Bloat -- also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (or "GDV"), is a very serious health risk
for many dogs, yet many dog owners
know very little about it. It is an acute, life threatening condition which requires immediate
medical or surgical intervention to
avoid certain death and it is especially dangerous in deep chested dog breeds such as the
Alaskan Malamute. The true cause
for Bloat is unknown but it is thought to be related to swallowing too much air, food, or
fluid. Other suspected contributing factors
include: physical predisposition, exercise after a meal, anesthesia after surgery, trauma,
excessive calcium supplements, and
emotional or abdominal stress.

When the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°. This twisting simultaneously traps air,
food and water in the stomach while
also obstructing the veins in the abdomen-- resulting in low blood pressure, shock, ad
damage to vital organs. The combined
effect can QUICKLY kill a dog.

This is not Heredity . The current theory is that with a deep-chested breed, the weight of the
stomach ispulled downward causing a laxity which allows for the rotation. Bloat is VERY
DANGEROUS and not as uncommon as we would like to think.
Hypothyroid Disease -- is considered the most common endocrine disease of dogs. Because
susceptibility to one form of
the disease may be inherited, it is of great concern to breeders. However, in spite of the
attention the disease has received
from researchers and the development of more precise diagnostic tests, hypothyroidism is
not easy to identify. Part of the
problem is that chronic or temporary illness, reproductive hormones, drugs, obesity, and
exposure of the dog to temperature
extremes can affect the test. Sometimes the only sure test is to supplement with thyroid
hormone; if symptoms subside, the
diagnosis was accurate.

Veterinarians may suggest a thyroid test if a pet has gained weight or is having chronic skin
infections or if a breeding dog is
experiencing reproductive difficulties, especially if the animal lacks energy and has a scruffy
or dull coat. The veterinarian
draws the blood and sends it to one of several laboratories with the equipment for
conducting the test. The blood sample
should be taken when the dog is otherwise healthy, is not approaching or in a heat cycle, and
is not taking pharmaceuticals
such as steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or anti-seizure drugs.

Canine thyroid disease can be tough to diagnose because the symptoms can be legion and
sometimes contradictory:
lethargy, mental lassitude, weight gain, dull coat, skin infections, constipation, diarrhea,
cold intolerance, skin odor, hair loss,
greasy skin, dry skin, reproductive problems, aggression, and more.

The associated diseases or conditions can be serious: megaesophagus, ruptured knee
ligaments, testicular atrophy,
cardiomyopathy, excessive bleeding, and corneal ulcers. Additionally, the disease can be
inherited or of unknown or uncertain
origin. The diagnosis can be complex; the treatment as simple as supplementing a basic
essential hormone.

Day Blindness -- Also known as Hemeralopia, is as its name implies, a condition
which causes dogs (in this case the Alaskan
Malamute) to be "blind" in bright light. Day blindness is an inherited problem.
Progeny inherit this condition from the genes
received from their parents. The genetic defect is recognized by geneticists as an
"autosomal recessive" (i.e.: not sex-linked).

Statistically speaking, for every "affected" Malamute in a litter, there are at least
two carriers. "Affected" Malamutes should never
be bred from. But it is the carriers of this condition that are the real risk to the
breed. This is true not only with Day Blindness but
with PRA and Juvenile Cataracts as well.


Hip Dysplasia -- literally means an abnormality in the development of the hip
joint. It is an imperfect formation of the ball and
socket assembly in the pelvis.  The degree of imperfection can vary from severe to
very slight.  Like most large breeds,
Malamutes suffer from a high incidence of hip dysplasia.  No one can say for
sure how hip dysplasia is inherited, but many feel it
is polygenic (many genes involved) and influenced by the environment.  Several
registries now screen dogs for this problem
including OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and PennHipp.  In spite of
the most conscientious efforts, a majority of breeders produce a small percentage
of dysplastic dogs.  These dogs, if not badly affected, can lead normal and happy
lives but should not be used for breeding.
Hot Spots -- look like raw grazed skin. They can also take the form of loose coat
that does not appear to be attached to the
skin. Hot spots are also known as Summer Sores or Moist Eczema. They can
seemingly appear spontaneously anywhere on a
dog's body and the area involved can rapidly spread. A hot spot the size of a
dime can quickly become a hot spot the size of
your hand within a few short hours.

This moist, raw skin disorder has a variety of causes but the most consistent
factor is bacteria. There are a number of kinds of
bacteria that can be cultured from a "hot spot" and fortunately most respond to
oral and topical antibiotics. Anything that
irritates or breaks the skin --- such as scratching, scrapes, bites, etc.--- can create
the environment for bacterial contamination
if the skin surface has just a bit of moisture on it.  That moisture can be present
from a recently given bath, from swimming or
being out in the rain, from rolling in wet grass or even from a slightly oozing
sore that provides nutrients for bacteria.

If you've ever seen a hot spot then you can probably imagine how uncomfortable
they are for your canine friend. Quite often
once a hot spot develops the dog will be unable to leave it alone. He becomes fixed
on scratching, rubbing, biting and licking
the sore. Do NOT allow this. Keeping the sore open (scratching, biting) allows
more room for bacteria to set in, spread and
grow. While licking will keep the sore wet which is how the problem started to
begin with.

Epilepsy -- is a devastating disease. Canine epilepsy is characterized by "fits" or
seizures. Seizures are not always hereditary.
Some are the result of exposure to toxins, some are the indication of another
underlying disease, and some are the result of
injury. In most cases, if there is no permanent brain damage, once the dog is
treated and cured of the condition, the seizures will
stop. When a thorough veterinary examination and testing cannot establish why
the dog is having seizures, the seizures are
classified as idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is considered to be genetic.  

The seizures, themselves, are almost never fatal, but when they occur in clusters
the dog may be prone to develop a condition
called status epilepticus which is continuous, uncontrollable seizures.
Continuous seizures can lead to exhaustion,
hypoglycemia, hyperthermia, oxygen depletion, brain damage, and eventually
death. This condition is an extreme emergency
and many times the dog will need to be anesthetized in order to control the

Pyometra- Pyometra is a disease of the uterus most commonly seen in female
dogs. Pyometra is an important disease to be aware of for any dog owner
because of the sudden nature of the disease and the deadly consequences if left
untreated. The word “pyometra” is derived from latin “pyo” meaning pus and
“metra” meaning uterus. The pyometra is an abscessed, pus-filled infected
uterus. Toxins and bacteria leak across the uterine walls and into the
bloodstream causing life-threatening toxic effects, Without treatment death is


With each heat cycle, the uterine lining engorges in preparation for pregnancy.
Eventually, some tissue engorgement becomes excessive or persistent (a
condition called “cystic endometrial hyperplasia”). This lush glandular tissue is
ripe for infectionf (recall that while thei inside of the uterus is sterile, the vagina
below is normally loaded with bacteria.). Bacteria ascend from the vagina and
the uterus becomes infected and ultimately pus filled.


The usual treatment for pyometra is surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries.
It is crucial that the infected uterine contents do not spill and that no excess
hemorrhage occurs. The surgery is challenging especially if the patient is toxic.
Antibiotics are given at the time of surgery and may or may not be continued
after the uterus is removed. Pain relievers are often needed post-operatively. A
few days of hospitalization are typically needed after the surgery is performed.

It is especially important that the ovaries be removed to remove future hormonal
influence from any small stumps of uterus that might be left behind. If any
ovary is left, the patient will continue to experience heat cycles and be vulnerable
to recurrence.

While this surgery amounts to the same end result as routine spaying, there is
nothing routine about a pyometra spay. As noted, the surgery is challenging and
the patient is in a life-threatening situation. For these reasons, the pyometra spay
typically costs five to ten times as much as a routine spay.


Spaying represents complete prevention for this condition. Spaying cannot be
over-emphasized. Often an owner plans to breed their pet or is undecided, time
passes, and then they fear she is too old to be spayed. The female dog or cat can
benefit from spaying at any age. The best approach is to figure that pyometra
will eventually occur if the female pet is left unspayed; any perceived risks of
surgery are very much out-weighed by the risk of pyometra.

Diabetes-   Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the endocrine system. Type 1 diabetes
is caused by a deficiency of insulin -- the hormone that regulates how sugar is
absorbed and utilized by the cells of the body. Highest occurrences are in dogs
and cats between the ages of 5 to 7 years. Female dogs appear to be more
susceptible but both sexes of cat are equally affected. Most affected dogs and cats
were obese. It is the most common hormonal disorder in dogs . Among dogs,
poodles, dachshunds miniature schnauzers and west highland white terriers
have a high incidence of the disease.

Insulin works by binding with receptors on cells much like a key fits into a lock.
Once the insulin has “unlocked the door”, glucose can cross over into the cell
from the blood. Once inside the cell, glucose is either burned by the cell for
energy or stored for future use as glycogen. Without insulin, sugar accumulates
in the bloodstream causing a number of undesirable effects. When sugar is about
twice its normal level in the blood, some of it spills over into the urine.

Sugar in the urine causes increased urine production and thirst. These pets also
become hungrier because they can not utilize the sugar present in their blood. As
the disease progresses, waste products called ketones accumulate and cause
depression, vomiting and dehydration. If the disease is not treated coma and
death may occur. We can not cure diabetes yet but by administering insulin the
disease can be controlled and damage can be kept to a minimum.

Coat funk is a disorder found in malamutes and a few other breeds, such as
Pomeranians, Samoyeds, and Keeshonds.  Veterinary dermatologists simply call
the condition "alopecia X" because no one knows much about its cause or cure.  
In malamutes, the disorder appears to be inheritable, because many such dogs
can be traced back to ancestors who had the disorder.

Coat funk causes the guard coat in affected dogs to become dry and brittle,
eventually breaking and falling out.  The wooly undercoat, thus exposed, can
become dry and matted, and it, too, may eventually come out, leaving the skin
bare in spots.  Bare skin tends to turn black, though it does not seem to itch or
bother the dog.  Care should be taken to prevent sunburn or frostbite.

Symptoms vary widely, but one common aspect of all coat funk dogs is that they
test negative for other "look-alike" disorders, such as allergies, hypothyroid or
Cushing's disease.  Indeed, the only way to diagnose coat funk is to rule out
other possible causes for a coat problem.  It does happen occasionally that a dog
may have coat funk and another disorder, such as allergies or hypothyroidism.  
The dog's coat should return to health once the other problem is successfully
treated.  Suspect coat funk if the coat continues to worsen
A recessive genetic condition involving the development of the growth plates in
the legs, resulting in stunted or deformed growth. It is most noticeable in the
forelegs which can become short, squat, and bow inward under the body. An
effected dwarf may be barely able to walk or seem almost normal, depending on
the severity of the condition.

The Alaskan Malamute Club of America undertook a study and a test-breeding
program to eliminate dwarfism. Percentile ratings were given to dogs on the
basis of their genetic background. Ratings lower than 6.25% were considered
safe to breed, while a higher percentage rate required the dog be test-bred to be
proven clear of the condition. Percentile ratings are no longer given and a dog is
either considered "clear" or not clear of the condition.

The study was revived in the late 1990s and research begun to isolate a DNA
marker to determine the dwarfism potential without performing a test breeding.
Dwarfism is rarely seen outside the test breeding program.


Flea allergy dermatitis- an allergic reaction to the flea's saliva, is one of the most
common causes of skin disease in dogs and cats. Flea allergy dermatitis causes
severe itching that leads to chewing, compulsive biting, licking, and scratching.
Flea allergy dermatitis isn't necessarily caused by an infestation; sensitive pets
may react to a single flea bite.

Flea infestations on small or weak pets can cause life-threatening anemia (iron-
deficiency anemia, decreased red blood cells circulating through the blood,
which means a decreased oxygen level in the blood).


Cancer is the leading cause of death among older dogs and, though it can occur
at any age, it is more common in senior dogs. Hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma,
mammary tumors, osteosarcoma, prostate cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma
are some of the more common types of cancers occurring in older dogs.
Hemangiosarcoma stems from blood vessels and often affects the liver or spleen,
while lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells. Mammary tumors, or
breast cancer, are most often found in unspayed female dogs. Osteosarcoma is a
form of bone cancer that most often affects large breed dogs, prostate cancer
most often affects unneutered male dogs, and squamous cell carcinoma is a
cancer affecting the mouth

Diagnosing these cancers can be difficult as there are no specific blood tests for
them. However, there are certain signs that you can watch out for, including the
following: a bloated abdomen; the presence of blood or mucous in the stool or
urine; constipation; diarrhea; difficulty urinating or defecating; and sudden
weight loss. A sore that will not heal or appears raw, bleeding or scabby may be
indicative of skin cancer. Also, bleeding from the ears, mouth or nose may
indicate a tumor, while difficulty swallowing or drooling may indicate a throat
tumor. Heart and lung cancer may include symptoms of excessive panting,
hoarseness, persistent cough, and tiring easily. If you suspect that your dog may
have cancer, contact your veterinarian immediately. It's important that cancer
be detected early on while it's still treatable.

Any tumors that your veterinarian find will be biopsied and analyzed to
determine what type of cancer they are and if they're malignant. Not all tumors
are cancerous. Some tumors, including most skin tumors, can simply be
removed while other tumors, such as those of the lungs and heart, may be more
difficult to remove and may require chemotherapy or radiation treatment.  

Snow Nose or Bad Pigmentation?
Snow Nose is described as a pink/reddish marking on the black nose. It is
commonly experienced amongst the northern breeds. Snow Nose can disappear
over the warmer months and reappear over the winter months. There is nothing
wrong with snow nose. Bad pigmentation occasionally occurs within specimens
of the breed. The pigmentation area generally occurs around the face and is best
described as being pinkish skin and it can, in some cases, detract from the dogs
appearance. The main problem with this pigmentation is the threat of sun cancer
occurring to the area as the pink skin is more at risk of sunburn. It is advisable
to cover the affected area with sun screen regularly to protect the dog from this
threat of cancer.
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