Are Alaskan Malamutes Stubborn? (Owner’s Insight)

This post contains affiliate links. We will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Alaskan Malamutes are known for having their own minds and doing what they want, but are Alaskan Malamutes stubborn?

There is no doubt that Alaskan Malamutes are stubborn, and they are often described as being cat-like in their behavior. They will often refuse to eat their meals, go for walks, or listen to you during obedience training.

Keep reading to learn all about the origin of Malamute stubbornness, as well as what it means in day-to-day life, and some tips from an experienced owner.

Recommended Items For Your Alaskan Malamute
Essential Items for Adopting an Alaskan Malamute: Full Checklist Essential Items for Adopting an Alaskan Malamute: Full Checklist
  • Full Rundown Of All The Items You Need For Your Alaskan Malamute
  • Checklist Included
  • Includes Grooming Tools, Food, Collars, Harnesses, Toys & Much More

Why Alaskan Malamutes Are Stubborn

Alaskan Malamutes are one of the most stubborn breeds that there are, but why is this?


Malamutes are stubborn by nature, a trait that is seen across the majority of Spitz-type dogs like Huskies and German Spitz.

As working dogs, Malamutes were used to heavy loads on sleds across long distances. This required the ability to listen to basic commands but also to be independent and work as a pack with other Malamutes.

Malamutes knew their roles and were adept at them, but they did not excel in learning various tricks and commands like other working-type dogs, such as herders, simply due to not needing to.

Lack Of Motivation

Aside from their genetics, Malamutes can also become even more stubborn if they lack motivation.

This is quite common, even after many years of Malamutes being domesticated and kept as pets. They still retain a high capacity for exercise and require at least 2 hours per day as well as mental stimulation to keep them happy.

A lot of people decide to get Alaskan Malamutes because they like how they look – something which has become more common in recent years due to shows like Game of Thrones – and then realize that they can’t keep up with this demanding breed.

This leads to an unhappy dog that can become even more stubborn than usual.

What Owners Need To Know

It’s all well and good knowing why Malamutes are stubborn, but it’s even more important to know how this affects daily life and actually keeping a Malamute as a pet.

Here are some important things to keep in mind with Malamutes that are caused by their stubbornness.


With a breed as large and powerful as the Alaskan Malamute, training is absolutely essential and should be done from an early age.

The issue here is that training a Malamute is incredibly hard due to their stubbornness. They are not interested in pleasing you or working for food, which makes training difficult.

You’ll need a lot of patience when it comes to training a Mal. It can be even more frustrating because they are a very intelligent breed, but they always rank quite low on dog intelligence tests simply because they don’t pick up new tricks easily out of stubbornness.

Check out our training tips for Malamutes to see the best ways to get them to listen to you.


Early socialization is essential for a stubborn breed like the Alaskan Malamute.

It’s a great way to get them out of their comfort zone and get them used to different surroundings and other dogs/people from an early age.

Close up of a sleeping Alaskan Malamute

Malamutes are also a very sociable and friendly breed, so they will enjoy getting to spend time with other dogs and people, and it will help to give them some mental stimulation and exercise.


Malamutes require at least 2 hours of exercise per day, but it can sometimes be hard to reach this level if they refuse to go outside due to being stubborn.

This can cause a lot of frustration on your end, and it can also lead to your Mal becoming restless or agitated later on as they haven’t had enough exercise.

The secret here is to get them to exercise in different ways.

Some Malamutes love to play games like fetch (or simply chasing after a ball), for example, while others might enjoy going for a run rather than a walk.

Exercise is usually one of the areas where they tend to be the least stubborn, as most Mals love to get out and do some exercise, but it can still be an issue in some cases.


Malamutes are no strangers to being vocal and howling or even ‘talking’ pretty much whenever they feel like it.

They have an intuitive way of telling you exactly what they think, and if they are being particularly stubborn, they will often ‘talk’ back at you when you ask them to do something.

This can be quite funny at first, but if they realize that they can get their own way by ‘talking’ back at you, it will reinforce the behavior, and it can become a problem.

Pack Mentality

An important part of owning a Malamute is understanding their pack mentality.

Malamutes will usually look towards an alpha in the house, and if there isn’t one, they will quickly take over and become even less likely to listen to your commands.

This can make their stubborn nature even harder to deal with, so it’s important to assert yourself as the alpha.

This isn’t about punishing them or using any type of force – it’s about teaching them obedience from an early age and sticking with it, and not giving in to their begging.

Being the alpha should mean that your Mal respects you, not that they are scared of you.

My Experience

To get a better insight into Malamute stubbornness, here’s a quick insight into my experience of owning Mals for over ten years now:

Malamutes are very stubborn, and it’s important to understand this if you are interested in the breed. I’ve lost count of how many times my Mal has decided to stay inside rather than go for a walk, or refuse to eat because her food doesn’t look appealing enough. It’s always worth it, though, and with some patience you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly affectionate and loyal dog.

I’m sure most dedicated Malamute owners would say exactly the same thing – Malamutes are a very rewarding breed once you understand their needs and how their stubbornness works.

In Summary

There’s no denying how stubborn Alaskan Malamutes can be, but it is just part of owning this breed.

If you have patience, you will be rewarded with an incredibly loyal and affectionate breed that makes a great addition to any family.

Training and socialization from an early age can work wonders for reducing stubbornness, but you’ll never get rid of it completely.

Photo of author

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.

Read More

Leave a comment