Ironpride Alaskan Malamutes

Canadian Kennel Club

Puppy Development


At birth, Malamute puppies weigh only about a pound and look more like guinea pigs than dogs. Their eye­lids are sealed and do not open until they are about two weeks old; their ears are closed and pinned up close to their heads. As the ears open, the ear flaps drop. They should begin rising again from the age of four weeks on. The needle-like first or “milk” teeth begin appearing be­tween three and four weeks.

Puppies have a short, soft, dense, fuzzy coat with scat­tered guard hairs sticking out from the body, Replacement by an adolescent coat begins at about twelve weeks. Her­alded by a band of slicker, darker hair ringing the base of the tail, the new hair growth continues forward from the tail, along the back, down the sides, and across the front. Eventually the only remaining puppy fuzz is on the ears and behind the cheeks. During this process, the remaining puppy coat becomes brittle and dull and may even change color slightly. The new coat is slick and lies flat.

While some breeds display drastic changes in color  from puppy to adult, the Alaskan Malamute’s puppy color somewhat resembles that of the adult dog, although even experienced breeders may have trouble predicting exactly what color an adult will be, especially if they are unfamil­iar with the lines.

The distribution of white remains fairly consistent, al­though narrow blazes on the head and dark markings under the eyes may gradually disappear, as will tan on the backs of the ears. Some puppies have muddy-looking, dark hairs around the front and sides of the leg that ex­tend almost to the elbow, and dark hairs on the sides of the face. Scattered throughout the sooty color are a few longer, silvery-white hairs. This muddy color usually dis­appears by the time the PUPPY is six months old, although the resulting white will probably be a light cream rather than a bright white.

A dark stripe down the back of a puppy tells you that the adult will be seal color.  Wolf Gray puppies, the most common Malamute color, may darken or lighten with maturi­ty. White puppies will stay white, as will reds, although the intensity of the red color may change.

The term “pigment” most commonly refers to skin color, especially that of the nose, lips, eye-rims, and pads. Here, newborn puppies should have black pigment, al­though some have pink, especially on the nose. This fills in with dots of black until it is completely colored, but the pads may be pink or have pink splotches into adulthood. Some sled dog breeders prefer black pads because they be­lieve the darker pads are tougher and more readily with­stand punishing trail conditions.

As the puppy grows, his muzzle and stubby little legs begin to lengthen. Development is from the head back, so puppies begin pulling themselves around by the front legs almost as soon as they are born. Soon they are rising on the front legs and eventually taking tentative steps with very wobbly rears. Some puppies are stumbling about at two weeks, while others are still scooting. By four weeks all the puppies should be up and walking well.

From six to sixteen weeks, puppies literally explode with growth, and a shadow of the adult can he seen in the form of the youngster. Some changes are so rapid that the pup looks different from day to day. Such a high metabol­ic rate requires a great deal of rest and a good diet. Bursts of energetic play may well be followed by an almost co­matose sleep.


The rapid physical growth rate would be totally eclipsed by the changes which occur in the brain, could these be seen as easily. Assuming a normal gestation peri­od, the brain of a puppy is not fully functional until the dog is about seven weeks old. Because his inherited temperament is almost untouched by his experiences up to this point, this age is the ideal time to do a Puppy Apti­tude Test or some other form of evaluation.

Puppy hood is the most critical period of a dog’s life. The breeder has an enormous responsibility for and influ­ence on his charges, which is why the breeder from whom you acquire your puppy can be just as important as which puppy you choose. During this time span the puppy begins his relationships with other dogs, people, children, and the world around him.

The litter forms his first pack, where Mom is the leader, The rough-and-tumble play between siblings teaches the puppy how to interact with other dogs, while his mother teaches him proper dog manners, what to fear, and whom to trust. While a puppy can he removed from his litter and mother at seven weeks without physical detriment, he will miss many valuable lessons that a good home with his mother and siblings can provide. 8-9  weeks is the ideal age for a new home!

Puppies will accommodate changes well from seven to twelve weeks of age and can easily go to a new home, but breeders often keep puppies longer to better evaluate their show potential. Some breeders believe that the enriching experiences which they can provide will off set the height­ened separation anxiety the older puppy experiences upon leaving his canine companions.

Kennels raising working sled dogs may keep puppies for training and sell them as young adults once their working ability is confirmed. If you are interested in serious sled­ding, you should check with this type of breeder but be prepared to accept an older dog.


Whether breeder or buyer, the owners responsibility to the Malamute, to him self and to his family is to know the innate potential the seven—week—old puppy offers their Common future. A puppy’s greatest potential is multi-factor, having genetically clean parents, being raised in a balanced environment of food, shelter exercise, training, and love. This is a sound basis for any dog, whether he is to be a pet, show, working, obedience, or therapy dog.

Breeders need to ensure that their puppies make the difficult adjustment of leaving the litter with the least chance of developing behavior problems later. As the breeder cares for the new brood, her actions influence their behavior. The seeds of adult behavior tend to be im­planted during highly critical, formative periods in both children and puppies, except that with puppies, time is measured in weeks and months, rather than sears. Insight into these periods of development give the breeder and new owner a broader understanding of puppy behavior and development.


Even though the mother tends the puppies almost all the time, handling should be done twice daily by lifting the puppies to weigh them. Cradle each one on his back in your arms for about a minute while rubbing his belly gently with your fingers.


Eyes and ears are open. Puppies try to walk, wag their tails, and join in group howls. Continue with gentle han­dling. Young children can also gently handle the puppies once a day to give the pups a pleasant experience with preschool children, who smell and move differently from adults or adolescents.


The pups bark, Bite, chase, play games, and mount one another. Some breeders separate the mother from her puppies at four weeks. This is not recommended—do not buy a puppy from this type of Breeder. At this stage, the pup needs its mother for the discipline and training she imparts. If the pups are deprived of this, Behavior prob­lems will occur. Continue to handle the pups as often as pups as often as possible.

Weaning starts at about four weeks. The mother settles into more set feeding times and spends more time away from the litter. Facilitate this by giving her access to an area away from the pups. From four to six weeks, puppies begin eating human-made food. Around this time, mother stops her cleanup efforts because of the body change and the puppies’ age. Set regular feeding times to help regular bowel movements, and if possible, make the out-of-doors available to the pups after feeding, before bed, and upon awakening. When a pup eliminates in the proper place, make sure someone is present to praise him. No scolding, hitting, rough handling, or rubbing the puppy’s nose in the excrement will help at this stage, or any other for that matter. If the puppies cannot go outside, line a far corner of their pen away from their sleeping area with newspapers,

Among the social practices which may cause permanent trauma and should be avoided are: rough handling by anyone one at any time; preferential treatment towards any puppy, creating “outsider” puppies, and overexposure to people.


The puppy notices other things and begins to form attractions to people. Threatening sounds, gestures, scolding, punishment, physical force, or the loud whap of a newspaper roll violates the concept of social attraction. Introducing new people at this time will help the puppies make successful adjustments to their new homes.


At this age, a puppy has the brain waves of in adult dog and the intellectual capacity to process his experiences Ask an experienced administrator to give a  Puppy Aptitude Test, then use the information it provides to match your puppies and buyers. Few Buyers will be sophisticated enough to equate puppy behavior with adult temperament, so you will need to explain a lot to them.

While emotional mal attachment has its place in puppy selection, the significance of puppy behavior must an aid to placement. Attention to both will promote a long life of human/canine companionship.


Adventurous puppies will he wandering far from the security of the den and mother by ten weeks. An animal this voting is incapable of much in the way of self-defense, so to counter the drive to explore, nature his given the youngster a pre-programmed fearfulness. But  experiences at this age will he indelibly fixed in the dogs memory and although his fears can be allayed, they will never entirely disappear.


At this stage the puppy puts humans to the test. He will either become your leader or you will become his. A puppy should never win this contest. Tug-of-war is not a good game to play; winning such a contest only encour­ages dominance.


This period varies with the individual, but it usually occurs during the teething period when teeth and jaws are developing. no matter what his behavior before this time, when he enters this stage the puppy will push at his boundaries. Do not trust him off-leash; even if he came before, lie is likely to assert his freedom now. If you allow him to get away with this, you will struggle with this issue indefinitely.


The formerly curious puppy again reacts to new situations, sights, and sounds with fear, this can be a stressful time since the puppies are still teething as well. reprimanding or scolding the pup will only heighten his fears, while petting him and reassuring him will reward his response. Instead, allow him time to see that his fear is unjustified and treat him with tolerance.


Continue training. Attend classes on a building block method and use instructors who understand that independence is  part of what makes a Malamute a Malamute.


- Posted with permission from article writer.