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Bringing your puppy home for the first time is naturally a happy and exciting occasion, but it can be a little daunting too – there is so much for both you and your puppy to learn! The information contained here should help you on your way to raising a happy and well trained dog right from the start.


Grooming your puppy/dog

All dogs will benefit from regular grooming, whether they are a short haired breed or one with a long or fluffy coat.


Reasons for grooming – Remember ‘CHAIR’


Cleanliness – keeping your dog’s coat clean by removing dirt and dead hair helps encourage new hair growth, and reduces the amount of hair deposited on household furniture

Health – grooming helps to stimulate new coat growth, and prevents the formation of knots or matting which may lead to skin irritation

Appearance – most owners take a pride in their dogs looking smart, and regular grooming will certainly help your puppy to look its best

Inspection – regular grooming is also a great way to check for parasites, or any suspicious lumps and bumps

Relationship – grooming is part of dog’s socialisation activities. Regular grooming helps create a bond between you and your puppy, and accustoms your puppy to being handled.


Getting started

It is important to groom your puppy at a height which is comfortable for both you and your dog. For many dogs it may be advisable to groom them on a table. There are custom made grooming tables available, which might be a good investment if you have taken on a puppy that requires a lot of grooming. But any sturdy table or work bench with a non-slip surface will suffice. Remember: never leave your puppy unattended on the table for even a short moment.


Start the grooming experience at an early age as part of your puppy’s socialisation programme and routines. Keep the sessions short to start off with – just a couple of minutes, gradually increasing the time spent on the table. Always make the experience positive, rewarding with praise and suitable treats. Any struggling should be dealt with firmly but kindly, as your puppy may be frustrated, mischievous or even afraid.


Build up the experience and your puppy will come to accept the grooming routine and also being handled on the table. This will help with other activities such as veterinary visits.


Finish the grooming if your puppy shows signs of getting bored or tired, so that each session ends on a positive note.


Dog coat type

It’s worth bearing in mind that factors like neutering, age, poor diet and poor health can dramatically influence your dog’s coat.


Alaskan Malamute have double coats – dense coat with soft undercoat concealed by a long topcoat. You should spend at least 30-40 minutes once a week to prevent heavy shedding or matting of the coat. The basic brushing equipment should include slicker brush, pin brush and wide toothed comb. Malamutes are seasonal shedders.  This means once or twice a year they will "blow" out their coat.  It is important to comb often to get the dead and old coat out for the health of the skin and so the dog will look presentable.  If coat is not combed out, it will have the appearance of "molting" as seen on zoo animals during season changes (clumps of dead hanging fur remain in the coat and become dirty and matted). "Woolies" will not drop their coat - it will mostly all remain on the dog so it's even more important to comb often and deeply to avoid matts.


The best way to avoid some heavy shedding is to spay or neuter, comb regularly and feed a quality food. Spaying eliminates shedding caused by the hormonal changes of the female going into season. Combing often (we comb daily, but at least three times a week is necessary) keeps the coat clean, good smelling and looking nice.  A warm bath when the coat is close to coming out will often help it along so the dog is not shedding for as long. Ideally a blaster (high-speed blower) can blow out most of the loose coat as you dry.   Be sure to dry thoroughly after a bath to prevent hotspots. Even if the surface feels dry, it may not be completely dry underneath and hotspots can develop in areas that remain damp.


Coat grooming can be enjoyable for you both. Lie the dog on the floor in front of you while watching television in the evening. Comb him when you are relaxed and not rushed. Always make an effort (even if it's just a little at a time) to do the inside of the legs, breaches (back side), belly and tail. Many Malamutes do not like these areas done, but they are also the most likely to matt and knot so are most important. You can concentrate on a different area each time so you aren't yanking and pulling the entire time - for example: first the back, next time the belly, next time the inside left back leg, next time right back leg and a quick skim over everywhere else.

Limit each session to 10-15 minutes at first. 


Bath time

A housedog Malamute doesn't need a bath very often unless they are diggers. Baths can have a drying effect on the skin and soften the coat if given too often.  A Malamute's guard coat is supposed to be somewhat stiff - that's what protects the undercoat from the weather. 


If the dog is not thoroughly dried after a bath, dampness against the skin can cause hotspots. Malamute fur is very dirt resistant, and even if they get muddy, by the time they dry it will often flake off so that the dog looks just fine. Malamutes also tend to keep themselves clean by grooming themselves like a cat. It's also important to give young puppies baths more often. First, because puppy fur is not as soil-resistant, second because they will be much better about bathing if they have had regular baths from a young age. If you give a treat afterwards, are patient, and make it fun, your dog won't mind a bath.


Care of ears, nails and eyes

One of the most important parts of grooming your Malamute is maintaining nails and feet. Most Malamutes hate nail clipping, so it's always preferable to start young. 


Check your puppy’s ears to see if they are clean.  You can remove excess dirt from the inside of the ear flap with damp cotton wool. Never probe inside the ear as you may perforate the ear drum. Any odour is usually a sign there is something wrong and your puppy should be taken to a vet. If needed clean the eyes with clean, damp cotton wool using a separate piece for each eye.


External Parasites

A parasite is something that lives on another animal (the host) and gets its nourishment from the host. If left unchecked, the parasite causes disease or even death.  The most common external parasites found on dogs are fleas and ticks.


  • Fleas are very small, brownish black, extremely agile creatures. Excessive scratching and self-biting can be symptoms of flea infestation. Even if no fleas are to be seen the presence of shiny black specks like coal dust (flea excreta) is a sure indication of the presence of fleas (dab the specks with a damp piece of cotton wool and if it goes pink it confirms the presence of fleas; these are the remains of a digested blood meal from the host).


  • Ticks are largish grey pea shaped parasites that can be 3 to 4mm in length. They attach themselves to other animals in order to have a blood meal.


There is evidence that ticks are also a threat to human health as they can spread Lyme disease. There is now a wide range of powders, sprays, ‘spot-on’ treatments and anti-flea and tick collars available. Your vet will be happy to advise on suitable products.  


Other skin problems

  • Ringworm is a fungal disease, affecting the skin, nails and hair. Circular lesions appear causing hair loss, which become scaly and crusty. Ringworm is contagious and is a zoonotic condition (transmissible to humans).

  • Dermatitis causes irritation, hair loss and inflammation and is a result of sensitivity to the environment.

  • Alopecia can range from a thinning of hair to total hair loss and can be caused by a number of factors such as skin parasites, hormonal imbalance, infections, stress or poor nutrition. Seek veterinary advice for any skin problems.

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