Dog Care Tips Dog Behavior

Are Alaskan Malamutes Good for First Time Owners? [Valid Answer]

You would want a dog that is affectionate, easy to train and requires little grooming. Dogs with aggressive behaviors, low trainability, and extravagant needs can be a bit too much for first-time owners.

Alaskan Malamutes are double-coat dogs of arctic origin. This indicates not just their tough, rugged personality but also their extra needs.

Having said that, they also tend to be extremely loving and caring and are one of the best companions a pet lover can have.

So, are Alaskan Malamutes good for first-time owners? They are not because they don’t do well in apartments, they are sensitive, they cannot tolerate isolation, they have high grooming needs, and they are predisposed to conditions such as hip dysplasia. 

Let’s find out.

Are Alaskan Malamutes good for first-time owners?

From the intro, you might have already made a judgment about them and whether to have them or not but don’t be too quick. You need to understand the behavior of this special breed before getting one for yourself.

Here are some of their characteristics that will help you decide whether they are a good choice for novice owners or not.


1. Apartment-friendly dog

Score: 1/5

Being originally bred in Alaska for sledding and pulling carts, these Malamutes have developed an unreserved personality.

Naturally, they are inclined to go out, play, and run around from time to time.

Having a malamute in an apartment is like having a falcon in a cage. Their outgoing nature forces them to explore the outside world and if they can’t do it, that makes them anxious and vexed. 

They will start howling and barking more often. They might even get so annoyed to throw things around the house and be a total menace.

2. Sensitivity

Score: 4/5

You don’t want your first dog to be too sensitive. As a naive owner, you are bound to make plenty of mistakes in the ways you feed, groom, and even reprimand your pooch. 

You need a dog that overlooks your mistakes as a rookie and shows somewhat unconditional love.

Alaskan malamutes are considered sensitive in all these aspects and take things to heart. 

They require much more careful and pampered grooming, otherwise, they get cold feet and do not respond to commands with confidence.

3. Friendliness

Score: 4/5

When it comes to showing love, Malamutes aren’t shy. They show their warmth and fondness to all family members, that’s also because they are creatures of the pack.

Even to strangers, they show their affection and socialize quite fast.

When adopted young, they can be easily trained to live with other pets without any hostility.

Their high prey drive may force them to hunt down smaller animals that they find to be outsiders. This means they have to be kept in check when strolling outside.

4. Tolerate isolation

Score: 1/5

As mentioned earlier, Malamutes are animals of the pack. They do not tolerate it when left alone.

You must leave them in the presence of a pet sitter or take them with you any time you leave the house for long, otherwise, they get very agitated.

5. Undemanding training

Score:: 4/5

Being highly intelligent, they can grasp new things fast. You can train them effortlessly in sports like skijoring or make them do chores like pulling carts or carrying bag-packs on hikes.

Their high wanderlust and prey drive could be a negative thing for a domestic owner but it allows them to be trained for hunting with great ease and effect.

6. Weather adjustments

Score: 3/5

Like every other double-coated dog, they are very tolerant of cold conditions. Historically, they had been used to pull sleds on ice so that gives you an idea. 

On the other hand that implies that they are not a good fit for hot climates. Moreover, their constant need to go out and have playtime means they cannot be kept in air-conditioned rooms all the time.

The bottom line, if you are someone who lives in a warmer climate, this isn’t the breed for you. 

7. Grooming needs

Score: 4/5

These are not your typical brush-and-go dogs. Malamutes are great shedders and combined with their bigger size are not easy to groom.

You will need to put extra time and effort into washing, drying, and brushing their hair. Cleaning after them on carpets and sofas will require additional work.

For someone looking for a low-maintenance breed, this isn’t the one for you.

8. Health

Score: 4/5

Malamutes are known to be genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia and cataracts.

I always recommend getting a dog from a certified breeder. This minimizes the likelihood of your pup getting any inherited diseases.

Other than that, Malamutes are a sturdy breed. They tolerate seasonal illnesses pretty well.

As long as you keep meeting their requirements for a healthy diet and regular exercise, they won’t disappoint you.

Most of your visits to vets will be for regular checkups only.


Sharing some frequently asked questions.

Are Malamutes picky eaters?

Malamutes are well-known for their picky eating habits. They may refuse to eat when the food isn’t of their liking, they haven’t exercised much, or even out of boredom.
Keep a diet rich in proteins and fats, you may need to consult a dog diet expert at the start.
Having all these things in mind you also need to check their health as ill dogs frequently leave out the food they normally do eat.

Are Alaskan Malamutes good for guardians?

No, Malamutes are very affectionate and friendly, even to strangers. This makes them not a great choice for guarding as you would want a dog that is alert in the presence of total strangers and ready to make a move when needed.

Are Alaskan Malamutes good for first time owners? Conclusion

Malamutes are intelligent, independent, and have a big wanderlust. These qualities make them a little tough to be trained especially for newbies looking to adopt a dog.

But that said, if you are willing to put in the time and effort for their grooming and training and not disheartened by owning a dog with high energy needs then you are in for a big reward.

Their love, loyalty, and playful nature will make them the best companion you will ever have.

About the author

Linda Michaels

Linda Michaels is a proud owner of a Labradoodle named Mylo. She is a trainer who posts about dog training and behavior.
🎓: University of California, Davis
📍: PetWell Animal Hospital