Grooming requirements for any large, heavy-coated dog breed, such as the Alaskan Malamute, are quite substantial. There is nothing worse than having the chore of tackling a dog’s coat that has been neglected and allowed to tangle into tough knots or mats. The Alaskan Malamute’s beautiful coarse coat requires regular grooming and your daily attention to remain shiny and tangle-free. If your Alaskan Malamute’s coat is ignored, it can quickly turn into a dog groomer’s or owner’s worst nightmare. Proper nutrition and regular grooming care are necessary to maintain the preferred lustrous, shiny coat that is associated with this dog breed.
The first step in providing adequate grooming care to your Alaskan Malamute is to choose appropriate grooming tools. Every Alaskan Malamute owner should have plenty of brushes (a flat-backed brush known as a slicker brush works best), nail clippers, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner and trimming shears. It’s also a good idea to purchase a sturdy grooming table. It will provide safety and security while you groom the dog, and can be used at dog shows too.
The best advice for the new Alaskan Malamute owner is to start your grooming regimen early. A puppy that is exposed to the rigors of daily or weekly grooming practices will accept them more easily as an adult. An adult dog that is not used to being brushed, or having his teeth cleaned at least once a week, could be a handful to control. Brushing your Alaskan Malamute daily is very beneficial. It allows the removal of the dog’s old dead coat and encourages healthy new growth of fur.
In general, dogs need to be bathed only a few times a year, possibly more often if your dog gets into something messy or if he starts to smell like a dog. Show dogs are usually bathed before every show, which could be as frequent as weekly, although this depends on the owner. Bathing too frequently can have negative effects on the dog’s skin and coat, removing natural oils and causing dryness.
If you give your Alaskan Malamute his first bath when he is a young puppy, he will become accustomed to the process. Wrestling a dog into the tub or chasing a freshly shampooed dog who has escaped from the bath will be no fun! Like most other dog breeds, Alaskan Malamutes don’t naturally enjoy their baths, but you at least want yours to cooperate with you.
Before bathing your Alaskan Malamute, have the items you’ll need close at hand. First, decide where you will bathe the dog. You should have a tub or basin with a non-slip surface. Alaskan Malamute puppies can even be bathed in a sink. In warm weather, some like to use a portable pool in the yard, although you’ll want to make sure your dog doesn’t head for the nearest dirt pile following his bath! You will also need a hose or shower spray to wet the dog’s coat thoroughly, a shampoo formulated for dogs, absorbent towels and perhaps a blow dryer. Human shampoos are too harsh for dogs’ coats and will dry them out.
Before wetting your Alaskan Malamute, give him a brush-through to remove any dead hair, dirt and mats. Make sure he is at ease in the tub and have the water at a comfortable temperature. Begin bathing by wetting the coat all the way down to the skin. Massage in the shampoo, keeping it away from your dog’s face and eyes. Rinse him thoroughly, again avoiding the eyes and ears, as you don’t want to get water into the ear canals. A thorough rinsing is important, as shampoo residue is drying and itchy to the dog. After rinsing, wrap him in a towel to absorb the initial moisture. You can finish drying with either a towel or a blow dryer on low heat, held at a safe distance from the dog. You should keep your Alaskan Malamute indoors and away from drafts until he is completely dry.
Excerpt from Alaskan Malamute part of the Comprehensive Owner’s Guide series, with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Alaskan Malamute here.