So you've done your research, have an idea of what you would be letting yourself in for and decide you want a Malamute. Please consider a rescue, they have alot going for them ! (contact details on links page )A puppy may not be the best thing for your circumstances and an older Malamute still has alot to give.
Really want a puppy ? Next you have to negotiate the mine field to find a good breeder ! Whether you want you want a pet to share your life with, or a future Crufts winner should make no difference, you should expect the same quality of care and thought from the breeder. Why is this so important ? basically bad breeder = probable problem puppy, be it health or temperament, you are more likely to have problems in the future. Sadly the bad breeders don't wear badges saying "puppy farmer" or "bad breeder" ( wouldn't it make life easier if they did ? ) Many of these bad breeders aren't easy to spot, they seem honest and are often very convincing, it's only by asking questions you will be able to decide if they are good or bad.
Good breeders will want to know all about you, they will ask you many questions, they will want to meet you before they promise you a pup. Remember you are asking for one of their much loved puppies, they want to know it is going to a good home. Steer clear of anyone that is willing to hand over a pup without meeting you first, or even worse meet you somewhere to hand over the puppy.
You will probably have to go on list and wait to get a puppy from a good breeder, Please do wait, you will be sharing your life with your dog for many years, it is worth the wait to get the best possible puppy.
We have got all our Mals from wonderful people that we know will always be there for us should we need them. This is the way it should be, Your contact with the breeder shouldn't end when you walk out the door.
Questions for you to ask breeders
Why are they breeding ?
It may seem obvious, but why are they having a litter ? A good breeder will have a good reason to breed ! They will be aiming to keep a puppy themselves, either to show, work or some other activity. They won't purely breed for money, because their friend wants a pup, to let their bitch experience motherhood, because everyone thinks their bitch is lovely or a million and one other excuses as to why they have a litter.
What are they aiming for ?
Good breeders have an aim in mind when they breed, they will be aiming to improve upon the parents. Good breeders should know the areas of their dogs that could be improved on ( All dogs have them, the "perfect" Malamute has yet to be born ! ) They will be able to explain why they have chosen the stud dog and how he complements the bitch.
How often do they breed ?
Not all "puppy farmers" have numerous litters, But it will give you a clue.Are they planning on keeping a pup from the litter ? If not why not ? Have they kept pups from previous litters ? Again if not why not ? I think more than 2 litters a year is excessive and would avoid anyone breeding more than this. If they have multiple litters especially of multiple breeds they are more than likely a puppy farmer, no matter what they say !
How old is the bitch ?
Malamutes are a large breed, and take a long time to mature. A bitch should not be breed from before 2 years of age. Before this age they are really still puppies, though they may not look like it, mentally they are not ready to have a litter. Stud dogs should be a minimum of 18 months. Also bitches should not have more than 3 or 4 litters in their lives, and never be breed on consecutive season.
Do they have a contract ?
All good breeders will ask you to sign a contract, this is nothing sinister, it is to protect the puppy ! Points on this contract may vary but the breeder should want the puppy returned to them in the event that you can no longer keep it, whatever it's age at the time. The breeder has bought this puppy into the world, so they must take responsibility for it ! If all breeders did this, there would be little need for rescue organisations ! All good breeders will have endorsements put on the kennel Club registration and will explain them to you along with the requirements to have them lifted. The endorsements prevent the puppys registration being exported ( the dog itself can still leave the country for holidays etc ) and prevent any offspring being registered. Usually these endorsements can be removed by the breeder at a later date should their criteria be met. If you have any concerns about these restrictions, you should discuss them with the breeder before you get a puppy . Bad breeders may have excuses about why they don't endorse their puppy's, please don't be fooled, it shows they give no thought towards the future of the breed.
Health tests are very important !
At present there are two health tests that must be carried out, A general vet health check alone is not good enough, so please make sure what they mean by "health checked". Both the bitch and the dog should be tested. The first of the health checks is a hip test. This is done once when a dog is over 12 months of age and is to check the hips for any signs of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a painful condition and not something to be ignored. You can only check for it with an x-ray that is sent off to the BVA to be scored. ( each hip is scored out of 53, so the range is 0 -106, with 0 being best ) All dogs used for breeding should be scored, the fact that the dog shows no signs means absolutely nothing ! At present the mean score for Malamutes is 13, ideally all dogs used for breeding should have a score at or below this, However a small amount over this is may be ok, if the score is over, discuss it with the the breeder. They should be able to give you the scores for many generations. The other condition tested for is hereditary cataracts, it is a simple test carried out by a qualified opthamologist. This test must be done on an annual basis. Just because a dog is clear one year, does not mean it is still clear ! So check the test isn't out of date. The breeder should be able to show you copies of the results for both the bitch and stud dog, No good breeder will mind this, in fact they will be happy to see you have researched and know what to look for ! There are a few other condtions that crop up in the breed, many of which there is no screening test for at the moment, please check the Malamute health website for information, and feel free to discuss this with breeders ! ( N.B Malamute Health is an American site, and mentions Chondrodysplasia, otherwise known as dwarfism, To my knowledge there has never been a dwarf puppy born in the UK )
Always ask questions, a good breeder will have nothing to hide !
What to look for
When you go to visit the breeder you should look at the way the dogs are kept. They may be kept in the house or outside in runs, Malamutes are a hardy breed and will live quite happily outside so do not let this alone put you off. However the conditions they are kept in should look well kept and the dogs should look healthy. I would prefer to see the litter and mother being kept in the house so they get used to household noises. You should meet the dogs ( If they own a number of dogs meet several ) in person, Malamutes are friendly and any excessive timidness or aggression is not a good sign. You should meet the mother of the prospective litter, if a litter is planned at the time, ask yourself would you like to live with that dog, as the puppy's may well take after her. If the litter has been born by the time you go to visit, if the puppy's are old enough to be seen by you, the mother should also be OK to meet you. If they own the stud dog, or if you are able to travel to him, you should meet him too, after all he makes up half the puppies ! Again would you want to live with him, your pup could take after him.
What should you get
Ask what you will get if you get a pup from them, you should receive a "puppy pack" which can be made up of various things, but you should receive a copy of the pedigree ( Family tree ) and a kennel club certificate. Just because you are given a pedigree it doesn't mean the dog is Kennel Club registered, and just because they are registered doesn't mean they are health tested or come from good dogs.The KC registration is essential if you want to show or work your dog. Registration is not expensive so if they are not registered ask why. There are various reasons and excuses why a dog may not be registered , but ultimately if the parents are from good breeders themselves and are good enough to be parents there is no reason the puppies shouldn't be registered. You should not be charged extra for the registration !! You should also get a copy of the contract, information about feeding, worming, inoculations, training etc. The puppy should also come with a supply of or details of the food they are currently being fed,so you can continue when you get home, a sudden change in diet can cause digestive problems. A good breeder will impress on you that they are always available should you need help or advice as your puppy grows.
All of these points ( Except the breed specific health tests, breeding ages etc ) apply to all breeds, not just Malamutes.
If you find a bad breeder or one that you're really not sure of , Please WALK AWAY. If you buy a puppy from them you are not saving it, you are condemning more puppies to the same treatment, and the bitches to having yet another litter, probably at the next possible opportunity.
If people keep buying from these breeders they will keep producing puppies.
It is only by people learning what to look for and walking away from bad breeders that we will stop them.