Are Malamutes good dogs for kids?
Are Malamutes good dogs for kids? We get this question a LOT. The answer is, yes and “maybe” no. Without trying to sound too harsh, a lot depends on your kids and how involved you are… The bigger question should be, are you and your kids good for a Malamute?
All animals, whether dogs, cats or otherwise, can potentially get annoyed with constant tugging, pulling, screaming, poking, or unruly children in general. This is why we will never say that Malamutes, or any animal, is exempt from losing their cool. A lot depends on the environment and conditions they are subjected to, just like any other living being (including humans). Some dogs will let kids literally walk all over them, and honestly, that is more than likely the attitude of most Malamutes. However, any animal can be pushed to their breaking point if constantly abused, whether innocently or not, and it’s not fair to always judge a dog for simply responding to negative behavior. This is why, regardless of pet type or breed, it’s good to teach children proper behavior towards animals.
Will they eat your kid? Uh, no, highly unlikely. Malamutes are known for their uncanny love of humans, and usually have great temperaments when you work with the right breeder. Malamutes were used to care for children by the ancient Mahlemut people; these dogs were part of the family, and highly trusted and respected.
Malamutes are HIGH energy when they are young, and this can last up until 2-3 years until they start to chill out a little. They are work dogs by nature, it’s part of their genetic makeup. Do not get a Malamute and try to change it into a lap dog, it’s not going to happen. So if you have kids that don’t like to go outside and play, but stay inside all day and play video games – a Malamute is NOT going to be a good match. If your kids like the outdoors, are active, love to play, then yes, a Malamute will be a fabulous match. People get caught up in just how gorgeous Malamutes are, there is just something truly magical about these dogs – because they are! However, try not to let yourself just see a cute puppy in the beginning and forget that that cute puppy will probably reach close to 100 lbs by it’s first birthday!
Do not get a Malamute thinking it will change your child either. For instance, “Maybe Johnny will want to go outside more often if he has a dog”, and although that might be true, I would not use a Malamute for this type of experiment. Use a dog that will be happy whether inside or outside. Malamutes are great indoors, don’t get me wrong, but they will not sit quietly without having the opportunity to dust off his/her own energetic requirements on quite a regular basis. Daily walks, daily car rides, daily interaction, daily playtime, is crucial.
Malamutes are just as unique as their individual owners, some are more laid back than others, some very high energy, but ALL Malamutes are generally active dogs that thrive when they have the opportunity to run, play, and live outside the constant confines of four walls.
When Malamutes are pups, they tend to not understand their own strength until they get older. They can be dangerous around small children if left unsupervised. Just brushing up against a small child could knock them off balance and cause them to fall. You MUST train your Malamute from an early age, and trust me, using angry or overly aggressive forms of discipline will backfire on you GREATLY so do not do that, you will run risk of losing their respect – something that is almost impossible to get back. Abusive discipline is not healthy or ethical for any animal, you have to be in control of yourself first. Malamutes respond to strong leadership, positive reinforcement, and consistency is KEY.
Malamute puppies also have extremely sharp claws and teeth. These will dull up a bit as they get older, adult teeth are not nearly as sharp, and walking will eventually help dull those needle-like claws. So be mindful of this while you are training and playing with your Malamute. Redirect play biting, be consistent with not allowing them to jump up or on top of people while sitting. These dogs are large, and in some cases, considered “giants” in size. They are powerful, and although they are sweet, loving, and passionate animals, their size and strength is something you have to learn to work with.
Very young children can feel intimidated around Malamutes, especially grown adult Mals. Their size can be scary to them, and so when introducing your dogs to other children, or your children’s friends, you MUST be fully engaged and involved to avoid misunderstandings, and to help educate and put others at ease. You would be very surprised as to how many people will mistaken a Malamute for a wolf or wolf-dog. This can lead to a very unhealthy preconceived opinion of your dog, so be sure to address these misconceptions as soon as you feel it might be happening. Malamutes are not wolves, although they possess some wolf-like traits and can greatly intimidate certain people.
Another factor that greatly affects Malamutes is whether they are intact or spay/neutered. This can have a huge impact on their “social’ skills. Although Malamutes are usually fantastic with people, they can tend to be aggressive with other dogs they don’t know. This is why it is HIGHLY important to socialize your Malamute, and KNOW your dog. Even then, a Malamute that feels threatened might not start a fight, but can and will usually end one, pretty quick. Malamutes are some of the most loving people-friendly dogs in the WORLD, but they can and will fight if provoked, threatened or attacked by another dog. You MUST be confident at all times, proactive, and be in control. You MUST have leadership qualities or a Malamute will sense your weakness, and take matters into their own hands. It is usually always a good idea, if you are thinking of adopting additional animals, that they are younger or puppies. NEVER leave children unattended with a Malamute around another dog they do not know – EVER.
We hope this helps answers some of your questions regarding Malamutes and whether they are good for children or not. Sometimes, it is difficult to be honest with ourselves when making these decisions, but please try to be very honest when you ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are/is my child/children good listeners?
2. Are/is my child/children respectful of animals?
3. Are/is my child/children active?
4. Am I willing to put the time and effort into training a Malamute?
5. Am I capable of providing a Malamute the proper living environment?
6. Am I capable of addressing people and their fear of a large breed dog like a Malamute?
7, Am I a proactive individual who knows when something is not a good idea?
If you can answer yes to the 7 questions above, you and your child/children should be very happy with bringing a Malamute into your life!