Selective Breeding Vs. Natural Selection Read more Breed Specifics
Though dogs originated from wolves, it’s important to remember that through thousands of years of selective breeding, humans “created” dogs with purpose and intent, weeding out many of the unwanted wolflike behaviors, such as their destructive tendencies, high prey drive, and lack of work ethic, in order to achieve today’s friendly, confident, obedient pets.
Introducing wolf back into a domestic dog’s lineage is essentially the same as taking a step back in the evolutionary timeline. The more wolf in a wolfdog, the further back one goes.
Beautiful as they are, these animals are obviously not easy keepers. Those who raise, breed, rescue, and work with legitimate wolfdogs will typically be the first to tell you that these animals are not pets; they are a lifestyle. You must build your world around them, because they will not change their lives to suits yours.
This often means forgoing family vacations, giving up a job to work from home instead, and/or moving to an area where you have enough space to build proper containment for your wolfdog companion.
It takes exceptional dedication, research, and proper education to prepare oneself for wolfdog ownership. And while Pack West is not opposed to responsible private ownership, we do put a strong emphasis on the fact that these animals are not for everyone.
For more information, please continue on to our Responsible Wolfdog Ownership page by clicking the link below:
Read more How Much Wolf?
Wolfdogs typically weigh between 70 to 100 pounds. Claims of animals significantly larger than that are usually flights of fancy. While wolves up to 140+ pounds have been recorded in the wild, these animals are very few and far between, and are considered an abnormal occurrence. Wolfdogs, even those mixed with large breeds like malamute and German shepherd, rarely reach more than 120 pounds in weight.
The animal pictured at left is a resident at Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, New Jersey, and, despite its enormous looks compared to the human in this image, weighs just shy of 100 pounds. He is mixed with malamute, accounting for his bulky build.
Wolfdogs, depending on content, and the breed(s) they are mixed with, have a rather varied appearance. But since they are mixed with husky, malamute, or German shepherd, it’s uncommon to find animals of any content that display traits such as floppy ears, brindle or merle markings, wiry coats, or brachycephalic facial structure.
Instead, wolfdogs are quite literally defined by their lupine attributes, and that typically means a long pointed muzzle, upright ears, a long body, and lanky build. They have double coats comprised of dense under-fur with a top layer of glossy guard hairs scattered throughout, and range in color from black to white, but seem to be most commonly found in a gray/cream hue known as agouti.
Depending on the wolf content, the temperament of a particular animal varies; generally-speaking, though, higher-content animals are more prone to exhibit intense “primitive” behaviors, such as escape artist tendencies, high prey drive, destructive curiosity, excessive mouthiness, skittishness in new places and situations, and a propensity to be more independent and “stubborn”.
Higher-content animals are also more likely to display lupine biological traits in conjunction with their behavioral ones. Thus, you will never have a higher-content animal that acts like a dog but looks like a wolf, no more so than you will have an animal that acts like a wolf but looks like a dog.
Read more Of Wolf and Dog
The amount of wolf in a wolfdog is described in terms of content (not in percentages or fractions) and is broken down into several different levels. Low-content wolfdogs (which are significantly more dog than wolf); mid-content wolfdogs (which are about equal parts wolf and dog); and high-content wolfdogs (which are significantly more wolf than dog).
Pictured below, from left to right, are a low-content, a mid-content, and a high-content wolfdog with similar coloration. Despite the comparable appearances at first glance, they are actually quite varied when you begin to look closely at the subtle difference between each animals’ ears, eyes, body build, and facial structure:
The amount of wolf in a wolfdog cannot be determined by a DNA test, nor are there any reputable breed registries for wolfdogs available. Currently, DNA tests, even those offered through veterinary offices, remain inaccurate, likely due to the fact that wolves and dogs are so closely-related that false positives and false negatives are very common.
On a similar note, breed registries like the Continental Kennel Club (also known as the CKC) are infamously well-known for registering just about any dog as a purebred this-or-that on the condition that the breeders send them money, even if the animal is not what it’s claimed to be. As a result, it is just as easy for a breeder to register a black lab/shepherd mix as a purebred Groenendael as it is to register a husky/malamute mix as a wolfdog. Paperwork does not prove wolf content. You can read more on this topic, and see some real-life examples, on our “Don’t Get Scammed” page.
Vets, too, are not always a reliable source of information when it comes to determining whether or not a particular dog is “part wolf”; as vets are not currently taught to identify wolf traits by means of phenotyping at any point during their training. As such, it is disappointingly common for vets to assume an animal has wolf content based on misinformation.
For more detailed information on wolfdog content, and understanding the difference between each one, please visit the page in the link below:
Wolfdogs (also known as wolf hybrids) are unique animals. Many people wish to own them as a means of bringing a “piece of the wild” into their homes. They are beautiful, intelligent, and fascinating canines.
But, unfortunately, there is much more misinformation about the wolfdog breed type available to the general public than there is fact-based scientifically-supported information.
As a result, not many people have a proper understanding of what wolfdogs truly are. Experts estimate that as many as 75% of all claimed “wolfdogs” in the USA aren’t actually wolfdogs at all, but are instead misrepresented mixed-breed domestic canines.
So, what makes a wolfdog?
In the most basic sense of the term, a wolfdog is a dog with recent wolf ancestry, and which shows physical, biological, and behavioral traits of that lupine heritage (for more information on identifying these traits, click here). They are created using one of three common domestic dog breeds: German shepherds, huskies, malamutes, and mixes thereof.
It is highly uncommon for wolfdogs to be crossed with any other breed. This is because part of the point of breeding wolfdogs is to accentuate their primitive and wild looks. Crossing wolfdogs to huskies, malamutes, and German shepherds helps to increase the looks-to-behavior ratio. When selectively bred, even a low-content animal can look quite wolfy to the general public, but still behave primarily dog-like.
Wolfdogs are also rarely created from crossing a pure wolf to a domestic dog; instead, most wolfdogs are created from crossing wolfdogs to wolfdogs, or wolfdogs to dogs. Very few individuals in the USA actually own pure wolves for breeding purposes. Those who do rarely breed outside of select lines.