The Saarloos Wolfdog is a large dog breed that weighs up to 100 pounds. It originated from the Netherlands and is a product of crossing a German Shepherd dog and a European wolf. It would seem like the Saarloos inherited more of the wild wolf blood, but in truth, it is loyal and devoted to its family. It is a smart dog and generally responds well to training. Saarloos wolfdogs have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
Do you like to own a wolf-like dog breed? Then you're in the right place. Find out more about this devoted dog-wolf crossbreed.
The Saarloos Wolfdog (then called Dutch Wolfdog) is a relatively new dog breed originally from the Netherlands. It was developed by a Dutch breeder, Leendert Saarloos, in an attempt to create a new police dog breed with the strength and stamina of a wolf. The new dog breed is a cross between a male German Shepherd that he received from his neighbour's kennels and a female wolf (named Fleur) he obtained from the Rotterdam Zoo. In 1936, Leendert saw the first litter of wolf puppies.
He submitted the new dog breed for recognition in 1942, with the goal to develop a reliable, brave and obedient working dog for the police force. Much to his disappointment, the new breed lacked the will to attack and was not very useful for police work. In 1943, the Dutch Kennel Club made a tentative decision to recognise the breed but decided to forego the decision.
In 1963, Leendert Saarloos again attempted to get the breed recognised but sadly failed. Unfortunately, the dog breed was still not recognised when he died in 1969. The Dutch Kennel Club only recognised the breed in 1975 and renamed the dog "Saarloos Wolfdog" to honour its founder. In the past, the majority of the Saarloos Wolfdogs were utilised as rescue dogs and guide dogs for the blind, but today most are bred as a companion and family pet.
Appearance and Grooming
The Saarloos Wolfdog is a large and robust wolf-dog hybrid with an average size of 70 to 100 pounds and 60 to 75 centimetres. It is a muscular dog, medium-boned with a lithe build with a body that is longer than tall. The head is wedge-shaped with a wolf-like appearance with a broad, flat skull with a slight stop, long muzzle, triangular ears, almond-shaped eyes and a perfect scissor bite. Saarloos Wolfdogs also have broad chests, long muscular legs and large paws.
Its coat is short and thick that can protect them from the harsh weather. The coat comes in three colours: red, white and wolf-grey with the latter colour as the more dominant genes of most Saarloos breeds. The Saarloos coat needs to be brushed at least twice a week to keep its coat clean and matt-free. However, it will need a more frequent brushing during shedding season, in spring and autumn. Bathing should be done only when necessary to maintain its natural oils.
Other dog grooming regimen must include checking its ears for any signs of infection and cleaning them regularly with a vet-approved solution. For dental care, the dog's teeth must be brushed at least twice a week to avoid gum disease and bad breath. Nail care is also important since nails that are left untrimmed for too long can cause discomfort. Overall, grooming should be regularly done to watch out for signs of infection, or ticks, fleas and other physical abnormalities.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Saarloos Wolfdog is a bit reserved when there are strangers around, which is typical of its wolf heritage. It is so skittish that it will attempt to run away when it is approached by someone it is not familiar with. Early socialisation is crucial to help Saarloos outgrow this behaviour; however, it will retain its suspicious nature toward strangers. Since this dog breed prefers to slink away when strangers are around, it is a mistake to buy a Saarloos Wolfdog for a watchdog or a guard dog.
The Saarloos is smart, active and independent but unlike other breeds with these characteristics, this wolf-dog hybrid responds well to training. However, since it forms strong bonds with its family, it will need an owner that can give time and attention to its particular needs. With this said, the Saarloos is not suitable for novice dog owners.
The Saarloos is great around children in its household but is wary of other children. It iswell-suited to families with older children who know how to treat this type of dog. Any interaction must be supervised at all times so playtime will remain safe and calm. Since the Saarloos has a very strong pack instinct, it gets on well with dogs and cats it grows up with. However, it is not to be trusted around smaller animals because of its high prey drive.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Saarloos Wolfdog is 3 to 4.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day. Factors to determine how much and how often to feed a dog include the dog's age, size, build, metabolism, activity level, and health. The best person to obtain advice regarding its balanced diet is a trusted veterinarian. Typical calorie needs of a 90-pound adult Saarloos Wolfdog per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 1,810 calories daily
- Typical adults: up to 2,038 calories daily
- Physically active/working dogs: up to 2,265 calories daily
It is essential to provide the Saarloos Wolfdog with a diet with high protein levels and high-fat content since it will often burn the calories quickly. It also does well with raw feeding and dry kibbles. Remember to split the meals into two feedings per day to prevent bloating.
Health and Exercise
Overall, the Saarloos Wolfdog is a tough breed that only has a few health issues. However, since the German Shepherd is in its bloodline, it may inherit some of its health conditions. Some health issues to be aware of with a Saarloos Wolfhound include Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, Pituitary Dwarfism Syndrome, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Retinal Dysplasia, Juvenile Cataracts, and Subaortic Stenosis.
As mentioned, Saarloos Wolfhounds are highly energetic dogs that will need plenty of exercises daily. They should be taken for walks to let them off steam and allow them to explore and meet their natural curiosity. Expect to provide at least 60 minutes of daily exercise, which should be done in a safe and enclosed environment. They will also require some mental stimulation through training and activities that will challenge their minds.
Cost of Ownership
The Saarloos Wolfdog is a rare breed in the UK, so anyone who wishes to buy this wolf-dog hybrid will have to be registered on a waitlist with a breeder. The price for a well-bred pedigree puppy is at least £400. To ensure it stays healthy at whatever age, you will need to feed your dog high quality dog food and treats, which can set you back £30-£40 a month. You would also need to spend on dog accessories such as leads, collars, eating bowls, crates, beds, and toys. The combined initial cost for these things is estimated at £200.
Moreover, you need to consider paying for pet insurance to offset veterinary bills in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. Depending on where you live and your dog’s health and age, a time-limited cover can cost £21 a month while a lifetime one can cost up to £48 a month. Generally, insurance companies do not cover routine veterinary consultations, initial vaccinations, boosters, and neutering or spaying, so you may also have to spend an additional £900 annually for these services.
On average, the minimum cost to care for a Saarloos Wolfdog is £60-£90 per month depending on your pet insurance premium. This estimate does not include the rates for other services such as walking and grooming.
Saarloos Wolfdog Breed Highlights
- The Saarloos Wolfdog is a large dog breed that weighs up to 100 pounds.
- It is a cross between a German Shepherd dog and a European wolf.
- It is a smart dog and generally responds well to training.
- It is a bit reserved when there are strangers around.
- It is more suitable for experienced owners.
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