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 # 11
Do people take wolves from the wild to keep as pets ? Is that where wolfdogs come from?
Nearly all wolves and wolfdogs are from animals that have been raised incaptivity for many, many generations. Wolfdogs (F1 wolfdogs anyway) are normally produced by breeding captive wolves to dogs.
Two common lies often told by disreputable breeders are that they dug wolf pupsfrom a den and the other common lie is that they tied a female dog in heatout where she was bred by a wolf or that a wild wolf just happened to breed with her. While this is possible it is extremely unlikely, nearly all wild wolves would kill any dog they found or even sometimes other wolves not belonging to their pack.
The normal reason for them to tell you a story like this would be to avoid tellingthe the truth, normally because you could then find out that the animal isn't what they claim it to be.
Wolves have long been held in captivity. Many of the animals we refer to as wolfdogs can trace their wolf-inheritance to animals which have been specifically and purposely bred for generations in captive settings. Examples: there are lineages which trace their wolf-inheritance to fur farm wolves, others which trace their wolf-inheritance to wolves which had stemmed from certain zoos or other holdings. 20 plus years worth of selective and purposeful breeding is most definately not the same as "plucked from the wilds".
Wolfdogs are not the product of some crazy fool running out into the wilderness and capturing a "wild" wolf. Most, if not all, wolfdogs of any recognizeable recent wolf inheritace come from wolves which have been in private ownership for multiple generations. Some come from animals which had been selectively bred for good temperament and outstanding features decades ago.
Far too many people use "pulled from a den in the wild" as an excuse for breeding animals of UNKNOWN heritage.
Another Wolfdoglist member had written me privately and put it into perspective. He wrote, "The most common thing I hear is that they know it is 100% because it was taken from a den in Alaska, the most common line told by almost every disreputable breeder in the country. That way they don't have to invent a lineage to go with it."
So where do the wolves in wolfdogs come from ? First one must point out that the majority of wolfdogs are several generations away from a pure wolf parent and represent many generations of other wolfdog or dog breeding. The captive pures alive today are primarily the product of many generations of captive breeding.
Restrictive legislation against exotics of all types was much less prevelent 30 years ago. Zoos sold surplus wolf pups to private citizens (Jerome Hellmuth author of "A Wolf in the Family" and Lois Crisler author of "Arctic Wild" and "Captive Wild" are documented examples), something they would not do today. I even remember visiting a pet store in Los Angeles County circa 1970 that would order ocelots, lions, and all kinds of exotics for sale. Certainly in areas with a remaining wolf population, primarily Alaska and Canada, pures might be obtained from the wild, but again most captive pures today are the product of other captive wolves.
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