The Malamutes Intellect
After training and working with Alaskan Malamute's and other Nordic Breeds for about 2 decades now, it is easy for one to tell that these genes are a breed apart!
Some of the things that make them so interestingly wonderful are the fact that the senses of these types of dogs are innately in tune with their surroundings allowing them to refine their skills quite adeptly. The intelligence factor extremely surpasses that of "all" other breeds, in my opinion. As my neighbor so eloquently put it, "You can just see the wheels turning".
As far as their ability to learn, their behaviour, and their uncanny way of companionship, they (Mal's and Wolves in particular) are more intelligent, or have more "horse sense", than just about any other domesticated canine breed known to man. They seem to have a supernatural ability to reason, contemplate, and share emotional responses with humans, in a human like way. Some experts agree that the Mal has the IQ of at least a 5 year old child. Of course in addition to this each Mal has it's own unique character.
Pure bred Alaskan Malamutes are one of the smartest(intellectually), and most interesting domesticated animals. When compared to Siberian Huskies which most people confuse Malamutes for, the differences could not be greater. Mals are much more intelligent, as well as bigger around, taller, and heaver than Sibes. They can be sometimes quite a bit lazier and laid back than Sibes, are better with families, are less destructive, run slower, pull more weight, are not as anxious, DO NOT have blue eyes, have a deeper chest which not only a big difference in their appearance, but also serves the stronger chest muscles, and can be quite a bit fuzzier looking when dawning the wooly coat. They also make better partial house dogs, chew stuff up less, always, and i mean ALWAYS, come back when they escape.
Mals domesticated genes are as close to a pure wolf as you can get. Sibes genes are a bit more down the line from a wolf. It is said that Malamutes domestication and genes go back more than 20,000 years, as compared to 99% of other domesticated dogs whose genes go back only a couple hundred years if that. Husky genes(in general) go back maybe just a few hundred years. Just think of what 20,000 years of consistently re-instilled relationships with human beings may do to a dog breed which is still as in tact as it was thousands of years ago.
Two words come to mind, "pure trust". An Alaskan Malamute is one of the most trustworthy breeds out there, and IS in my opinion, the most intelligent domesticated breed, bar none! You can tell a German Shepherd to jump off a cliff, and the Shepherd will jump, and die. This is not intelligence, this is a simple understanding of commands along with pure obedience and a dash of blind enthusiasm. It's advised to recognize the difference here. You can tell a Mal to jump off a cliff, and it will stare at you with an inquisitive face. It knows when its near a cliff edge, and will not even get close no matter how hard you tug on it. This dog KNOWS how to use its intelligence, even if its highly against mans wishes. In other words, a Malamute is not a man slave beckoning at any command, but quite the opposite. A malamute reasons highly with anything and everything its told to do, and is highly in tune with its instincts which it uses as guidelines. Yes this sometimes makes reinforcing your wishes a bit difficult, but on the flip-side makes the initial teaching a breeze.
A mal is definitely not the obedience candidate, or the "Sit" "Stay" type of breed. Its best to leave these commands checked at the door, when taking these dogs into the wild. They can learn bigger and better things, but mainly teach you more than you ever knew possible, like how to follow trails buried under 8 feet of snow, and how to take shortcuts through the wilderness to save time, and how to avoid bears and other dangers in the wild such as frozen lakes and rivers.