|Barked: Wed Apr 10, '13 7:35pm PST |
|In Australia we refer to giant malamutes as Soft coats where a genetic fault in the puppy (the long coat gene- FGF5) is present. [Scientific journal Reference : D. J. E. Housley and P. J. Venta (2006) The long and the short of it: evidence that FGF5 is a major determinant of canine "hair"-itability. Animal Genetics.] This can occur in one or more or even none of a successful purebred line where neither sire or bitch are a long coated representative as the gene it self is a recessive allele which may or may not appear in a line. The long or soft coat puppies are born fluffy and 30% larger than the other stream line puppies in the litter and the difference is extremely obvious. My pure bred boy is a soft coat, and at 5 months old already weighed 35 Kilos. I am an experienced Malamute owner and i am by profession a published evolutionary biologist, and the science behind this breed is fairly straight forward. The alaskan malamute by any countries standard should have a shedding coat that falls naturally. This is a genetic trait that is essential for heat regulation and was important in the Arctic as eskimos would not have had time to groom and maintain these integral dogs (this gene was thus selected for in terms of adaptations to climate). In short, the gene that assists the shedding and streamline appearance of the Alaskan malamute was essential to avoid matting, and inefficient heat regulation. The long coat or woolly/giant malamutes do not have a gene that allows the shed hair to fall out naturally, it requires raking to be removed, this gene fault has subsequently become more common in litters due to the domesticated lives, time and grooming standards we have of the breed today unlike the survival constraints of the arctic people. Giant malamutes are dogs who retain their shed hair and often have an additional long coat that can grow up to 8 inches in length, variation is however prominent as is with any trait. If two giant malamutes were bred together, the size of the litters would be an inherent relationship of the line from the sire and bitch. Id imagine this would create a successive line of larger genetic morphology. In relation to breed standards and the incorrectness of this genetic fault vs. what a mal should or shouldnt look like, the answer is this:
The physical advantage of the Alaskan malamute in a traditional and evolutionary sense is to have a thick coarse arctic coat that sheds seasonally, with a strong body to pull large weights. The giant/fluffy/wooly/soft coat is not advantageous for these conditions. Therefore, this gene is not a common, selected for gene. However, it is not incorrect, as it was not a mutation brought about by mixed breeding or cross breeding of the pure bred alaskan malamute. True, the long or wooly coat it is not a standard recognised by AKC, as it is not 'common' of the breed. True, most breeders would suggest to have these larger mals desexed, and keep them as house dogs, not show dogs, for people who have enough time to attentively groom them often, but none of this means that the giant mal is not a pure bred alaskan malamute, and will not offer you the same temperament, and beautiful characteristics of the standardised streamline malamutes. This is 1 gene, that is found in the breed that effects the coat and in turn the size and weight of a genuine malamute. NOT the malamute breed itself. Giant or not giant, if its pure bred, its still an alaskan malamute and all the same rules and advice apply. Just expect a thicker, fluffy coat all year round, that produces an over sized Mal who will learn to love the extra attention and need a little more care with bone development and treatment. Hope this helped. Georgia.
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