Alaskan Malamutes are among the most loving and loyal of animals a family can bring into the fold. These animals are not only beautiful creatures that are highly coveted but also smart and incredibly strong. They are prodigious shedders, which can lead many loving owners to ask, can Alaskan Malamutes live outside?
Alaskan Malamutes can live outside. They can thrive in cold weather because of their thick double coat. At 70 degrees, they will seek shade but still be active. But below that, they become too hot. Having the right shelter for hot and cold weather will help make them comfortable to tolerate the outside weather conditions. But don’t forget, they are highly social animals and want to be where their humans are, inside or outside the home.
This article will discuss various aspects of outdoor living for the Alaskan Malamute. You will learn more about this fantastic animal, its temperature tolerances, and how to care for your Mal and how to keep it happy when not with the family. Let’s get started!
Why Malamutes Can Love Living Outside
These are just a few of the many reasons Alaskan Malamutes are well-suited for living outdoors:
- Malamutes love to dig.
- Alaskan Malamutes are high-energy animals who love to run, drag, chase, etc. They are commonly used in sled teams running the Iditarod, after all.
- These dogs can be very loud. But then again, there are Malamutes that just won’t howl.
- Malamutes have strong prey drives and will attack other pets they view as weaker or potential food.
- Mals scavenge for food (in sinks, trash cans, and on cooktops).
- They shed everywhere. All the time. And they blow coats at least once a year.
- With proper precautions, your Mal can tolerate warm weather and thrives in colder weather. Even in her older years, our Mal behaved like a puppy when we had deep snow in winter).
- Malamutes love outdoor living. Hiking, sledding, swimming, camping, and even hunting are second nature to these animals. They thrive with families who enjoy these types of activities and bring them along on their adventures.
Acclimating Your Malamute to a World Outside
The Alaskan Malamute is a pack animal and needs to be part of either a human or a canine pack.
If you can’t devote significant amounts of time to your Malamute outdoors, you may be better served to bring your pet indoors or choose a different dog for a pet.
If you spend large amounts of time enjoying outdoor living, you may find Mals to be ideal companion animals – especially if you have other outside dogs for it to bond with. Before you begin, though, there are a few things about these amazing animals you need to know.
Pack Hierarchy with Mals
Malamutes are very much pack-oriented animals. They need to know their place in the pack hierarchy. You need to establish your dominance and authority with your Malamute from the very beginning. You have to make it clear that all humans in the “pack” are above the dog – even the youngest child.
One way to do this is through consistent training. They are intelligent and easy to train with positive reinforcement, such as with clicker training. This is more difficult to do with outside dogs, though not impossible.
My personal experience
Unfortunately, the Malamute tends to be stubborn, which can make training more challenging. We adopted a three-year-old Malamute (Kari) who had very little training from her former human. It was a struggle to make her work within our household at first. I had three small children at the time, and she was big enough to pull them both around the house in a wagon. She was also tall enough to knock entire platters of food off the kitchen counter.
After breaking every serving bowl I had (another reason to consider crate training or allowing your malamutes to live outdoors), I was frustrated.
I decided we were taking Kari back to the rescue that I just wasn’t cut out for living with an Alaskan Malamute. We even got in the car to take her back. On the way, though, she placed her head on my shoulder and looked at me with such trust that I could not go through with it. There were ups and downs along the way, but once we earned her trust, Kari became the most loyal and loving dog I’ve ever owned. Gaining that trust and establishing your position in the “chain” takes time and consistency. Otherwise, you’ll have many unpleasant challenges along the way.
While most of them will not vie humans for dominance, there will almost certainly be skirmishes with other dogs in the pack as they seek to establish their hierarchy. With Malamutes, same-sex conflicts are quite common. With our Malamute, we had to request that she not be kenneled next to other female dogs when we were out of town to avoid problems.
Pack hierarchy and living outside
You may be wondering what pack hierarchy has to do with Malamutes living outside. The reality is that if keeping your Malamute outside, you must have daily interaction with him to earn and keep his respect and remind him that you are the top dog in his pack.
Creating a Fitting Outdoor Living Environment for Malamutes
When creating an outdoor living area for a Malamute, it is essential to keep the impressive strength of these animals in mind.
They are extremely strong animals that can take out an ordinary fence with surprisingly little effort to get to whatever is on the other side. This can be problematic if your neighbor has a same-sex animal your Mal views as a challenge or an opposite-sex animal in heat.
You need a strong fence.
Malamutes are also exceptional diggers. Okay, maybe excavators is a better word choice! In their natural arctic environments, they dig to create shelters from the cold of blizzards.
In warm areas, they will dig into the soil to cool off.
Be prepared for your Mal to dig reasonably large craters in your yard.
For this reason, you also need to go below the ground with fencing as well as above the ground. Otherwise, they can go under your fences rather than over (or through weaker barriers) to get to the other side.
We’ve written a detailed article on outdoor dog enclosures. Read about chain link kennels or modular enclosures for your Malamute here.
Can an Alaskan Malamute live in warm weather?
Many people wonder, “Can an Alaskan Malamute live in warm weather?”
The answer to that is a resounding yes. But there are environmental considerations to keep in mind, including those listed below:
- Provide plenty of shade during the “dog days” of summer.
- Ensure they have a steady supply of fresh water available at all hours of the day and night.
- Consider investing in a dog pool where they can hop in to cool off when the temperatures really rise.
- Make sure your yard is big enough for these larger than life animals. They like to run, pull, and dig and need room to do all these things if possible.
Your Malamute will be less active when things heat up, and you will notice more shedding, including fully blown coats. You may feel shocked by the amount of hair they lose during the summer. Don’t be alarmed by this. It is something you should expect as it helps them keep cool. It is certainly a fitting reason to keep them outdoors rather than in.
We blew through several vacuum cleaners over our Mal’s lifetime (granted we had her from the age of three until she was 14).
There is no way you can be mentally prepared for the amount of shedding these dogs do in summer until you’ve had one.
How cold can an Alaskan Malamute tolerate?
It is time to explore how much cold weather these dogs can tolerate.
The truth is that these dogs are designed to withstand cold, harsh environments. They are literally built for it and can tolerate low temperatures.
In fact, the Alaskan Malamute lowest temperature is as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
These are a few ways Mals are equipped to manage cold weather environments.
- Warm, dense double coats.
- Dig to provide protection from wind and cold.
- Sleep in positions (curled up with their tails protecting their noses) that provide maximum protection from the cold.
- Solid, large bodies provide some degree of insulation backing and protection from heat loss.
If you are concerned about your dog being too cold outside when the temperatures dip below zero, there are signs you can watch for that include:
- Refusing to leave dog shelter or their curled up positions.
- The presence of ice on their fur (this could indicate they are losing heat sufficiently to melt snow that is refreezing on their fur).
- Tries to lift paws off the ground.
- Whining and barking. Malamutes aren’t big barkers. If they are barking, it is usually worth checking out.
- Seeking unconventional places for shelter.
Can you have an Alaskan Malamute in Texas?
According to Texas Alaskan Malamute Rescue organization, TAMR, Texas is absolutely a great place to have one of these beautiful animals.
Can you have an Alaskan Malamute in California?
Absolutely. California is a large state with all kinds of weather conditions.
In the hottest areas of California, your Malamute will fare better indoors during certain times of the year but can live outside in most other areas of the state.
Can Alaskan Malamutes live in Australia?
The Alaskan Malamute Club, Victoria, believes Australia is an excellent location for these working dogs to call home.
Owners must be mindful of temperatures and their animals to create happy, healthy living environments for them.
Can Alaskan Malamutes live in Florida?
Florida offers many wonderful outdoor opportunities for Alaskan Malamutes.
Owners must be watchful as these dogs have high prey drives (our Mal brought us all manner of furry little presents over the years).
Alaskan Malamutes can adapt to various outdoor conditions, provided their environment is set up to make them comfortable. They can only cope so far with the heat and cold before their human needs to intervene. But they are weather tolerant dogs.
Mad About Malamutes?
If you own a Malamute that won’t howl, you can read an article we published on this topic here.
Curious if a Malamute could kill a wolf in the wild? We discuss if they could survive this fight here.
Want to know the best boots for your Malamute when you take them ice fishing?
Backpacking with your Malamute: what you need to know.
And last but not least, our 9 tips to keep your Mal cool in the summer.