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On May 12, 2010 the Alaskan Malamute was named the official state dog of Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska - Over four hundred students, teachers and parents joined Governor Sean Parnell and Representative Berta Gardner (D- Anchorage) Wednesday as the governor signed House Bill 14 into law, making the Alaskan Malamute the official state dog. The signing was the culmination of three years work by students at Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage. Three years ago kindergartener Paige Hill brought the idea to school. After some preliminary research, two first grade classes decided the Alaskan Malamute merited the designation and asked Rep. Gardner to carry the bill on their behalf. By the time the bill was introduced in 2009, the project had grown into an all-school project.
The Alaskan Malamute is a generally large breed of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originally bred for use hauling heavy freight because of their strength and endurance, and later an Alaskan sled dog. They are related to other arctic breeds, like the Samoyed, the American Eskimo, and the Siberian Husky. It is one of the few ancient dog breeds still in existence in the world today.
The Alaskan Malamute has played an important role in Alaska's history for at least four thousand years. Considered one of the twelve ancient breeds, the Alaskan Malamute evolved from the ancient dogs that accompanied prehistoric man in his migrations from Asia, reaching back to the earliest days of prehistory Alaska with the Mahlemut people, now known as Inuits, in Northwestern Alaska. They lived and worked closely with their dogs, depending on them as partners in hunting large game, hauling heavy loads, and even helping to watch children. Eighteenth and nineteenth century European explorers to Alaska were impressed with the breed and by the time of the gold rush, Alaskan Malamutes, with their ability to haul equipment and people, were in high demand. They were so highly valued that a prospector would pay $500 dollars for one good dog and $1500 for a small team. Long after the Gold Rush, Alaskan Malamutes continued to be valuable freight dogs. They were easy to care for and could pull heavy loads to areas that were otherwise inaccessible. During the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, about 150 sled dogs, including Alaskan Malamutes, relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles by dog sled in a record-breaking five and a half days saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic.
The largest and oldest of the Arctic sled dogs, the Alaskan Malamute possesses great strength and endurance. He is not designed to race, but rather to carry large loads over long distances. Today, many Malamutes are family pets, but are highly athletic and still capable of enjoying sledding, weight-pulling, back-packing, jogging and swimming with their owners. The Malamute coat is thick and coarse, with a plumed tail carried over the back. The coat usually ranges in color from light gray to black or from sable to red. Face markings, including a cap on the head and a bar/mask on the face are often distinguishing features.
The Alaskan Malamute is extremely loyal and intelligent, sweet and most affectionate toward its master. Great with children who are old enough to play with him safely. If its canine instincts are met, it matures into a dignified and mellow adult dog. They are very friendly and therefore are not suitable as guard dogs. Malamutes are happiest living outdoors as long as they receive enough companionship, but they also enjoy living indoors where their human "pack" lives.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard describes a natural range of size, with a desired size of 23 inches (58 cm) tall and 75 pounds (34 kg) for females, 25 inches (64 cm) tall and 85 pounds (39 kg) for males. Heavier individuals (90 lb (41 kg)) and dogs smaller than 75 pounds (34 kg) are commonly seen. There is often a marked size difference between males and females. Weights upwards of 100 pounds (45 kg) are also seen.
The law designating the Alaskan Malamute as the official Alaska state dog is found in the 2004 Alaska Statutes, specifically Title 44 (State Government), Chapter 09 (State Seal, Flag, and Emblems), Section 140 (State Dog).
Chapter 44.09 STATE SEAL, FLAG, AND EMBLEMS
Sec. 44.09.140. State dog. The Alaskan Malamute is the official state dog.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Alaskan Malamute
Species: C. lupus
Subspecies: C. l. familiaris