For those just starting out in researching where to get
their first dog, it can sometimes be difficult to
distinguish between a not so great breeder and a
reputable breeder.   
Unethical breeders are
responsible for 99% of the malamutes that end up in
rescues and shelters.  Responsible breeders are not
a burden on rescue!  The below can give you some
guidelines and help to chose a reputable breeder.
What to Look for in a Reputable Breeder
  • Reputable Breeders are not a burden on rescue! A Reputable Breeder ALWAYS takes back the dogs they are responsible for
    producing no matter what the age.  Many Reputable Breeders are very supportive of rescue and help out with fostering,
    transporting, mentoring/education and information.

  • Reputable Breeders do not have puppies available all the time, and therefore usually have waiting lists.  Reputable breeders are
    not just breeding to produce puppies.  Reputable breeders breed to maintain or preserve the breed, they breed for a purpose
    and usually have titles in front and behind their dog's names.  Meaning they may show them in AKC or work them be it sledding,
    weight pull, agility, rally, etc.

  • A Reputable Breeder puts much thought and planning into each breeding.  They care about where each and every puppy goes,
    and keep in touch with the new family for the life time of the dog.  Should anything happen that the family is no longer able to care
    for the dog, it is required by contract that the dog be returned to the breeder.

  • Reputable Breeders are very careful with the placement of their dogs, and are able to knowledgeably answer questions about
    their dogs.  Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about yourselves and your life style, and be prepared to have a homecheck

  • Reputable Breeders microchip or permanently identify their dogs and those they are responsible for producing!

  • Reputable Breeders do extensive pedigree research and health checks on their dogs before breeding them. This includes:
                       OFA Certification  - at the very minimum hips and eyes, though can include cardiac, elbow, thyroid:
                       DNA test for Polyneuropathy (PN more info here:                    
More info on Malamute health can be found here

  • Reputable Breeders breed for the All Around Dog.  This includes conformation - not just looks - an unsound dog is unable to
    perform the functions it was bred for. Health and temperament should also be kept in mind. Any time only one aspect of a dog is
    concentrated on in a breeding, such as size or color, or breeding just for the show ring, the All Around Dog is not being taken into

  • Reputable Breeders don't send their pups to their new homes before 8 - 10 weeks of age - sometimes later.  They rarely breed
    their girls before 2 years of age, and rarely more than 2 - 4 times in their life time.

  • Not all reputable breeders show all their dogs, but usually show some or have in the past shown some, and the pedigrees of
    their dogs usually have several AKC champions behind them in the first two or three generations.

  • Malamutes are classified as a working breed. They are highly intelligent and excel at performance and working activities such as
    sledding/carting, weight pulling, back packing, obedience, agility, rally. Not all reputable breeders constantly work their dogs but
    the breeder whose dogs have conformation and working titles is concentrating on producing the All Around Dog!

  • Reputable Breeders register their dogs with the AKC, or in the case of Canada, the CKC. They sometimes are dually registered
    with UKC, but any other registration is marginal at best.
About Reputable Breeding
These are some pups that were
born when their pregnant mom
was taken in by Malamute
Rescue in IL.  Most rescues don't
have the resources for taking in
many dogs, and sadly, some
dogs won't be saved and will die.
This is Sahara - she is the mom of
the pups.  Sahara was most likely
bought from a backyard breeder
who was more interested in how
much money he could get for his
pups than the homes they went to.  
Sahara was obviously never
spayed by her previous owners,
and was either deliberately bred, or
got out of her yard and ended up in
rescue very pregnant.  Sahara and
all of her pups found wonderful
homes through
Anua Alaskan Malamutes
Babe ended up in rescue at the age of 10 when her
owner could no longer care for her - she was bought
as a pup from a backyard breeder by an 85 year old
man.  Mals can live to be over 12 years old.  Was it
responsible to sell a puppy to this man if you weren't
prepared to take it back when he could no longer
care for her?  
How to find a Reputable Breeder
One of the best resources to finding a reputable breeder is through the national breed club - the Alaskan Malamute Club of America.  You
can also check with local clubs - for example the
Alaskan Malamute Club of WI.  A reputable breeder isn't always going to have puppies
available, but they may refer you to someone they trust who does have a litter planned.  

At this point, you have hopefully researched the breed and decided the malamute is the breed for you.  One of the most important things
when looking for a breeder is to ask yourself what you want from your puppy as it can make a difference in who you get your puppy from.  
Two breeders may be equally reputable, but one may have dogs that are a better fit for you.  Do you want a companion/family dog, a
partner for walks or runs or going on hiking and camping trips?  Do you want to get involved in more performance type work,
conformation, harness work, agility? Are you looking for a true working dog - one who has a family history of working ethic?  What is the
main way you will be exercising your malamute?  Do you expect to be able to use off leash dog parks?

Reputable breeders breed to the breed standard, not only to preserve breed type, but to ensure that physically and conformationally, the
dog is able to do what it was bred to do - be a sledge dog.  Too large of a malamute will not be able to tirelessly pull a sled for miles.  A
dog that is unbalanced - too much rear for front, cow hocked legs or straight shoulders also means they will not be able to do the job they
were bred for as well as other activities you may enjoy doing, and will be more prone to costly and painful injury.

There is no size disqualification in the malamute breed standard - in fact the only disqualification in mals is blue eyes.  Malamutes do not
have blue eyes. If you have a mal with blue eyes, it is most likely mixed with siberian husky.  However, the 'desired' size for a malamute is
23" and 75 pounds for a female, and 25" and 85 pounds for a male.  There is a natural range of size in the breed, and you will see mals
from 55 to 125 pounds.  Bigger does not mean better - as stated in the
Alaskan Malamute Breed Standard  "size consideration should
not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes".  Breeders that only advertise 'giant' malamutes should be
questioned closely about the health of their dogs, and asked if they have honestly worked dogs of this size and put them to the test as to
whether dogs 150 pounds or more can do the job they were bred to do.  A reputable breeder's goal is to improve and maintain breed type
and function, not try to recreate it to their interpretation of what it should be.

Once you have found the names of four or five breeders you think may work out for you, it's best to prepare a list of questions to ask to get
to know more about them and their dogs.  Be prepared to be asked just as many questions about yourself - a reputable breeder
understands this is not the breed for everyone and wants to ensure their pups are placed in suitable homes.

Some good questions to ask your potential breeder:

  • Do the parents have their health clearances, and if so can you provide the certifications as well as their registered names so they
    can be looked up in the OFA database?

  • What is the health clearance history of the dogs in the pedigree behind this planned litter?  Something that can also be looked up
    in the OFA database.

  • Are your puppies sold with a contract?

  • What would you do if I can no longer take care of this dog?  Do you take your dogs back?

  • What sort of support do you give your puppy owners?

  • Why did you plan this breeding - why did you choose these two dogs to breed?

  • Do you do performance work with your own dogs and do your current dogs have any titles - conformation/showing, harness work,
    agility or obedience?

  • How do your malamutes generally get along with other dogs - including those not in their own pack?

  • Can you describe the health, longevity and temperament of the sire and dam's pedigree for three generations back?

  • What are the incidences of epilepsy, cancer, bloat, skin/allergy/food sensitivity issues, cataracts, hypothyroidism, orthopedic
    disorders in your dogs and the dogs behind your dogs?

  • What is the cost of a puppy?

A caveat on price. The price of a puppy from a reputable breeder can vary by area, but generally is between $
1200 - $1500 for a
companion pup, and between $1,
800 - $2,000 for a show pup.  There are no 'rare' sizes, colors, or types of coat, and reputable breeders
should not be charging more for these.  

Again, be prepared to answer many questions from a breeder about yourself. Sending one liner e-mails asking for the price of the pups
tends to make the breeder feel that price is what is most important to you, not where and who you get your pup from.  

And ask questions yourself.  Another great article on 10 questions to ask your reputable breeder:
One of the best ways to discern between a reputable breeder and an unethical breeder or puppy mill are HEALTH CLEARANCES
through OFA or Penn Hip.  OFA and Penn Hip certificates are issued by a team of experts who have evaluated the
various tests
performed (hips, elbows, eyes, PN, heart, thyroid and many more) on
the dogs being bred. Unethical breeders when asked about
health clearances will say,
'Oh I know my dogs are healthy or my vet looked at them'.  They claim there's no guarantee that the dog
will be healthy
so why bother doing them.  And there are no guarantees when dealing with live beings.  But think on this analogy:

Why wear a seatbelt if it doesn't give any guarantees
you won't die or be seriously injured in a crash?  Because chances that it will
help are higher than chances it won't, and the same goes for health clearances when breeding dogs.

So why wouldn't a breeder perform them?

Buying a pup from a breeder who has health tested their dogs increases the chances that your pup will be healthy.  And you know
you will be getting a pup from a breeder who cares
about the dogs they are breeding and the families they are placing them with to
give their pups the best foot forward.
This dog is watching her team
leave for a run without her.  Her
working career was cut short
when it was discovered she was
dysplastic at the age of 5 years.  
Though OFA'ing hips isn't an
absolute guarantee of no hip
dysplasia, the proof that it does
help lies in the overall breed hip
health compared to 30 - 40 years
ago, when as many as half a litter
could be dysplastic.
Reputable breeders work hard to
expose their puppies to real life -
different sights, sounds, textures,
people -  to help them to be well
balanced sound pups, ready for
their new families.  Here, these
pups are waiting while the house
is being puppy proofed so they can
come out of their pen and explore.
Reputable breeders evaluate the
conformation of their pups, not just
for selection of show homes, but to
learn what their breeding has
produced.  Not every pup in every
litter will be a show prospect, but
that doesn't mean it won't be a
perfectly wonderful and sound pet.
Reputable breeders don't sell their
pups on a first come first serve
basis.  Temperaments are
evaluated to ensure the right pup
is placed with the right family.