All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

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All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:23 am

Notification To Visitor: Due to the increased amount of threads concerning the behavior, appearance and recognition of these non-traditional canine companions, I have requested an exclusive permission from Cana (WQ Coordinator) to create and post a comprehensive, extensive and educational "guide" about wolfdogs.

Do not regard the text below as a direct guide for wolf or wolfdog ownership - "All About Wolfdogs" was created in order to dispel the prejudiced wolfdog-related fables and misconceptions and to prevent canine misrepresentation and the deceitful expansion of inaccurate wolfdog information.

"All About Wolfdogs" was designed to raise awareness and share reliable and truthful information about the wolf hybrid.

This guide was put together for educational purposes only by Blightwolf.

This guide adheres to responsible ownership and welfare of wolves and wolf hybrids.

Disclaimer: WolfQuest does not condone or encourage buying, keeping, importing, exporting, selling, raising, breeding, or owning wolves or wolf hybrids.

Wolf and wolf hybrid ownership requires exceptional dedication, financial resources, proper education and training!

Hybrids are NOT the "safe, legal and domesticated" version wolves!

The Wolf Hybrid
What exactly is a wolfdog?

A wolfdog hybrid (also known as: wolf mixes, wolf crosses, wolf-dogs, wolf dogs, wolf hybrids, hybrid wolves, or simply hybrids) is the result of a crossbreeding (whether intended or unintended) between a domestic dog and a full-blooded wolf.

Wolfdogs are generally divided into three separate ”subgroups”:

I. Low-content wolfdogs (1% to 50%) (Long bodies, short, stubby legs, curly tails, pointy sharp-edged ears, precaudal spots - no glands, rarely possess any significant wolf-like features, appearance and behavior are strongly influenced by the domestic dog heritage)
II. Mid-content wolfdogs (51% to 75%) (Eyes and face are more lupine compared to low-contents, can have double dewclaws, behavior is slightly wolf-like, markings on face very usual, wolf-like coat pattern, well-furred ears, straight or curly tails, longer muzzles, larger paws, bark like a dog - may howl, can move like a wolf, more visible and prominent wolf-like features than is found in low-contents)
III. High-content wolfdogs (76% to 99%) (Go into season once a year, extremely wolf-like behavior, well-faded and appropriately blended facial markings, can howl like a wolf, a working precaudal gland and dewclaws, born with blue eyes and dark coats like wolves, move like wolves, round ears, straight tails, slanted eyes, high prey drive, must be extremely well trained and socialized, sheds the same way as a wolf)

The individual ”category” in which a wolfdog is placed into is based on the determination of the animal's behavior, appearance and wolf heritage.

Wolfdog Comparison Chart: ... -207609303
© Kestrelflight/xTheEndlessFall @ deviantART

Wolves, Dogs & Wolfdogs
How to tell the difference?

There are no available genetic markers or DNA tests that could reveal a canine's wolf ancestry. Although it may not be possible to make any precise assessments of an animal's wolf or dog content, it is encouraged to consider the following: it is possible through visual examination to tell a pure wolf from a pure dog. No dog looks just like a wolf. No wolf looks just like a dog. With experience, it is even possible to make an educated guess as to whether an animal is very much like a wolf, or very much like a dog, or somewhere in between. However, you can't always tell by just looking, if an animal is a high-content wolfdog or a pure wolf. You can't always tell if an animal is a low-content wolf or a dog. Some midrange animals will even exhibit characteristics which do not correspond to their pedigree. These concepts are important to keep in mind when trying to figure out the sometimes subtle distinctions and differences between wolves, wolfdogs and dogs.

There is not presently a valid test that will guarantee analysis of whether a particular canine carries wolf blood.

I. Movement
Wolves, wolfdogs and dogs do not share the same mechanical motion when it comes to running and trotting. The body shape and the proportion of the limbs differ significantly: a wolf's hind legs swing in the same line as its front legs whilst a dog places its hind legs between its front legs. A wolf and a wolfdog paces, a dog trots. Wolves run on their toes with their heels raised up from the ground. It is called digitigrade movement. Wolves and extremely high-content wolfdogs (90-99%) also have their elbows turned inward and their feet turned outward - an anatomical advance which enables them to travel faster and keep their stamina as intact and preserved as possible when chasing after prey.

II. Ears
Dogs tend to have "sharp" and triangular ears which are covered in short, fine fur. Wolves and high-content wolfdogs have well-furred erect ears rounded at the tip. In low and mid-content wolfdogs, the lining of the ear and its shape is typically pointier and larger.

III. Eye Shape & Color
A dog's eye color is not always an indication of potential wolf heritage because many breeds produce orange and yellow eyes. If the color is unusually deep or bright, a dog may have wolf in it, but the combination of the color of the eye and its shape is a far better indication than the color alone. Whereas a dog has round eyes, wolves and wolfdogs have slanted eyes shaped like an almond. Wolves and high-content hybrids are not bi-eyed (heterochromic) and they seldom have green or blue eyes.

Both wolf and wolf hybrid puppies are born with limpid blue eyes but the color gradually lightens and reduces to gold, brown, ocher, amber, orange, or yellow. The eyes shift color approximately between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, but can also occur earlier, at 6 to 10 weeks of age.

There is also some differences in a wolf's and a dog's facial expressions – dogs do not or cannot look up, or look straight ahead with their heads lowered like wolves and high-content wolfdogs do. A wolf or a wolfdog can have its muzzle touching the ground and it can look up or straight ahead of what's in front of it. This is because wolves' eye sockets allow more movement to have the ability to do this.

IV. Fur Color & Coat Pattern
Wolves and wolf hybrids have an unbroken and cryptic fur pattern, whereas dogs can be multicolored and come in an extensive variety of different colors and markings. Wolfdogs are born with a very dark fur which, as they mature, either stays darkly or semi-darkly colored or then shifts into a light gray, pale or light brown, yellowish-gray or grayish-brown. White wolfdogs - including hybrids with Arctic heritage - are also born with dark pelages. The coat color on white and Arctic wolfdogs starts to lighten instead of darkening.

Low, and particularly mid-content wolfdogs typically have lightly colored masks and other slight facial markings.

Fur color transitions begin their permanent shifting in the pups' development around the age of 8 to 9 months, and the fur may continue changing up until 2 years of age (5 years on Arctic wolfdogs).

Blightwolf's Note: The demand for Arctic wolf mixes has risen significantly in the past couple of years. This phenomenon has also given certain "breeders" the opportunity to ride on the "fame" of Arctic wolves and sell off non-Arctic hybrids as authentic Arctic crosses. Arctic wolfdogs are the most misrepresented among the variety of hybrids.

1) Hybrids with Arctic heritage are not born with white coats. All high-content mixes have dark coats when they are born - Arctic mixes make no exception. It can take up to five years for an Arctic mix to fully receive a white fur and even in their adulthood, they can still have traces of darker banded hairs on their pelts. Just because a hybrid is white, does not mean it has Arctic ancestry.
2) Arctic wolfdogs do not have pigmentation on their noses unlike low and mid-contents with sled-dog ancestry.
They are not genuine Arctic mixes if their snouts have Husky-like light pinkish pigmentation (known as a "snow nose").
3) Arctic hybrids have taupe-colored toenails which almost look transparent. They do not have pink, black, brown or white claws.

V. Paws
A wolfdog's and a wolf's paw print is considerably larger (4 1/2 inches long, 3 1/2 inches wide) than that of a normal dog's. Wolves and high-content hybrids also have dewclaws attached to the bone and the toe pads and claw marks point forward. Dogs' dewclaws are not attached to the bone or cannot be used or moved, and their the toe pads and claw marks are angled to the outside.

VI. Tail & Glands
Wolf hybrids and wolves have a working precaudal gland which is located on the lower part or at the base of the tail. Primitive dogs (wild/ancient dogs) and most Northern dog breeds have the remnant of a precaudal gland which is viewable as a colored patch or a blotch on the tail but they do not have the actual gland itself. High-content wolfdogs and wolves also have scent glands around their eyes and between their toes.

Wolves and high-content wolfdogs have straight and narrow tails.
In most dog breeds and in low and mid-content hybrids, the tail tends to be sickle-shaped or curl upwards, and the tails are usually fluffier and thicker.

VI. Shedding
Dogs and low-content wolfdogs do not shed their fur like wolves and high-content wolfdogs. Low and mid-contents shed at least twice a year and high-contents usually have consistent shedding and the shed time depends on the weather. Wolves shed their winter coat in spring and grow a summer coat. In the winter they then grow a dense winter coat which is much fuller than the summer coat.

High-contents start to shed with the bottoms of their legs first. The fur on their backs come off in a strip. Then they shed their thighs, cheeks, tails and necks in an ordered manner and finally they shed their stomachs. The fur sheds out in fluffy tufts and chunks rather than in long pieces. Low-contents shed without an order and the fur comes out randomly.

Explaining the behavior and temperament of wolfdogs

Low, mid and high-content wolf hybrids all have different behavioral aspects. The stronger the wolf part is, the more a wolfdog will behave like a true wolf and the same thing goes in a reverse mode for wolfdogs with lesser ”wolf blood” - they act and behave in a more dog-like fashion. All wolfdogs, however, require the same amount of persistent habituation and training, regardless their percentage and content.

Proper (and continuous!) socialization is the most important thing when dealing with a wolfdog. Socialization is, in its shortest form of explanation, a way of getting the wolfdog used to interacting with various types of people (all ethnicities, genders, ages, heights and sizes) and animals, and it has the foremost and strongest effect on a wolfdog's behavior. Completely unsocialized or improperly habituated wolfdogs are unpredictable, skittish and hostile, and are fully capable of posing a danger to their environment and surroundings. The higher the content and/or closer to the generation of a pure wolf they are, the more heavily they must be socialized. A platform for future socialization must be created during the first 3 months of the hybrid's life and it has to apply and continue throughout its entire lifespan.

Wolfdogs enter different phases in their lives and go through selective stages of development. If one wishes to work with a wolfdog in a balanced and safe way, it is crucial not only to really know how to comprehend their behavior, but also to recognize that behavior, and understand its meaning.
The owners' presence must provide a sense of reassurance and support for wolfdogs as they are going through the habituation process and are beginning to adapt new things and places - they must be encouraged to independently interact with strange and unfamiliar subjects to confirm that the process is having a positive impact on the animal's psyche.

The animal must be introduced and exposed to as many different objects, sounds, sights, smells, people and other animals as possible. A balanced hybrid with a contented and healthy mind is not afraid to interact and create relationships with its surroundings.

Well-socialized and properly trained wolfdogs that have knowledgeable and responsible owners can make good companions.

Socialization & Bonding
Necessary proceedings to achieve a lifelong companionship and trust and to learn the proper handling of wolf and hybrid pups

High-content hybrid puppies should be pulled at the age of: 10 to 12 days. The socialization should start exactly after the moment of the pups' birth. They should be bottle-fed and handraised by the breeder, and they should receive as much exposure to various handling as possible. Newborn pups are born deaf and blind, but they are able to sense and smell, and react to touch and distinctions in light. When the eyes (11-15 days; full sight capacity is functioning at 28 days of age) and ear canals (12-14 days; full hearing capacity is functioning at 21 to 27 days of age) open, the pups should be introduced to many variable sounds and sights.

The handler should socialize a wolfdog in a similar fashion than one would socialize a regular domestic dog: positive encouragement, interaction, conditioning, and introduction are all important parts to enable the hybrid to have a decent canine citizenship. Just like domestic dogs, hybrids will learn the differences between good and bad behavior when they are being trained. Training should approximately begin at the age of 5 weeks. Because wolfdogs have inherited qualities from their wild ancestors which make them naturally timid and reclusive, training alongside with intense socialization generates positive experiences and increases the animal's chances to develop proper liking and social bond to people.

Full-blooded wolf puppies should be pulled at the age of: 3 to 14 days, NO later than 21 days. Wolves must receive intense socialization and maximum human interaction from their handlers to make them properly imprint on humans. Wolf pups should also be almost completely isolated from adult canines - excluding brief visits and minimum exposure - for the first 4 months to have them bond with humans and establish the required social tie towards the owners/handlers. They must be gradually introduced to adult individuals. A balanced opportunity for both naturalistic involvement in pack life but also human connection should be provided and it should be avoided to isolate the pups from other canines altogether. Wolves MUST be comfortable with humans but they cannot imprint or become overly dependent or attached of humans entirely. If exposure to other representatives of the same species is cut off and excluded from the pups' life, it will result in considerable behavioral stress and abnormalities in the later stages of their lives. Balanced and supervised interaction with both other wolves and humans is essential. In this way, the puppies will learn the natural importance of the pack and hierarchy but they will also become manageable by people.

Wolves and high-content hybrids should be bottle-fed exclusively by a recipe which is preferred by professional and highly educated and experienced wolf breeders, zookeepers, veterinarians, etc, by using the best possible, most nutritious and healthiest formula.

An outlook of a wolfdog's personality

Because of their genetic trait, wolfdogs generally behave more or less like wolves. They are intelligent and alert, but also naturally preserved and elusive - traits inherited from their ancestors. They require a lot of space, company, and exercise/physical stimulation. Wolfdogs exhibit less predictable behavior than regular dogs, and thus it is gravely important to learn how to ”read” a wolfdog by studying its gestures, expressions, and general body language. After the early socialization process, wolfdogs begin to rely on their owners, and will eventually display signs of trust, commitment and affection.

Hybrids are also extremely curious and inquisitive, and without any distracting entertainment provided, their behavior can change into destructive (they may establish such behavior as tearing furniture and digging holes into the yard, etc).

Pack Hierarchy
The dynamics and structure of a wolfdog pack

Wolfdogs that have been raised together or are introduced to each other in the same compound will naturally form a pack, and some breeders refer to this phenomenon as ”Wolf Government”. Its structure and hierarchy shows several similarities to that of a real wolf pack's; it is an organized and social, well-functioning family unit. Wolves, wolfdogs and dogs all have dominant, middle and subordinate siblings in a litter. Once an order in a pack is established, it does not mean that it will stay unchangeable forever. Rivalry and dominance are present in a wolfdog pack in the same way than it would be present in a captive/houseraised wolf pack. Each time a new wolfdog is introduced or removed from the pack, its structure changes and the pack adjusts to the new system. Realizing how dominance and submission works in a wolfdog pack is what helps you to understand and control it. You do not necessarily have to represent the "alpha" of the pack, but you must know the precautions and actions which help you to remain in control of the animals - you must be the individual that represents the maximum authority and dominance.

Wolfdogs that have been raised in pairs have a more clearer perspective of pack life, and the way of a ”two-pack” is not as organized or as complicated as in larger packs formed by wolf hybrids. Disruptions may happen, however, if, for example, a female is introduced to the two-pack established by two males. Such addition is likely to cause competition for the female and unwanted struggles for dominance, and therefore it is suggested that you begin with a bigger pack (raise an entire litter together) or simply keep only one pair of (neutered/sprayed!) wolfdogs. It is challenging to raise just one wolfdog because they naturally yearn for a companion of the same species. Wolfdogs need the company of a pack of their own species, they are not content with human interaction alone. The companion should preferably be around the same age and size as the other one, and preferably of opposite sex.

Hormonal Maturity & Mating Behavior
The breeding behavior in wolfdogs

Low-content wolfdogs usually reach hormonal maturity at the same age and way as dogs. Females enter estrus twice a year like dogs.

Mid-content wolfdogs may or may not enter estrus once a year and they may or may not reach hormonal maturity until they are 1 or 2 years old.

High-content wolfdogs reach hormonal maturity in the same way as wolves. Females have their first heat in their second or third season, and they will show seasonal mating behavior around 20 months old or earlier.

Seasonal Mating Behavior
The most important period in a wolf's and wolf hybrid's life

Also referred to as "Winter Wolf Syndrome". When mating season arrives, the wolfdogs' hormones start to kick in and it brings out the wolf in them in one way or another. Male wolfdogs can become agitated, less manageable, nervous and restless. Female wolfdogs may show signs of confusion and they might also become harder to manage. Both of the genders' eyes usually become more intense, they may growl and be more vocal than usual, they may mark their territory much more often than they typically do, and they may even challenge and "charge" at their owners.

During mating season, wolfdogs consider their enclosures and the area they are generally being held in as their mating territory. They can become annoyed by their owners' presence and behave in a less tolerant way. Just like with real wolves, the sole purpose of mating season is to seek a mate and procreate.
When a pair of wolfdogs enter the courtship phase, human interference is strongly discouraged. Wolves and hybrids are very protective over their chosen companions. Human interference can easily lead to unintended accidents/casualties.

Commonly, male wolfdogs show more general aggression and frustration during mating season than females. Humans should never try to separate two mates from each other or put them in different pens or enclosures. It is very important for wolfdogs to see their mate during the season, and the line of sight between a "bonded pair" should never be blocked. The less human interruption is presented during the season, the quicker the animals will adjust to it and the quicker the ordeal will be over and things will regulate again after the season ends.

The wolfdogs' ways of communication

Wolves, wolfdogs and dogs have a limited means of communicating to a human. Certain people teach their dogs to give them a "paw shake" - wolves and high-content hybrids do not have to be trained to perform this action. It is a greeting, portraying affection and trust to their pack mates as well as affection and trust to their human owners. Although wolves and wolfdogs do not necessarily provide the same level or degree of affection and attachment as a domestic dog might, wolfdogs should never be discouraged to do this for it may have an impact on their trust.

Wolves, dogs and hybrids can submit and show submissiveness in a number of ways: in total or complete submission, the wolfdog is laying down and exposing the vulnerable parts of the body such as the throat and stomach, or the wolfdog backs up into the subject in a friendly manner and exposes an another vulnerable spot, their rump, as a display of trust. In active submission, the wolfdog is very excitedly and eagerly submitting to its chosen and respected subject - it may be a human it has bonded with or a pack mate - and tries to act in a favorable way in front of the subject, such as lowering its ears and tail, bowing down, and licking the subject's facial area.

The combination of wolf and dog

Wolfdogs should solely be bred by responsible and knowledgeable professionals who fully understand their behavior and instincts and are capable of meeting the necessary requirements in order to maintain the animals in appropriate ways and provide them the best possible, adequate care.

Wolfdogs should be bred for temperament, genetics, health and appearance.

Hybrid puppies should be eye tested, hip screened, wormed and vaccinated at appropriate ages and given a basic health check from a licensed veterinarian alongside a verified documentary (Veterinary Health Certificate) for the protection of the seller, buyer and the pup.

Do NOT purchase a wolfdog from a person who refuses to let you see the litter, meet the parents, or does not allow you to visit the canines' current living conditions. Do NOT buy a wolfdog from a breeder who deceitfully misrepresents and exaggerates the wolf content in their animals. Do NOT acquire an overpriced hybrid - the cost must be absolutely reasonable compared to the canine's range of wolf blood and appearance. High-contents are the most expensive type of wolfdogs and they are also the hardest ones to get! Do NOT buy a hybrid from someone who glamorizes them or makes untrustworthy statements of the hybrids' behaviors, personalities and compatibilities as stable-tempered, child-friendly "family dogs".

Fraudulent Breeder

1) Having an uneducated and deceitful background about wolf and wolf hybrid relations
2) Sprouting or inventing lies about the wolves'/wolfdogs' origins, making unbelievable claims or coming up with ridiculous and nonexistent "breeds" or species of wolfdogs and wolves ("Blue Valley Wolf/Canadian Buffalo Wolf", "High Arctic Mountain Wolf/Native American Red Wolf")
3) Making wolves or wolfdogs seem as idealistic "family pets" by claiming that they are protective, tolerant with children, easily trainable, etc
4) Prohibiting the potential buyer from having access to view the litter or meet the sire and dam (parents) of the litter or not allowing the customer to visit the breeder's home and check out the animals' living conditions
5) Having unverified or nonexistent pedigree for the puppies, or claim the purchaser will receive a pedigree once the pup has been officially bought from the breeder
6) Does not possess certificated licenses or other required permits to breed and sell wolves/hybrids
7) Has a fast-paced breeding schedule or several available litters simultaneously
8) Constantly attempting to convince the buyer of the animal's wolf-like appearance ("That pup over there looks particularly wolfish", "That pup looks a lot like a wolf!" - etc)
9) Keeps the wolves/wolfdogs in inhumane conditions and offers improper and/or insufficient care
10) Does not have a verified documentary or a confirmed statement from a legal veterinarian that the litter has been officially inspected for health before the pups are being sold
11) Does not seem to have any kind of breeding standards or programs, and thoughtlessly crosses non-wolf-like, inappropriate dog breeds with wolves or hybrids (breeding wolves and hybrids with non-wolf-like dog breeds ruins the authenticity of the canine and does not respect its origin! If you have a lineage of a wolf that has been bred with a Golden Retriever, you will not receive an offspring which looks exactly like a wolf but behaves like a docile dog!)
12) Selling wolves or wolf mixes singularly for property guarding/protection purposes or dogfighting
13) Encourages buyers to commit animal abuse (physical violence as a form of domination/control) if the wolf or wolfdog is not responsive (does not obey) or acts "aggressively"

Reliable Breeder

14) Unfaltering commitment and dedication in maintaining a pack or packs of wolfdogs
15) Ability to provide adequate and proper living conditions, veterinary care and diet for wolfdogs
  • Building the hybrids an appropriate containment area and territory - at least an 8-foot high fence and over 1600 square feet of free roaming space
16) High levels of skill, knowledge and experience in working, training, socializing and overall caretaking of hybrids
17) Committed to dispel common fables and misconceptions about wolf mixes and committed to block misrepresentation of wolfdogs by not making deceitful claims of their behavior, temperament and wolf percentage
18) Possessing official licenses and permits to own, breed and sell hybrids
19) Living in a country/state in which wolf and wolf mix ownership is legally allowed
20) Seeking experienced, dedicated and loving homes for puppies
21) Appropriately vaccinating and worming puppies at right ages and assuring they have had basic socialization when they are being given to new owners
22) Breeding wolfdogs solely by using other, existing hybrids with the desired content, wolves, or wolf-like dog breeds in order to maintain a pure-blooded, healthy pedigree and bloodline
23) Accepting the responsibility and potential risks of breeding demanding, high-caliber canine companions
24) Studying persistently the generations and genetic pools of the parents and deciding the breeding compatibility of two, unrelated adult wolf mixes to produce healthy offspring with the wanted level of lupine appearance and content
25) Is willing to provide continuous support and expertise for new wolf and hybrid owners and help out the owners by using the highest capability of a reliable and confidential breeder

Educate yourself about responsible wolfdog breeding ethics and policies:

How to train a hybrid?

Consistency and assertiveness are major factors and the keys to successful wolfdog training. It is a common misconception and a pervasive myth that wolfdogs "turn against" their owners in their juvenile years. High-content wolfdogs are known for testing and attempting to challenge the authority of their "pack leaders" (owners) with their eagerness to dominate. Young wolfdogs may try to have a go at seeking a potential opportunity to climb up the "social ladder" of their pack's hierarchy and heightening their status within the pack. Receiving a challenge from a wolfdog should not be taken lightly or assumed that the behavior is only temporary! Immediate actions should be taken to correct the misbehavior and the juvenile hybrid should instantly be taught that they are not allowed to rebel against the "alpha". Hybrids should NEVER be punished by using physical discipline as a tool of domination. Physical abuse only arouses aggression and the trust between an owner and a dog is destroyed forever. They simply have to be adjusted to learn how to pick out commands and signals through the "alpha's" gestures, expressions and body language.

Because of hybrids' high level of intellect, their training process should be made mentally stimulating and entertaining. As active and curious beings, hybrids can lose their interest very quickly, which is why recreational games and new styles of training should always be easily discovered and applied to the training schedule in order to occupy the hybrid's interest and willingness to learn and obey at all times.

Wolf Training
Why it is important to socialize and train a captive wolf

Socialization will:

* Make captive wolves better ambassadors for their species, for they will show an interest in people rather than show avoidance and fear
* Enrich their lives though handling and even routine management

Training will:

* Increase the social bond and trust between the animal and the handler
* Make it safer to work with a socialized animal through the training of cut-off signals and controls
* Allows animals to be humanely given medical care with little to no stress
* Make it easy to enrich the animals' lives by breaking up the boredom of captivity
* Emergencies, such as escaped animals or downed fencing, become far less serious when the animal can be called over and leashed by a handler

Wolves can be trained when they are being handled properly and maintained in adequate and appropriate environments. Wolves are documented to respond well to simple hand signals and motions rather than vocal commands. Wolves are not as retractable as domestic dogs and some low and midrange wolfdogs, and they may show signs of losing interest and the willingness to respond and obey commands if the training is not appealing or does not offer anything significantly beneficial for the wolf. Whereas a dog is content with a compliment from the owner, wolves are greatly motivated by rewards which are linked to treats and edible items. The training of a wolf should be practiced thoroughly in consistent periods and refreshed training techniques and methods should be studied and applied into the training program. Wolves can be taught to adjust to specific "training schedules", but repeating the same commandment for too long frequently causes a wolf to abandon the task and lose focus. Therefore, different types of activities and enrichments should be provided in order to keep up the wolf's interest to learn and interact with its handler. Techniques should be switched and the wolf should always be awarded using a food price along with compliments said in positive and encouraging tones.

Wolves must be conditioned to connect training as something positive, rewarding and entertaining. Wolves, even the ones regarded as the most "tamest", responsive, obedient, or docilest, can end up as the subjects of unsuccessful training, if the wolf does not find it beneficial, intriguing and entertaining.

Privately owned captive wolves should be trained to I. protect human life and health and II. maintain the animals in good psychological and physical condition.

The proper diet for a wolfdog

Loosely, there are three basic types of feeding programs that wolfdog owners tend to use: 1) all-kibble (bagged or canned processed dog foods), 2) kibble supplemented with real foods (cooked or raw), or 3) an all-raw diet.

It is encouraged that owners consider the animal to be an unique individual and choose a feeding program that is best suited to the animal's personal needs. Owners should consult a veterinarian to ensure the choice they make is appropriate for the particular wolfdog, and so that they are aware of any possible health issues they might need to take into consideration.

Although some wolfdogs can be maintained solely on a high protein dog food diet, many tend to require a bit more "real" foods than can be found in kibble. Usually the higher the content range, the less likely the wolfdog is able to handle the grain and processed ingredients in commercial dog foods.

Wolfdogs should be fed for optimum health and in a responsible way that will assure that the animal will receive all of the required nutritional values.

Veterinary Care
Necessary medical examinations and procedures for hybrid wolves

Wolfdogs are exposed to the same/similar diseases than domestic dogs and one disease, Ehrlichia, which is sometimes recognized in captive wolves.

Wolfdogs should be regularly vaccinated against rabies and they should also be wormed twice a year. Responsible hybrid owners will vaccinate their wolfdogs to ensure that the animal maintains a healthy status.

Hybrids should be socialized to situations where routine medical attention is required in order to perform stress-free health checks in the future.

Spraying and neutering a hybrid is also strongly recommended unless the owner has plans for a responsible breeding program. Spraying and neutering keeps the unwanted canine obesity and excess weight-gaining at bay, and it also makes the animal more manageable and easier to handle.

Hybrid wolves should be fixed before they turn 18 months old and have had their first hormonal season.

Where and how to keep wolfdogs using safe and adequate methods

Low and mid-content wolfdogs are perfectly suitable living inside the owner's house just like any domestic dog. Contrary to claims and beliefs, wolfdogs can be housebroken, but because of their tendency to mark their territory frequently, it might be a challenging task - however, it is not a sheer impossibility to teach a wolfdog to mark its territory outside rather than inside the house.

High-contents can also fully well live inside the house but because a high-content has a range which is closest to a pure wolf, precautions and some modification in the house should be considered. Gates and a private pen or an enclosure (or an entire room) dedicated for the wolfdog is a good option. It should always be assured that the house offers a safe and comfortable passage for the hybrid to move around. It should never feel trapped or anxious about being held indoors. A crate or a box for a wolfdog is also a good call; a familiar, den-like place where the animal can feel secure and protected. The crate or box should be as large as possible. It should have enough space for the animal to turn around, stretch itself and switch its positions. Basically, it should be big enough for the animal to be able to lie down with its full body length inside the crate without feeling crowded.

Outside caging is an entirely different matter than living inside the owner's house. The cage or enclosure should be spacious and vast with as much space and room for running and walking as possible. Hybrids and pure-blooded wolves require at least an 8-foot (and even higher - 9 to 10 feet is recommended!) high fence and an area of preferably over 1600 square feet of ground/floor space. The cage should be well and sturdily built with double padlock pens with padlocked gate entries that lead inside the actual enclosures - most wolfdogs are masters at unlocking doors thus it's always the safest method to have extra locks to ensure the hybrid will stay inside its enclosure and will not run off or escape. Proper fence foundations and perimeter fencing are also extremely important.

An appropriate pen is not cheap, either, especially if extra materials like steel poles, gauge-chain links, gates, locks, platforms and panels are included.
Hybrids should NEVER be kept permanently chained or cabled or put behind an electric fence. Permanent cabling/chaining is unethical and inhumane. Tethering (by chain, cable or rope) should never be used as primary containment, only as a temporary measure with constant, direct supervision by a responsible person. "Temporary" is defined as being of a limited duration, and in this instance, special attention should be made of the animal's territoriality. Tethering accentuates the animals' "fight or flight" reflex. Proper, adequate, permanent containment should be provided. This is defined as appropriate containment that cannot be escaped from, is safe from hazards which could ultimately cause harm to the animal, and is adherent to all applicable land use, zoning, and animal control laws.

Rules and legislations concerning the ownership of wolves and wolfdog hybrids in the United States

For specific state and county regulations in the United States, please visit: & ... elaws.html

False advertisement and representation of wolves and wolfdogs

The majority of wolf hybrids are misrepresented as to the amount of wolf in the animal. Although an accurate survey of this would be difficult to make, perhaps impossible, general experiences of most individuals working with hybrids all come to a similar conclusion - that somewhere on the order of 75% - 90% of wolf hybrids have a lower wolf content than is claimed by the owner.

Misleading expectations about wolf and hybrid behavior and handling

Breeders and owners often make claims of how wonderful hybrids are to keep as pets. Wolf hybrids should not be glamorized. Claims are made that hybrids are good in the house, great with children, and basically "just like dogs". Although this is possibly true of low wolf content hybrids, it is not true with most, certainly not all. Regardless, glorifying hybrids as great pets does the animals a great disservice and jeopardizes animals as well as those around them. Even a good breeder of pedigreed dogs would do their best to talk a prospective owner out of purchasing a puppy. This is common practice done by breeders of any animal who want to ascertain the readiness of a future owner for any and all problems which might arise.

The problem with misrepresented animals is that they give their owners a false sense of experience with owning hybrids.

Web Source:

Literate Reference:
Living With Wolfdogs (Nicole Wilde, 2005)
Wolfdogs A-Z (Nicole Wilde, 2001)
Socialization and Management of Wolves in Captivity (Klinghammer & Goodmann, 1987)
Man and Wolf: Advances, Issues, and Problems in Captive Wolf Research (Harry Frank, 1987)
The Wolf Hybrid (Dorothy Prendergast, 1989)
Above Reproach: A Guide For Wolf Hybrid Owners (Dorothy Prendergast, 1995)

Wolfdog-related questions should be posted into this topic rather than by creating a separate thread.
Blightwolf will do her best to answer, consult and guide you in your questions within her highest ability and expertise.
Last edited by Blightwolf on Thu May 05, 2011 2:31 am, edited 109 times in total.

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Maia Huntress » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:01 pm

This is a great guide, Blight. I have no questions, this guide has practically everything! It must have taken you a long time to put this together.


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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Coats » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:16 pm

This guide is incredible, Blightwolf. You did an amazing job once again. I think this should be made sticky, so that it will always be at the top and so that users will see it, before they make a topic asking about wolfdogs and hybrids.
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Canidae » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:20 pm

I agree with the sticky thing. If anybody has any sort of wolf-dog related question, this thread is a must-read.

Very well done, Blight. =] Stickying now.
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:21 pm

Thanks for stickying the topic, Cani, and thanks for all the positive comments.

I still must add a few more tweaks into the guide, I forgot to explain the behavior of wolfdogs during mating season, because it changes a bit around that time... I will edit the guide and post a little about that, too.

I fervently hope that people will read this section first before making a wolfdog-related question. Or more simply, they can ask the question here. I check this thread frequently so an answer is absolutely guaranteed. ;)

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by jaguartail » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:32 pm

do wolfdogs ever live in the wild with other wolfdogs?

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Coats » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:01 pm

Please read the guide. It answers your question.
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:01 am

jaguartail wrote:do wolfdogs ever live in the wild with other wolfdogs?
Wolfdogs are not wild animals, they are the creation of humans. It is possible that a pack of wolfdogs have escaped and reverted themselves to a wild state, but "wild" wolfdogs are dangerous and rare, and you cannot walk into the woods and expect to find a pack of wolfdogs there. In theory, the answer is "yes", but this kind of behavior from wolfdogs is unexpected and very uncommon.

When we are talking about wolfdog packs, we are talking about captive packs that are being raised and controlled by a private person or a wolfdog breeder. The packs require vast enclosures and it must be made sure that none of the animals ever have the chance to escape or leave their enclosure without the supervision of the owner.

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Morgrin » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:34 pm

This is a great guide Blight. Thankyou.
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by pawnee » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:23 pm

Pretty cool information! a lot of it I didn't even know. Excellent job Blight! Excellent job indeed!
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:10 pm

Thank you very much. I am extremely glad that people are finding this guide useful and informative.

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Masika » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:34 pm

Great information guide Blightwolf! It provides alot of detail, and its nicely set out. Great Work!
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:12 am

The guide is still slightly under C.O., it needs a few more pieces of information and updates as well.

Thanks again for the comments.

Remember, that if you guys have any questions related to wolfdogs, don't be afraid to ask them. ;)

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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by AceWolf2010 » Mon May 03, 2010 7:30 am

I always wondered what it would be like to live with a wolf dog :) A very useful guide. By the way, have you ever owned a wolf dog? Where did you get the information?
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Re: All About Wolfdogs: Info & Guide

Post by Blightwolf » Mon May 03, 2010 11:20 pm

1) I have never owned a wolfdog, however, I have a two-year experience working and being around them, since I am a volunteer at a local dog/wolfdog/wolf farm.

2) The information was gathered from my sources which I listed at the end of the guide and also some of it was written entirely by me, trusting my own expertise and knowledge of wolfdogs.

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