Home
Humane
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Do Wolfdogs Make Good Pets?
Pages:

Pages

Unfortunately, people who like the idea of owning a fearsome predator as well as those with a misguided nature fetish often don’t understand what they’re getting into. In many cases, a person will think he has had experience with wolfdogs in the past — maybe he had or knew an animal who he thought was a hybrid but was, in fact, all dog — and decides to get a wolfdog puppy. “Only this time, he gets the real thing,” Collings says. “And by the time the pup is five or six months old, [she’s] eaten the couch or clawed [her] way through the drywall.”

  

Of course, not all wolfdogs behave the same way, and there’s probably more variety in behavior among wolfdogs than any other kind of dog. “You have to remember that a wolfdog is not a wolfdog is not a wolfdog,” says Brown. “There’s no such thing as ‘typical.’”

 

“A high-content animal is probably going to act a lot more ‘wolfie’ than a low-content animal,” adds Wilde. “With a high-content wolfdog, you might start out with the puppy in the house and then, as he hits adolescence, you’ll be building an enclosure outside. You’ll have to.” It’s for just these reasons that many experts, including Wilde, discourage people from breeding wolfdogs, or buying wolfdog pups from breeders.

 

“The average dog owner won’t deal with their Beagle, and can’t handle an ordinary dog’s behavior problems,” says Wilde, who rescued a wolf and two wolfdogs several years ago. She can personally attest to the challenges of keeping these beautiful canines. “I worked with them to the point that I could look between their paw pads and look at their teeth — and give them tummy rubs — but I never forgot what they really were.”

 

Editors’ Note: In our opinion, despite their undeniable beauty and appeal, deliberately breeding or purchasing wolfdogs as companion animals does a disservice to both Canis lupus and Canis lupus familiaris as well as to the individual animal. If you love wolves, honor their ancient connection with our domestic dogs by joining the effort to preserve their habitat and maintain their status as a federally protected species. HSUS (hsus.org) and the Defenders of Wildlife (defenders.org) are just two of many groups working on their behalf.

Pages:

Pages

Print|Email
This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 62: Nov/Dec 2010
Martha Schindler Connors writes about health, fitness and nutrition and is a former senior editor at Natural Health. In her free time, she volunteers with Pointer Rescue (pointerrescue.org). martha-connors.com
CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Beware Pseudo S... | December 5 2012 |

No dog can be a quarter wolf. Dogs and wolves are different species, and one of the defining traits of a species is the ability to mate with one another and produce fertile offspring. Cross-species hybrids are infertile and cannot mate (that's why a donkey and horse can make a mule, but mules themselves can't make more mules). So yes, half-wolves do exist, but if anyone tells you they own a quarter-wolf dog, they're misinformed.

Submitted by Susan M. | May 30 2013 |

The statement above is incorrect, because dogs and wolves are *not* different species. The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a subspecies of the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Dog-wolf hybrids remain fully interfertile with both dogs or wolves beyond the first generation.

Speciation is a *process.* The definition of a species as a population being unable to produce fertile offspring with a different species is useful, but is in some cases arbitrary. The coyote, Canis latrans, is classed as a different species than the wolf (and by extension, domestic dog). In the case of coyote-dog hybrids, it can take several generations of interbreeding, not one, for health and fertility problems to manifest. There is reason to believe, however, that the coyote is much more interfertile with the wild wolf than with the domestic dog, and that ongoing hybridization is going on in the wild between coyotes and wolves in some areas of North America. Genetic analysis of the red wolf of the southeastern U.S. indicates it is a hybrid species - a combination, over many generations, of wolf and coyote.

Submitted by Kira | October 1 2013 |

A great reference is a book called PART WILD by ceiridwen terrill. She covers her experience with the wolf-dog she owned and actually DOES the research in understanding the orgins of wolves and dogs, and if they are linked. She visits research facilities and so on.

Submitted by David | June 7 2013 |

A wolfdog is fertile and can reproduce. Dogs and wolves both have 78 chromosomes. Your mule example refers to a hybrid with an uneven number of chromosomes, but even then there are gender scenarios that can result in A fertile donkey/Horse hybrid....

Submitted by gini lound | April 19 2014 |

Wolves and dogs are NOT seperate species. Therefore a wolf and a dog can mate and produce fertile offspring and their offspring can mate and also produce fertile offspring.

Submitted by Kierstin | June 23 2014 |

Yes you can have a quarter wolf if you breed a wolfdog with a dog and it will be a quarter wolf

Submitted by Isabelle | January 3 2013 |

I own a wold/husky hybrid. Her name is Lisha. The wolf in her does NOT make her wild, or crazy, or even dangerous. Instead it makes her intelligent, beautiful, and courageous. It really kills me a little bit every time I hear someone calling her evil, or dangerous. Lisha is my life. DEAL WITH IT!

Submitted by Mik | January 12 2014 |

But is your dog a safe good dog? All wild animals are good but like the article stated people dont know what there getting into.

Submitted by Isabelle | January 3 2013 |

I own a wold/husky hybrid. Her name is Lisha. The wolf in her does NOT make her wild, or crazy, or even dangerous. Instead it makes her intelligent, beautiful, and courageous. It really makes me so sad every time I hear someone calling her evil, or dangerous. Lisha is my life. DEAL WITH IT!

Submitted by Marysue | January 14 2013 |

That's better than being killed by Lisha, I suppose.

Submitted by Wolf-dog owner | November 4 2013 |

I agree that not all people would be the best owners of a wolf-dog. Anyone that is planning on making a wolf-dog their pet needs to be prepared for the amount of work essential to caring for a hybrid. They need constant attention when it comes to training, entertaining, and maintaining their fur coat. This dog is not for the unexperienced. They are big (120 lbs) so they need a lot of room. They also need CONSTANT watching while they are young. This is not because they are unpredictable, but they are extremely mischievous. They love trouble. And by trouble, I mean stealing couch pillows to take outside to play with. My family has a wolf-dog and he is one of the most caring dogs I have ever known. He is five years old and is 3/4 wolf. His grandfather was full wolf, so he's not that far from pure wolf. However, despite the common misbeliefs, he has been a great addition to our family. He loves all people and all dogs. He loves attention and his favorite thing is when someone comes to our house and he gets to greet them. He also loves our cats. He plays with them (allowing them to beat him up), lets them eat his food, and panics when they get outside. When they come back home, he checks them out, sniffing life crazy, to make sure they are okay. Wolves have gone through many decades of negative stigmas. What most people don't know is that they are not evil creatures. At one time, they lived as companions of humans. Yes, they are predators, but they kill to eat, not to just kill.

Submitted by lisa | May 3 2014 |

I have to say thank you for your post. I have two wolf hybrids and they are truly the best animals I have ever owned. They love kids and go to great lengths to protect anyone who comes at the family and friend in an aggressive manner. They don't attack. We have a 5 year old and a friend of his came over from down the street. The dogs sniffed her understood that she was a friend and proceeded to protect both children from the dog down the street, a boxer who was owned by the little girls grandmother. She was an aggressive and unpredictable dog and they sensed it right away. They never once harmed the dog only chased it from the property. They stopped at the line of the property when they where satisfied that the dog was far enough away and came back. They have been trained this way. They display this training in a way that has made other dog owners almost jealous from what I have witnessed. We took a lot of time and caring into training these animals to be passive towards people and unless you show a aggression they leave you alone. They are by far the best dog I have ever had the pleasure of having as member of our family.

Submitted by Jill | June 2 2014 |

And what training program is this?

Submitted by sherra | July 7 2014 |

Thank you to all who has the positive outlook on the wolf/dog hybrids. They are by far the best companions I have ever came to know. My family and I have always had wolfdogs as not our pets but as part of our family. Never once have they turned on my parents my sisters or myself. But like any animal cats dogs chickens ect there are cases where there is a uneven tempered one in a bunch but it because of the misleading reports of this wonderful creature because it is something unknown. The worse dogs I have ever encountered was the smallest of breeds. They just dont have the bite of a the larger of the canines. So needless to say because you hear of how bad these hybrids are you should never judge something you have no idea what it is they are like. Take it from all these people who have lived with these outstanding creature's and all of the positive words we all have to say all from first hand experience bu yet you judge on something you have never had the wonderful experience with of having.

Submitted by juli | July 10 2014 |

I grew up with a wolf dog... Her name was Baby and she lived was from CA but when I was 3, we moved to PA in the middle of some woods. Whenever my brother or I got lost in the woods, mom would ask her where we were and she would find us. One time she brought a dead deer home, so we kept the antlers. She was by far the best and smartest dog we've ever had, and I wish I could have another wolf dog but I won't until I move back to a woodsy no hunting zone. I feel like Baby was more human than wolf or dog.. Her pups were smart, but they didn't have the same wolf in them than she did. But I still loved them the same, too :)

Submitted by s sullivan | July 17 2014 |

I'm on my second wolf hybrid the first was only like 40% he lived to be 14 yrs,old what a great dog!!! The one i have now has more wolf she is timid and a good girl
the only trouble she gets in is opening the frig. digging big dens and she is a little stubborn i take her to the dog park with the other dogs she is a little shy at first with her tail between her legs after 15 minutes she plays with the other dogs and never gets aggressive It's not like little red riding hood and the big bad wolf!!!

Submitted by Cindy | July 19 2014 |

My 18 year old son had his heart set on a hybrid wolf dog. Being a mom, I was against any breed with the word "WOLF" in it. They have (had) such a bad reputation. So against my better judgment I went to take a look at this puppy and his mom and dad. I talked to the owner (breeder) and shared my feelings toward this type of dog. I mean after all I do have 4 boys and our family always has children at our house morning, noon and night. I was warned by all my friends and family to avoid this type of dog. After sharing my hesitations with the breeder, she convinced me that I was misinformed. She has been breeding this type of dog for years. She raised her boys and now grandchildren around wolf hybrids and never once had any problems. I was thrilled to hear someone with such positive feedback. We ended up getting this beautiful puppy at 6 weeks old (with an agreement that we could bring him back any time within the first year, no questions asked).
Waylon, is an 8 month old bundle of joy. Besides a bout of pooping and peeing all over the house, which we nipped in the butt quickly, he is amazing. He does tend to follow our Jack Russell/rat terrier (20 pound) behavior. He has no idea that he weighs 60 pounds, so he jumps on us, jumps on the couch, and does everything our little dog does.
He has gotten into a little bit of trouble, eating our mattress and grabbing the cereal off the table, but we get on him and he is learning. I do have to say that he absolutely needs a bone to keep his mouth company AT ALL TIMES, so he stays out of trouble.
I trained him without a lease for many hours a day at the park. I used positive reinforcement with treats. So he sits, stays and comes when we call him. I have noticed that he is very shy with other people and dogs. That is a "wolf" trait that is very evident. It makes it easy to train him because I know that he is a big chicken. He loves to run (and run and run). His actions resemble a cat more then a dog. He needs to be entertained 24/7. That is where my 4 boys come into play. They are amazing with him.
All in all, I would recommend this type of dog for someone that has a ton of time to spend with such an active dog. I haven't seen any "wolf" type behaviors YET. I do notice that he loves to chase birds, bees and butterflies on our walks. I also notice that our house is cleaner because the boys know that whatever they leave out, the dog will eat...lol
I'm so disappointed that people are talking negatively about this type of dog. I believe that any dog is capably of any behavior. It all depends on the situation and the way the dog is raised. Not all dogs are perfect and not all owners are perfect...

More From The Bark