Alaskan Malamute History

HISTORY OF THE 
ALASKAN MALAMUTE

Origin

At least four thousand years ago, but very likely even earlier, the Eskimos crossed the Bering Straits when the tribes migrated East from the cold barren lands of Siberia. Arctic anthropology indicates the presence of Eskimo civilization at Cape Krusenstern as early as 1850 B.C.

Eskimo means "raw flesh eater" in the language of the Canadian Indians, the Eskimos referred to themselves as "Innuit" which means "the people." Culturally they are quite different from the other races in the New World; their history is mysterious and much of this surrounds the dog. Thus its history and early development are largely conjectural.

Early life for the Eskimo consisted of nomadic travel in extremely rigorous conditions. Dogs and sleds were essential to their way of life and were their most prized possessions. Without them travel and hauling would have been impossible.

Archaeological evidence indicates that sled dogs may have first been used no more than three to five hundred years ago, although they may have been used for dog-drawn sleds or as pack dogs before that time. The dogs also hunted polar bear and other Arctic mammals for food. They are extremely hardy dogs and have adapted to the extremely low temperatures commonplace in Alaska.

One thing is certain - the innate quality of the dog we know as the Alaskan Malamute and its superb adaptation to its environment.

The Malamute Eskimo

There are twenty native Alaskan languages, four are Eskimo. However, none were written down until the eighteenth century when Russian fur traders entered the country. The name Malamute applies to the regional dialect of the Alaskan Inupiaq Eskimos. The Malamute speaking tribe or tribes eventually settled in the Northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula.

It was here that the dogs we call Alaskan Malamutes are popularly supposed to have originated or to have settled after the great migration. Some early explorers also described similar dogs in coastal regions much further South. Obviously men and their dogs migrated to where there was most food. Fishing and game possibilities varied according to the weather and coastal areas may have had more to offer. This accounts for the apparent spread of the dog population to both North and South from the original settlements around Kotzebue Sound. Nonetheless, Malamute dogs of excellent type could be found in that area even up to the mid-1960's.

Malamute Eskimos, now known as Kuuvangmiut or Kobuk people, had a good standard of life, working hard and developing their dogs to a high level of strength, intelligence and reliability. People of the Malamute region are said to have fed dogs as often as they themselves ate on the trail. This humane treatment may account for the rather better temperament of the Alaskan Malamute as opposed to certain other Arctic sled dog breeds. When you consider that many working dogs were badly mistreated, underfed and over-used it should not be surprising that many Arctic dogs had bad dispositions.

The Malamute Eskimos bred only the best and most promising youngsters and treated their dogs well and evidently did not do a lot of breeding because of the lack of food. White men found it difficult to purchase Malamutes because of the high value placed upon them which explains the relatively small foundation to which we trace today's Malamutes.

The Alaskan Malamute's Roots

The Alaskan Malamute is a member of the Spitz group of dogs. This group is well represented in the world, including the Akita, Chow Chow, Elkhound, Finnish Spitz, and Samoyed to mention only a few. We may have the wandering merchants, explorers, and roving armies of yesteryear to thank for their wide distribution across the globe. However, until recently, the Alaskan Malamute has remained almost completely native to Alaska.

Some naturalists think that the Alaskan Malamute is a product of the early dog and domesticated wolf from centuries ago, whereas some Eskimo cultural experts and a number of Eskimo elders dismiss this idea, pointing out the anatomical differences between dog and wolf. One of the early Malamute breeders, Paul Voelker, believed the Alaskan Malamute to be the oldest breed on the North American continent and probably the breed longest associated with man. According to Voelker, bone and ivory carvings dated at twelve to twenty thousand years old show the Malamute essentially as he is today. Voelker is quoted as saying: "Don't forget that the Alaskan Malamute for untold generations was raised with the Eskimos, pups and kids on the floor together. I've seen little babies crawling in among the pups to nurse off the old mother dog."

The Gold Rush

When the Gold Rush began in 1896 prospectors discovered the need for sleds and dog teams. Teams became very expensive; it was normal to pay $1,500 for a small team and $500 for a good dog. The Alaskan Malamute was the most prized and respected team dog and his facial markings were much admired. However, the Alaskan Malamute breed could have been lost during this time of inter-breeding with smaller, faster dogs for racing and also with larger dogs such as the Saint Bernard for dog fighting and weight pulling. 

Despite this cross-breeding, the dogs quickly began to return to the Spitz type to which all Northern breeds belong. Even the first generation of cross-breeds tended to look more like the Spitz dog than the other half of their breeding. Within three generations there would be no sign of outside blood. Why would this be so? The Arctic type has been dominant for many centuries and obviously those dogs not inheriting the survival characteristics of the Arctic breeds would not be able to survive. Additionally, many Arctic dogs are "easy keepers" and require much less food than dogs of comparable size. It has been speculated that those dogs that did not inherit these qualities may well have starved on the rations normally given to the sled dogs. These differences can partially account for slight variations found in modern Alaskan Malamutes. They do not indicate any impure breeding in present day dogs, nor any departure from true type. 

The Three Basic Foundation Lines

The "Kotzebue" type

The first, called "Kotzebue", derived directly from Short Seeley's dogs. 

In 1923 a young teacher from Massachusetts happened to read a newspaper which spoke about them. She thought a team of sled dogs would be a real attraction in her town's carnival and so decided to get one. Eva Seeley, nicknamed "Short" because of her height, would never have imagined she would fall in love with those dogs and, with her husband Milton, she would become the most famous American breeder of Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. 

Eva got to know all the greatest sled dog champions of the period. It was thanks to her ability as a breeder (and a promoter) that the American Kennel Cub recognized the Siberian Husky in 1930 and the Alaskan Malamute in 1935. That year's "Book of Origins" saw the registration of the first official Malamute in history: Gripp of Yukon, who was to become the first American "Best of Breed" one year later. 

"Short" Seeley, since the very beginning of her activity, had bred more Siberians than Malamutes; in fact this breed was already dying out, together with its people. The Mahlemiut tribe lived almost exclusively by hunting and fishing; their main food was the caribou, but this animal had inexplicably moved away from Kotzebue toward the second half of the nineteenth century. Eva Seeley's Malamutes met honor and glory during Byrd's first expedition to Antarctica, and they were later "enrolled" in the army at the beginning of World War II; but they paid dearly for that glory: by the end of the war the breed was almost wiped out. 

The registration of the Mal by the AKC was credited mainly to the Seeleys, Arthur Walden and Allan Alexander because of their big enthusiasm and a lot of work they had done to help to the breed. At Arthur Walden, who have owned dogs of the resembling type (this Alaskan Malamutes haven't looked like today ones), Alexander met Eve Seeley and showed her one of his dogs and he said that this dog is the true type of the Alaskan load dog. The dog didn't have any name, so they gave him one: Rowdy of Nome.

Arthur Waldon

Later, they had successfully obtained more dogs resembling type of Rowdy of Nome: A bitch Bessie and male Yukon Jad. From their mating, 4 puppies were born in 1929: The males Tugg, Gripp, Finn and Kersage of Yukon. It was the first litter that arose from equal breeding material. Litters from the Seeleys' kennel "Chinook”, which were bred from these dogs, established a basis for the Kotzebue line. Dogs from Chinook have taken part in two Antarctic expeditions and were trained and transported for these purposes by the Seeleys. The true and purebred Kotzebue dogs are always grey and white, not too tall; they are less irritable and aggressive and are more active. 

His association with Malamutes began when Arthur left Wonalancet for Alaska with only his collie, Shirley, for company. Living in the Yukon Territory, he found the dog-freighting business highly profitable and soon became a respected sledge driver. Shirley, however, suffered in the severe cold, so Walden made a quick trip home to drop her off with Kate, his 

Chinook

wife. By the time he got back to the Yukon, the Gold Rush had caused great changes. People were everywhere, and Dawson had grown into a city where life and property had to be watched carefully. Unhappy with this turn of events, Arthur Walden finally returned to marry Kate in 1902. 

He saw a great potential for sled dogs in the woods of New Hampshire and harnessed his St Bernard mixes to a sled to give rides to people in the area and guest at his inn. Walden had many breeds on his teams, including some Husky-types, but he ultimately wanted a breed that had endurance, strength, tremendous power, and a friendly nature. 

In 1917, he had three yellow pups from a breeding of his male "Kim", a St. Bernard mix, to Ningo, a direct descendent of Admiral Peary's lead dog Polaris. Walden named one of the puppies "Chinook". Because of his size, power, strength and intelligence, Walden felt "Chinook" would be the start of his line of sled dog. He bred females with Shepherd backgrounds to Chinook and used only tawny colored puppies like the sire to continue the line. As Chinook's progeny were trained to harness, Arthur and his dogs, with "Chinook" as leader, began promoting sled dogs and sled dog racing in New England. 

When he heard about a proposed expedition to the South Pole in 1927, the urge to explore was too much. At fifty-six, he was over the maximum age, but he and "Chinook" took the  train to Boston to meet with Commander Richard E. Byrd. He left this meeting as lead driver and trainer of the dog for the first Byrd Expedition.

Short Seeley

While she was helping organize her home town's winter carnival in 1923, Eva Brunelle (soon to be Seeley) 
happened upon a newspaper article featuring the Chinook Team in Gorham, New Hampshire's winter carnival. She decided that they were just the attraction the Worchester carnival needed and immediately arranged for two teams to appear there. One of the teams was Arthur Walden's. 

When her turn came to ride across the snow-covered golf course, Eva was in Walden's sled. Suddenly, the dogs saw a cat and took off. Walden overturned the sled to stop them, hurt his hand, and was quite anxious about his passenger. His concern, it turned out, was unfounded, the diminutive Eva was absolutely thrilled. Arthur Walden did not just turn over his sled, he turned the course of the Seeley's lives. 

Arthur Waldon

Before and after their marriage, Eva and Milton went visitors to the Walden's Inn. They often assisted, arranging, nighttime sled rides and special dinners. They even spent their honeymoon in 1924 at the Inn. Arthur gave them Nook, a Chinook son.

Several years later when he was in New York to speak at a charity event, Arthur Walden visited the Seeleys. When he learned of Milton Seeley's poor health and forced winter vacation, Walden persuaded the couple to move to Wonalancet. Preparation for the Byrd Antarctic Expedition were in full swing, and Walden would need someone to help with the kennels after he left for Antarctica.

Since Walden's sixteen Chinooks were hardly enough to supply the expedition, additional dogs had to be obtained. Others dogs were brought from Alaska by visitors to Chinook, among them another legend in the sled-racing world, Alan Alexander "Scotty" Allen. As they were sorting through the dogs, he called Eva Seeley over, pulling out two dogs that were larger than Siberian Huskies and 

Team of Chinook

told her , "This is what the large sled dog of Alaska should look like". He said he wished he had been more familiar with them when he was running his All-Alaska teams. 

Eva was particularly attracted to a dog called "Rowdy", although his name was hardly characteristic of his personality. Allen had purchased him from a Nome couple who had found him and believed him stolen. Although he was their pet, the dog had sledding experience and was a good teammate with scrappy dogs because of his sweet, gentle disposition. 

Rowdy of Nome

In addition of Rowdy, the Byrd expedition took with it " a dozen or more large freighting dogs resembling Rowdy", which led the Seeleys to suspect that such dogs existed as a group if not a breed. Eva Seeley was fascinated by the big dog whose gentle temperament belied his wolf-like appearance. With this introduction, the    idea of the Alaskan Malamute as a breed took hold. 

The first Malamutes are born 
Left to their own devices with Walden's departure to Antarctica, the Seeleys began searching for other examples of the larger sled dogs. Their involvement in sledding had put then in close contact with other people active in breeding and racing Siberian Huskies. On a visit to Elizabeth Nansen's Poland Springs Kennel, the Seeleys came upon "YukonJad", a dog from Dawson in Canada's Yukon Territory. Out of "Grey Cloud" and " Pearl", the dog had been bred by Franck Gough and whelped in April 1927. "Grey Cloud" was owned by another Dawson couple, Frank and Laura Berton. Sold to tourists as a pet, "Jad" ended up with Leonhard Seppala when his new owners left on a long European tour. Because he was now racing and raising only Siberians with 

Gripp of Yukon, Finn of Yukon
Kearsage of Yukon, Eva Seeley

Mrs. Nansen at her kennel, Seppala had no interest in the slower freighting-type dogs. Knowing that the Seeleys did, he gave them "Yukon Jad". 

"Jad" was the sire of the first Chinook Malamutes and was a strong dog of wolf-gray color. Like "Rowdy", his erect ears were low-set, and his harsh coat, plume tail, and heavy bone, made him the type of dog the Seeleys wanted to breed. Before his departure, Arthur Walden had given the Seeleys a bitch "Bessie", whose ancestry was unknown. Her former owner said he had purchased her from an Alaskan. Although she was small at 54 pounds, "Bessie" exemplified freighting stock. She had a characteristic Malamute coat which was harsher than a Siberian's, yet not bear-like, as an Eskimo Dog's. "Bessie" was gray with white legs and a slight mask. Mrs. Seeley particularly admired her "broad head, erect ears, and an EXCELLENT snowshoe foot". 

The Seeleys bred "Yukon Jad" to "Bessie" and whelped the first litter of Alaskan Malamutes as a proper breed in 1929. The four puppies looked remarkably alike and were named: "Tugg of Yukon", "Gripp of Yukon", "Finn of      Yukon", and "Kearsarge of Yukon". "Tugg" was lost, and "Kearsarge" died on the second Antarctic Expedition. 

"Gripp of Yukon" went on to the show ring to become the first Alaskan Malamute champion, but he was a worker not just a "pretty face". "Gripp" lived to be 16 years old. Mrs. Seeley said she liked his "broad head, well-set ears, and tough, harsh coat. He just looked like what we thought a malamute should be".

American Kennel Club Recognition

Theirs encounters with "Rowdy" and "Yukon Jad", so similar in type and function, inspired the Seeley's dream of an American breed - the Alaskan Malamute. The acquisition of "Bessie" and her litter by "Jad", were the first steps in the fulfillment of that dream. 

The Seeleys approached the president of the AKC, Charles Inglee, about breed 

Yukon Jad

recognition. The AKC was concerned that these dogs were just a variant of the Eskimo dog, and sent several people to look at "Bessie" and compare her to the Eskimo dogs in the area. To further convince the AKC that the breed actually existed as such, the Seeleys secured an affidavit from Jad's breeder, Franck Gough, stating that the dog was an Alaskan Malamute and providing a signed, two-generation pedigree. The two breeds were deemed sufficiently different to warrant Bessie's trial breeding with "Jad". 

Charles Inglee explained that the AKC would give recognition only on a tentative basis. Dogs of uniform quality would have to be shown in the Miscellaneous class until sufficient numbers were registered with the parent club to merit the AKC's opening up their stud book to the breed. To further interest in the breed and to educate the public and judges,  

Finn et Kearsage

he suggested that at least six dogs be entered in every possible show for exhibition only. 

In keeping with his advice, the Nordic fanciers joined together and entered seven each of Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Samoyeds for exhibition at the famous Morris and Essex show. This exposure aroused a great deal of interest in the breeds.

Because so much of the early breed history centers around the Seeleys, assuming that the converse is true seems quite natural, but the Seeleys' business was supplying and training sled dogs. To this end, they bought and bred all types of dogs for sled work, not just Alaskan Malamutes. The value of the dog to expeditions was based on their ability, and the Seeleys had an outlet for every working dog they produced, regardless of its pedigree. Their interest in the purebred aspect of their dogs was a sideline. 

As a result, breeding done for their business were often distinctly different form breeding done to further the Alaskan Malamute as a breed. That difference lay in their registration of the dogs; crossbred dogs were never registered or used for show or breeding. Even within Malamute breeding, only those dogs that they considered representative of the breed were used for further breeding, and they might never be registered if their siblings were not of good type. 

An example of this practice was the breeding of "Holly" to Ch. Gripp Of Yukon. Born in Antarctica, "Holly" was a veteran of the geological expedition that returned to 

Gripp of Yukon

Chinook. "Gripp" was a son of "Yukon Jad" and "Bessie". Their litter was born June 1, 1932, but the Seeleys did not register any of the puppies although they did keep one, "Akeela of Kotzebue", for breeding. 

Eva Seeley described "Akeela" as being a "good Malamute type; grey and white with brown eyes and cap markings on a broad head with medium-set ears. She had a harsh coat and plume tail. Like her mother, "Akeela" was small, weighting about 55 pounds, gentle, and intelligent". Her breeding to "Rowdy" produced "Taku of Kotzebue", an important brood bitch for Chinook. 

Another female important to the Seeleys' early breeding was also named "Taku". Heavy-boned and dark grey, "Taku" was large for a female. She had an excellent head with a mask. Her pedigree shows she was inbred on "Yukon Jad". She was one of many Chinook dogs sent on the second Byrd expedition, which is probably why she was called "Antarctica Taku" ( or "Taku of Antarctica", depending of the source). 

During Byrd Admiral Expedition I (BAE I), the Seeleys were just "getting their feet wet". By the time BAE II had departed, they were experienced hands and could turn more of their attention to their Malamutes. They needed more dogs, so they wrote letters to residents of Alaska and Canada, as well as explorers and travelers in the area. From correspondence and discussions with these people, they refined their picture of the ideal Alaskan Malamute. 

In a comparatively short time the Seeleys were able to develop a line which 

Seeley, Gripp, Finn

produced a uniform type of dog. Fundamental to this end was careful selection of breeding stock, using only dogs of similar appearance and strict evaluation of the progeny. 

Of great significance to both the Seeley's choices and to the quality of the Alaskan Malamute was the dogs' participation on various expeditions. This provided both a proving ground for the dogs' working ability and a selection method without compromise or sentiment. 

Where littermates demonstrated uniformity of type, the puppies were registered. When the puppies showed a variety of type, they were not registered although an individual dog of merit might be retained for breeding. Applied repeatedly, these selection criteria resulted in a line of great genetic strength, easily recognized as the Seeleys'.

The now-adult puppies from Antarctica , Cleo and Wray were each bred only once; Wray to Ch. Gripp Of Yukon to produce Pandora of Kotzebue , and Cleo , to Yukon Blizzard , a son of Jad and 

Toro of Bras Coupe

Bessie , to produce Kotzebue Cleopatra . There are behind Ch. Toro of Bras Coupe , one of the breed's foundation sires. A study of his pedigree shows how there early dogs were entwined to produce a dog of genetic prepotency. 

The Seeleys finally settled on Kotzebue as a Malamute kennel name. Dogs that had served with Byrd had Antarctica as a kennel name - sometimes before, sometimes after the name. By the 1950s, Mrs. Seeley settled into a more regular pattern and named Malamutes with Kotzebue as a prefix and of Chinook as suffix.

The M'Loot type

M’Loots and Kotzebues were quite different: pure Kotzebues had a beautiful head, but were short in height and were a single colour, wolf grey. M'Loots were taller but had narrower chests, long ears and pointed snouts. Besides, as their rear leg angles were less marked, their gait was not as free as today's Malamutes'. Unlike Kotzebues, M'Loots had a wide variety of colors, including red. Finally, M'Loots' tended to be a little aggressive, while Kotzebues' temperament was sweeter. 

Paul Voelker

The two lines were not crossbred for a long time until Robert Zoller, the owner of Husky-Pak Kennels, decided to try and obtained outstanding results. Since then, the two lines have increasingly intermingled, and almost every modern pedigree includes them both.

This line was established by Paul Voelker and it's still found in many kennels. Dogs from this line are still common especially in the Middle Western USA. Although the main Voelker's interest belonged to Alaskan Malamutes, he worked with little diverse types and he didn't endeavor to register his dogs with the AKC. Typical   M'Loot dogs are bigger, and comes in many different colors (such as grey and white, black and white, seal, sable, red and white, brown and white or pure white). 

The recognition afforded Eva Seeley by the AKC had made her the final authority on what constituted an Alaskan Malamute. All the Alaskan Malamutes registered by the AKC before 1950 were "Kotzebue" dogs, 

Gentleman Jim

descendants of the Seeley's dogs from Chinook Kennels. However, they were not by any means the only dogs referred to as Malamutes or considered so by their owners. Many of these people had purchased their dogs from Paul Voelker, who had been selling what he called "Alaskan Malamutes" for years. 

During the days of the Gold Rush, Paul's father, Georges Voelker, supplemented his income as a Michigan woodsman by buying up dogs and sending them to Alaska. Paul spent a good share of his life raising and training dogs and other animals. Although he had worked with many breeds, by his own admission Paul was always looking for something else. He found it, ironically, in the same native dogs of Alaska that his father's earlier exports had almost supplanted. 

At the same time the Seeleys were acquiring and breeding dogs to establish 

Noma

their Kotzebue Malamutes at Chinook, Voelker was acquiring dogs for his M'Loot Kennels in Marquette, Michigan. These "Malamutes", as Voelker spelled it, came from many sources, including teams sold to Hollywood for use in movies. He also traveled to Alaska and brought dogs back. One breeding pair, "Dude's Wolf" and "Dodge's Lou", he acquired from the army at Camp Rimini, Montana, after neither made one of the sled teams. 

In 1930, he obtained some dogs from Charles Nickerson who had moved to Duluth, Minnesota, from New Hampshire. Among these were some Mackenzie River Huskies. Two more females which were sired by a white Eskimo dog from Churchill, Manitoba, were obtained from Mike West of Hovland, Minnesota. 

Voelker's M'Loot dogs were somewhat different from the Malamutes being bred at Chinook Kennels. He accepted a much wider range of Arctic dogs for breeding stock than did the Seeleys, and instead of selling locally, his promotional marketing put his dogs in homes across the country from Florida to Seattle and Nova Scotia to California. 

Aside from Voelker himself, several kennels formed around key M'Loot dogs, using them as foundation stock for their breeding programs. Behind many of these dogs was Voelker's breeding of the two Camp Rimini dogs,

Mikiuk

Master Otter

"Dude's Wolf" and his great-grandmother, "Dodge's Lou". Out of it came Fox; Smoke, owned by Earl Hammond; and Gentleman Jim, owned by Angel Pelletier. Gentleman (sometimes Gentlemen) Jim is especially influential in modern pedigrees. "Tora" was out of "Jim" and a female named "Lucky". "Tosha" and "Jim" produced a female knows as " Tonga ", who did not have enough points for registration before the stud book closed. Like "Wolf" and "Lou", another breeding pair often seen at the back of old pedigrees is "Silver King" and "Silver Girl", whose offspring include the "Noma". 

King M'Loot

Ooloo M'Loot

Out of a different breeding of Voelker's came "Mikiuk", an extremely influential early M'Loot. He was owned by Ralph and Marchetta Schmitt of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. They owned or used many of the M'Loot dogs which can still be traced back in today's pedigrees. Dogs from their "Silver Sled" kennel still appear in many pedigrees today. The breeding of "Mikiuk" and "Noma" was historic, producing two champions of importance, "Ch. Mulpus Brook's Matter Otter", and the first champion female in the breed, the great "Ch Ooloo M'Loot". They were bred by Voelker and the Schmitts and owned by the Schmitts. The lovely female, "Chitina", bred by E. Traphagen and owned by Kenneth Smith, was produced by another line breeding, this time, "Schmoos (M'Loot)" and "Tora". 

Nanook (Nahnook) was out of "Fox". Nanook's influence was extended through his son "Nanook II". Line breeding on "Dodge's Lou" and "Kazan" continued to establish M'Loot type. Nanook's half-brother 

Moosecat M'Loot

out of "Fox" was the early M'Loot champion, "Ch. King M'Loot", 
who in turn produced "Ch. Zorro of Silver Sled" with "Tosha of Silver Sled". 

When the Schmitts crossed "Nannok" (Nahnook) to "Ooloo", the breeding produced both "Ch. Nannok II" and "Ch. Gyana". Inbreeding on "Nanook II" produced "Silver Sled Cabara" and "Pancho". The offspring of various combinations of these early M'Loots became foundation dogs for many later kennels. Their lines were interwoven with other strains to provide many of today's Malamutes. 

Gyana et Nanook

"Moosecat M'Loot" became a foundation sire for many kennels, including "Husky-Pak" and "Red Horse". One of his sister was "Cheechako M'Loot". 

The Hinman-Irwin type

Many of the men who returned home from Alaska to settle down brought a special team dog back with them. Although some of these were Malamutes, many passed their lives as companions and were not 

Hinman's Alaska

significant to the breed as whole. Notable exceptions to this were the few dogs owned by Dick Hinman and Dave Irwin, now referred to as the Hinman-Irwin dogs. 

Robert Zoller began looking for Alaskan Malamutes by visiting Chinook Kennels. After seeing the dogs, Zoller told Moulton that while he liked the look of them, he felt the Kotzebue Malamutes were too small. Moulton sent him to Dick Hinman. Of his meeting with Hinman, Zoller wrote : "Dick Hinman was a barber and when I got there, he was in the middle of  

Spawn's Alaska

giving somebody a haircut. There weren't many Malamute people in those days, and I guess he was just as happy as I was to talk to someone about them. He sent me around back his kennel where he had these two dogs. I looked up this hill, and there were two of the most impressive Malamutes I've ever seen in my life. They were chained, and I knew this was what I thought a Malamute should look like. Hinman had a litter and told me that one was the sire of the litter and the other grand-father." 

The father of the litter was "Hinman's Alaska" and the grandfather was  

Black Hawk

Banshee of Husky-Pak

"Irwin's Gemo" (also seen on pedigrees as "Erwin's" and "Gimo" or "Chimo"). Gemo's parents, "Igloo" and "Lynx", were brought form the baker Lake area of Canada by David Irwin.

Like many dogs who ended up in New England, "Gemo" worked on a resort dog team owned by Craig Burt at Ranch Camp in Stowe, Vermont. Dick Hinman drove the team when not plying his trade, and used "Gemo" for breeding. Later, "Gemo" was sold to Lowell Thomas, a famous writer and adventurer of the day.

Zoller felt the Hinman-Irwin dogs compared favorably with dogs of both the Seeley's and Voelker's breeding. Also, the Hinman-Irwin dogs were similar to each other, yet slightly different in type form the M'Loots and Kotzebues. These dogs contributed an extra dash of quality to the breeding programs of several kennels. Of particular significance was the breeding of "Irwin's Gemo" and "Hinman's Sitka", which produced "Kiska". Through her two sons, "Hinman's  

Buccaneer of Husky-Pak

Apache Chief of Husky-Pak

Alaska", and "Ch. Spawn's Alaska", came foundation dogs for several important kennels. 

The Hinman-Irwin dogs are often referred to as a "third strain", the other being "Kotzebue" and "M'Loot". However, Robert Zoller qualifies this by saying "like," since too few were ever bred to justify identifying them as a strain. 

Few dogs came from this line, but it still has a big impact on the quality of the breed. It has been created by mating the M'Loot dogs with the Kotzebue lines. The breeding basis of "Husky-Pak Kennel"

Artic Storm of Husky-Pak

Mikya of Seguin

owned by the Zoller's, have played the biggest role in this line's breeding program because it provided an excellent representatives of the Alaskan Malamutes and produced many champion and foundation dogs for the breed.Their best dog, Ch. Cliquot of Husky-Pak became the official symbol of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America. This line is very rare today.

New Directions

By 1950, the American Kennel Club became alarmed at decrease in registered Alaskan Malamutes. Chinook’s ranks had been depleted by the war. Eva Seeley's concern for the breed had kept her from selling breeding stock indiscriminately, so only a handful of registered Malamutes were in outside breeding kennels. She had very few dogs, as was true of most other kennels.

Cliquot of usky Pak

Purchasing dogs from Alaska was no longer a viable possibility. The flurry of invention and innovation that arose after the war had a profound effect on the native Alaskan dogs. There, the very real threat of Japanese invasion had made a system of roads to reach military bases necessary. Many of these were built over the old mail team trail linking the isolated villages of Alaska and Canada . Just as the roads replaced the sled trails, trucks, trains, and motorized sleds gradually replaced the sturdy freighting dogs who had travelled them. As a result, the native population of dogs began to decrease. 

Cochise

Despite the advances in motorized transportation, polar bases still kept service dogs for search and rescue and occasional sled work. Although this was laudable service, a dog in Antarctica or at a weather station was unavailable for breeding in the United States . 

When the "base stock" of registered Alaskan Malamutes dropped to thirty dogs, the American Kennel Club took action and reopened the stud book for further registrations. Many of the AMCA members and, of course, Eva Seeley, were aware that other people owned unregistered dogs that they called Malamutes, but none of the AMCA members considered these dogs representative of the breed. They were understandably resentful and 

Cheyenne

bitter at the action of the AKC. 

On the other hand, the owners of the M'Loot and Hinman-Irwin dogs were delighted. They considered their dogs true Alaskan Malamutes and had been eagerly waiting in the wings for confirmation of their belief. In their view, the new registration had to be earned and was not granted on just one person's authority. 

To gain registration, the newcomers had to pay an additional listing fee and show the unregistered dog until it had ten points. The owner then could apply for registration by sending a picture of the dog with a front, back, and side view. Although none of the dogs owned solely by Paul Voelker, Dick Hinman, or Dave Irwin were ever registered, many people who bought their dogs or bred from them succeeded in winning a place in the Stud Book. 

After 1950, the Alaskan Malamute began evolving into a mixture of Kotzebue and M'Loot with a dash of Hinman-Irwin thrown in for spice. The diversity of the M'Loots challenged the uniformity of the Kotzebue dogs. After an adjustment period, the additions did strengthen and improve the breed. 

Not only did M'Loot owners begin showing, they also began joining the national club. They wanted a say in the breed, and this caught the Kotzebue camp on the horns of a dilemma. Eva Seeley and her supporters were quite upset over the inclusion of the M'Loots. At the best they considered them incorrect; at worst, another breed altogether. They certainly were not interested in sharing their breed club with interlopers. 

On the other hand, they were determined to achieve AKC membership status for the AMCA, if for no other reason than to avoid surprises like the reopening of the Stud Book. One requirement was a growing, viable club, but AMCA's rosters had been growing very slowly. 

Although the schism continued for decades, membership continued to grow. New people entered the breed, showed their dogs, and joined the national club. Some stayed with their original type of dog, but others branched out, trying new combinations. Among theses innovators were the Zollers of Husky-Pak Kennels. Their combination of the various strains began the process that would ultimately change the shape of the breed. 

During the war, the young naval officer Robert Zoller was very impressed with a dog he saw in Argentina , Newfoundland. He was told it was an Alaskan Malamute. "I was fascinated by this appearance of fierceness and power, and yet the gentle disposition that the dog had". Later he and his wife Laura discovered the Malamute was actually an AKC-recognized breed. They wrote for the names of some breeders which is how Robert ended up talking to Dick Moulton and visiting Dick Hinman. 

Zoller was very impressed by the two dogs there, "Irwin's Gemo" and his son, "Hinman's Alaska". Seeing them convinced him to buy his new puppy, "Kayak of Brookside". 

The Zollers decided they needed a second dog to keep the active "Kayak" company. Under consideration were a M'Loot female from Seguin, Texas, sired by "Moosecat M'Loot" bred to "Eyak", a daughter of "Mikiuk" and "Tosha" and a show-quality male and female, both at Hazel Wilton's kennel. 

When they could not make up their minds, they decided to buy all three. The dogs became "Ch. Husky-Pak Mikya of Seguin", "Ch. Apache Chief of Husky-Pak (Geronimo) and "Ch. Arctic Storm of Husky-Pak", respectively. All their registrations were achieved through showing. The Zollers bred "Kayak" both to "Mikya" and "Arctic Storm's", who was a daughter of "Ch. Spawn's Alaska". "Milya's" litter was not so satisfactory, but "Arctic Storm's" "B" litter had "Buccaneer", "Black Hawk", and "Banshee", all of which became champions. "Geronimo" went best of breed the first time he stepped into the ring. He was just as accomplished a sire, producing three champions in each of his three litters, which is an impressive achievement for any dog. 

Bob Zoller was well aware of the differences between the M'Loot and Kotzebue dogs, as well as the strong rivalry between the two camps that at times blossomed into antagonism. His first dogs were definitely more M'Loot in appearance. "Geronimo" was 27 inches at the shoulder (68 cm) and weighed 115 pounds (52 kg), a far cry from the biggest of the Kotzebue dogs. 

Zoller saw virtues in both the M'Loot and Kotzebue dogs. As well, he felt they 

Husky-Pak Echako

Husky-Pak Erok

both had major faults; they sat at opposite extremes. "The M'Loot dogs didn't look AT ALL like the Kotzebue dogs. They were SO different. The Kotzebues were a little too short and squat, I thought". While they had very good rears, heads muzzles, and ear sets, a few were too wide in the front like bulldogs, resulting in their being out-at-the-elbows. 

Another asset for the Kotzebue dogs was the way the Seeley's had set their type. As Zoller said "They were a little more LIKE each other; type and more 'fixed'". 

On the other hand, the M'Loots were much larger, and often too rangy. "Stringy" in appearance, many had good fronts but bad rears with cow hocks, a lack of angulations, and what Zoller calls a "square" rear. This gave some of them a silted gait. 

The two lines varied in temperament also. The Kotzebue were less likely to be fighters and more easily stopped if they did fight. 

Although Zoller felt very fortunate to have started with the "Hinman/Irwin" dogs, he is quick to point out that Hinman, Irwin, and Voelker were quite different from the Seeleys in their approach to breeding. Of the former three, he said he felt they were not "the kind of guys that would take a real studied approach to the dog; to their history, or background or breeding, and so on. It was kind of like they were guys that just accidentally had a dog, or two or three". 

Robert Zoller

He credited the presence of the "Hinman/Irwin" dogs in his pedigree with giving some balance to the M'Loots and making a better overall dog. Still, he admired the look of the Kotzebue dogs and was actively seeking one for use in breeding. 

Someone, he thinks Roy Truchon of Roy-El Kennels, wrote him saying that he had seen the dog that Zoller need with handlers in Nebraska. Coincidentally, the Zollers had already turned down buying the dog for the same reason that they turned down "Ch. Spawn's Alaska" - too many males. The dog was "Toro of Bras Coupe", and Zoller immediately wrote to Earl Norris and had the dog shipped to him for breeding to "Arctic Storm". 

That breeding was the sort of "click" that often happens when two dogs of different inbred lines are bred together. One puppy of the six was never shown, the rest went on to finish championships with a show record that is still enviable : Ch Cliquot of Husky-Pak" CDX; Ch. Cheyenne of Husky-Pak; Ch. Cochise of Husky-Pak; Ch. Comanche of Husky-Pak; and Ch. Cherokee of Husky-Pak. 

Robert Zoller

Unfortunately, both "Arctic Storm" and "Comanche" contracted hard pad distemper at a show and died. This tragedy left the Zollers without a breeding partner for "Toro", but they did have "Arctic Storm's" brother. To try the same thing in reverse, the Zollers bought a female from Norris's, "Kelerak of Kobuk", out of the brother/sister breeding of "Toro" to "Helen". "Kelerak" bred to "Apache Chief" produced "Husky-Pak Eagle", "Ch. Husky-Pak Echako", "Ch. Husky-Pak Erok". These crosses continued to produce well, not only for the Zollers but for breeders across the country. After so many successes, the Zollers decided to retire from breeding and showing. Their decision was based in large part on the desire to keep only as many dogs as they could comfortably accommodate as house pets. 

While Robert and Laura Zoller were busy raising their dogs and children, other M'Loot owners were going their own ways. Some remained loyal to their original lines, but the success of the Zoller's crosses could not be ignored. A few repeated Zoller's M'Loot-Kotzebue cross, but many found using the Husky-Pak dogs more palatable. 

References:

The Alaskan Malamute - Yesterday and Today By Barbara A. Brooks and Sherry E. Wallis, Ed.

Today, the Alaskan Malamute is one of the most popular Nordic breeds. It is a combination of all three strains and it is difficult if not impossible to find "pure" anything. All are a mixture of all three. There are a few breeders that doggedly are trying to keep the Kotzebue strain pure as well as one breeding pure M'Loots. Everything else has been tossed like salad into the mix and has created the Malamute we see today. The breed has spread from North America to almost all countries of the world. There are Alaskan Malamutes in Europe, Australia and Africa. Fortunately, though the hard work of a few people, the Alaskan Malamute was saved from disappearing altogether and through the careful breeding has been improved into the dog it is today - a great family pet with most of the survival characteristics it would still need to survive in the Alaska wilderness. The breed has spread from North America to almost all countries of the world. We can find Alaskan Malamutes in Europe, Australia and also Africa. Without the help of a few people, who’s had a love and enthusiasm for the breed, and some circumstances, the Mal would probably vanish forever like many other breeds. Almost no one would know the name of the Malamute. So it is necessary to regard these people who devoted and dedicated their lives to this beautiful animal with the kindness of your heart.

banner



© Beartooth Mountain Malamutes 2017