Wolfdog

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
U.S.A. and Canada
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The possession of this animal is not authorized Royal Decree establishing the list of mammals not kept for production purposes that may be kept (M.B. 24.08.2009)

A brief presentation of the Wolfdog

Wolfdogs can best be described as companions rather than pets. They are more intelligent than most domestic dog breeds, they are aware of themselves and their environment, they defy even the most experienced keepers with their stubbornness and attitude and, in general, they are the most predictable dogs, as wolves are the model of canine behavior and Wolfdogs tend to express their emotions very well.

The general arrangement for wolf content is as follows: 1-49% is considered low content (LC), 50-74% is considered medium content (MC), and 75% and above is considered high content (HC); high content may have 1-3 canine traits, but otherwise is virtually indistinguishable from a pure wolf.

Of course, there are overlapping subdivisions of the normal classifications, such as Low Content, Upper Low Content, Medium Low Content, Medium Content, Upper Medium Content, High Low Content, High Content and Wolf Content, used to describe the animal. These terms are generally used in rescue when the exact genotype is unknown. A genotype is the % of an animal based on a verifiable lineage. The verifiable lineage is not the CKC papers, as any animal can easily be registered with the CKC and the CKC does not verify the percentage. Many unscrupulous breeders use CKC papers to try to verify the bloodlines of their animals.

History of the Wolfdog

Wolfdogs are the result of crossing pure wolves bred by fur farms with similar-looking dogs such as Malamutes, Sheepdogs and Huskies. They are never created by leaving a bitch tethered outside in wolf territory, nor by using wolves that were stolen from the den as puppies. Most wolfdogs are bred wolfdog x wolfdog, but some are still bred wolfdog x wolf or, for low to medium levels, wolfdog/wolf x dog. As a general rule, the higher the parentage number, the easier the animal will be to handle. For example, a dog resulting from a pure mating between a Wolf and a Wolfdog or a Dog will be called an F1. If this animal is then bred to another F1 animal, the resulting puppies will be F2s, and so on. The number indicates the number of generations separating an animal from a pure wolf.

Wolfdogs are mixed-breed dogs and, as such, cannot be registered with any reputable Kennel Club, such as the American Kennel Club. There are online registries that provide papers for these dogs for a fee, but these are online scams - beware. There are a few groups/clubs for wolfdog enthusiasts, the most common being the Florida Lupine Association and the United Canine Association.

Phenotyping

Phenotyping is a means of helping to determine wolf content, either for animals whose lineage is unverifiable, or to help determine whether a breeder is misrepresenting his animals, for example by calling zero or low content high content. A high content will never look or act like a dog - it's impossible. Medium content will have an equal or slightly higher number of wolf traits than dog traits. Low content will have fewer wolf traits than dog traits. The more wolf traits an animal has, the higher its content. However, bear in mind that a few traits don't necessarily mean wolf content, as dogs and wolves share a number of similar characteristics, and it's only the cumulative number of traits that allows wolf content to be determined by phenotyping.

Adult wolf traits

Narrow chest (front paws should almost touch or even touch when standing still), large paws, webbed toes, long muzzle, no stop (point between forehead and muzzle, the slope should be gradual), black or mole toenails (never light-colored), V-shaped cape, banded fur (a single strand of fur should be of several colors), straight tail, bristly tail, black tail (except for Arctic), forefeet turned slightly outwards, cowhocks, long legs, slanting eyes, black rimmed eyes, black nose, black lips, eye color (yellow, gray, brown, green, amber) blue is extremely rare in high content, mixed coat, mixed mask, small ears, round ears, well-furred ears (no pink protruding).

Babies are born dark brown/black, gradually acquiring their colors (in some high-grade dogs, one or two members of a litter may be born white due to line mating, genetic defect, etc.), no visible markings at birth (color should be solid with little deviation), ears should be erect and remain so at 3 weeks.

Appearance of the Wolfdog

This is where things can get very expensive. Low and many Mediums can live in a normal fence. However, high-content animals often need a 2-3 meter fence, supports, dikes and electric wires to prevent escape. A bored animal is an unhappy animal and more likely to try to escape. There should be no beams inside the fence to act as a foothold, the fence should be made of livestock panels or strong chain link as Wolfdogs are known to bite through weaker chain link, or even vinyl fencing. Wood is not recommended, as it eventually degrades and presents a risk of escape when it begins to rot or weaken. Medium and large wolfdogs are most likely to try to escape. Height isn't always enough, as a Wolfdog can literally scale a chain-link or cattle-panel fence. Until your pet is older, you won't really know if it presents an escape risk.

There are high-content animals that can be easily contained, and low-content animals that are escape artists. It simply depends on whether your pet wants to get out, whether he's bored, whether there's something on the other side of the fence that really excites him. Wooden and vinyl fences risk being eaten away. The ideal is to have a large fenced enclosure, not a wireless or buried electric fence, where he'll have plenty of room to run and play. Wolfdogs are also very social animals and should always have at least one other canine companion.

Temperament of the Wolfdog

Depending on the content of the Wolfdog, temperament can vary considerably. Both wolf and domestic dog personalities need to be taken into account if you're interested in a Wolfdog.

High-content temperament

High-Content Wolfdogs tend to share most of the physical and personality characteristics of wolves. As such, High-Content Wolfdogs are often very fearful, preferring to hide from any stranger, they are not protective, you may receive a warning bark, huff or howl or two to let you know a stranger is present before the animal retreats.

It's essential that family members take care of the animal on a daily basis from the age of 10 days. Remember that puppies, whether wolves, wolfhounds or dogs, are highly susceptible to disease at this age, and that any interaction with people outside the family can present a health risk. Contact with humans should begin early, preferably between 10 and 14 days after the dog's birth. Research has shown that if a puppy is not handled during the critical attachment period of its first 21 days, it may react with very fearful behavior towards people and in captivity. Handling must continue to avoid loss of socialization.

Between six and eight weeks of age, the dog's willingness to approach and make contact with strangers outweighs its natural distrust. This is considered the optimum time to introduce a dog to its new home and environment.

During this phase, a dog should gradually be exposed to potentially frightening stimuli such as children, the letter carrier, vacuum cleaners, spray cans, street noises, loud noises, etc. Between eight and twelve weeks of age, the puppy also needs to be familiarized with the places, circumstances and conditions he's likely to encounter as an adult. During this sensitive phase, dogs become attached not only to people, but also to places.

Bred contents are extremely intelligent and will put your restraint to the test. Unless you have a six-sided kennel - that is, the normal four sides of a fence, plus a top and bottom made of heavy-duty chain link or cattle panels - nothing is bombproof, and even then a Wolfhound may find a weak spot such as a rusted or damaged area.

In most cases, with high contents, there is no such thing as a House Dog. While some people have managed to get high-value items into their homes, this is not the norm, and they often can't leave the animal unattended. The reason for this is that the term of an animal devouring you from house and home comes into play. In this case, it's not about food. It's not uncommon for a nutrient-dense animal to gnaw on your furniture, the drywall of your home, electrical wires, doors, the siding of the house - anything it can find in its mouth. Another unacceptable behavior often observed in high-content dogs is jumping on tables, furniture and sometimes even the tops of refrigerators.

High-content Wolfdogs are the least likely to want to please you. Although they're very affectionate, they're not likely to perform tricks, sit when asked, stay, roll over, and so on.

Because of their strong propensity to chase, young children, cats or small dogs should never be left alone with a Wolfdog with a strong personality. A child running around screaming can trigger a strong prey drive, resulting in injury or even death. Please note that this is not just a characteristic of the wolf; other breeds of dog, particularly Nordic breeds, also tend to have a strong prey drive. Even if socialized to cats or small dogs at an early age, a high-content dog should never be left alone with either.

Medium Content Temperament

Medium-content wolfdogs tend to be more social than high-contents. They may take time to get used to strangers and be very fearful at first, but with patience they tend to trust much more quickly. A poorly socialized medium content is less likely to become wild than a high content with the same lack of socialization. With good breeding, medium contents can be extroverted, but many of them retain a certain shyness around strangers. Medium contents can often be brought into the house, and although chewing can be a problem, they tend to be more willing to please than high contents.

In general, Wolfdogs get on better with small animals than high-content dogs, but as Wolfdogs are often mixed with Nordic breeds, Sheepdogs, Border Collies or other breeds with a high propensity for hunting, owners should be cautious when in the presence of young children, cats or small dogs. Medium-content dogs can also be destructive.

Low-content temperament

Low-content dogs are the best choice for someone new to Wolfdogs. They are often the most extroverted, the most willing to please and the best in the house, while retaining the intelligence and self-awareness of a high-content dog. Low-content dogs are easy to train, even if they can sometimes be stubborn. Low-content dogs are also the most likely to get along with children, cats and small dogs. However, cats still tend to be seen as prey. Early socialization can help eliminate most of the risk.

And don't forget that breeding that doesn't take temperament into account can result in an unstable animal; some breeders are known to have aggressive or behaviorally disturbed Wolfdogs. This is not necessarily due to the wolf in the animal, but to the fact that aggressive animals have been bred to promote bad behavior in their offspring.

Instability is not necessarily due to the breeding of aggressive wolfdogs. What often happens is a mismatch between the temperament of the dog breeds chosen to be crossed with a wolf. For example, certain lines of German Shepherds have an inherent genetic temperament for aggression, protection and/or assertiveness. That's why, with the right training, they make excellent police or protection dogs. If you mix this temperament with the shy, reserved temperament of a wolf, the Wolfdog will become more unstable due to the internal conflict created by these two opposing genetics. Sometimes the Wolfdog will withdraw, sometimes it will attack, always unpredictably. In one situation, the Wolfdog may not react at all. Then, in another very similar situation, the Wolfdog may try to attack. You can't predict future behavior from past behavior. This propensity cannot be taught. The unprovoked snap between shyness and aggression will be possible and more unpredictable whatever the content of the Wolfdog, because of the breed with which it has been mixed. This is an unfortunate consequence of uninformed and careless breeding. The Wolfdog pays the price with its life when it is described as vicious.

Needs and activities of the Wolfdog

Wolfdogs of all levels need plenty of mental stimulation and physical exercise. Part of this exercise can be done in their enclosure by playing with them. Wolfdogs need an extreme amount of exercise. A rest day lasts at least 3 hours. A normal day should include at least 5 hours of activity: running, search training, pulling sleds/carts. Most dogs can be walked on a leash like any other dog, and should ideally be walked every day. High-grade dogs can sometimes be fearful in certain walking situations, and may be more at home in rural walking areas than in suburbs. It is not recommended to have a Wolfhound in an urban-type environment. A Wolfdog's enclosure should be very large, with places to hide and shelter, objects to climb on, not near the fence, and toys. Frequent provision of new forms of enrichment is essential to keep a Wolfdog happy and healthy.

A Wolfdog should be walked with two leashes. One is attached to the collar or harness and the other is a sliding leash. The leash attached to the collar or harness should be the main leash, while the sliding leash serves as a back-up if something frightens the animal, because if it loses its harness or collar in a panic, it may escape, exposing it to the risk of getting lost, being impounded by animal control, or being run over by a car.

Maintenance of the Wolfdog

Wolfdogs have a double coat that becomes very, very thick during the winter months. This allows them to be comfortable outdoors, just like their wild relatives. In spring, they lose their winter coat, shedding all the undercoat, and intensive grooming is required. Rake-type brushes are very useful for this. Otherwise, a general brushing every two weeks is usually sufficient. Keep a close eye on the hair on the tail and behind the ears, as these are the areas most prone to tangling.

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