Reminder: The selected responses presented below are a reflection of the collaborative effort of Hybrid Wolf Mailing List aka. Wolfdoglist members to share opinions / information about wolf x dogs, responsible "ownership" and breeding practices. This FAQ is not a scientific or veterinary resource. Some responses have been edited for brevity.
Wolfdog FAQ - Question # 12
Do wolf-dog crosses "turn" on their owners after reaching maturity?
Nona, who got along w/all other dogs as a pup (the breeder we used to boardher w/ would say how they could put her in a pen w/ anyone, no problem,because she got along so well) became very aggresive w/ other dogs at theonset of pregnancy...and never went back. At 6 she is extremely territorial, anddoes not get on well w/ other females (and some males). Willow, who was a very hyper/challenging pup, finally mellowed out around 3yrs old- she actually obeys commands (the first time you say it, even!) and is much calmer & gentler than when she was younger.
I wonder if the "turning" thing doesn't have something to do with how they aretreated as pups? ie. as highly intellegent animals with a strong capacity toremember, they might just try to settle a score when big enough?
"An animal is a reflection of it's owner"
In my opinion, what is often perceived as "turning" is simply the animal coming into sexual maturity. Dominance challenges are normal behavior in a wolf pack. Ithelps to establish the order of rank. You are the Alpha in your pack, so itmakes sense that as your pup matures he tests his place in the rank order,i.e. challenges you for dominance. Those who are not familiar with thisconcept or with wolf pack structure or behavior are the ones who, in myexperience, feel their animal has "turned" on them.
This is not to be confused with an animal who suddenly lashes out because it's been abused or has a physical problem. Those things can happen too but with wolfdogs it's usually the dominance challenge.
My current wd is still a pup but my previous wd never ever displayed achange, but she was a low to mid content wd.
Do wolfdogs turn on their owners after they mature?
I'm going to give it a shot. IMO!!
First I think you would know from a puppy if its brain is a little twisted.Continual inbreeding in the line, abuse and so on, for both dog or wolfdog. Asthe wolf or wolfdog matures I think you must distinguish between dominate,aggressive and redirected behavior. And also with a very shy, scared of hisown shadow animal, fear biting. Also the time of year.With aggression, its unprevoked, and he or she wants to hurt you. I think thisis rare in wolves or wolfdogs.
If a big mature male tries to dominate you andyou try to fight him off this can turn to aggression or more. If you playrough with this animal it can turn from what you think is play into dominance,aggression to full out attack. Things can escalate very quickly. Both yourfault.
Dominance, this is part of their social stucture. It's not an a aggressiveattack. I don't think they are really thinking of hurting you. Mostly happensin the winter. They are showing their displeasure of you being in theirdomaine. Or if paired, being with their mate. Never fight back, walk out asfast as you can without running. Forget your pride today so you can playanother day.
If your out in the compound with your animals and your dominant animal startsto dominate another animal and you pull the dominating animal off and he orshe clamps their jaws on you with some pressure, he or she didn't turn on you.You tried to stop the dominate animal from his or her social right. Hecouldn't do what he was doing so he turned it on you. Redirected behavior, inthis case, your fault.
If your taking a very shy animal for a walk and he is fearful of people andall of a sudden there comes a person around the corner, he sees the person andstarts to back up. You start to pull, he gives you a growl, you pull, hebites. He did not turn on you. He gave you warnings, he sat, he growled, youpulled he bite. Your fault.
If you get bit you have to sit down and thinkabout what happened, especialy with redirected behavior as there are many waythat can occur. If it happened 999 out of a 1000 its your fault. As has been saidyou must learn to read what they are giving you, especialy in the winter.
I think a dog is more likely to bite and turn on you than a wolf or wolfdog.Now don't take what I said and think I am talking about [so-called] house wolves, although it can apply. Most of this is in reference to my guys and just my opinions.
Paul & The Still Pleasing Summer Packs
Two Feathers, Choctaw, Loafer & Tanana
Well, [my wolfdogs] regularly turn their backs to me when they don't get what theywant or I insist on something they don't want but I doubt this is what thequestion means.
With the extremely rare exception of an animal that is "off" from birth Ifirmly believe that wds become exactly what their "owners" teach them to be.Not, in many cases, what the human might WANT but certainly what the humanallows/teaches/etc them is acceptable.
With enough love, attention, understanding, time, energy and positivereinforcement a wd will reach maturity as a stable, trusting, trustworthy,loving companion. Leave out or lessen any of the necessary ingredients andthe result changes.
Turns on - NO. The phrase implies a sudden and unexpected, unwarranted,inexplicable change in behaviour. I don't believe it happens, have neverseen it happen and think it is often an excuse used by humans whocouldn't/wouldn't/didn't do their job from the beginning.
An adult becomes what it's upbringing, training and treatment has taught itto be.
One thing I can say with great certainty, is that the notion of a dog or wolfdog reaching maturity, then suddenly "turning" is incorrect and highly misleading. It describes no behavioral response that I am familar with in either wolves, wolfdogs, or dogs. The concept of any animal "turning" into something, conjures up images of the animal metamorphisizing into some completely 'other' being. Impossible when it comes to canids.
The key to raising a happy healthy animal well into older adulthood, is to select a 'sound' pup and start off the socialization process early continuing on lifelong. It is also essential to have a good understanding of canine behavior, before aquiring any dog or wolfdog. Get to know the breed characteristics of the dog breed(s) "mostly" in the mix, as well as the differences in potentials of behavioural responses between the extremes in content range. Know that typically the intensity is much greater in higher content wolf-dog crosses than in low content wolfdogs or dogs.
Abuse/neglect (including mental and physical abuse, ie. chaining, insufficient mental stimulus, inadequate containment, etc.!), OR the 'owner' not fully understanding and preparing for the potentials of behavioral responses to situations/etc. can be for some critters, a fast track to a more serious incident. I would also have to say that inappropriate "training" techniques involving physical harm or what may be termed 'punishment', can also produce non-optimal results in certain animals.
It's easy to say "the animal turned on me for no reason". But, do canids really do anything without 'a reason to' ? No ! They have their reasons - it's up to us to attempt to understand, not to find blame in the animal.
If the wolfdog is [well bred] / born healthy and raised by a loving andresponsible family then NO, I don't think they will turn!
If they are inbred, birth defect, medical defect that affects their brain.OR they are raised wrong (as in being beaten to make them learn something)!Then yes, I think anything would turn regardless of wd or just canine!
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