Alaskan Malamutes are large working dogs that were bred by an Inuit tribe, known as Mahlemut, to haul heavy loads over long distances in the Arctic. These days, they are known for being playful, loyal, and affectionate family companions.
Do they shed lots? Alaskan Malamutes have thick double coats that shed heavily year round, but especially heavily twice per year as they “blow coat,” which typically occurs during spring and fall. Daily brushing is needed to maintain their coat and reduce the shedding to a manageable level.
Read on to learn more about how much they shed, what they’re like to groom, and how to effectively minimize the amount of fur they lose, so you can spend less time vacuuming.
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Alaskan Malamute Shedding Guide
Alaskan Malamutes are a heavy shedding breed.
There’s no getting around it. If you adopt a Malamute, you’re going to notice a lot of fur on your furniture, floors and clothing.
Most of the time the shedding is just “above average,” but a couple times per year they blow their coat due to seasonal shedding, which is when it becomes very noticeable. To the point you can fill garbage bags full of fur during a single brushing session.
Shedding is a normal, healthy process most dogs go through though, so most of the time it’s nothing to be concerned about. It’s just that some dogs shed more than others. Which mostly comes down to the breed, the type of coat they have and other factors like the time of year.
Related: Dog Shedding FAQ (Helpful Guide)
The reason Mals shed seasonally is because their coat is adapting to the change in season. During spring they shed their thicker winter coat as they don’t need it during summer, and during fall (autumn) they shed their summer coat to prepare for winter.
How do they compare with other dogs?
You’re going to be hard pressed to find ANY dog that sheds more than a Malamute. But there are quite a few that shed a similar amount.
For example, Malamutes shed a similar amount to their cousin, the Siberian Husky, other sled dogs like the Samoyed and Chinook, and other “wolf-like” dogs such as the Swedish Vallhund and Candian Eskimo.
Dogs with short coats can shed heavily too, like the Pug for example. But when large dogs with thick double coats like the Malamute shed, it’s just so much more noticeable.
So, as amazing as Malamutes are, they’re not the most ideal breed if you can’t stand seeing dog hair in and around your home. And they’re basically the opposite of a hypoallergenic breed, like the Basenji, so they’re not the most suitable breed for allergy sufferers either.
What Are Mals Like to Groom?
Alaskan Malamutes (Mals) require daily brushing to maintain their coat and reduce shedding.
They have a thick, waterproof double coat. The outer coat consists of medium length, coarse, straight guard hairs and their undercoat is thick, dense and woolly.
On one hand, they’re not very difficult to groom in comparison to breeds that require special attention, like the Shih Tzu or Afghan Hound. They’re a rugged, hard working dog. But because their coat is so thick and woolly, brushing sessions can be quite intensive in comparison to short haired or smooth coated breeds.
Either way, regular brushing is needed.
And there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, because the Mal’s coat is prone to matting and, if left unchecked, these can become quite painful for him. So these need to be brushed out regularly. And second, unless you want a home full of dog hair, you will need to brush daily to get the shedding under control.
What sort of brush should you use? For general brushing, a pin brush or slicker brush works well on a Malamute. However, when they shed their undercoat during spring and fall, an undercoat rake or deshedding tool should help you remove the dead undercoat fur.
See our dog grooming brush comparison article to learn more.
One silver lining here is that Malamutes are considered to be a fairly fastidious breed, so bathing is only needed every month or two. In fact, some Malamute owners describe them as cat-like in the way they clean themselves. Which may explain why their coat doesn’t smell bad or have a noticeable dog odor.
How to Stop Your Malamute from Shedding Excessively
Malamutes shed, a lot. And there’s no magic way to stop them from shedding because (in most cases) it’s a natural, healthy process. They are simply ridding themselves of old, dead fur and replacing it with a new batch.
Some common solutions people consider when they have a high shedder like the Malamute is to shave them or buy a shedding supplement.
However, you should not shave your Malamute. They need their undercoat as it keeps them warm during colder weather AND cooler during warmer weather. It’s basically a form of insulation for them, so removing it is never a good idea.
Not only does clipping or shaving them make it difficult for them to regulate their temperature, but as this article on the AMCA website points out, this can leave them vulnerable to sunburn and windburn.
Shaving can also cause dry, irritated skin. Which is one of the leading causes of shedding in dogs. So not only is clipping your Malamute not going to do him any favors, it can actually cause excessive shedding.
With respect to using supplements to stop shedding, there are some good quality natural supplements that can help in addition to a healthy, balanced diet. But it pays to do your homework, as some of these so-called shedding supplements aren’t as good as they appear.
Either way, it is possible to significantly reduce shedding and doing so is simple and cost effective. It mostly comes down to brushing regularly, bathing, and diet. So if you can get these three elements right, you are going to be able to tip the battle of the fur in your favor.
- Brushing: Daily brushing is perhaps the simplest and most effective way to reduce shedding of all. Not only does this remove the loose fur before it falls off of him, but it can help spread his coat oils which promotes a healthier coat. And a slicker brush (or pin brush) along with an undercoat rake work well.
- Bathing: Malamutes don’t need to be bathed very often, but provided you’re using a quality dog shampoo that doesn’t dry out his skin, bathing more often during shedding season can help remove the dead fur and loosen it up prior to brushing. So this can make a big difference.
- Diet: Making sure your Mal is eating well can go a long way to helping him maintain a healthy coat that sheds less overall. And, while there’s no substitute for this, some find that adding a small amount of virgin coconut oil to his meal occasionally helps reduce shedding too.
What if the shedding isn’t just normal? Well, there are other factors that can cause excessive shedding, such as fleas or allergies for example. So if for whatever reason you are concerned that the shedding isn’t just “normal” then it may be worth contacting your local veterinarian for assistance.
If you’re looking for a strong, large working dog that is known for being good around other dogs and a loyal, playful family companion, look no further than the Alaskan Malamute.
Just keep in mind that they’re a heavy shedding breed that requires above average grooming maintenance. So you should expect to see a fair bit of fur floating around your home if he’s allowed inside and to be brushing regularly and vacuuming more than you would otherwise.
However, by sticking to a proper grooming routine, along with some of the other tips we’ve mentioned here, you can get the shedding under control and enjoy a (relatively) fur free home.