (we have a 2 year old male Golden Retriever). Our heart goes out to this beautiful dog and we feel we could give him a loving and secure home with lots of exercise and outdoor time. We have adult children, but a couple of toddler grandchildren who come over maybe once a month (and are very kind to and used to our Golden, who loves them). We have a one-acre fenced property and our Golden gets LOTS of exercise in our yard and on walks in the state park across the street. We allow our Golden off-leash in the park and hope we could do that with the Malamute some day, but not sure if that’s possible. Any help in making this decision would be much appreciated! There has been ample interest from others in this particular dog at his current rescue, but after several interviews, the rescue told us today that they feel strongly that we are the right family for this Malamute. So our questions are related to our cats, our current Golden Retriever, our grandchildren, and being able to let the dog off-lease some day. Thanks! – Jeannie

    1. Hi Jeannie, it’s great to hear you’re considering rescuing a Malamute! We understand your concerns given the Malamute’s history. If you haven’t already, we advise that you ask the rescue for any information they may know about the Malamute’s past abuse, particularly what it was related to. This will give you the best idea of any triggers that may cause him to become aggressive in the future.

      Having said this, the fact that he has successfully worked with a trainer, is comfortable around other dogs, and has not been predatory towards cats is a very reassuring sign. Also, it is good to hear that the rescue he is in has gone through interview stages with you as it suggests that they really do care about his best interests.

      Before bringing him home, it’s worth asking the rescue if you could introduce the Malamute to your Golden Retriever. Having them meet on the Malamute’s territory can take some of the initial stress out of it for him, and you will have the rescue’s advice on whether they have the potential to be compatible.

      Regarding your cats, it’s good that the Malamute has had some positive exposure to them previously. We advise that you follow our guide on how to introduce an Alaskan Malamute to cats to give them the best possible chance of getting along.

      Malamutes are typically a very good breed to have around children thanks to their patience and loving personality. Our only concern is his past abuse in case it relates to children. If the rescue knows about your situation and still feels that you are the best home for them then this is a good sign that he will be unreactive towards them. Make sure your grandchildren are always supervised when they are around the Malamute (this is good practise for any Mal!) and encourage them to be gentle and calm around him.

      Finally, we don’t typically advise that Alaskan Malamutes are ever let off their leashes whilst out and about unless they are in an enclosed area where you are sure no small furries can enter. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, some Malamutes have no interest in chasing small animals and can be taught excellent recall skills. If this is something you want to work towards in the future, we recommend reaching out to a local dog trainer who can give you more personal advice based on your Malamute’s temperament.

      We hope this helps to make your decision. Given the recommendation from the rescue and your experience with owning another high-energy breed, it sounds to us like you will be able to give this Malamute his forever home.

      -Caitlin

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