What Should You Know Before Getting an Alaskan Malamute Puppy?

Alaskan Malamutes are one of the oldest sled dog breeds, and they’re a particular favorite for people who want big and loyal dogs.

Analysis on the breed by YouGov notes that it ranks 15th among the most popular dog breeds in America. There’s been a steady amount of interest in Alaskan Malamutes over the years, but every breed has specific needs.

Before getting an Alaskan Malamute puppy, there is some essential information you need to be aware of including: 

  • A typical Malamute’s temperament
  • Common health issues they may encounter
  • How much they cost to look after each year

So, here’s an in-depth look at what you need to know before getting an Alaskan Malamute!

The Breed’s Personality

Alaskan Malamutes are large working dogs that are used to pull heavy sleds, making them a suitable breed for active families and individuals. This dog may require a lot of TLC due to its large size, but The Spruce Pets explains that its friendly, loyal, playful, and affectionate temperament will make the effort worthwhile.

Keep in mind that whilst Malamutes do love affection from their owners, they are also a very independent breed. Alaskan Malamutes will benefit from alone time and you must be able to respect their personal-space boundaries to form a trusting relationship.

However, you must be able to provide regular structured exercise and have a large area for them to move around in since they were bred to work. A yard with a tall fence and plenty of toys is required to keep their minds active and physical health in good shape.

Given the special needs of this big breed, we recommend getting a strong and sturdy leash that won’t snap if pulled hard and a suitable harness to improve control. You should also provide them with large dog rope toys that will remain durable even during playtime.

Alaskan Malamutes are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ family dog. They can be difficult to socialise with other dogs and often do better in households with no other pets. If you already own other dogs, make sure to be patient during the introductory stages and be prepared for your Malamute to display alpha behaviours once they’re all grown up.

Common Health Concerns

Alaskan Malamutes are mostly purebred sports dogs, so they are relatively healthier when compared with other breeds. However, you need to be aware of conditions that are caused by their genetics and their large size. The most common to occur are listed below.

Elbow and hip dysplasia

This disease is mostly caused by genetics, which is why it tends to be common among Alaskan Malamutes. Once this orthopedic problem develops, your Malamute may find it difficult to experience stability and optimal function in their hips and elbows.

The symptoms of elbow and hip dysplasia tend to appear in later life, between the ages of 4 and 6 years, but some Malamutes may experience it much earlier. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent it but the condition can be managed with both surgical and non-surgical treatment options.


This is another genetic condition that occurs in Alaskan Malamutes. Though rare, this alarming neurological disorder will interfere with the functioning of your dog’s nerves.

Polyneuropathy is characterised by a change in gait, weakness in the legs, tremors, and lack of coordination amongst other things. The diagnosis of polyneuropathy is difficult, due to the vagueness of symptoms which could be attributed to other symptoms.


This medical condition is caused by an underactive thyroid, thus leading to weight gain, lethargy, and thinning skin. This mainly affects the hormone regulation and metabolism of your Malamute, but can be treated with daily medication.

Dental diseases

To many people’s surprise, dental diseases affect 80% of dogs by the age of three. However, the genetics of Alaskan Malamutes make them prone to dental issues and bacterial concerns, so professional dental cleaning sessions can cost as much as $700.

The medical expenses for this breed can get high due to their active nature. An article on pet insurance by Sound Dollar highlights that illnesses and injuries are the top reasons why people want to get insurance for their dogs.

Through pet insurance, you can get treatments for your playful puppy’s injuries or illnesses without worrying about the high medical costs. Some plans even offer coverage for genetic conditions like hip dysplasia, making it beneficial for Alaskan Malamute owners in particular.

Average Expenses for an Alaskan Malamute Per Year

Alaskan Malamutes are mostly purebred, making them more expensive than mutts or mixed dogs. In fact, members of the Alaska Malamute Club of America have noted that this breed can cost as much as $2,500-$4,000 to buy.

Keep in mind that buying a purebred puppy is not the only way to get a Malamute – hundreds of Malamutes end up in rescue shelters every year. Not only does rescuing reduce the initial cost of getting a Malamute, it also provides a home to a dog who needs it most.

When it comes to their medical expenses, GOBankingRates states that their estimated medical bills can reach around $7,700 over an average lifespan of twelve to fifteen years.

You’ve probably already guessed – big dogs eat big meals! Feeding an Alaskan Malamute can cost over $100 per month for the high-quality food needed to sustain such an active breed. Not only that, but their large size means you will have to pay premium prices for grooming services (average $85 per session) and dog beds (around $100).

Alaskan Malamutes are an amazing breed to own but they are also one of the most costly. We ask that you only consider adopting a Malamute if you have the funds needed to give them happy and healthy life.

Final Thoughts

In general, Alaskan Malamutes are a great furry friend, especially if you need an affectionate and active dog. However, before you get an Alaskan Malamute puppy, consider their personality, health concerns, and their costs to check if they’re the right match for you.

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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