Origin and History
Origin and History
The origin of the Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan malamute is one of the oldest sled dogs. His ancestors came from Siberia to America via the Bering Strait, as a faithful companion of the indigenous tribe known as Mahlemuts. They used their dogs to hunt the seals, to scare polar bears and to pull heavy loads.
Towards the end of the 19th century, during the gold rush, demand for sled dogs was so great that many prospectors mixed their sled dogs with other breeds, making the purebred Alaska Malamute almost extinct. Due to their isolated existence, the dogs of the Mahlemuts remained pure and the race was saved.
A few decades later Mrs. Seeley had composed the first standard of the breed. Based on this standard, the breed has been officially recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club). This standard was based on the ‘Kotzebue’ line.
The power of the Alaska Malamute was quickly noticed and the army used it during the Second World War and expeditions later in Antarctica. Both took a heavy toll and again the Alaskan malamute was almost extinct.
At the same time from the Kotzebue line, there were breeders from other Alaskan malamute lines but not part of the first standard: the M’Loot line (breeder Paul Voelker) and Hinman (breeder Dick Hinman). To safeguard the Alaskan malamute, the standard has been reopened and modified so that these lines belong to the official standard.
All the current Alaska Malamute purebred are derived from one of these three lines.
The Alaskan Malamute in Belgium
In the 1950s some Malamutes were found in Europe, but the real interest in this breed only began in 1960. Until 1980 Malamutes of local lineages appeared in shows in Belgium together with exhibitors coming from France, Germany and The Netherlands.
Mrs. Chris Jannelli of the first official malamute kennel in Belgium “Cold Valley”, and one of the founders of AMCB, inquired in different countries in Europe and in the US about malamute bloodlines. In 1960, after being informed about Alaskan Malamute bloodlines, Mrs. Janelli decided on dogs of the Kotzebue bloodline. She had found then a bigger type of the “Tigara” kennel that didn’t have a chondrodysplasia, a hereditary illness that distorts the bones.
Most Belgian Malamutes were selected from dogs coming from different Kotzebue kennels abroad, females from “Blue Ice” and “Storm Kloud”, as well as males from New England, one a son of “Taku of Chinook”, the last female of Mrs. Seeley and another one from the “Sno Pak” bloodline (Kotzebue Youko).
From the litters bred by Mrs. Janelli, two males “Ch. Cold Valley’s Erasmu” and his sibling “Cold valley’s Evening Song” became a big influence of the bloodlines developed since. Dogs from Kotzebue lines from Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom were selected for breeding, and brought a lot to the breed in Belgium, thanks to their qualities. They allowed the first breeders to have a big genetic variety for the early breeding program.
Among other important kennels that have contributed to the development of the breed in Belgium are “Joli Mapa”, “Du Grand Pierreux” and “Keema’s Wolfpak”. They all started with dogs from the “Cold Valley” kennel. The owner of the kennel “of Keema’s Wolfpack” was president of the AMCB for more than 10 years. Her first female malamute, bought in 1984, was “Taiga” (Cold Valley’s Ioghi Myjoy), was at the base of her kennel (daughter of Cold Valley’s Erasmu and Gossamer’s Keema of the Tigara lineage). All these breeders have made sure to develop the breed on the basis of the standard, seeking to reach a healthy race, with good character.