It’s very important that people who aren’t familiar with the Alaskan Malamute breed understand exactly what a ‘giant’ Alaskan Malamute is and why it’s something that we should be avoiding.
A ‘giant’ Alaskan Malamute is simply a Malamute that has been bred for excessive size, AKA larger than the breed standard. Mals have a tendency to put on weight and can quickly become larger than the ideal weight range, but this does not offer any improvements to health and instead does the opposite.
Much of the content online seems to miss the mark with giant Malamutes completely, so let’s set the record straight.
- How Big Should Alaskan Malamutes Actually Be?
- How Do Giant Alaskan Malamutes Compare?
- Are ‘Giant’ Alaskan Malamutes Healthy?
- Giant Alaskan Malamute vs Overweight Alaskan Malamute
- What To Do If A Breeder Lists Their Mal As Giant
- In Summary
How Big Should Alaskan Malamutes Actually Be?
The ideal size for an Alaskan Malamute is given by the breed standard.
A simplified version of the standard can be found on the American Kennel Club’s site and was created by the Alaskan Malamute Club of America in the same year that the AKC recognized the Alaskan Malamute breed.
The breed standard covers many things about the ideal Alaskan Malamute, from appearance to movement and temperament. It aims to produce the most healthy and ready-to-work Malamute as possible.
In terms of size, the standard recommends a range of weights and heights for both male and female Malamutes that are ideal for health and function:
- Male Alaskan Malamutes should weigh around 85 lbs and reach 25 inches in height at the shoulder.
- Female Alaskan Malamutes should weigh around 75 lbs and reach 23 inches at the shoulder.
So, we clearly have a range of sizes that all Malamutes should aim to be within, so where does the idea of a ‘giant’ Malamute come from, and what does it even mean?
How Do Giant Alaskan Malamutes Compare?
The whole idea of a giant Alaskan Malamute comes from people and breeders who prefer their dogs to look as large as possible.
Alaskan Malamutes are already pretty big, and combined with their thick double coats, they can look even larger. They have a very wolf-like appearance, and some people want them to look as large and intimidating as possible.
This is, of course, a very short-sighted approach and not something a reputable breeder should aim for.
In terms of size, a ‘giant’ Malamute is any Mal larger than the maximum stated on the breed standard (greater than 75 lbs for females and 85 lbs for males).
In most cases, giant Mals easily exceed 100 lbs, especially males. They also tend to be taller than the breed standard rather than carrying a lot of excess fat.
The harsh truth of the matter is that most dogs are overweight to some degree, but not enough people care or assume that their weight is healthy when this is not the case.
I’ll get into the health risks associated with overweight dogs shortly, but it’s a simple fact that more than half of the dogs in North America are overweight.
Giant dogs, not just Malamutes, are becoming increasingly popular, and this is not what we, as responsible dog owners, should be aiming for.
Are ‘Giant’ Alaskan Malamutes Healthy?
Giant Alaskan Malamutes are not healthier than a Mal that is in the recommended weight range.
There is a reason why the breed standard exists, and it has been developed through years of breeding and research on the breed to find the ideal weight both for function and health.
Increasing the weight of a Malamute only increases the risks of problems that they are already predisposed to:
- Hip Dysplasia – Malamutes are prone to hip dysplasia, which is a deformity of the hip where the ball and socket of the joint grow at different rates. This is more common in overweight Mals due to the extra stress put on the joints and how rapidly they develop as well.
- Bloat – Large dogs like the Malamute are prone to canine bloat, and it’s more common in overweight dogs as well.
Being overweight can also increase the risk of many other health problems that Malamutes are not genetically predisposed to:
- Joint Issues – Other joint issues like arthritis are much more likely to occur from the extra stress on the joints.
- Heart, Kidney, And Liver Disease – Being overweight predisposes a Malamute to heart, kidney and liver disease.
- Diabetes – Insulin-resistant diabetes is especially common in older, obese dogs.
- Cancer – According to board-certified nutritionist Lisa Weeth, there is some potential correlation between being overweight and certain types of cancer in dogs.
The list really does go on…
Another quite shocking fact is that being just 10% overweight reduces the average lifespan of a dog by around one-third.
Giant Alaskan Malamute vs Overweight Alaskan Malamute
Obesity is a real problem for ‘normal’ Malamutes, as they tend to put on weight very quickly; so how are you supposed to tell the difference between an overweight Malamute and a ‘Giant Malamute’?
Here are a couple of easy ways you can check.
Check Their Height And Weight
The easiest way to check if your Malamute is too large is to check their height and weight and compare them to the breed standard.
They are overweight if they are around the correct height but much heavier than they should be.
If they are much taller but not noticeably fat, but still heavier than the standard, they are likely ‘giant’ or simply an outlier in the litter.
Feel The Ribs
Some Mals might be heavier than the standard but not fat; these are naturally larger Malamutes that hopefully haven’t come from a litter of ‘giant’ Malamutes.
You should take your hands and gently feel the rib cage to check for this. If you can’t feel the ribs, they are fat for their height.
If you can feel each rib quite easily without pressing on, and each has a small layer of fat, they are at a healthy weight for their size.
The last check is to look for a clear ‘tuck’ where the ribcage ends.
This tuck should be easily visible; if not, it is a sign that they are overweight.
Wooly vs Giant Malamute
To further confuse the matter, some Malamutes are also woolier than others – often called ‘Wooly Malamutes.’
Similarly to Giant Malamutes, these are also not ideal regarding the breed standard. However, the thicker coat usually has fewer health-related issues than a Giant Malamute.
To tell these two apart, it all comes down to weight. Wooly Mals might look larger, but their weight should be very close or at the standard level.
If your Mal is much larger than the standard height and weight and has an exceptionally Wooly coat, it could be referred to as a ‘Giant Wooly Malamute’; hopefully not from a breeder who had this in mind, however…
What To Do If A Breeder Lists Their Mal As Giant
If you’re looking at getting an Alaskan Malamute, you should hopefully be informed enough already through researching the breed to know that calling a Malamute ‘giant’ is a big red flag.
I know how difficult it can be if you’ve already met the cute puppies and have started to decide on names and the rest of it, but I always recommend avoiding breeders who list their Malamutes as ‘giant’ as it is an unhealthy practice.
Breeders who do these types of things are not conforming to the breed standard and are not breeding for health; they are also not going to be registered either.
It might seem harmless to purchase a pup from them in the short term, but it is only promoting a harmful practice that will have implications further down the road, especially if your pup suffers from health issues relating to its size.
So What Should You Do?
Firstly, read through our guide on adopting Malamutes to make sure you understand how much work they are.
From there, please read our guide on choosing a Malamute breeder; this will cover everything you need to know about choosing the right pup and supporting the right breeders.
Avoid breeders who list their Malamutes as ‘giant’; it’s OK for some of the puppies to be larger than usual, but if they are breeding for size, this is a huge red flag.
Hopefully, you’ve got a better idea of what a ‘Giant’ Malamute is now and why we must be cautious with breeders who aim to make their Mals as large as possible.
The breed standard has stood the test of time. It is a great guideline to aim for to make a Malamute as healthy as possible, alongside other factors like nutrition, exercise, and daily mental stimulation.