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.
What is an 'acceptable' breed of dog to mix with wolf (and why)?
MALAMUTES tend to lend the broader build, defined face markings, curled tail, strong will, and independence.
HUSKIES tend to lend a smaller frame, face markings, curled tail, more hyper and independence.
GERMAN SHEPHERDS tend to lend "shepherd" coloring, brown eyes, the shepherd tail (I'm at a loss for the name of it at the moment) and more timid temperament. (The problem is that some people are not using the well-bred GSD's, they are using the backyard types which in some cases are so timid they become fear biters).
I'm sure that many do not agree with this. Many could add other undesireable traits. Basically I feel its a matter of opinion and what one wants.
From what I've been regularly exposed to the malamute cross was more hard headed and broader bodied. However this animal typically had a wolfier phenotype than the German Shepherd cross which was more tractable.
I believe that Alaskan malamutes are the most "acceptable" breed to cross with a wolf. Alaskan malamutes [can be] very mellow dogs. Siberian huskies would be another "acceptable" breed to cross but in my experience huskies are quite hyper and can be a handful.
Storm is a husky x Timberwolf and as such a great success. She is outgoing, friendly and full of fun. I know of people in my area who have GSD x Timberwolf and are not happy at all. One litter I know of looks and behaves just like a larger GSD, the other behaves like what I take from the list is high content WD behaviour, stalking round the garden, hiding behind the garden shed when visitors come.
I only own one wolf mix, so I don't have much experience with wd's. I have owned Siberian Huskies for nearly 6 years now. They are by far the greatest dogs to own in my opinion. If bred right, and I mean bred for the right reasons being: GOOD HEALTH and GREAT TEMPERMENT and not for more say cosmetic reasons, would be a good breed to mix with the wolf. The Siberian is close in looks to the wolf with and some mushers even breed their siberians to wolves to hopefully get the speed and the body frame of a wolf but more even in temperment.
I, personally, don't believe there is an "acceptable", (as opposed to "unacceptable") breed of dog to cross a wolf with. There are those breeds which, I, personally, have more of an affinity for, thus, would be more preferential for me, and there are breeds that I believe do not make an easily compatible mix.
But it calls for preference and opinion. I prefer Northern Breeds over all other choices of dog mixes. As most Northern Breeds, (Siberian Husky, Alaskan Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, etc) have similar basic phenotypes, (prick ears, double-coated, more angular heads, tight dewlaps, pointed, yet not thin noses, more "primitive" in looks, and have basic personality patterns which aren't in extreme conflict with wolves, (curiousity, independence, running, drives) and are still "civilized". (well....) I think these dog mixes compliment the more primitive wolf without deviating so much as to make for odd-looking, "mis-matched" animals.
Breeds I would never consider:
I would not use any hound breed because I don't care for the wide disparity of physical characteristics. Same with retrievers. Flop-earred dog breeds are avoided. Chihuahuas. (they are DEFINATELY on my "yuck" list.) Shar-Peis. Pugs. (definately no wolf/pugs, please.) I would not use any dog breed that had a particular pelage pattern. (Dalmatians, Aussies, Brindle, Poodles, Water Spaniels, etc) I would avoid all Guarding-breed dogs, as I feel that the Guard drive & the Prey drive together, have the potential to create some behavoral problems. (Yes, I know that precludes GSD/wolf mixes. I have known some fabulous, wonderful sweet GSD/wolf crosses, but the Guarding breed has its' own sets of "crosses to bear", and I worry about bite incidents and misunderstandings.) I would avoid any Protection-type dog breeds and ALL fighting dog breeds. (Mastiffs, Pitts, Prensas, Anatolians, Dobies, Rotties, Akitas, any dog breed bred to fight. Actually, I feel pretty strongly against ANY of these dog breeds as choices for a wolf content mix.
Although I have heard good things about Pyr mixes, behavior traits seem to be very compatible, and lends itself to a stable mix, I am not fond of the increased size (which is actually the original intent, in my humble opinion... Chosen for size, and lucked into good personalities) I feel increased size leads to possible health risks. Great Danes have a 6 year average life expectancy, for example. And I wouldn't chose size over health.
This may be a trick question
Once the miracle occurs and canine flood waters recede, my own opinion is that the usual breeds used to mix with wolves-GSD's, Mal's and Sibes-are not always the best choices. Belgian Sheepdogs, Malinois and Tervuren are more sound than the GSD and usually way more trainable than the Sibe or Mal, plus they have a nice wolfy look (as far as dogs go.) The most wolf-like of all the well-known domestic dogs have got to be the Border Collies and the Australian Kelpies with their keen intelligence, natural builds and low, slinky gait. They are also the most driven of dogs. They have characteristics that would nicely enhance those of wolves. Only a crazy person like me would want a Border Collie/Wolf cross however!
There is so much variation within dog breeds and so much variation in what wolfdog buyers/adopters are looking for, that it is really quite difficult to make generalizations about what breed is good or bad to cross with a wolf.
I will try not to let this disintegrate into a rant, but overall, I feel that most people are NOT careful or skilled enough to do first generation crosses between pure wolves and pure dogs. All of the breeds mentioned so far have really good points and really bad points. All have tendencies towards serious problems that could be magnified when wolf genes are introduced.
How many wolfdog breeders are fully training and trialing (or otherwise working) their domestic dogs to make sure they have the bodies and minds to make them good breeding stock for future wolfdogs? How many even bother to research the health of those dogs' parents/grandparents? How many are selecting pure wolves who are relatively easy-going towards humans, who show a willingness to learn and to be handled, who have steady and gentle temperaments? I know there are some good breeders out there, but mostly it seems like a crap-shoot.
Many dog breeders take advantage of line breeding in hopes that good qualities will be accentuated in offspring. Inbreeding parent to child and sibling to sibling does occur, but can be dangerous because genetic weaknesses are more likely to crop up. Wolfdog breeders, as a whole, are not educated enough in genetics and should avoid inbreeding (and most line breeding for that matter.)
I and other rescuers have been involved in cases where breeders have allowed animals to reproduce at will and there is often much inbreeding simply because the animals are contained together and have no other option for mates. The health problems that can result are heart-breaking.
I'd say that if anyone has siblings on their property, make sure they are either well-separated or altered.
Maybe I should go back to my first answer and say there are no acceptable breeds to mix with wolf...at least not until we humans get smarter and more responsible about it.
Working Dog Rescue
Appearance wise many northern breeds certainly make a good cross. However, there are assertive nordics I don't think a good idea to use, like chows, elkhounds, and Akitas.
Most frequent are Mals and Sibes, and these have some temperament traits that wolves do, only to a lesser extent (maybe, depends on he individual and trait), like high prey drive, independant minded, and not caring to please.
So with a m/w or Sibe/w, one has a fair idea of what to expect temp wise. Downers are Mals are often aggressive to dogs of the same gender (as wolves can be), and Sibes have an enormous amount of energy that must be burned off to have a content and calm canid. Both breeds usually are good natured to everyone.
Personally, I have a great fondness for Samoyeds, and the first wd I met was part Sammie. They're also good with people, but IMO perhaps a bit more willing to co operate because they can form a deep rapport with individuals and thus - if that bond is there - not easy to rehome happily. Drawbacks are they're being bred for a blockier build, aren't as large as m/w (if that matters, which I don't think it should), and that long COAT. But having had 2 Sammies at once, I must say the fur was minor compared to their company and probably equaled the fluff of one Sam/w.
While Belgian sheepdog or Belgian tervuren would probably make beautiful crosses, I'm a little hesitant about using dogs that can be trained for attack, which most the northerns cannot. As for GSD/w crosses, there's so much variance in the breed now that I feel one is going to have to approach each as an individual.
The purpose in mating these two breeds in 1954 was to have a dog which has the looks, endurance and other positiv traits of the wolf, as well as the obidience of the GS.
Line breeding was done (4 lines). The outcome is todays Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, a breed which is registered with the FCI (Federation Cynologique International).
The CsV has been an acknowledged breed since 1999 and neither wolves nor GS's have been bred into them any longer.
These WDs are lovely dogs for the "right" people. Because of their high social adaptation, their owners must spend alot of time with them. If they are not properly socialized towards strangers or ongoings outside their own terrain (house, property) they will react to any new happening as a wolf would do, being quite shy and backing off. Yet they are very protective of their *pack* and their home.
It is absolutely possible to have them as a housedog, as long as they get enaugh exercise. If they get bored, or p.o'ed. at their owner for leaving them alone too long, they cane be quite destructive (chewing their way through doors and walls, eating the furniture or any other thing they can get their fangs into ;o)
Life expetancy is 15-18 years. Weight ranges from 60-90 lbs. Thing about these sweethearts is, they don't really comply to any sport that *you* want; I always tell perspective owners to try out different things and the CsV will then choose which type he likes. Negative experiences get deeply embeded into their concience and it take lots of patience and sometimes years to erase.
The pups are basicly raised in wolf-fashion, being that the whole pack brings them up.
(if anyone has more concrete questions about the CsV, you can contact me by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Howls and wolfie kisses,
[Note: more information about the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and the Saarloos Wolfhond can be found online at our Wolfdog and Wolf-Like Dog Breed Showcase.]
As was mentioned in other posts, the d-dogs most often seen in wolfdog crosses are Siberian Husky , Malamute and GSD [German Shepherd Dog]. Some breeders have very strong preferences for one breed or another. Mals possess great size, smaller ears, bushier coats, are more stubborn than GSDs and are less inclined as a breed to be watchdogs. Sibs are smaller, also possessing small ears and curly tails. Some breeders do not like the blue eye color which can emerge, while others love this feature. Sibes rarely suffer hip dyslplasia, which plagues both GSDs and Mals. Shepherds are generally considred more trainable - which appeals to many people; others are cautious because the GSD may be a "sharp" breed, that is, they may show more stranger aggression and protectiveness than Sibes or Mals. Purebred GSDs are often prized for their guard/protection abilities.
Some people have discussed shyness with GSDs. This developed, I believe when little attention was given, over many years to the quality of some dogs being bred, and shyness, or a tendency to fear bite developed with some Shepherds, as did a reputation for hip dysplasia. IF a GSD is out of a good line, with temperament and health given primary concern, these dogs can be a wonderful choice to use in a wolfdog breeding program. * I have seen many wonderful wolfdogs who share an ancestory of Malamute, Sib, GSD. Some breeders deliberately mix in two or three of these dog breeds in their wolfdog breeding program.
With any wolfdog breeding, the primary factor should be temperament - of the pups and especially of the parents. For this reason, I would recommend that dogs such as "Pit Bulls", Rotts, Dobermans, Chows and a few other breeds known for a propensity toward human aggression not be used in WD crosses. ((By themselves, these dogs may be fine - and healthy, stable examples may be found of all these dog breeds -but when it comes to wolfdog crosses, I would avoid a cross involving these breeds.))
Most wolfdog breeders also want to produce pups who have dog in the line who share certain traits with the wolf. Traits include erect ears, eye color (Mals and Sibs can have yellow eyes), double coated breeds, with similar coat and color patterns, smaller ears, etc. Of course, GSDs have large ears and sickle tails, and Sibs may have dazzling blue eyes and curly tails, so again, breeders have preferences . And we see many different and unique wolfdogs. I have heard of breeds such as Samoyeds and Belgian Tervuerens producing some gorgeous wolfdogs. One of the more famous, though controversial wolfdog breeders, Gordon Smith, also incorporated Collies in his choice of dog breeds that went into his bloodline. [ Note: The Native Amerindian Dog Association (NADA) informs us that Gordon K. Smith foundation stock never contained any Collie. ]
*Dogs who are very different, such as Lab, Poodle , Dalmation, etc. would not be very complimentary to the "wolfy appearance" *They are not "bad", just not physically complementary!. It all boils down to personal choice. Many years ago, some breeders actually bred Lab x Wolf, feeling this would "temper" a line (resulting in a more mellow canine). Few of these wolfdogs are are still around. Often, these wolfdogs produced solid black, yellow or gold pups with short coats, and/or floppy ears. The gold color was dominant and very hard to eliminate from a line. GSD large ears are also a very dominant feature which may surface even in wolfdog with little GSD remaining in the line.
**A famous experiment was undertaken quite a few years ago, in Germany, by Dr. Erick Zimen, where he crossed pure wolves to Standard Poodles. *He chose Standard Poodles because they possessed very different physical features from the wolf, and this was crucial to his study. Unfortunately, this experiment was terminated after only two generations of breeding. I recall that most of the second gen pups were given away and did well in their homes. I have not yet been able to locate pictures of these "Poo-wolves" Neither have I been able to get any detailed data of Zimen's studies with the first or second gen crosses.
All in all, the most important considerations for a person choosing a puppy are temperament, health, and then preferred types of breeds. The percentage issue will factor in regarding appearance, trainablilty, special needs, etc.
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