Unless you live way out in the boondocks and have no neighbors, Alaskan Malamutes should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their mournful howling will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance, or quietly letting your dog out of his yard so he'll disappear.
The rugged Alaskan Malamute is a working dog, best suited to people who love the great outdoors. He plays vigorously and is most content when pulling or packing a load (sledding, ski-joring, weight pulling, backpacking), especially in cold weather. This breed should not be kept in a hot climate.
Alaskan Malamutes have an independent mind of their own. They can be manipulative, willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them that you mean what you say. To teach your Malamute to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Alaskan Malamute Training Page discusses the program you need.
The Alaskan Malamute features a powerful, sturdy body built for stamina and strength. It reigns as one of the oldest dog breeds whose original looks have not been significantly altered. This intelligent canine needs a job and consistent leadership to avoid becoming bored or challenging to handle.
An Alaskan Malamute diet should be formulated for a large-sized breed with high energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your Malamute and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
Though they instinctively love to work, Alaskan Malamutes are difficult to train in the home. Independent and willful dogs, a patient, consistent hand is needed when working with this breed. They like to be in charge, so the moment they see an opening to manipulate a situation, Malamutes will take it.
Their high endurance level made them the ideal choice for sled races and northern expeditions. Admiral Byrd famously used Alaskan Malamutes in his North Pole expeditions because of their high energy and endurance levels. They are also used in search and rescue missions across the north, including avalanche missions.
I have a giant Al Mal- she doesn't even try to jump our 3ft fence(she is huge,over 60kg, but not fat,tall and slim)- I have a very large yard with no holes- and as a guard dog-hopeless, like most Mals she is a stranger lover. Her breeder has 5ft fences, only one of his males jump-and only when a bitch is on heat-he has not had any problem with escapees. This sounds like a Husky description not Mals. They do however like to pull- but are easy to train to "wait". And NEVER, NEVER let them off leash, unless they are well trained to return on command.
The basic thing you must know about a Malamute is that you can train one to do just about anything, but whether or not they actually obey is up to them, not you. Sled dogs are out front, the musher is in the back, and that is 5000 years of built in decision making in thier blood. They view commands as suggestions and the believe they have veto power because they are not, for example, going to go out on that ice if they sense danger no matter what the musher does. Its just the way they are, and if you cant handle a dog that will not always obey you and not care about the consequenses of not obeying, move on. That being said, a Malamute can be the greatest friend you will ever have. Also keep in mind that pound for pound, a Malamute is one of the stongest animals on the planet, stronger than any other draft animal including horses, oxen, and even elephants.You have to establish a relationship where you can persuade the dog to do what you want, and that may involve food bribery. Food is thier weakness.
Amanda Bissell Whiteley
They are highly intelligent -- just not if you gauge "intelligence" by dependence and submission. Basically, it is a lot like having an 85 lb. cat -- or perpetual 14 year old boy. Not a beginner's dog but irreplaceable for those of us who get hooked on them.
Sonia Clark Stewart
Love the Mal, I'm on my third female, I remember her as a large fur ball who clamped down on my male Springer Spaniel's when it was time to take a walk. She'd wait her turn when I'd hand out treats but block poor Syrus from getting to his bowls. Syrus was very vocal and she was his silent partner. He is no longer with us but she just lays at the front door so she doesn't miss greeting us home.
Malamutes are an independent, high energy, hard working, high prey drive, high shedding, intolerant of heat breed. If you really think you want one maybe try fostering one for a rescue organization, dogsitting one if you know anyone who has one, or generally getting any experience with them or dogs in general (fostering, volunteering to walk/clean for a shelter or transport dogs for a rescue, going to a dog training/sports place and observing some classes or volunteering at their events just to meet some dogs/people).
If you can't even say what you really like about them, I would advise against getting one.
South Florida is not an ideal climate for an Alaskan Malamute. The shedding will be insane. Also, malamutes are known to be fairly difficult to train, and require someone with considerable experience and dedication. They are also a very high energy breed requiring lots of exercise. Which does not mean walking, or jogging. Exercise for working breeds means off leash running, or hiking with a loaded pack, or something similar. When walking on leash, malamutes can be trained not to pull, but it is difficult, and when they do pull they pull with lots, and lots, and lots of force. They are can be very hard to control for smaller people such as some women. And to top it off they cost around $1,000 from a decent breeder (comparatively thats reasonable, but still).
All in all, for a first time dog owner in south florida with a mostly 9-5 family schedule, the Alaskan Malamute is a very poor choice of breed.
I would recommend you watch a bunch of animal planets "dogs 101" videos about various breeds on youtube. They are short simple videos, but they do help to narrow down the breed search quickly and painlessly.
The great thing about the Malamute is that they are a slower, calmer, lower-energy alternative to a Siberian Husky if you don't mind the size. They do not have the same exercise requirements and are just as happy to be cuddling on the couch as they are to be going for a leisurely jog. They are a medium-energy dog so they do still love their exercise, but they are not as nuts as your typical Sibe.
The downside to the Malamute is that they are still a primitive breed, highly intelligent but difficult to train, somewhat stubborn, noisy (not as bad as a husky though!), and opinionated. They are not biddable - they are just as smart as a lab or a border collie, but if you tell them to do something, they'll first look to see what benefit is in it for them and if it isn't good enough, they will ignore you. They dig. They don't try to jump fences so much because they are heavily-built draft dogs, but they will dig holes under your fence and get out if they can. They are NOT suitable for first-time dog owners. While they are more forgiving than their smaller cousins, they aren't forgiving enough.
But they are friendly. They were used as much for companionship as they were for freighting back in the day and could be trusted with the children of the native Alaskan tribes that originally bred them. They are people-friendly. Strangers? Love them. People walking up to your front door? Dog wants to meet them and give kisses. They aren't the kind that barks when somebody rings the doorbell. They are absolutely terrible guard dogs because they are much too interested in being everyone's friend so if that's one of the reasons you want to get one, you're out of luck.
Also, yeah, the hair. The heat, the humidity. Not a good mix.