Species group: Mixed Breeds
Other name(s): Wolfdog
RightPet does not advocate the intentional cross-breeding of purebred dogs. But the reality is that most dogs available for adoption at shelters and rescues are mixed breeds. We think it might be helpful to hear from owners of these mixes to see what traits can be found in these dogs who are desperately needing homes.
The Wolfdog is a hybrid between one of several wild species of wolf and any purebreed or mixed-breed domestic dog-- with larger breeds like the German Shepherd or the Siberian Husky being popular choices. The problem should be obvious. A wolf is a wide-ranging predator meant to live in a hunting pack. A dog is meant to be a cooperative companion. When you mix the two, the result can be anybody's guess.
Because of the significant legal and ethical issues surrounding this animal, many American states ban ownership of the Wolfdog altogether. As a result, there are a number of dishonest breeders selling "Wolfdogs" that are really just good-sized mixed-breed mutts. Many people who think they own a Wolfdog have simply been scammed. Their Wolfdog is so smart and cooperative and well-behaved because it's an actual domestic dog... but don't tell them that. I once informed someone that his Wolfdog looked exactly like any other German Shepherd to me. He was not pleased.
But let's suppose you have a real Wolfdog. Are you really prepared to manage a powerful animal designed to bring down, kill, and eat large prey? This is not an option for the average person. Don't subsidize the breeding of these animals, and don't consider taking one home unless you're a highly experienced expert.
Appearance / health:
Wolf-dog mixes are bred for a close resemblance to wolves. They may have narrow chests, long-standing ears, and larger feet and teeth than dogs. The eyes are almond-shaped. Their tails do not curl generally. However, the reality is that many Wolfdog mixes have very little (if any) wolf remaining in their ancestry, so their appearance can vary greatly-- a fact that the scammers use to their own advantage.
Wolf-dog mixes shed a lot. Extensive grooming may be required to keep the coat in good condition.
Many people repeat the "hybrid vigor" theory that wolf-dog mixes are generally healthier than other dog breeds. However, this theory isn't proven. A regular mixed-breed domestic dog could be just as healthy or even more so, since it's more likely to be able to receive regular treatment from a vet.
Behavior / temperament:
In general, the behavior of Wolf-dog mixes cannot be easily predicted, even in third-generation pups. Wolves and dogs are both pack animals. However, while dogs readily accept human as leaders of the pack, some adult Wolf-dog mixes may not do so. Wolf-dog mixes with a higher percentage of wolf genes radically change in behavior after attaining adulthood. It may also result in the mix challenging the dominance of the owner.
Physical domination without an intention to injure is common among wolves, and may be seen in some Wolf-dogs. Wolf-dogs retain their predatory instincts and cannot be left off-leash in the open at any time. Some have a strong tendency to mark their territories by urinating or defecating. They may be very destructive, and chew pieces of furniture in the house. They also love to dig.
Training and housebreaking are extremely difficult, and wolf-dog mixes may not always obey them. Around the age of 16 months, Wolf-dog mixes may try to assert their dominance by not obeying commands, and actually challenge the owner's authority. Because of this unpredictability, the Wolfdog may represent a danger to others. And even if it doesn't, it may be banned by law in your area, and owning the animal may result in legal sanctions as well as the loss of your homeowner's or liability insurance.
great companions, awesome guardians, hybrid vigor, beautiful creatures
high prey drive, territorial protective instincts, first-time dog owner, food aggression, indoor life
raw fed dogs, deep warning bark, dog DNA tests, pack family, amazing escape artists
We adopted Szievesen from a husky hybrid breeder on the other side of the country. We were able to choose her parents and receive the birth announcement. The breeders told us that Szievesen was a low-content wolf, meaning she had 25% timber wolf and 75% husky.
We were only able to housebreak her. She wouldn't learn to sit, stay, heel, bark on command, or lay down. She enjoyed cuddling with us on occasion, but her preferred environment was outdoors. She came inside when she wanted to eat, or if she got cold or wet, but she would only stay inside for about five to ten minutes before she wanted to go outside again. This was incredibly frustrating for us. She did howl like a wolf, and she slept in our bedroom with us. She wouldn't sleep on the bed, so we bought her a dog bed which she slept on every night. She was food aggressive, so much so that we had to separate the dogs' feeding areas. When Szievesen did have her own eating room (the bathroom), she would eat her food by spilling all of the food out of the bowl and then proceed to eat until she was tired of eating. When she finished, she would cry to be let out, but there would still be about 25% of her food left.
Aside from food agression, Szievesen had a very even temperament. She would bark when strangers came to the door and play with our other dogs. She sat on our laps on occasion and tolerated her collar.
We can't share about her behavior around smaller animals as all of our animals at the time were medium to large size dogs. We also never had any children around her, so I don't know how she would have behaved around smaller humans.
Like our purebread husky, she had a triple coat, but she didn't shed as much as our purebred husky did..
From debhalasz Mar 6 2015 1:51AM
My boyfriend at the time said "I don't know if I should tell you this. There's a post for a Husky at the feed store for a Husky 'free to good home' I have the number." That's how I got Abe. Abe's mother was on the property. She was an enormous, majestic animal. I said, "That can't possibly be a Husky." The woman said "Actually, her mother was a Timber Wolf." Abe was six months old. He had the blue eyes and mask of a Husky. He was energetic, playful, he nuzzled my hand and lived with a Shi Tzu and a baby. It seemed safe to take him home to my Husky and Smooth Collie. So off we went, with his dog bed, his toys and a sack of dog food.
I decided to take him to the groomer before going home. When it was time to pick him up, I thought it would be a good idea to take my male Siberian Husky along so that they could meet on neutral ground. They did not exactly take to each other! I had a Trans Am and squeezed two snarling dogs into it. Luckily, I lived right around the corner from the groomer. In hindsight, maybe we should have walked. We got home and got inside. This was not going well. My sweet, loving Smooth Collie got in between them as if to say, "Hey, let's get along." I was already into this thing. I was determined to make it work. I'm as stubborn as a Husky.
In time, Abe and Blue became friends. Really good friends. Very food and toy aggressive, but otherwise very close. When the other Husky died, Abe mourned him as much as I did.
I never told my family and friends that Abe was part wolf. When I had my son, it would have made everyone nervous. I never had a moment's hesitation about having Abe around my baby. My trust was not misplaced. My son could have tied his tail in a knot and Abe would still have sat calmly, adoring that little boy.
Abe lived a long time. He was a little unpredictable in certain situations. It was out of the question to take him to a dog park and he had the capacity to kill a small animal. As a matter of fact, he did kill a couple of Raccoon and an Opossum. That was the Wolf in him.
I wouldn't advise people to breed or keep Husky/Wolf Hybrids. I just don't think you should breed a domestic dog with a wild animal. Siberian Huskies are already closer to Wolves than most dogs. That being said, I don't regret sharing my life with Abe. He was loyal, protective and loving. I miss him..
From Huskies_1 May 31 2015 8:55AM
Cocoa was the perfect dog . . . at first.
I adopted Cocoa from the pound before she was to be euthanized. She was beautiful and gave my young daughter and me the sweetest kisses. Believe me when I say she was excited to be "sprung" from doggy prison and loved to ride in the car. I crate and house trained her almost immediately, though it wasn't long before she was sleeping in the bed with me. I even trained her to reign in her prey drive and pretty soon, she befriended my cat and even mimicked her as they napped together on the back of the couch. She drove with me to drop my daughter off at pre-school and to pick her up . . . but one day, when Cocoa's favorite teacher came to tell her hi through the window, Cocoa almost bit her. It was downhill from there. My second baby was born and she guarded him like her own pup, but if someone came in the room, she would have them on the ground, her paws on their shoulders, growling in their face, before slinking off to stare at them from a dark corner. I talked to the vet -- he told me that wolfdogs, at some point in their life, had a switch that would flip in brains turning them from the sweet dogs they were into vicious and wild animals. He was right and watching it happen was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The day my precious Cocoa flipped was a horror show that will stay with me until the day I die and I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Ever. She died in a dogfight with my mother's dog, who had been her best friend doggy friend up until that horrific day. I wouldn't recommend anyone adopting these dogs who aren't meant to be bred -- it is too heartbreaking and dangerous . . . for us and for them..
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