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FAQ - Long-coats @ Wayeh

Watch 2 brothers grow up

justice-9y.jpg (31678 bytes)
Justice 
short long-coat & silky
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Shoshone
short long-coat & harsh

AKC Alaskan Malamute Standard
"The coat is thick with a coarse guard coat of sufficient length to protect a woolly undercoat." "The Malamute has a thick, coarse guard coat, never long and soft. The undercoat is dense, from one to two inches in depth, oily and woolly. The coarse guard coat varies in length as does the undercoat. The coat is relatively short to medium along the sides of the body, with the length of the coat increasing around the shoulders and neck, down the back, over the rump, and in the breeching and plume. Malamutes usually have a shorter and less dense coat during the summer months. The Malamute is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet."

OK, so never long and soft... well, that should properly read, "not supposed to be" long and soft because they frequently ARE long and soft.  Some people call the long-coats "woolies" but that is confusing when you read the standard and it says the correct coat is oily and woolly.  So I'll call them long-coats (LC) & normal coats.

A long-coat is often MUCH longer than a normal coat, with usually no difference in length between the LC's undercoat and his guard coat (no halo when you hold them up to the light).  The LC can also have a softer texture than desired so they can get wet much easier -- but not always.

To make it confusing, both the LC and the normal coat have modifiers that determine the length of the hair (short, medium and long), and the texture of the hair (harsh, silky, or cottony).  So compare Parka to her sire Maestro, and Sonny Boy to his dam Sunny below. 

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Parka
short long-coat & harsh
gray sable & white
maestro-bob-3y.jpg (71470 bytes)
Maestro
medium short-coat & harsh
LC carrier
sonnyboy-7m-b.jpg (24319 bytes)
Sonny Boy
medium long-coat & soft
gray sable & white
sunny-4pt-3y.jpg (68343 bytes)
Sunny
long short-coat & soft
LC carrier

The short coats also have 3 different lengths, short, medium, long.  Summer has more bone than her grandkids, below, and not nearly as much coat.  Maestro & Sunny have excellent leg coat, and a little extra fluff in their britches and tail plumes, evidence of the LC gene (all three are carriers for LC).  The long-coat (LC) gene is recessive, and must be inherited from both parents.  Our best coats come from LC CARRIERS, they get the LC gene from only one parent.  

summer-finish-0205-b.jpg (30553 bytes)
Summer
short short-coat & harsh
LC carrier
maestro-bob-3y.jpg (71470 bytes)
Maestro
medium short-coat & harsh
LC carrier
sunny-4pt-3y.jpg (68343 bytes)
Sunny
long short-coat & soft
LC carrier

There is currently one genetic test for the Alaskan Malamute, and that is for the long-coat (LC) gene.  It doesn't tell you anything about the modifiers that determine the length of the LC and therefore is incomplete information.

When we have bred to dogs who do not carry the LC gene at all, we also get very very short coats... Nikko, for instance, has a correct coat in the winter, and his massive bone fooled the eye into thinking he had more leg coat then he did.  This super short leg coat was because of both being a short normal coat and NOT carrying the LC gene.  He often threw very tight, very short coats, almost a Siberian coat or a summer coat, as he does not carry the modifier for THICK coats that Maestro does through the LC gene.  Short coats are JUST as incorrect as long coats.  There needs to be a definite LENGTH to the coat in order for it to work as insulation, without any softness or silkiness to it.

Here are some of Wayeh's long-coats.

Wayeh's Just Before the Dawn
8y
b. 1992 Justice (Cherokee X Razzy)

J is a seal & white long-coat (LC) with short modifiers but after she was spayed, her coat got longer and softer and much harder to manage.   Even without the hair, she had massive bone, huge snow shoe feet, and a broad chest, muzzle, and head to go with it.

justice-10mo2.jpg (14113 bytes)
10m

6y
b. 1995 Hope (Yuke X Justice)

Hope was a gray & white LC with a cotton-candy texture -- she looked like an oversized dandelion PUFF.  When shaved, she gathered every burr and briar within 3 feet.  She also had truly massive bone, feet, chest, muzzle, and head under all that hair.

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8w
juneau-sitting2.JPG (11376 bytes)
2y
b. 1997 Juneau (Shadow X Justice) 1 of 3 LCs

A gray & white LC with a harsh stand-off texture.  Brother to Summer who was a LC carrier.  Never bred as he lost a leg as a result of damage during a c-section. 

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(right 2w)
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2y
b. 2000 Keeper (Cherokee X Hope) 2 of 5 LCs

Keeper is a gray & white long LC with harsh texture.  His coat stands off from his body, but it is SO long that it also drapes from the center line.  Massive everything.

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10w
freya-loki-10mo.jpg (25301 bytes)
10m
b. 2006 Loki (Maestro X Kayobi) 1 of 10 LCs

Gray & White medium LC with his normal-coated sister Freya.

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6w
When can you tell if the coat is a long-coat? For instance: Loki's coat
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1w 2w 3w 4w 5w 6w 7w

Birth - some say the hair is curly when wet at birth, but I don't generally take those pictures and can't say.  Wet - behind the ears and the leg coat is generally wavy when wet on long-coats.  2w - usually obviously SOFT by 2w when compared to a normal harsh coat in the same litter and the leg coat is slightly longer. 3w - you can see a little bit of extra hair between the eyes (Shilon Bedford calls this a terrier look).  4w - hair is definitively BIGGER in pictures and the pup has a "sculpted look" which means no longer guard hairs or halo sticking out.

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1w 2w 5w 7w
parka-2y.jpg (21915 bytes)
2y
b. 2007 Parka (Maestro X Kayobi) 5 of 11 LCs

Sable & white short LC & harsh.  She was the least puffy of the puffs in this litter, a repeat of the one above.  At 1y reminds me of Justice's more draping coat, but is not as long, and is VERY harsh, very water repellent, oily and completely weatherproof like a normal coat.  Big bone & muzzle, not overdone.

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6w
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8m
Herman & Eddie b. 2007 (Maestro X Hannah) 3 of 10 LCs

Herman (seal) is a medium long-coat with silky texture.  Eddie (gray) is a medium long-coat with harsh texture.  Big everything.

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6m
Akela b. 2007 (Maestro X Hannah) 3 of 10 LCs

Short long-coat with _____ texture.

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stella-sonny-1y.jpg (29932 bytes) kismet-9m-c.jpg (51763 bytes) karma-10m-c.jpg (46637 bytes)
Jac
seal & white
medium long-coat & harsh
Good bone, etc.
Sonny Boy (rt)
sable & white
long long-coat & harsh
MASSIVE
Kismet
seal & white
medium long-coat & harsh
Good bone, etc.
Karma
sable & white
long normal-caot & harsh
normal bone, etc.

Long-coats take a LOT more maintenance than a normal coated puppy.  Normal coats are self-cleaning, long-coats are anything but.  LCs can develop skin problems if neglected because the hair "can be" so dense that air has a hard time circulating.  A good groomer is a must, whether that's you or one you hire.  A forced-air power dryer for dogs is a MUST as is a metal greyhound comb and a leave-in spray detangler.  Some LCs have such a harsh texture that they don't tangle, but the detangler will help separate the hairs, which removes the dead hairs and keeps a cleaner and cleaner-smelling coat, allowing better air circulation way down under that blanket of hair.

There is nothing cuter than a LC puppy and nothing more magnificent than a well-maintained LC adult.  But if you are not up to the extra work or hiring it done, please don't get a LC. 

The WORST thing you can do for them is shave them.  That removes all the guard hairs and that's the only texture in their coats -- which means every burr grabs that wooly undercoat.  If you shave them closer than that, then you risk sunburn and heat stroke.  

In an old dog, especially one with a huge shaggy bear-like coat, even a normal but massive old dog coat, I will shave under the throat, down the chest, between the front legs, the arm pits, the belly (leaving the long side hairs as camoflage), the abdomen, the groin, and the inner legs.  These are the major heat exchange areas, where big blood vessels are right under the skin, and the dog can belly down on a cool surface to drop his temperature, and in an emergency, you can get cool water to the skin easier and more efficiently.  Generally, the groin shave was the best solution since the old dogs with the big shaggy coats would dig a cool pit and lie down in it. 

Commit to the work of a LC or get a dog with hair that you can live with -- be fair to the puppy.

Best Link Ever for long-coat comparisons

nicholescritters.homestead.com/Kwestbrothers.html 

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Contact Wayeh    *    423-365-6039    *    Spring City, (East) Tennessee
Wayeh Alaskan Malamutes last updated 12/08/2010

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.