By Tove R. Tveiten

Approximately 35,000 years ago, man moved from central Asia further and further north towards the extreme areas of Siberia and the Antarctic. They brought their jacal dog (Canis Aureus). This migration proceeded over thousands of years. Scientists believe that Eskimo tribes migrated from Siberia across the Bering Strait approximately 4,000 years ago. At that time the Bering Strait was a neck of land. This people were hunters and fishermen with highly developed hunting techniques and equipment. Among other things, they exploited water power.

Some scientists believe that the jackal dog was mated with the Arctic wolf (Canis Lupus), and that these animals over the centuries developed to what is today known as the Nordic breeds, including amongst others the alaskan malamute, samojed, elkhound, icelandic hound and laika. However, Eskimo experts reject this theory concerning the malamute. It has been speculated that the malamute is a vross breed with wolf. Old Eskimo reject this, and there is no proof of this eighter.

Early Eskimo history and evolution is a lot of guesswork, but archaeological excavations has proved that there has been an Eskimo civilisation as early as almost 2,000 years B.C. on Cape Krusenstern. We know that the dog was an important piece of their history. Ivory carvings as old as 10 to 15,000 years that resemble the malamute of today has been found.


The work 'Alaska' means 'great land'. A group of Eskimos settling on the north eastern part of the Seward peninsula (on the north western coast of Alaska) called themselves 'Mahlemiuter'. From the dialect that the Inupiaq Eskimoes speak, this means 'inhabitants of Mahle'. Today, these people are called the Kuuvangmiut or Kobuk people.

The basis of the malamute was a stem form of the "SPISSHUND" that through evolution led to the breed that was found in the western part of Alaska in the late 20th century.

It is almost impossible to think that the Eskimos could survive without the dog. The life they led was a constant move to where food could be hunted. The conditions for both fishing and hunting varied with the weather of the costal areas. The malamute was used for hunting both seal and ice bear. The main task, however, was to pull the heavy sleds with the Eskimos possessions from village to village. The Eskimos did not have a lot of dogs, so it was customary for the women and children to pull alongside the dogs.

Alaskan Eskimos and their dogs are described by several arctic expeditions as early as the 16th century (1577 Martin Frobisher). Both Vitus Bering (1680 - 1741) and Otto von Kotzebu (1787 - 1846) writes about the Eskimo people, their perfect sleds and competent dogs.

The Mahlemiutes treated their dogs with great care and kindness and made great demands for their breeding stock. The dogs were described as kind and nearly inexhaustible as draft animals. Ordinarily puppies and children would crawl together on the floor of the huts. Small children are witnessed crawling towards bitches to feed among the pups.

The malamute was of extreme value to the Eskimos, and they would not sell dogs to the white man when he arrived. The malamute's abilities to work under nearly murderous circumstances, their toughness relating to the cold and hunger - no other race than the polar race can survive under these conditions.   

The malamute is built to pull heavy loads cross long distances. The pace is not great, but the dog is almost inexhaustible when it comes to working over a long period of time.


The Klondyke gold rush about 1900 brought different dogs to the area when the need for sled and draft dogs was huge. Soon dogs were a mixture of both race and quality. From the "gold land" a journey of many days was needed to locate pure bred Alaskan sled dogs.

Due to the Mahlemiutes isolation, the dogs remained relativly "pure", but even these dogs were affected because of the on-going civilisation. Eventually the malamute was also in danger of dilution and losing its uniqueness.


If men like Arthur Walden and Paul Voelker had not claimed a number of yet distinguishable dogs at he beginning of the century, the malamute's distinctive stamp and characteristics would have been lost. 

They brought the pure bred malamutes from Alaska to the USA. Waldon's dogs were later taken over by Eva and Milton Seely (Chinooks kennel) when he went back to Alaska. The Seelys' started a program in order to breed these dogs typically found by the north-.west coast of Alaska. The dogs were later called the Kotzebue-line. Paul Voelker's dogs came from a slightly different line and was named the "M'Loot"-line after his kennel.

The breed was acknowledged by the American Kennel Club in 1935, and the same year the American Malamute Club was established, a credit to Eva "Short" Seely. Her Gripp of Yukon was the first malamute that achieved  exhibition champion status.                                                          


The two first malamutes imported to Norway in 1974 came from the Wakon Kennel (USA). They were imported by J.B.Kiønig (kennel Okiluk ) and was registered in 1976. The first litter born in Norway was from these two (Wakon's Talook Okiluk x Wakon's Noocha Okiluk), and the litter consisting of 9 pups was registered later the same year.Also the second litter born in Norway was from pure Wakonlines where a third bitch imported, Wakons Bella Kula Bear (Nina Sørli) was crossed with Talook Okiluk. The eight pups were registered with the kennel name Alvaasen, Nina Øverås.

Shortly after the two first Wakon-dogs, the bitch Tote-Um's Alaska Sno Bird was imported from the American kennel Tote-Um by Øivind Moen (kennel Topkok).  She was mated with Wakon’s Talook Okiluk and had the third litter born on Norway. Consisting of four puppies, they were the first to be registered by the name of the kennel Topkok, centre of the malamute breeding in Norway in the years to come.

Gradually more dogs were imported, but the dogs most commonly found in the pedigrees today are three dogs  Øyvind Moen imported, considering Alaska including males Orm's Dorm's Moose Moose of Tote-Um and Targhee Strawberries Shaman. The male Barrenfield Lord Santana, imported from Canada  in 1984 by Rune and Inger Lise Larsen has also had great impact on the breed.

At regular intervals "new blood" is introduced from several countries like England, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy. Since the border was opened to dogs from EEC countries, access to new dog has been easier, but recogninising over the years that breeding on few lines the need for new blood is constant.

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