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Historical Opinions about the Alaskan Malamute



Lester Corliss - Alaskan Malamute breeder in the 1920s

     Corliss bred dogs in the 1920s in Nenana, Alaska and some of his dogs were behind the foundation stock bred in New Hampshire, by Seeley. "A Malamute should be active as a terrier; even a big Malamute should be jaunty, not sluggish or slow-moving. I liked them tapering from front to back, the withers higher than the rump, chest broader than the hips. The tail should be carried high or curled, with the coat standing off, not long or flat. My Malamutes averaged 70 to 75 pounds for males, 55 to 60 pounds for the females. I preferred my dogs to be longer, rather than too shortly coupled; and I preferred the black and white, masked face Malamutes with silver shading above the white under-quarters, comparable to the shading in a silver fox. These, in my estimation, were the most beautiful. The mail teams preferred dogs around 80 to 90 pounds, but seldom did they use a dog over 90 pounds because the over-sized dog could not stand the work. Bill Burke, who had the mail run between Nenana and McGrath on the Kuskokwim used dogs of Malamute type and these averaged 85. He had two teams constantly on the move of some 15 to 20 dogs in a team and around 10 dogs constantly in reserve."



Paul Voelker - M'Loot Kennels During the Gold Rush,

     Voelker's father bought dogs and sent them to Alaska. Voelker spent much of his life raising and training dogs, and settled on the same native dogs his father's earlier exports to Alaska and the Yukon almost overan. Voelker's brother was an attorney in Marquette, and a quite well known. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Michigan in 1957 and was elected two more times. He resigned because he was also a writer and had several best seller books to credit and wanted to have more time to write. His ?pen name? was Robert Traver. He wrote, Anatomy of a Murder (which was made into a movie), Laughing Whitefish, Danny and the Boys and several others. The setting for all of his books was Michigan?s beautiful Upper Peninsula. There was no love lost between the two, but he seemed to always direct Malamute puppy buyers to his brother's kennel when they showed up at his door. An interesting description from an early kennel owner on buying Malamutes from Voelker is here Once you get to the page, search on the name "Voelker"(ctrl-F), as it is in the middle of the very long narrative page. Voelker acquired Malamutes for his M'Loot Kennels from many sources. He traveled to Alaska and brought dogs back; traveled coast-to-coast acquiring Malamutes he liked; acquired dogs from teams sold to Hollywood for use in movies; acquired dogs from the army at Camp Rimini, Montana (including Dude's Wolf and Dodge's Lou found at the back of many malamute pedigrees). He accepted a wide range of breeding dogs and with saavy marketing put them in homes across the U.S. and Canada. The M'Loot dogs worked on sled teams and served with distinction in the military. A driver on the second Serum Run, used four M'Loot dogs on his team. Voelker was an experienced sleddog driver. His Malamutes' ranged in colors, not confined to grey & white. His M'Loots were also heavier and taller and rangier than the smaller & more compact Kotzebue Malamutes. His male Malamutes reportedly averaged 130 lbs. Gentleman Jim, a M'Loot, served in World War II and is in the Hall of Working Fame. Several kennels formed around M'Loot dogs, using them as foundation stock for their breeding programs. One of those kennels was Silver Sled in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. From their breedings, Ch. Mulpus Brook's Master Otter and the first female champion of the breed, the great Ch. Ooloo M'Loot can be found at the back of many of today's Malamute pedigrees. Description of Voelker M'Loots from LegacySledDogs by Jeffrey Bragg "My first contact with M'Loots was back in my green days in Ontario when I used to visit with professional handler Lorna Jackson at her farm. Lorna was a real animal lover, a lifetime dog person, and had at one point been a breeder of Mals. When I knew her she had stopped breeding, but there were still two or three of her old ones on the property. And she had gotten her original stock from Paul Voelker. I remember chiefly a BIG cream-white male, about 130 or 140#, long-bodied, called Koonah, and a much smaller ancient white bitch named Kulik who had once whelped a litter of *19* pups. They were SO unlike the Mals I had seen in the show-ring, and a real piece of living history."



Peary Opinion, 1908 Alaskan Malamute description:

     "There are three broad divisions among the dogs of the North. . . The malamutes have gained the widest fame of the three, their name being so closely linked to the interior that one suggests the other. They are hereditary workers, their ancestors for hundreds of years back having toiled along the frozen trails of Alaska and the British Yukon in Indian and Eskimo teams. . . . They are 'wise' in the slang meaning of the word, it being a common saying along the . . . Yukon that a malamute is 'the most cheerful worker and the most obstinate shirk; intelligent or dense, but always cunning, crafty, and wise; stealing anything not tied down.' These wiry sled-dogs came originally from the lower Yukon country, their name, according to the Indians, being derived from the word Malamoot, the name of an Eskimo tribe living on the Bering Sea coast, the first natives it is believed to develop the sled dog in Alaska. . . . The typical malamute's thick gray hair, his short stout neck, sharp-pointed muzzle, the erect pointed ears, and heavy forequarters suggest the gray wolf of the Far North, while the self-reliant independence of his bearing as he stands between the traces shows his descent from a long line of toiling sled dogs. With generations of workers behind him, he makes an exceptionally strong and reliable leader, in that place displaying the cunning, wisdom and trickery that characterize his breed. No smoother or smarter leader exists. No other can make life so miserable for an inexperienced or cruel 'musher.' So observant is he that once he passes over a trail its most insignificant details seem engraved on his memory, and years later, no matter how much snow has fallen or how badly the narrow road has become drifted, he will follow it with unhesitating certainty. He will find the way and guide the team to some lonely outpost, even with the 'musher,' . . . lies half-unconscious . . ." Mr. Jackson B. Corbett, Jr. - a reply to a Gazette article written in 1908 by Commodore Peary about the Greenland Eskimo Dogs he used on his North Pole expedition



Stuck Hudson, 1929

     The Malamute, the Alaskan Esquimau dog, is precisely the same dog as that found amongst the natives of Baffin's Bay and Greenland. Knud Rasmunsen and Amundsen together have established the oneness of the Esquimaux from the east coast of Greenland all round to Saint Michael; they are one people, speaking virtually one language. And the Malamute dog is one dog. A photograph that Admiral Peary prints of one of the Smith Sound dogs that pulled his sled to the North Pole would pass for a photograph of one of the present writer's team, bred on the Koyukuk River, the parents coming from Kotzebue Sound." There was never animal better adapted to environment than the Malamute dog. His coat, while it is not fluffy, nor the hair long, is yet so dense and heavy that it affords him a perfect protection against the utmost severity of cold. His feet are tough and clean, and do not readily accumulate snow between the toes and therefore do not easily get sore which is the great drawback of nearly all 'outside' dogs and their mixed progeny. He is hardy and thrifty and does well on less food than the mixed breeds; and, despite Peary to the contrary, he will eat anything. "He will not eat anything but meat" says Peary "I have tried and I know." No dog accustomed to a flesh diet willingly leaves it for other food the dog is a carnivorous animal. But hunger will whet his appetite for any thing that his bowels can digest. Muk, the counterpart of Peary's "King Malamute" has thriven for years on his daily ration of dried fish, tallow and rice, and eats biscuits and doughnuts whenever he can get them. He has little of the fawning submissiveness of pet dogs "outside", but he is independent and self-willed and apt to make a troublesome pet. However pets that give little trouble seldom give much pleasure." His comparative shortness of leg makes him somewhat better adapted to the hard, crusted snow of the coast than to the soft snow of the interior, but he is a ceaseless and tireless worker who loves to pull. His prick ears, always erect, his bushy, graceful tail, carried high unless it curl upon the back as is the case with some, his compact coat of silver-gray, his sharp muzzle and black nose and quick narrow eyes give him an air of keenness and alertness that marks him out amongst dogs. When he is in good condition and his coat is taken care of he is a handsome fellow, and he will weigh from 75 to 85 or 90 pounds. Ten Thousand Miles With A Dog Sled, 1929



From the Byrd Polar archives:

     One Alaskan Malamute went on BAE II according to the inventoried dogs for the expedition.

Letterhead that Milton Seeley was using in 1932 is imprinted: "Chinook Kennels A Village of Huskies Wonalancet, NH Trainers and Breeders of Malamutes, Siberians, Eskimos, and Chinooks"

The inventory of expedition dogs at Chinook Kennel on 8/31/1933, for selection for BAE II, included: 22 dogs suitable for trail sledging 46 dogs with trail potential 44 "camp" dogs 12 unfit dogs, including bitches in whelp 124 dogs total! Scanning down through the list, breeds included: Labrador Husky, Wolf-Sibe/Seeley, Sibe-Mal, Wolf Cross/Quebec, Wolf Cross/Seeley, Hudson Bay, Mal, Sibe-Eskimo/Seeley, Baffin Island, Registered Eskimo, Air. Cross, Shamboul, Mal-Wolf, Sibe-Labrador, Mal-Labrador, Mac. River, Labrador Cross, Dane, Dane Cross, Hound, Hound Cross, Alaskan, Labrador-Chinook, Sibe/Seppala. Weights ranged from 49# (yearling Mal) to 117# (Shamboul)

Of those dogs, 18 were originally owned by BAE I, and Byrd reclaimed ownership of those that were still fit for work, paying 5 cents per day per dog board to Milton Seeley for caring for the dogs in the interim. Byrd also paid $30 each for puppies born to BAE I dogs while boarded at Chinook Kennel (42 total). Additionally, the Expedition offered $40 each for any trained adult dogs which Chinook Kennel might wish to provide to the Expedition, and was donated about 50 Canadian-bred sledge dogs by the Clarke Steamship Co of Montreal.

Breeder/kennel of origin were not included for most of the inventoried dogs, including the two Sibe Mals. Seeleys were only credited with breeding (6) Wolf Sibes, (1) Wolf cross, (3) Labrador huskies, (1) Mal, (1) Sibe Eskimo, and (1) dog identified only as "Rastus (Andy)" on that inventory.