Wolfdogs: Living With Wolf Hybrid Puppies
What most people don't realize is that the term "hybrid" when referring to wolfdogs is incorrect since dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are a subspecies of wolf (Canis lupus). This is important because the rabies vaccine hasn't been approve for wolfdog mixes even though they should be vaccinated.
Basic Characteristics of a Wolf Mixed Puppy
About a month ago, I adopted a wolf malamute mix puppy from a couple that was moving and just couldn't take her with them. Dezzy is almost five months old and she is the first dog over ten pounds that I have ever owned. Because of my lack of experience and the fact that she's part wolf, I felt daunted by the task but couldn't help but fall in love with her big brown eyes the moment I saw her.
At five months, Dezzy is already a big girl. I don't know her approximate weight or height yet, but as you can see from the second photo at the right, her paws are already almost as big as my palm. According to ucadogs.com, wolfdog mixes can weigh 70-100 pounds at 25-32 inches tall. This fact is for females only, so be aware that males can be much heavier and bigger. They also have dense fur that can come in a grizzled sable, white or black phased.
In general, training for wolf mixed dogs is difficult, partially due to their intelligence. They also require lots of attention, a ton of patience, and plenty of space to roam around in. I was surprised when I read this because Dezzy has been easy to train, especially considering my lack in experience with larger dogs, and she has required a lot of attention but still likes doing her own thing too. However, that all is supposed to change at around 18 months when she is expected to show more of her wolf side after all the hormones hit. Apparently young wolf mixes act more like your average puppy dog while the older ones get more wolfish so this is something a puppy owner should be prepared for.
The advantage to their puppy stage is that wolfdogs can learn to get along with other animals or children and develop other habits early on that you would like them to carry on into adulthood. Dezzy personally has her own best friend in my boyfriend's Blue Heeler, Bailey. Lately poor old Bailey has been going a little nuts having a puppy follow her, mimic her, and tease her all the time but they still get along well enough to share a drink (third photo to the right) or just play around.
I've found that as long as Dezzy has plenty of water and opportunity to play, she's easy to handle. She doesn't do well with laying around for long periods of time because she has unlimited amounts of energy. She loves interacting with other dogs but it's best to keep her around those closer to her size that can defend themselves because she can get a little rough.
Would you ever own a wolfdog?
Would you ever want to own a wolfdog?
How to Care for a Wolf Mix Puppy
Wolf mixes mature a lot slower than regular dogs and aren't fully matured until around three years old. They also have senses that are a little more heightened with an amazing sense of sight, smell, and hearing. They are extremely athletic with great endurance.
On top of all that awesomeness, wolfdogs are extremely loyal. They tend to bond to one person and stick to them faithfully. At times, they can even be protective as they tend to be uncertain about strangers. Dezzy has definitely bonded with me, waiting outside the bathroom door as I shower and following me literally at my heels everywhere I go. She's yet to get protective around strangers and is more curious and eager to play instead but it's possible that that is just because she is still a puppy and that may change when she gets older. Keeping her in contact with people whenever possible will help her be more trusting later on when she finally matures.
Wolf mixes are also known for having separation anxiety. Unfortunately for Dezzy, whenever we leave, we've had to tie her up to prevent her from literally destroying everything she can get her paws on, which is a lot considering her height. Slowly, we've been giving her more time to roam and we've also worked at keeping things hidden so that eventually she can roam just like her buddy Bailey. While we're gone, she will not only tear and gnaw at everything, but she will also howl for the first twenty minutes to a half hour. Leaving for short periods of time and then coming back has helped because she's learning that we aren't just abandoning her. Also, making sure not to make leaving a big deal by ignoring her rather than saying goodbyes before walking out the door is essential to letting her know that when I leave it shouldn't be a big deal.
When training your puppy, make sure and be nice. No hitting or anything harsh. Keep in mind that they're idea of submission when in trouble involves squatting and urinating. This is especially frustrating but just remember that they are just a puppy and still learning. It takes a lot of time and patience but they are smart and will understand what they need to do soon enough. Repetition is key and providing treats for good behavior may help.
Other than giving them plenty of exercise and training, wolf mixes have a diet that's a little different than your regular puppy. They need a higher amount of protein and may actually go on binges, especially in September when the weather gets a little colder. Monitor their intake and feed them throughout the day rather than giving large amounts only once or twice a day.
I got Dezzy one of these tire and rope toys and it's her favorite one of all so I highly recommend it!
Other Facts to Know About Your Wolf Mix
- If you travel a lot in the car, make sure to bring your puppy around as much as possible so they can get used to it fast. Usually, they will get sick, urinate, or defecate so start with short rides and work your way up to longer ones. Most of them love to ride in the car but it takes some getting used to it first.
- When bathing them, never use soaps or shampoos. Some articles say to just brush them often while others suggest using a cream rinse instead.
- Keep in mind that they shed twice a year and that when they do it is a lot of fur. Just remember to brush them frequently and keep in mind that they'll grow it back in a few months.
- Never let your wolf mix run loose. If you must, keep them in a fence yard or pen but remember that they are excellent diggers.
- The teething stage is tough. Dezzy will chew anything no matter how weird or unhealthy it is and she will do it constantly. She began loosing teeth about two weeks ago and they've seemed to begun to grow but in but it has take a lot of patience. Teething is uncomfortable and can be painful for dogs so keep that in mind when this begins to happen when they're around four to five months old. Plenty of toys and things to gnaw on helps a lot. It lasts for two to three months so it's best to be aware of it and prepare ahead.
- Just remember to give them lots of love and patience. Your puppy has a lot to learn and many stages in life to go through. It'll be tough but it's worth it just to have that companion that you know will always be there no matter what. If a wolf dog mix is the type of puppy for you, then good luck!
© 2012 LisaKoski