WHATE - Section 1
Go Back to the Introduction to WHATE. || Continue onwards to Section 2 of WHATE materials
Genetics/Physical Traits || Behavioral Traits ||
Day To Day Considerations
A Word About Percentages
New from the Author of WHATE|
"Wolfdogs A to Z; Behavior, Training & More"
Essential reading for wolfdog 'owners' !
"Living with Wolfdogs; An Everyday Guide to a Lifetime Companionship"
An excellent book detailing wolfdog 'ownership'. A must-read !
Some Differences - Wolves vs. Dogs
- Pure wolves cycle once a year - pups are born late March through early May. Dogs
are born year-round.
- Pure wolves and high contents are born black (or very dark gray). Even Arctics,
who eventually turn white, are dark at birth. Dogs are born in a variety of colors.
- High content (adult) hybrids look very wolfy. Some physical characteristics of
the wolf are: long, leggy body; thick, double-coat; extra-large paws; ruff of fur
around the neck and shoulder area; elongated snout; long, curved canine teeth; slanted
eyes ranging from brown to amber to yellow (never blue) in color; small, furry,
rounded ears; straight tail (as opposed to the malamute/husky tail which curls up over
the back); black nose. Note: None of these characteristics should be used in and of
itself to determine wolf content, since a number of them may be common to wolves and
- Early, consistent socialization of the hybrid is necessary at an early age, to
adults, children, other animals, noises, situations, etc. If this is not done, the
animal may grow into a skittish, unmanageable, fear-biting adult.
- Destruction - the wolf is a digger by nature, and the destruction in your home
can be extreme, i.e. the living room couch, other furniture, even the walls
themselves. Many high content hybrids can open just about anything (despite
baby-proof locks) including the refrigerator, cabinets, and doors.
- The fact that wolves do not defecate in one area like domesticated dogs,
combined with the natural inclination to mark their territory, makes housebreaking
wolves and high content hybrids extremely difficult.
- High content hybrids are not good watchdogs, due to the wolf's timid nature.
Do not expect a high content hybrid to protect you or your property. High contents and
pure wolves don't bark much (usually one warning bark, as opposed to the dog's
repetitive bark), so they don't make good "alarms", either.
- Howling - wolves and hybrids howl, whether out of loneliness, at sirens, or for
their own wolf reasons. Take into consideration what type of neighborhood you
live in and what your neighbors will put up with. Not everyone appreciates the
eerily beautiful howl of the wolf, especially at 4:00 am.
- Mouthing - mouthing and nipping are natural behaviors which must be modified at
an early age. Teaching an adult 120 lb. hybrid not to bite is no fun, not to mention
- As far as being good with kids, yes, they can be brought up and socialized with
children. But be aware that the prey instinct may be triggered by the young/small child running,
or falling down and crying. Many hybrids grow to be very large in size, and play
roughly as well. * Regardless of breed or content, no large dog should EVER be left
alone with a child.*
- Obedience - wolves are extremely intelligent. They do, however, have their own
reasons for doing things, and do not have the inbred desire to please humans that dogs
do. Obedience training (especially with higher contents) is likely to take more time and
effort and produce less reliable results than with a dog, although it can be done. Getting a
high content hybrid to come when called is a major undertaking; most can not be let
off leash in a public area because of this (combined with the fact that children or
small animals may trigger the prey instinct at any time). But many low contents have,
with perseverance, gone through formal obedience training class and even excelled.
Another extremely important thing is that you establish yourself as alpha early on.
It is natural for wolves to challenge the alpha for place in the pack order. You must
be prepared to deal with these types of behaviors correctly. *Never, ever hit a wolf
or hybrid.* Seek help from a professional trainer experienced with hybrids.
Day To Day Considerations
- Hybrids are escape artists. They need an escape-proof enclosure, with room to run.
Hybrids (or for that matter, dogs) should NEVER be kept on a chain as a primary means
of containment. The minimum necessary for containment is six foot high chain link
fencing with lean-ins at the top, and a dig-proof bottom. Hotwire and a perimeter
fence are also recommended. Kira Frye's packet (see last page) has extensive
information regarding the building of a proper enclosure.
- Hybrids need companionship, canine as well as human. Another hybrid or
large breed of dog of the opposite sex is preferable.
- Wolves are carnivores. High content hybrids do not do well on kibble alone. Be
prepared to supplement the diet with fresh meat - many of the sources listed on the
last page go into specific detail on this. It is a good idea to locate a source for
meat and find out the costs involved before obtaining your animal.
- Transporting high content hybrids and pure wolves in a car is difficult. Getting
them into the crate is an ordeal in itself, and many defecate and urinate out of fear
during the ride, making a routine visit to the vet an unpleasant experience at best.
Some owners find it necessary to tranquilize their animals before transporting them.
Be aware that some vets refuse to treat wolf hybrids of any content, and some refuse
to administer the rabies vaccine since its effectiveness on hybrids remains to be
proven (although this is an issue which is currently in debate, and evidence is
pointing towards the vaccine being approved for use on wolves and wolf hybrids).
A Word About Percentages
It has been estimated that over 90% of wolf hybrids sold in this country are credited
with being of higher wolf content than they actually are. One danger in this is that
the buyer purchasing a low content animal thinking it's higher may have the animal for
years with no problems, training it like a dog, having it live in the house, be
housebroken, non-destructive, etc. This person then spreads the story of how wonderful
these high-content animals are and how easily cared for not much more trouble than a
dog! Someone else hearing this (or even this same person getting a second animal down
the line) then gets what actually IS a high content animal - and is in for a big
surprise. Also, keep in mind that in addition to percentage, the number of generations
the animal is away from a pure wolf will affect behavior as well. A hybrid which is 8
generations down the line from a pure wolf will be less "wolfy" than one who is 3
Most high content hybrids (and certainly pure wolves) do NOT make good house pets;
most people who have high content animals keep them in the house as pups, only to
banish them to the yard after the destruction and behaviors become too much to deal
with. This is not to say that no one has ever been successful at keeping a high
content in the house (however, many who think they have done so may unknowingly have lower
content animals) - but it would take extreme effort and dedication, as opposed to the
amount of work required to acclimate a lower content or pure dog.
Note: Wolves have traditionally been crossed with malamutes or huskies,
and are also sometimes crossed with german shepherds. Due to the recent surge of
popularity of the hybrid and the potential for a quick buck, some unethical
breeders have begun to cross wolves with more aggressive breeds, such as chows
or pit bulls. These particular crosses are an accident waiting to happen, and
threaten the future existence of hybrids everywhere. Do not support this very
Continue on to Part 2 featuring the article "So You've Decided to Get a Pup",
* First Things First || Newspaper Ads || Hybrid Wolf Breeders *
followed by a listing of resources for further information, such as
* Publications || Books || Help by Mail/Phone/E-mail || Online Resources || T-Shirt Offer *
Thinking about breeding your wolf-dog ?
A candid message from Nicole Wilde, author of the book, "Living with Wolfdogs; An
Everyday Guide to a Lifetime Companionship", to potential breeders.
WHATE is hosted as part of
The Wolf Dunn's Wolf Tales
(wolf and wolfdog information section).
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