Most Alaskan Malamute variations relate to the colour of their coats but there’s another variation that is catching the eye of many eager-to-be Malamute owners – wooly Malamutes. With little information available surrounding these Malamutes, we’re here to put the record straight. So, what exactly is a wooly Malamute, and how can they be identified? Keep reading to find out!
What is a wooly Alaskan Malamute?
Before we get into ‘how to identify a wooly Malamute’ it’s important to understand what one actually is.
Quite simply, a wooly Malamute is an Alaskan Malamute that has a significantly longer coat than what you might imagine a normal Malamute to look like. Usually, these coats are also much denser due to the large volume of hair the Malamute has.
It is a common misconception that Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred to have woollier coats to help them survive freezing temperatures, but this is unlikely to be true. Wooly coats are very high maintenance, even more so than a normal Malamute’s coat!
They require daily grooming to prevent painful matting from happening. If their fur does become matted, these Malamutes would have been much more likely to get frostbite and potentially die as result.
In reality, breeders of Alaskan Malamutes in the arctic would have been aware of the liabilities involved with wooly Malamutes and would have found them undesirable due to their maintenance needs.
A wooly coat is the result of a recessive gene meaning two non-wooly Malamutes may have wooly puppies if they both carry the necessary genes. This, unfortunately, means that some irresponsible breeders have chosen to selectively breed the woolliest Malamutes possible over the years.
Whilst wooly Malamutes remain an important part of Alaskan Malamute genetic history, we firmly believe that Malamutes should not be bred purely for aesthetic reasons. We have sadly seen many wooly Alaskan Malamutes surrendered to shelters over the years due to their high maintenance needs.
In an ideal world, wooly Malamutes would not be selectively bred for meaning enough suitable homes would remain open for those that are naturally produced.
How to identify a Wooly Malamute
As previously mentioned, wooly Malamutes arise due to genetics. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 Alaskan Malamutes will show some wooliness in their coats although full wooly Malamutes are much more uncommon.
Identifying a wooly Malamute gets easier as the Malamute gets older. This is because it gives the Malamute chance to grow their coats to their full potential. Many owners report that wooly coats can take up to 3 years to develop.
Fully grown wooly Malamutes usually stand out from non-wooly Malamutes thanks to their extra fluffy appearance making identification a breeze.
Identifying a wooly Malamute puppy is not the easiest of tasks, however, partly because the definition of a wooly coat can be a hot topic for debate. Some owners believe that a wooly coat must cover the majority of the Malamute’s body for it to be considered as such. Others may call their Malamutes wooly even if the wooliness only appears in patches.
Some wooly Malamutes may only show their wooliness on their heads and tails, making it particularly hard to identify them if you are unfamiliar with the breed.
One of the key things to look out for in puppies is long fur behind their ears. In our experience, this area commonly stands out compared to non-wooly Malamute puppies.
In young Malamutes, you can sometimes identify a wooly coat by how it sheds. It may come as a surprise but wooly Malamutes can appear to shed less than non-wooly Malamutes.
In reality, they are shedding just as much but the structure of their coats means that the loose hairs are getting trapped which is what frequently leads to matting. If you notice that they drop fewer hairs around the home, or that they need more maintenance to look well-groomed, you could have a wooly Malamute on your hands.
How do you groom a wooly Alaskan Malamute?
Alaskan Malamutes are a breed that is known to require a lot of grooming to keep their coats in good condition. Their thick double coats and twice-yearly coat blowing mean they shed a lot and can quickly look unkempt.
Wooly Malamutes require even more grooming to keep their coats looking luxurious, and to maintain their physical health.
Brushing a wooly Malamute every day is essential to prevent painful matting from occurring. Matting happens when fur tangles together to a pretty much irreversible state and it can feel like a solid lump in the middle of their coat.
Not only does matted fur ruin the appearance of a wooly Malamute’s coat, but they are also very painful for the Malamute as they can pull tightly on their skin. It may even result in their skin being exposed to the elements which can affect their ability to regulate their temperature, increasing the risk of them getting ill.
Daily brushing will help you to identify any matting that is beginning to form so you can get rid of them early on. Once fur becomes matted, you will likely have to carefully trim it out of the coat but the smaller the area, the easier this will be to do.
A Malamute’s coat is designed in such a way that it should never have to be cut or shaved which is why it is so important for them to properly groomed to prevent the need for this.
When it comes to bath time, take extra caution to make sure your wooly Malamute is dry to the skin. A wooly coat can easily trap moisture against the skin which may cause irritation and lead to a hot spot forming, particularly if there is unwashed shampoo trapped too.
Some owners of wooly Malamutes may choose to regularly trim their Malamute’s coats to help better maintain them. It is very common for long hair on the bottom of their feet to get trimmed as this is a very common area for matting to occur and is not an essential coat area.
Overall, so long as a wooly Malamute is regularly groomed using the right tools, its coat should remain healthy and tangle-free. If you have any concerns about a matt that has formed, we recommend contacting a reputable groomer who will have the tools to safely remove it.
Wooly Alaskan Malamutes stand out thanks to their extra-long coats but identifying them as a puppy can be tricky. We recommend looking out for long hairs behind the ears and on the pads of their feet.
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