Conformation Question – Opinions?

I’ve connected with a local guy whose 140 lbs. malamute growled at his daughter.  The daughter had stayed at a friend’s house the previous night and her clothes bore the scent of that home’s dog. Still, can’t be too safe when it comes to vulnerable children. They now keep the two separate. It is the dog’s third home. They’ve had him 6 months. The dog is 4 years old and upon adoption, the former owner stressed this dog was quite sketchy with strangers and people in general.

In the past six months, he’d been vocal but never aggressive with the man or his wife… until last night when he displayed a warning snap to the man touching his belly. I could tell the man was shaken up.  The dog was more challenging toward human males and considerably tolerant of the wife’s affection.Panda (2)He would have attacked Mak had we come close enough. But we never brought them within striking range. Nor did the malamute seem all that invested or interested, at one point laying in the grass with his back turned to Mak who averted his eyes as needed so as not to challenge. Both dogs eventually appeared relaxed. It went as well as could be expected for a first encounter. If I ended up with him, it would likely be weeks before I allowed close proximity and then only muzzled.

We had three theories about this dog’s aggression. The wife believed he was abused, probably by the first owner about whom we know nothing.

Yet he had very dominant traits. Early on in their care of him, he peed on the man as the man was putting on the dog’s harness. He also chose when to lay down, then would refuse to move. His owners said he tired quickly. From what I know of malamutes, a four year old shouldn’t tire from walking in a field. Yes it was summer and he was hot despite a rather cool evening and he’s overweight.  He’d be thirty pounds lighter with me.

Much of his body language and facial expression exuded dominance. From what’s known of his history, everyone has been on eggshells around him. If this dog was fearful from past abuse, he was intimidating enough to spread the joy to all around him, wife aside. So abused, dominant… or both?

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Victim or badass?


I advanced a third theory.  His back end looked quite awkward to me. For a breed created to run and pull, he was very low-hocked. His metatarsal joints looked super flexible.  Relaxed they appear normal:IMG_4891 (2) …but under load they curve into crescents. Is such joint mobility excessive? Are his feet causing him pain? He won’t be touched anywhere lower than his chest, particularly his legs.  Sometimes he chases his own back foot. Pain?  Was he laying down then refusing to move due to aching leg/feet?IMG_4900 (2)

IMG_4906 (2)So I held off on taking him until I could research the conformation concern. Online I found this oddity not uncommon in malamutes though this dog appeared to be on the extreme end. Some malamutes have fabulous leg angles and geometry so it’s definitely not the norm.  These photos don’t quite do justice.

It was hard to tell how much of the curving might be how the fur was laying. And since he didn’t allow touching down there, it was impossible to palpate for bone shape, soreness or heat. Check out these other malamutes from online. Some of the shape appears to be fur pattern.

If any of you have knowledge or thoughts about malamute conformation/issues in this area, please inform me!  🙂

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5 thoughts on “Conformation Question – Opinions?

  1. Hi, honestly I’m sorry that I’m of no use whatsoever in giving you any advice on malamutes. But I felt rather sad on reading that the dog might actually be in pain and I wanted to let you know that I’d like to know what happens to him..if you do find a way of making him more comfortable, please do let me know here!
    Lots of love to you for trying to help and to the poor dog!

    1. I won’t know what happens to him unless I take him. He’s too aggressive to be examined by a vet unless muzzled and he won’t let just anyone do that so we’d be talking muzzled and sedation. He won’t let anyone touch his back end. But I’ll certainly post anything I learn… 🙂

  2. Without examining the dog it almost seems as though he may also have a vertebrate/spinal injury in addition to confirmation issues. Just like humans, untreated issues relating to skeletal problems or even muscular issues that cause your to compensate weight etc can create big problems.. So of this dog was injured previously and even bore weight on one side for too long it can create changes that are causing pain.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! If they don’t read your comment themselves, (I pass along my blog to most people from whom I hope to get a dog so the can see what I’m about) and if I speak with them again, I’ll let them know. 🙂

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