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FAQ - Coat Genetics - color, markings, length & texture

I do not spend money on DNA tests for cosmetic characteristics like coat color or coat length.  Coat length is a cosmetic characteristic in the Lower 48, if not in the frozen North.  Another reason I don't spend the money, is because you can look at the puppies and usually TELL if they are Normal (LL) or Long-coat (ll) or Normal & a Long-coat carrier (Ll).  You can TELL what color they are.  It's fun genetics, because if you're wrong, it's no big deal... but you can learn a lot by playing the coat color and coat length guessing game...

This is a fun exercise and shouldn't be taken too seriously.  None of these traits carry genetic health problems with them, so it is fun without risk to speculate.  Genetic information is taken from Nicole Royer's magnificent Malamute Genetic Coat Colors website.  Mistakes are my own.

Part1: Coat & Pigment Color

The AMCA-approved AKC colors for Alaskan Malamutes:

Agouti & White 

Black & White 

Blue & White 

Gray & White 

Red & White 

Sable & White 

Seal & White

Silver & White


These color choices are irrational and unscientific.  Take the black-pigmented black-tipped guard coats -- Silver, Gray, Seal, Black, Sable, Agouti.  First, the difference between Silver and Gray is just one is lighter than the other, it could say light gray and dark gray, they are both gray.  Second, these color ranges also occur in red-pigmented, red tipped  guard coats.   Our choices there are..... Red.   

Sables can and do occur in every color palette -- so to be more accurate Gray Sable, Seal Sable, Red Sable, Agouti Sable, etc.

Blue is a dilute Gray.  But ALL colors have dilutes, so at least give us a Red Dilute - Creme.

It's ridiculous to lump all sables together, all agoutis together, and all reds together when we have separated the "black-pigmented black-tipped guard coats" into individual colors.  But there you are.  

Therefore a dog like Maestro who is registered as a Sable & White.  Which Sable, that doesn't tell us, gray sable, red sable, seal sable, agouti sable... 

I hope it's obvious the problems with these limited choices.  If still in doubt, check out a Rainbow of Malamute Colors.  For this litter, I will list the AKC color, the common name breeders use, and the genetic name from Nichole's website.  

Part2: Coat Markings

The Malamute "pattern" is dark on top and light on bottom (picture a dolphin).  This pattern is separate from the White Spotting Gene.  A Gray with no evidence of the white spotting gene still has an open face, white legs, white belly, & white under his tail.  When the white spotting gene takes action, you see EXTRA white -- stars, snippets, blazes, withers spots, half collars and collars, high white on the legs, broken bands of color on the chest,  white traveling up the side of the body, and large white tail tips.

The AMCA/AKC allows 2 markings to be registered:

Black Mask

Gray Mask

Sorry, but that's not really helpful, is it, when you consider the multitude of markings Malamutes come in.

Part3: Coat Length

We have a lot of choices here as well.  The 2 lengths are Normal and Long.  But each has modifiers to make them shorter, medium, or longer.  So Normal length coats can also be Normal short, Normal medium, and Normal long -- not a long-coat, just a LOT of coat.  Long-coats can be Long & short (I hate the language here, but there it is), Long & medium, and Long and Long -- we call the later yaks.  We haven't developed gene tests for modifyers, only Normal (LL), Long-coat (ll), and Normal with a Long-coat carrier (Ll).

Normal (LL) coats stand off from the body, they are stiff & harsh, and usually have very little leg coat and "skinny" tails.  They are very utilitarian in the South, weatherproof, shed out easily and are usually a breeze to keep clean because of the harshness of the coat and the natural oils in the coat.  This is a correct coat, so long as the guard coat is 1-2" longer than the undercoat.   

Normal & Long-coat carrier (Ll) coats stand off from the body, are stiff, harsh but generally WITH a little extra leg coat, a little extra ruff, a little extra plume in the tails.  They are NOT long, but they are big, showy harsh coats.  And this is the coat I prefer and strive for.  Most Wayeh dogs have Normal coats and are long-coat carriers.

Long-coats (ll) on adults do not usually stand off from the body, the hair is so long it tends to drape.  The tail feathers are usually EXTREME.  The coat texture can be either soft or harsh.  Both soft and harsh long-coats can also require more work than the harsh ones because they tangle and mat more easily.


Normal coats (LL) - no extra frills
(& have never thrown long-coats)

Wayeh Sings into the 
Mystic CGC "Luna"

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Artic Luv's Dancin' 
Bearfoot "Yogi"

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INT CH/AKC ptd Hudson's 
Notorious Nikko WTD "Nikko"

Normal coats who are LC carriers (Ll) - a little extra frill
(& all have produced long-coats)

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CH Wayeh Singn Follow 
Me Masasyu CGC RN 
WTD UWP "Sunny"

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Wayeh-Mystic Peace 
Train "Pax"

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INT CH Black Ice's
Heartbreak Hannah

The yaks... Long-coats (ll) - lots and lots and lots of frills everywhere 
and more than 1-2" of undercoat everywhere

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Sonny Boy

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Wayeh-Mystic Ring of Fire "Smoky"
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Herman & Eddie

And of course it doesn't MATTER if a dog is a LC carrier unless you are breeding her... <G>  


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Contact Wayeh    *    423-365-6039    *    Spring City, (East) Tennessee
Wayeh Alaskan Malamutes last updated 06/02/2012

Member Oak Ridge Kennel Club since 1996, member TN Working Dog Association since 2008

Temperament, health, structure, working ability, and then type --
because a good Malamute has to be a good dog first.