Malamutes have dense double coats that keep them warm, and the dogs also produce natural oils that make those coats waterproof. However, these features, which have enabled malamutes to survive in arctic climates, can present shedding and grooming challenges for you.
‘Blowing’ the Coat
Malamutes shed thoroughly -- a process known as “blowing” their coats -- about twice a year. This usually takes place in the spring and fall, although some dogs blow their coats at other times of year or more than twice annually, especially in hot climates. Blowing a coat can take as long as three weeks, because the dog loses and then replaces all his hair. This gives his skin a chance to breathe, and you can check for itchy or irritated patches. You may be able to shorten the shedding period by regularly brushing him. Even if you brush and vacuum daily, though, you’ll still have dog hair everywhere until your malamute finishes blowing his coat.
When they’re not blowing their coats, most malamutes don’t shed heavily, but you’re still likely to find stray hairs around your house. In fact, some malamute rescues note that if having an immaculate house is important to you, another breed might be a better fit. Brushing your dog weekly can help reduce -- but not eliminate -- shedding. Unlike some other dogs, though, malamutes rarely smell, and they prefer to stay clean, licking themselves like cats if their coats become dirty.
Brushing and Preventing Mats
Depending on the length of your malamute’s coat, you might need to brush her every day, or you might do it once a week. In addition to removing loose hair, brushing helps keep your dog’s coat from developing mats, which can attract bacteria that lead to infections. Severe mats might require shaving, which also can cause health problems for your malamute; if she loses her hair outside of her natural shedding cycle, she can have more difficulty adapting her body temperature to the climate. She can also become vulnerable to sunburn and skin irritation. Regular brushing can help prevent these problems.
Malamutes don’t need frequent baths. You can wash yours every six weeks or once a year, depending on the length of his hair, the climate where you live and your own preferences. The Alaskan Malamute Club of America recommends baths every six to eight weeks, though, especially if you want to cut down on shedding. Use a shampoo developed for dogs with sensitive skin; the AMCA suggests oatmeal shampoo. Brush your dog while his coat is drying to get rid of hair loosened during the bath. A high-velocity blow dryer can speed up the drying; otherwise, he may be damp for up to 24 hours.
- American Kennel Club: Meet the Breeds: Alaskan Malamute
- Powderhound Alaskan Malamutes: Malamutes Are NOT for Neat Freaks...and Other ‘Information’
- YukonJak Alaskan Malamutes: Grooming Your Alaskan Malamute
- "Alaskan Malamutes" by Margaret H. Bonham, Stacey E. Curtis and Stephen R. Lee: Coat and Grooming
- Polaris Alaskan Malamute Rescue: So You REALLY Want an Alaskan Malamute?
- Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue Organization: The Alaskan Malamute -- Introduction
- Illinois Alaskan Malamute Rescue Organization: The Alaskan Malamute -- Is the Alaskan Malamute Right for You?
- Kwest Malamutes: About Malamutes
- Alaskan Malamute Club of America: Grooming and Care