Domesticating wolfdog hybrids remains a controversial topic in the pet world. The rise in demand for wolfdogs results in irresponsible ownership due to the lack of knowledge.
Owning a wolfdog is like having the best of both worlds. Part domesticated dog and part wolf, wolfdogs are incredible animals that exhibit a distinctive personality influenced by their genetic blueprint. However, rearing them is not as simple as it sounds. Whilst they can be charming and personable, they can also be unpredictable. That’s why they are included in the dangerous breed ban list.
Wolf vs dog
Contrary to general perception, domesticated dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) did not directly evolve from wolves (Canis lupus). However, they do share a lot of common traits both physical and behavioural which made it possible for them to mate and reproduce. Research reveals that they share a common ancestor that became extinct thousands of years ago.
Although they share many similarities, they also have apparent differences such as the following:
- Appearance – Wolves are larger in size in comparison to dogs. They have bigger heads with narrowed chest and hips. They also have long legs and big paws which allow them to run at top speeds in the wilderness.On the other hand, dogs have wider chests and hips and shorter legs. They create a bobbing gait when they run unlike the graceful and elegant walk of the wolves. Moreover, dogs have more variety of colours than wolves. Though different in sizes, both domesticated dogs and wolves have the same number of teeth, 42.
- Behaviour – Our canine companions are relatively social and capable of treating people as a family. Wolves, on the other hand, are more independent. Research suggests that wolves are more cooperative whereas dogs are likely to submit their independence to their owners.
- Diet – Due to their diets, their jaws are significantly different. Wolves have strong jaws that allow them to crush bones when needed. Domestic canines only need jaws strong enough to chew their kibbles and gnaw on bones or toys.
Hybrids may be a natural occurrence in the wild; however, the cases are rare especially with the wolves’ territorial nature. That being said, wolfdogs are usually the result of a breeding intervention by breeders.
Being a mix between a wolf and a dog, a wolfdog hybrid is considered unpredictable as a pet. Its diverse genetic composition in a litter of hybrid puppies can result in varying physical and behavioural attributes. Additionally, maturity can differ which makes it even harder to predict.
Further, as a hybrid, it is expected to manifest both behaviours from both parents. This means it can be territorial as well as adaptable. Despite their fierce appearance, they do not make the best guard dogs for the family. Wolves are easily induced by fear which makes them unpredictable and hard to control when threatened.
Sadly, the ownership of wolf-dog hybrids has been bleak in North America. This is due to the increasing number of owners who end up purchasing one, only to be disappointed with its unpredictable nature especially its relationship amongst other animals and children.
There are already many wolf or hybrid owners who have surrendered their dogs to animal sanctuaries or organisations. This is upon realising their inability to rear and tame one. There are also owners who opt to release their wolfdogs to the wild.
Do you need a license to own a wolfdog? Is it legal to own a wolfdog? Keeping wolf hybrids from the third generation or more does not require any licenses from the government. However, wolfdog ownership should not be a decision done overnight. It is important to consider your readiness to own and train a breed that is known for its unpredictability.
Think about alternative options. Check out dog breeds that have similar appearances with wolves such as the following:
A quick guide to wolfdog hybrid care
For those who are still intent on rehoming a wolfdog hybrid use the following points as a quick guide:
- This type of canine does not thrive well when kept as an indoor pet.
- A wolfdog is prone to separation anxiety. It is best to consider getting it a canine companion.
- Their favoured diet is raw food.
- They are generally shy when not well-socialised during their puppy socialisation stage.
- They communicate more through body language. There are times when they would be playful and verbal which are usually misunderstood as aggressive behaviour.