Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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A lean-bodied dog with a thick coat and sweet, floppy ears, the Malador is a cross between the Alaskan Malamute and the Labrador Retriever, making it a high-tempo breed with stamina to spare. Always on the go, this 'designer dog' enjoys time spent outdoors and loves to play with people and animals alike.

This breed is both affectionate and loyal towards its owners, eager to form a strong family unit with them. While this can make for an obedient and pleasant pet, over-attachment can become a real issue and should be avoided.

About & History

When you have two breeds as popular and well-loved as the Labrador Retriever and the Alaskan Malamute, it is almost an inevitability that they will be crossed at some stage. While records are lacking and it is impossible to know when these breeds were first mixed, the Malador has likely been in existence for quite a few decades and is currently gaining popularity in the United States as a family pet.

Both the Alaskan Malamute and the Labrador Retriever hail from similar parts of the world and have well-established histories. The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in many countries worldwide. Originating in Newfoundland, they were first used as gundogs though now tend to be kept as family pets. The Alaskan Malamute is thought to be one of the truly ancient dog breeds that has graced this Earth for thousands of years. Always a friend to man, they would historically pull loads across ice, protect people from bear attacks and help their owners hunt for food.

While the Alaskan Malamute is recognised by the AKC in their Working Group and the Labrador Retriever in their Sporting Group, as with other hybrids, the Malador itself is not officially recognised by any major kennel clubs just yet.


Though the Malador is thought to have been around for longer than most other hybrids, there is still a large physical variation between individuals, even those from the same litter. As with any crossbreed, it's entirely impossible to predict which genetics will show through stronger, so it's hard to say what any Malador will look like until it is fully grown. As a rule of thumb, most breed members retain the Malador’s marking and will have a leaner version of the Labrador body shape.

Possessing an athletic body with long and well-muscled limbs that end in wide feet, the Malador is built for endurance, as well as speed. Dogs will have the pendulous ears of their Labrador parent and the large and pleading eyes of the Malamute. Eyes may be blue, brown or green. Their tail may curve slightly at the end and will likely display some degree of fur feathering.

The short and dense coat of the Malador can be a range of colours and patterns. They have a double-coat and the insulating inner coat tends to be fluffy and soft. Dark facial masks are a typical feature. Their fur may be anything from cream and white to black, brown and red with a mix of two colours being the most commonly seen. Fully-grown breed members reach heights of 56cm to 63cm and weights of between 27kg and 38kg.

Character & Temperament

Taking on traits from both of their parents, the Malador is a high-energy breed that enjoys being outside and active. A Malador’s perfect day would likely consist of a long hike with great scenery and lots of fun activities throw in, such as frisbee and swimming. As they form close bonds with their family and rely on them heavily, of course, the whole family would need to be there too!

The strong attachment that the Malador has with some family members can lead to separation anxiety. This can be avoided by having consistency in their life, bonding them to all owners and socialising them thoroughly from puppyhood.

Maladors tend to get on very well with the household’s children and love to be playful and mischievous. Given their sheer strength and size, younger children should never be left with them unsupervised. Good relationships can develop with other household pets, assuming pets are introduced from a young age. Caution is advised when introducing two entire male dogs, as there is the potential for canine aggression. Smaller pets, too, need to be closely monitored as the Malador’s prey drive is never far from the surface.


The Malador is keen to please and has plenty of brains, meaning that they tend to perform well in most training tasks. They thoroughly enjoy tasks where they can exert their force and enjoy sledding and agility courses.

As the Malador has the potential to want to be dominant, particularly if they take more after their Alaskan Malamute side, their training should begin early and should remain consistent through the years. Good sessions should be rewarded with plenty of treats and verbal praise, while undesired attention should be ignored and the dog should quickly be encouraged to start doing something else instead.


Predicting potential health conditions in hybrid dogs poses a challenge as it is hard to know which genes they will inherit and the breeds are too recently-developed to have any substantial scientific data available on their prevalent diseases. However, we can look to their parents for potential issues. For the Malador, breeders and owners should be aware of the following:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

In medium-sized and larger dogs, improper joint formation can become a real issue. Early symptoms can include an unusual gait or an obvious limp. An orthopaedic exam performed by a veterinarian is advised and they will likely recommend some further diagnostics of the affected joints.

Both X-rays and CT scans can be useful in the diagnosis of these conditions. While some animals can be managed conservatively with lifestyle changes, joint supplements and anti-inflammatories, others may require surgery.


Bloat can occur in any dog breed but is more frequently seen in larger dogs with deep chests. During an episode of bloat, signs will come on quickly and can include abdominal bloating, restlessness and unproductive retching. The earlier the pet can be brought to a vet, the better their prognosis. If the stomach twists on its axis (GDV), this is a potentially fatal event and requires immediate surgery to be corrected.

Ear Infections

Floppy ears trap moisture and dirt inside them, leading to chronic ear infections. By keeping ears clean and dry, we can reduce the chance that a dog will develop an infection. If an infection does develop, the dog should be brought to the vet for an ear cleaning and to be started on some medication. Most of the time, ear drops are prescribed, which will contain antibiotics, anti-fungals and some anti-inflammatories.


When the thyroid gland fails to make enough thyroid hormone, a clinical condition known as hypothyroidism will develop. Most dogs are diagnosed in middle age after displaying symptoms for weeks to months.

Symptoms can include chronic skin infections, alopecia (fur loss), weight gain and a slow heartbeat. Most affected dogs respond well to therapy, which consists of daily medication.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A good hour to an hour and a half of vigorous exercise should be provided on a daily basis to keep the energetic Malador content. On top of lead walks, they should be allowed to spend some time off-lead in a safe environment. Large back yards in rural areas are ideal. As well as plenty of walking, hiking and running, the Malador should be provided with physical tasks that are also mentally demanding, such as retrieving experiences and obstacle courses.

Once ample exercise is provided, most Maladors are well-adjusted and docile. An under-stimulated Malador is far more likely to misbehave and to develop issues, such as separation anxiety or aggression.


The thick coat of the Malador may offer great insulation in the winter but it doesn’t half shed! Daily grooming should be done outdoors to strip the coat of dead fur, and this task may need to be done twice a day during certain times of the year. Owners who like to keep their house pristine may not be too keen on the amount of loose fur that is left behind this dog.

Ear care should be diligent in this breed to reduce the occurrence of ear infections. As some adult dogs resent their ears being checked or cleaned, they should be introduced to this task from a very young age.

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