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A wolf dog is a combination of wolf and dog.

Wolf Dogs

A wolfdog, also known as a 'wolf hybrid', is simply a dog that has wolf in its family history. While it is widely understood that all dog breeds have descended from the wolf, a wolfdog has pure wolf recently in its background, such as a parent or great grandparent (Whereas your family dog may have to go back hundreds of generations to pure wolf).

Genetically, the wolf and the dog are the same species - thus they are not actually 'hybrids' (for a human comparison, a wolf and a dog are no different than a person of Asian decent is different from a person of European descent) A wolf can mate with a dog and produce fertile offspring, just like two different breeds of dog can mate and produce fertile offspring. Offspring of two different breeds of dog, affectionately known as a 'mutt', will have characteristics of the two breeds, in varying proportions. Likewise, offspring of a wolf and and a dog will have characteristics of a wolf and that particular breed, in varying proportions.

Today's wolfdogs are not the result of a wild wolf bred with a domestic dog. They are the result of dozens or more generations of wolfdogs bred with wolfdogs. Decades ago wolf breeders in the fur trade sold pure wolves to zoos, exhibitionists, and the public. While these commercial breeders no longer exist, many of these private owners still breed wolfdogs. Most domestic bred wolfdogs can trace their lineage back to the fur farms of the 1950's.

No two wolfdogs are alike.

There is no breed standard. Wolfdogs, for lack of a better term, are 'mutts': wolf mixed with another breed, or several breeds, of dog.

Usually they are a combination of wolf with Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute or German shepherd, but can be mixed with other breeds as well.

Wolfdogs will behave like wolf and the breed of dog they are mixed with. The wolf part tends to be shy with strangers, cautious, curious, intelligent, playful, watchful and energetic. They can also be stubborn, loving, independent and aloof. They are almost always very loving and loyal to their 'family' pack. The dog part will have behavior reflective of that particular breed in the mix. So every wolfdog is different. Even wolfdogs from the same litter and can look and behave differently, individually inheriting physical and behavioral characteristics from various wolf and dog forbearers.

Wolf Dogs For Sale

Wolf dogs are misunderstood

Some folks believe that wolfdogs are inherently provocative and aggressive, or that they are capable of 'turning on you'. Just the opposite is true. By nature, they tend to be timid, loving, family(pack)-oriented and trusting of pack members.

They are not aggressive and will tend to shy away from strangers rather than confront them. Most will behave similar, and proportional to, the breeds they are mixed with. Like any dog breed, however, if abused or neglected, or if tied to a tree, they learn to be defensive or aggressive.

The rabies vaccine is entirely effective in wolfdogs. For more information please visit the Howling Woods Farm Wolfdog Rabies Vaccination Page.

Wolfdogs are not for everyone

High content wolfdogs are very strong and difficult to train, require large secure outdoor pens, have special diets, and require a great deal of attention. They are very intelligent and get bored easily. While the behavior of wolfdogs is really not much different than that of the typical canine family pet, it is greatly magnified. The following traits are not unusual among high content wolfdogs, but less so with low content wolfdogs:

  • react poorly to standard dog training
  • may dig large holes in their pens or the backyard, especially if bored or tied down
  • can jump or climb a six-foot high fence

  • are smart and learn commands easily, but often decide to ignore them
  • require an enclosure large enough for exercise and play.
  • will roll over and over again in the most obnoxious smelling substance known to the human nose.
  • do not respond to discipline the way most dogs do. Training a wolf dog is about as 'easy' as training a house cat. You must earn their respect if you expect them to listen to you.
  • do not like to be alone (they need a canine or human companion). Providing a companion often negates undesirable behaviors discussed in this section. Remember, wolves are highly developed social animals that normally live in groups; it's not in their nature to be alone. A lone wolf is not a happy wolf.

  • require a high protein diet. Most commercially available dog foods are difficult for wolf dogs to digest due to high vegetable/low protein content.

  • may be fearful of people outside of the family pack. Taking them to public places may cause high anxiety and stress.

  • Require a very high amount of socialization, often and repeatedly, from a very young age through adulthood, if you expect to take them to public places, a dog park, or even for a walk.

  • are not good off leash; they may run off in pursuit of something interesting and are difficult to call back; or they may find that obnoxious smelly stuff discussed above.

  • bark very little, but boy do they howl.

Lastly, they bond strongly; should you ever give them up, they could languish. At best, they would not bond as easily with their next human companions as they did with you. A decision to bring a high content wolfdog into your home is a major lifetime commitment. Giving one up, no matter how good a reason, would likely result in it's death; it would most likely never make it out of the shelter.

Wolf Dogs For AdoptionLow content wolfdogs, however, tend to have behavior like the dog they are mixed with, and are much more desirable as pets.

It should be noted that with proper socialization early on, and lots of positive, loving reinforcement, both high content wolfdogs and low content wolfdogs can make wonderful companions. Some can even behave like regular house dogs, especially low content wolfdogs. Also, it's best to get a rescue, as the behavior you observe it less likely to change with age: what you see is what you get.

Wolf dogs are poor watchdogs!

They don't bark and tend to be fearful of strangers. Wolfdogs consider you to be the Alpha wolf of the pack - you are the leader. As far as they are concerned, it's YOUR job to protect them.

by Michael Hodanish, Howling Woods Farm

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Content and photos provided by Michael Hodanish
unless otherwise noted

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