What is an American Wolfdog?

Blurb by: Julia Sayers

A Wolfdog, also known as a ‘wolf hybrid’, is simply a dog that has wolf in its family history. While it is widely understood that all dog breeds have descended from the wolf, a Wolfdog has pure wolf recently in its background, such as a parent or great grandparent (whereas your family dog may have to go back hundreds of generations to pure wolf).

Today’s Wolfdogs are not the result of a wild wolf bred with a domestic dog (generally). They are the result of dozens or more generations of Wolfdogs bred with Wolfdogs.

There is no breed standard. Wolfdogs, are wolf mixed with another breed, or several breeds, of dog. There are however a few breeds “in development”, for example the Blue Bay Shepherd, Timber Shepherd, Nordic Timber and Berger Mahigan. Some are more known, some less known, but they do each have their own standard.

Usually, the Wolfdog is a combination wolf with Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute or German shepherd, but can be mixed with other breeds as well. Wolfdogs will behave like wolf and the breed of dog they are mixed with. The wolf part tends to be shy with strangers, cautious, curious, intelligent, playful, watchful and energetic. They can also be stubborn, loving, independent and aloof.

What is a Low Content Wolfdog?

The low content Wolfdog is the perfect starter animal for those wanting to venture into Wolfdog ownership.

They make better companion animals and are easier to manage, easier to socialize and train, and most importantly they are more forgiving than mid or high contents. You can make a mistake and not have to live with the consequences for the rest of the dog’s life.

These animals are much more adaptable to urban living and easily ft into an active outdoor lifestyle with you. They usually love to go for car rides or long hikes with their owners but can be equally happy at the dog park or sitting at the local cofee shop with you. At home they tend to be less destructive, and less likely to dismantle the furniture.

They typically lack the high prey drive seen in highs and are generally better with smaller pets and children although no large breed dog should be trusted 100%. They behave like a super smart dog and look more like a northern breed dog with some slight modifcations that don’t quite ft the dog standards.

You are more apt to see blue eyes or party colored eyes, tall thin ears that lack a lot of fur. Their coat will feel and look more like the dog in the mix with less of the bushiness and a lot less ruf around the head. Their eyes tend to be rounder and more often brown than the deep amber we fnd in wolves and the tail will hang diferently and in some case curl on top of the croup. Like the mid content they will go into heat at any time of year and often have 2 cycles a year. We see a lot of the lows born Aug-Nov and again in Mar-June.

What is a Mid Content Wolfdog?

You will find the largest range of looks and behaviors in the mid content wolfdog category. Animals on the higher end of the mid scale will have easily discernible wolf features and some recognizable dog traits that will keep it from being bumped up into the High Content category. It will demonstrate a bit more intensity and sensitivity in its behaviors yet not to the extreme that is seen in a high content.

The mid content will have some wolfier traits, but takes on an equal portion of the characteristics of the northern breed dogs that usually make up the mix. Their behaviors are also a bit watered down as compared to the high content.

Typically you will see more of a dog-like pattern to their coat, slightly taller and pointier ears with a bit less fur. The body may resemble more of a blocky style than the sleek look we find in a wolf. The shoulder and hips may also carry more of a look of the malamute, shepherd or husky. They can vocalize like a dog or a wolf and there breeding cycle can be anytime of the year and can happen more than once per year.

Like the High Content these animals require heavy socialization to offset shy, fearful or skittish behaviors but they are extremely smart, easily trainable and not quite as independent as the high content. They can be housebroken with some work and can easily live in the house but supervision is required. Outdoor containment is a must to let them get their exercise.

What is a High Content Wolfdog?

There is no one breed standard for the wolfdog so depending on the animals in the mix you will see a wide variety of physical traits. However, the high content should display a large number of wolf-like traits. An extremely high content will be almost indistinguishable from a pure while those on the lower end of the high content spectrum may display some slightly doggie features and possibly some watered down behavioral characteristics.

It is hard to pinpoint specifc behavior characteristics of a high content because each animal is an individual. Canine behavior is canine behavior, but the reactions and the intensity of the behavior is what make a high content wolfdog much diferent to work with. As a general rule a high content will follow many of the traits we fnd in pure wolves that have helped them survive in the wild. They are typically very sensitive to their environment. They come across very stubborn and aloof with a lack of a willingness to please that we see in domesticated dogs. They can be very shy and fearful of anything new or diferent. They are very direct animals with strong will and the full predatory motor pattern.

These wolfdogs are so intelligent that they must have a lot of stimulation to keep them from boredom and the inevitable destruction that follows. They are very afectionate and bond strongly to their family. They love attention on their terms but prefer to live outdoors as they mature rather than sharing the house with you. Contrary to myths, they can be trained but you must fnd the right methods to entice them to want to please you. You just have to do a lot of trial and error to fnd it, and once you do remember to train in short periods to avoid boredom. They can excel in learning basic manners, but obtaining 100% recall will aggravate the most patient owner. A high content wolfdog should be owned by very experienced people with the proper containment, a thorough understanding of canine body language and of canine behavior. These animals are not for everyone!

The Marble Effect

Even if a puppy is of a low-no wolf percentage on paper (you take both parents known wolf percentage, add those together, take the sum and divide it 2 to get the theoretical wolf content for their offspring)

Example theoretical wolf content, parent 1 8% wolf + parent 2 16% wolf would be= 24% combined.  24/2=12% theoretical wolf content of offspring.

However, nature is never this exact, but more random. A pup can be as high as 24%, or as low as 0% depending on which genes they get. We tend to explain this using something called the “marble effect”, where different coloured marbles represent the wolf/dog content.  This also illustrate that all pups in a litter can have different content, depending on which marbles nature decide to pick from the bowl that represent the combined DNA (here marbles) from the parents.