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Do Wolfdogs Make Good Pets?


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.



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
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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 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.

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