I have written several posts now about my pups, but I have never fully explained what they really are. I have mentioned that they are wolfdogs, but I have not described what that means, so I have decided to dedicate today’s post to explaining this majestic breed of dog.
A wolf dog used to be called a wolf hybrid, but that is actually not an accurate term. A hybrid is a mixture of two different species, such as a liger (a cross between a lion and a tiger). Since a domestic dog is a subspecies of the wolf, it cannot be a hybrid, so they changed the name to wolfdog. Most of the time people breed the wolf with a German Shepherd, an American Malamute, or a Siberian Husky because these breeds retain a closer resemblance to the “wolfie” looks of the wolf itself. There is some controversy about wolfdog ownership because wolfdogs can be difficult to own, but a little research goes a long way. Most wolfdog owners are concerned with the content of wolf in their wolfdog because that will most likely determine the characteristics of the animal. A low-content wolfdog will be more like a domestic dog than a wolf. They will be friendlier, more social, more comfortable around other people, but they also have their issues. A mid-content wolfdog can sometimes be like a low-content wolf dog and display more domestic dog traits, but they can also be very skittish like the wolf. They can be highly unpredictable, and are often uncomfortable and intolerable inside. A high-content wolfdog is a very difficult animal to own, and almost always ends up in a shelter. They are very skittish, highly unpredictable, very high energy, and require a ton of work and training and understanding. You have to remember that a wolf is a wild animal, and so a wolfdog with a high amount of wolf in it will act like it’s wild cousin.
When we were first presented with the idea of owning a wolfdog, we were immediately drawn to the uniqueness of the breed, as is often the case of wolfdog owners. That can sometimes be a problem if the owner does not do the research.
Luckily, I was so excited about these puppies, I read all I could before we brought them home. There was a short time there that I got a little nervous, as I started to realize we were not just getting some “cool dog.” We were taking on a real responsibility. Sierra and Echo are both low-content wolfdogs. Their mother was approximately 50% wolf, and their father was full-blooded husky. Both were absolutely beautiful! I had to accept, though, that they were going to require a good fence to contain them because these are very smart animals, and very crafty. They love to roam, and are very good about finding their way out. Sierra has already exhausted me with this trait, while Echo is proving to be more of a home-body. Sierra was digging under the fence and getting into all the neighbor’s yards to play with their dogs, so I had to close up all the gaps and holes and areas she could dig under. Since that was no longer an option, she chose to just climb the fence. Yep…climb…like you and I would climb a chain-link fence. It is actually funny to watch if you aren’t the one who has to chase her around the neighborhood to get her! I just purchased an electric fence today, but not one that you bury underground and put a collar on them. (Tune in tomorrow to see how that goes!) Wolfdogs are so smart, they very quickly realize that if they run really fast, they can overcome the shock and it is over in just a second and then they are free! I got one of the ones that go along the fence so they can see it. Not only will it shock her as she hits the fenceline, but it will also serve as a psychological barrier as well. After a few shocks, she will see that the wire is still there and do whatever she can to avoid it. Wolfdogs are skittish like the wolf, so they like to avoid danger at all costs. They make terrible watchdogs…they are more like chicken-dogs! If someone were to break into your house, wolfdogs are more likely to hide under the bed than to confront the intruder. Luckily, most people are unaware of that and run away from such a scary looking dog, so they serve as psychological barriers themselves. :)
Wolfdogs are very high energy dogs. They are known for tearing up couches, chairs, and entire rooms when they get bored. They need to be stimulated constantly. Luckily for us, a house full of 4 small kiddos and two adults serve as more than enough stimulation for our wolfdogs! They are wiped out most days! We also opted to get two of them so they could entertain themselves when we are gone rather than help themselves to our couch, but that was almost a disaster as well! We used to own a male black lab and a male husky/shepherd mix. They were best friends and very close. They did everything together. When Timber, the husky/shepherd died, Jager, the black lab was so lost. It was very sad, but they had a great life together. Because of that experience, Jason and I thought we would get two more males. In my research, I learned that if I got two male puppies, it is not uncommon for them to fight constantly, for dominance. Two females are even worse! They will actually fight to the death! We decided on a male and a female. They definitely fight for dominance, but it is relatively minor. Whew! Thank God for research!
Wolfdogs are not the best pets, but they are excellent companions. What that means is that they do not necessarily do things just to please you, but they do them because they want to. They are more like your friend than your pet. A lab will do anything just to get you to pet him. Not so with a wolfdog. On the other hand, a wolfdog is extremely smart, so he or she can be taught many things and love to play and interact with you. They are more of a part of the family than the regular dog in that regard. I wouldn’t give them a chair at the table, though. They don’t have the best manners. They eat with their mouth open, they smack their food, they “wolf” down their meal…anyway…
As long as you are willing to put the time and effort into owning a wolfdog, they can be great animals to own, especially the low-content ones. The mid- to high-content ones are much more complicated, and I would recommend that you live in a home with a very large yard with a high fence and lots of entertaining things for wolfdogs to do. You should shy away from owning mid- to high-content wolfdogs if you have small children as well. Wolves, and so also wolfdogs, are very shy and skittish animals, so they are not going to attack people on their own. As a matter of fact, I read somewhere that there is not one known case of a healthy wolf or wolfdog attacking a human. That being said, small children can often be seen as prey or they can do things that the wolfdog might interpret as dangerous to him/her, and so it would protect itself.
I love my wolfdogs almost as much as I love my kids. They are sweet and fun and fascinating! They are loving and gentle and very smart. They are certainly a lot of work, and can often drive me up a wall, but then again, so can Derek… They are going to be beautiful and wonderful dogs someday. I am looking forward to continuing to share my adventures with them with all of you! I hope you found this interesting. I am including a few links to pages that go into more detail about wolfdogs, and a couple links to books I read about them that I thought were invaluable. If you are even a little bit interested in getting a wolfdog, let me know! I would be interested to just know, and I would be more than happy to discuss it with you if you would like!
LINKS TO SITES ABOUT WOLFDOGS
GREAT BOOKS ABOUT WOLFDOGS