|Barked: Thu May 14, '09 12:28am PST |
|There are recognized "Gentle Giants".
There is a natural range of size in Alaskan Malamutes. Malamutes in weight are "standard" size 65-85, but can weigh up to 140lbs or more, which are considered the Gentle Giants. The "standards" were created originally by one person's modern vision of an ideal malamute (who also never bothered to go to Alaska or the Arctic) and reluctantly increased slightly upward after great political infighting within the AMCA in the 1950s. The functionality for what the dog was originally intended is more important than the size.
Despite heavy pressure from members, the AMCA refused to budge on updating the standard for size and weight, possibly because of the heavy Kotzebue influence on the club. M'Loot dogs are larger than Kotzebue dogs, as are Hinman-Irwin dogs (which heavily influenced the Husky-Pak dogs). There are virtues in all three strains, and the results of crossing the strains. Today most Alaskan Malamutes are the result of mixing M'Loot with Kotzebue or Husky-Pak.
However, many foreign clubs, (UK, France and others) have desirable freighting sizes as a range of 25 to 28 inches for males, and 23 to 26 inches for females.
Interestingly, most show malamutes appear to be above the AMCA standard sizes, despite the AMCA's slavish adherence to the standard inches & pounds in print.
"Despite what our standard says, I am not at all convinced that 85-lb males and 75-lb females are "the ideal freighting size". That statement was a compromise, the best we could do then, and a lot better than the way it was. But, I always felt the "original Malamute was a big dog, even after many generations of survival in a harsh environment. I think the old photos show that. In the 1950s, near Lake Placid, NY, I saw real, honest-to-God good-type Malamutes, brought out of the arctic by Jacques Suzanne, that were bigger than any real Malamutes I have seen before or since.
For many reasons I was told that anyone who ever worked sled dogs had found that big dogs "much less efficient" than the smaller ones. Some even said any dog over 80-lbs was clumsy and more likely to break down and drop out. Not being a driver, I couldn't argue. But now that opinion has been made to look silly by Will Steger and his gallant companions who journeyed totally across Antarctica in what has to be said the greatest feat of human and canine endurance ever on this earth. They accomplished with teams of 100-lb dogs - and their performance was magnificent!"
Also interesting is that Arthur Walden, who brought Malamutes and other sled dogs to New England from Alaska and the Yukon, preferred the larger dogs (120 lbs to 165 lbs) for freighting. Mr. Walden actually drove dogs in the 1890s (pre Gold rush and during), for his freighting business. He acquired his dogs from the Innuit, and learned from them. He was able to survive the harsh Arctic and maintain his freighting business because of his dogs, the only reliable transportation there.
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