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If you want an animal that can endure the cold, a good choice would have to be the Alaskan Malamute. Malamutes can exist in countries where temperatures drop to 60-70 degrees below zero.

The Alaskan Malamute is the oldest and largest sled dog native to North America. Built mainly for heavy freighting, these dogs can easily pull loads weighing hundreds of pounds.Members of this breed have been known to work to the death for their master, thus explaining the dogs' self-confident, strong-willed personality.

The Malamute was named after the native Inuit tribe, called Mahlemuts, who settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in the upper western part of Alaska. For at least 2,000 years Malamutes have made their home in the Arctic. They are considered native Alaskan dogs, but no one knows where they came from originally.

The average Malamute is about 23-25 inches tall and weighs 75-100 pounds, larger than the Samoyed or the Siberian husky. Some males can tip the scales at 120 pounds.

Their beautiful, thick double coat is waterproof and warmer than any Arctic sleeping bag. Colors can vary, but the most common is a wolfish gray or black and white.

Malamutes' eyes are large, almond-shaped and dark brown, and the face is a face you could fall in love with. Malamutes' pointed ears and magnificent plumed tail characterize them as part of the northern breed family.

By nature the Malamute is one of the most affectionate, friendly and gentle dogs around. They are happiest as outdoor dog, given sufficient companionship, but many thrive as house pets.

Malamutes need and demand interaction with the family and require much exercise. Failing to receive enough could cause behavior problems such as howling, barking and digging.

Malamutes are patient with children but need supervision due to their large size. The Eskimos often used the dogs as baby sitters.

They relate to all members of the family as best friends and they are usually quite friendly with strangers. In fact, according to "The Dog for You," by Bob Bartos, Malamutes and the other Arctic breeds are about the only large dogs that haven't been trained successfully for police work; they simply can't learn to attack on command.

Malamutes are ideal for athletic people. They are skilled in hunting and fishing, they love backpacking, hiking and sledding, and they excel in weight-pulling. They even do well in the obedience ring.

This dog is a true pack animal, with the natural instinct to "lead or be led." Recommendations are to begin training as early as possible, even 3-5 months of age. This breed cannot be allowed to grow up lacking controlled socialization with humans and animals, as they can become somewhat dominating over people they don't respect and quite aggressive with other dogs of their same sex.

A blend of love and discipline will ensure the Malamute as a trustworthy and devoted companion.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding animal health or welfare, contact the Salt Lake County Animal Services Humane Education Department, 264-2247.