Why Is My Alaskan Malamute So Small? (8 Reasons & Pictures)

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Are you worried about your Alaskan Malamute being too small and unsure of the reason? You’ve come to the right place.

There are several reasons why your Alaskan Malamute might be small, varying from normal things like their age, gender, and genetics to problems like underlying health issues or underfeeding.

In this guide, I’ll take you through exactly how to tell if your Mal is too small in the first place with pictures and example weights. From there, we’ll get into eight reasons why your Mal is small and what you can do about it in each case.

Let’s get straight into it.

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How Big Should An Alaskan Malamute Be?

Before we get into why your Alaskan Malamute is small, it’s important to clarify what ‘small’ means.

If you haven’t weighed your Mal, it can be easy to under- or overestimate how much they weigh and whether they are a healthy weight or not.

Here are a few methods to determine whether your Mal is a healthy weight.

AKC Standard

According to the AKC standard, a fully grown female should weigh around 75 pounds (about 35kg), and an adult male should be about 85 pounds (40kg).

In my experience, it’s common for Mals to exceed these weight limits quite easily rather than to fall below them.

It isn’t uncommon to see Mals easily in excess of 100 lbs.

Physical Checks You Can Do (With Example)

Malamutes can grow at different rates, so it can be hard to put an exact ideal weight that they should be with age.

There are some physical checks you can do that are great ways to tell if your Mal is overweight or underweight.

Firstly, your Mal should have a tuck where their ribcage ends. This should be noticeable even under their thick coat.

alaskan malamute on a leash outside
A visible tuck at the end of the ribcage

However, their ribs should not be sharp and visible, which is a sign that they are underweight. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them at an ideal weight.

Veterinarian Method

We strongly recommend taking your Malamute to your veterinarian if you are concerned that they are too small.

Your veterinarian will use a combination of physical traits, behavioral changes, and measurements of their height, weight, and girth to assess whether your Mal is too small or not fully.

From there, they will be able to assess whether there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

8 Reasons Why Your Alaskan Malamute Is So Small

Here’s a list of eight reasons your Alaskan Malamute is so small.

You should be able to identify the problem (if there is one) from the points below.

1. Lack Of Nutrition

You might be feeding your Malamute enough food, but it can affect their overall size if it lacks the nutrition they need to grow and develop.

Ideal food for an Alaskan Malamute is high-quality kibble that is high in protein, vitamins, and fatty acids. You should avoid cheap filler ingredients like corn and soy that bulk up the calories without adding meaningful nutrition.

It’s also a good idea to supplement their regular diet with healthy treats and snacks.

Our recommendations for Alaskan Malamute dry food are here, separated by age.

2. The Aren’t Fully Grown Yet

A common reason why your Mal might be too small is simply because they haven’t actually finished growing yet.

Mals need more time than your average dog to become fully grown because of how large they grow. This usually takes between 18 and 24 months.

This can be confusing because the puppy stage technically ends after a year, but your Mal will still grow even after that stage, just at a slower rate.

If your Mal is under 18 to 24 months old but seems healthy in weight (no visible ribs), don’t worry too much about their size as they still have some growing to do.

3. Underfeeding

Underfeeding is a common way that Alaskan Malamutes get too small, and it’s the easiest to fix.

If you aren’t offering enough food to your Malamute to have enough energy to recover after exercise and gain weight, they will become skinny and small.

This is more common than you would think, and it can be partly explained due to how much exercise Malamutes need.

Two or more hours of exercise every day burns off a significant amount of calories, and combined with how large Malamutes are anyway, it becomes pretty easy to underfeed them.

Mature Malamutes need two meals daily, while puppies need four smaller meals daily.

Mature Mals generally need 3 to 4 cups of dry food daily, but it could be higher than this, depending on their weight and exercise requirements.

4. Medical Problems

Some medical issues like anorexia, malabsorptive disorders, or other diseases can cause significant weight loss in Malamutes.

Significant weight loss occurs when a dog loses more than 10% of their body weight, so it’s important to monitor your Malamutes weight to notice fluctuations and take them to the vet if needed.

5. Genetics

Some Malamutes are smaller than others, even when fully grown.

So-called ‘giant’ Malamutes are a great example of the other end of the spectrum; these are Mals bred purely for size and reach anywhere from 100 to 150lbs in weight.

If your Mal looks healthy and has no signs of being underweight, then there isn’t anything to worry about; chances are they are just smaller due to genetics.

6. Gender

Female Malamutes are smaller than males, weighing roughly 10 lbs less per the AKC standard, but this size difference can be much larger in practice.

If you have a female Mal who was the runt of the litter, for example, then it wouldn’t be surprising if they were significantly smaller than a regular adult male.

7. Too Much Exercise

I wanted to include this one because, although very uncommon, some people do actually overexercise their Malamutes.

Overexercising can lead to several problems – one of which is making them underweight – and leave your Mal with very little energy, especially if they aren’t being fed more food to make up for the difference.

8. Picky Eater

If you’ve ever owned a Mal, you’ll know all about how stubborn they can be.

This comes from their Spitz personality; they are not as interested in pleasing their owners as most other dogs and are not as food-motivated either.

If your Mal is a picky eater, giving them all the nutrition they need can be challenging.

Our advice in these cases is to vary their food and offer lots of nutritional treats (see our recommendations here).

What To Do If Your Malamute Is Small

If your Malamute is small, it’s important to know how to ensure they are healthy.

Here are a few quick steps you can take to make sure they aren’t suffering from any problem and encourage them to gain weight.

Check With A Veterinarian

Before anything else, the priority is to check that your Mal isn’t suffering from an underlying condition causing them to be underweight.

If you have any concerns about their weight, take them to your veterinarian for a full assessment.

Once you know there isn’t an underlying condition; you can move on to the next steps.

Encourage Them To Eat More

If your vet is happy with the weight and size of your Mal, there isn’t any need to encourage them to eat more than what they were previously eating.

If they advise them to gain some weight, it can be tricky.

Encouraging your Mal to eat more can be challenging if stubborn and not food-motivated.

Here are a few tips to get them to eat more:

  • Vary Their Food – Dry kibble should be the staple of your Mal’s diet, but implementing some natural foods like eggs, cooked chicken, and rice is a great way to get them excited about their food.
  • Use Treats – Treats are a great way to boost the amount of calories your Malamute consumes; just make sure to use healthy treats. I like to use treats made from natural ingredients and high in protein – see my recommendations here. Just make sure not to feed them treats right before their usual feeding time, or they will be less interested in their normal food.
  • Exercise Before Meals – Take your Mal for a walk before feeding them. It’s an easy way to boost their appetite and make them more likely to eat their food.

Monitor Their Progress

Remember that some Mals are smaller than others due to their genetics, which isn’t always bad.

The best piece of advice moving forward is to monitor their weight. If they lose 10% or more of their body weight, this is a serious cause for concern, and they need to be taken to the vet immediately.

Weigh them weekly and keep track of how their weight changes.

In Summary

If you’re concerned about your Malamute being too small, it’s important to weigh them and check their ribs to see if they are actually underweight or not.

If you don’t have access to scales that fit or have any concerns, you should take them to your veterinarian for a complete check-up. Once you know for sure, you can implement the tips in this article to help them gain weight.

I personally believe that the increased popularity of bigger and bigger Malamutes (so-called giant Malamutes) has led to a surge in people thinking their Malamutes are too small when this is not the case.

Tha AKC standard really does give the best insight into a healthy weight for a Malamute.

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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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