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 # 30
Many claim to have wolf-dogs, but most are obviously Northern breed dogs. What can I do to educate these mistaken owners ?
The demeanor of the person doing the informing is very important. A brash statement such as "You sure were taken when you bought that mutt" is not conducive to a positive reaction from the owner. The attitude of the telling person goes a long way in the reaction and education of the owner. It does no good to rub salt in the wound. There are very FEW folks that truly keep high percents or pures that were not the victims of this themselves - myself included. Have a listing of several books for the person to read that may be of assistance to him/her to see just what DOES make a wolf content animal look and act a certain way.
Many times it's not what you say but how you pose your question and explain yourself that keeps the owner receptive to your inquiry. It isn't fun, easy or popular to do but is in the best interest of responsible ownership to stop the mistaken identification and breeding of such animals.
If someone looking for their first wd pup were concerned about accidentally getting a domestic dog themselves, instead of a wd... I would offer them photos of many of the wolfish dog breeds, such as sibes, mals, GSD, malinois, samoyeds, & belgian tervs...both as adults, *and* as pups. Then, I would show them photos of wolves (adults & pups)... and point out the differences between them.
I'd also recommend that they look at Wolf Park's Identifying Wolf Hybrids section, and the Iowolfer pages [previously mentioned]...and compare dogs, to lows, to highs/wolves.
In addition, I would tell them to insist on seeing & interacting with the parents. It's a LOT easier to tell wolf content in the parents, than it will be in the puppies! (for many folks, anyways.)
I do think those who are more experienced and can explain the differences well, have an obligation to educate wolfdog owners on "content, vs. percent"...though it should be done tactfully and respectfully (saying "97% wolf, My Ass: that's a husky" will not get you far).
I especially think that those who BREED those "97% wolf" huskies need to be informed of what they really have... I'm not saying no one should breed low contents...just that it's important that they be represented as such.
OOOhh .. This be a stickly one. After three years of studying it , I cannot tell you a good answer. Especially since I am genetically predisposed to failure of Tact 101. Directly pointing at the animal in question and laughing just doesn't work. Trust me. *grin*
One way to approach it, is to have a picture handy of a representative high content (or the actual furbutt) and as gently as possible, point out the traits that are NOT "wolfish", such as curly tails, broad chest, blue eyes, large ears, small heads, floppy ears or spots for example. Compliment the animal's looks for the DOGGIE part, so it doesn't sound like you're saying "What a mutt!". Perhaps emphasize that even tho their animal may not have as much wolf content as they have been told, (thus placing the "blame" on whoever told them their pup had wolf in them) and that you are sure that their dog is a FINE companion worthy of adoration for their doggie selves (ie: who cares if he doesn't have any wolf in them? He's beautiful. You're so LUCKY to have him!). This approach has worked for me, and, has ALSO NOT worked for me.
Humans are funny people. Some Folks would rather believe the lie, and keep it alive, than accept the truth, even if the Truth bites them right on the butt. It also makes a difference WHY the person has the animal. If they have their Husky-mix so-called "wolf" cuz it's "cool", the chances of them listening to reason are slim. *sigh*
Answer - Boy, that is the question of the year! In my 15 or so years of working with wolfdogs, I find persuading owners of so called wolfdogs (which have little or no real wolf in them ) that these animals are far less wolf than reported is one of the hardest tasks I have encountered. So much ego seems wrapped up in wolf content, and coupled with the fact that many people, owners included, have little experience with real wolfdogs or wolves, makes convincing these owners their animals are misrepresented a most daunting task.
Probably the best tactic I have found is to put together a photo collection of physical traits of wolves, wolfdogs of known and verifiable content, and various breeds or mixbreeds of dogs. I have used such a collection to educate owners. I also have a vast background in behavior and first hand experiences I can share. Some owners can be convinced, others turn hostile and I just walk away.
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