Breed of the Month – Wolfdog

Pets Wolf Dogs

Description: Wolfdogs are the offspring of wolf and dog. Most wolfdogs are produced by mating two wolfdogs. Typically Nordic-dogs like Huskies and Malamutes, as well as German Shepherds, are bred with Grey wolves or Timber wolves to achieve desired physical characteristics similar to that of full-blooded wolves. However, some wolfdogs may share more physical characteristics with either wolf or dog regardless of genetic content. While a wolfdog’s appearance may not be predicted with absolute certainty, there are many characteristics that can be used to identify a wolfdog, such as; long legs, large paws, webbed toes, long muzzle, yellow eyes, slanted eyes, black lips, narrow chest, and black toenails.

History: There has been fossil evidence of wolfdogs working besides human hunters 10,000 years ago. Wolfdogs were also kept by the Mexican Teotihuacan warriors about  2,000 years ago. It is believed that the first German Shepherd was one quarter wolf. Breeds like the Czechoslovakian wolfdog, the Saarlooswolfhond, and the Lupo Italiano are all breeds of dogs with recent wolf ancestry due to cross breeding.

Size: Males and Females: 26–34 inches at the withers, weighing 60-120 pounds. The ratio of dog to wolf genes as well as the type of dog and wolf cause varying heights and weights for wolfdogs.

Temperament: Socialization at an early age is a must. Introducing young wolfdogs to places, situations, and people it will face in adulthood is necessary to socializing. If not properly socialized, adult wolfdogs can become fearful, leading to behavior problems that will be very difficult to deal with later. Wolfdogs have a high prey drive which can be stimulated by screaming children or running small animals, therefore, wolfdogs should not be left alone with children or small animals. Wolfdogs can be very territorial and may not accept strange dogs or people into their home.

Owners who keep their wolfdog indoors will eventually find it necessary to house their wolfdog outdoors. Many owners find it very difficult to housebreak wolfdogs as they are typically very willful. Wolfdogs have a natural curiosity and will chew anything, especially couches, beds, doors and anything else that will keep them busy. Some wolfdogs jump on furniture, not just couches but, washers, dryers, and even refrigerators. Wolfdogs have a natural tendency to roam and explore their territory so, being kept in a house will be too restrictive for these animals. These animals need plenty of space to roam, burn off excess energy, and utilize their ever working minds.

Wolfdogs are more primitive in their behavior and are not going to be eager to please like a Golden Retriever. These are willful and stubborn creatures who have different behavior than that of human or dogs. A firm understanding of dog and wolf behavior is a must before anyone choses to own a wolfdog.

Grooming: Wolfdogs have a double coat and, like many Nordic-dogs, will blow their coat in the spring time. During this time, owners will need to brush their wolfdog frequently to help remove the excess hair that is being shed.

Health: Wolfdogs are typically very healthy animals where genetic diseases are not often prevalent. Prospective owners should keep in mind that some veterinarians will not examine wolfdogs.

Exercise: The wolfdog should be walked every day, just like a regular dog would need to be walked. Wolfdogs need a lot of mental stimulation and require new toys and games to keep them busy, which redirects them from destructive behavior.

Lifespan: About 13 to 16 years.

Sources:

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/wolfhybred.htm

http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v5n4/5n4wille.htm

http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/wolfdogs/a/wolfdogs.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfdog