Ancestors of the Malamutes have a long history of working alongside man. The inhospitable terrain and climate led many tribes to a nomadic lifestyle and their dogs were an important part of that life in helping to pull carcasses home for food or to help move the tribe on. They also acted as watch dogs for predators and assisted in finding blowholes for hunting of fish and seals.
Malamutes are based on the dogs owned and bred by the Mahlemut tribe, who were found in the Kotzebue Sound area of Alaska. Their dogs were larger than most and bred for endurance. they had great strength but were at the same time trainable, enthusiastic and affectionate towards the people. The dogs would live in with the families during the winter to offer body warmth overnight. The dogs truly did live in harmony with the tribe.
When the Alaskan Gold Rush arrived, the stock of dogs was too small to cope with demand and so prospectors shipped in dogs and cross matings took place between sled dog breeds and even hounds or St Bernards.
Arthur Walden was a respected team driver and he founded the Chinook kennels, named after his foundation dog Chinook. He went off to Antarctica on the first Byrd Expedition in 1928. While he was away, the kennel was managed by Milton and Eva (Short) Seeley. Whilst there they started looking to produce their ideal sled dog and looked towards the dogs of the Mahlemut tribe. In 1929, the first Malamute litter was born. There were four puppies, one of which was Gripp of Yukon - the first Malamute Champion. The Seeley's purchased the Chinook kennels from Walden in 1931 and promoted it as a tourist attraction.
In 1935, Eva Seeley succeeded in gaining AKC (American Kennel Club) breed status. Eva finally decided on the Kotzebue prefix and all Malamutes registered before 1950 were Kotzebue dogs. However, many people were buying Malamute dogs from Paul Voller who developed the M'loot lines from a wider source of breeding stock, so producing a wider variety of colours. By 1950, the number of registered Malamutes had dropped significantly due to lost dogs on expeditions and at war. The AKC decide that it would re-open the stud book to new registrations and this allowed the registration of M'loot lines. Although the Kotzebue followers were not happy, they declared a truce for the good of the Club (AMCA) which they wanted to gain AKC status for, and the breed. A new standard was developed and approved in 1960 to accept both lines and now it is common for the two strains to be mixed.
Malamutes came to the UK in 1959, brought in by the Prestons and a small band of enthusiasts started the AMCUK in 1964. In 2006, Malamutes were taken off the rare breeds register and shortly afterwards, the first UK Malamute Champion award was given.
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