In the last few years, the popularity of wolf dog breeds has increased dramatically. Whilst being magnificent creatures, they can prove challenging to take care of.

Not surprisingly, the statuesque beauty of wolf dog breeds captivate many a canine-loving human. However, the personality and physical characteristics of this type of dog mean that pet parents need to able to fulfill certain demands.


Like with all breeds, it is important to choose a dog that suits your lifestyle, environment, and personality.


What are wolf dogs?

Wolf dog hybrids are (as you may think) part wolf, part domestic dog. Dogs evolved from wolves through a long process of domestication and both share an evolutionary past as well as many behavioral and physical traits.


Most domestic bred wolf dogs can actually trace their lineage back to the fur farms of the 1950s. Hybrids can be part German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, or Siberian Husky, but Chow Chows and Akitas have also been used to create wolf dog hybrids.


Both wolves and dogs are interfertile, which means that they can interbreed with any type of dog, and their offspring are capable of producing puppies themselves. Hybrids can actually occur naturally in the wild, but they are very rare as their territorial nature leads them to protect their home ranges from other intruding canines such as coyotes or other wolves.


What do wolf dogs eat?

Wolf dogs do not need to eat the carbohydrates and preservatives that are found in typical dog food. They actually eat what wolves eat - raw meat. If you own a wolf dog, you should feed them several pounds of raw meat a day. Bones are not an issue for them and it is also fine to feed them chicken and turkey. Just avoid raw pork as it can cause digestive issues. Many wolf dogs also enjoy fruit, and will need to eat fresh grass along with other vegetation. Check with your vet to make sure what food is safe for your pet.


Wolf dog breeds: the pros

Intelligent, loyal and active dogs

Wolf dogs possess a large number of excellent qualities, including intelligence and courageousness. Alert and attuned to their environment, a wolf dog will guard your home diligently, as well as those who live in it. 


Usually used as sled dogs, these breeds form very strong bonds with their pet parent and as such are very receptive to commands. This extends to a strong attachment and an infallible loyalty to the people in their family whom they see as a part of their 'pack'.

Wolf dog breeds: the cons

Wolf dogs have become one of the most controversial canines in North America. Their popularity is increasing, meaning an increase in the number of people quickly discovering they are no longer able to care for their wolf dog adequately. Shelters are therefore struggling to re-home these unwanted pets. Meanwhile, vets are faced with concerns over various vaccinations (there is currently no rabies vaccine available for wolves or hybrids).

Their needs

People who own hybrids often find that their dog’s behaviour makes them a challenge to care for. Their genetic composition leads to a lot of behavioral patterns among hybrids, making their behaviour inconsistent and more difficult to predict. Therefore, it is extremely important to start training them when they are very young. It’s also important to keep them mentally stimulated.


Wolf dogs are strong, highly intelligent and independent creatures. Training will help to iron out any stubbornness, but they also operate well with a hierarchy. They will even look to establish one themselves, often making themselves the 'leader of the pack'.


These animals have more demanding needs than your average dog. The right sort of training will help to establish boundaries and give them security in their place within your family.


All wolf dog breeds should not be kept house-bound as they will need to expend their huge amounts of energy. They require a lot of exercise (three to four hours a day) and could have health issues if they are confined in a house.


If you wish to adopt a wolf dog breed, it is important to have:

  • At least one half to a full acre of a vegetated enclosed space for the wolf dog to roam in
  • A fence surrounding the enclosure that is at least 8 feet high
  • Concrete barriers with reinforced mesh to stop them from digging their way out
  • A dog house with enough space for the dog to shelter from bad weather
wolf dog breeds

Protectiveness

While being a wonderful guard dog and protector of and their pack, wolf dog breeds can be very wary of strangers and be overly protective. This behavior can become a challenge if the appropriate hierarchy is not adhered to from a young age.

Health

Wolfdogs are prone to the same health problems as other large dogs. Make sure that you have a vet who is willing to work with your pet. Just like any dog, your wolf dog could also be prone to things such as:

  • Fleas, mites or ticks
  • Injuries
  • Heartworm
  • Infectious diseases
  • Joint problems

Purchasing a wolf dog

If you determine a wolf dog is suitable to you and your lifestyle, we recommend you do some thorough research and only buy your new dog from a reputed and approved breeder or shelter. You should always visit the dog in person and find out about their history, family environment, etc. If you go through a breeder, the puppies should always be in the presence of their mother, and ideally their father as well. If you're unsure about what constitutes a reputable breeder or shelter, you can use the RSPCA's guidelines on how to buy a puppy or dog the smart way.


Additionally, wolf dogs can come in many different colours, sizes and genetic mixes, meaning some can be more wolf-like, making them more aggressive as opposed to those who are mostly dog-like.


Overall, the wolf dog is a breed that will integrate, respond and behave best with training from a very young age. They can pose problems if the owner is not up for the challenge, so it’s important to think long and hard about your decision. But for those who are and have the time, resources and support to properly care for and train their pet, a wolf dog will bring much joy and delight to its new family.


What do you love most about wolf dogs?

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