I own a wolf/malamute mix, Dezzy, and I've learned a lot about training and caring for wolfdogs.
Is This Dog a "Wolf Hybrid"?
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 approved for wolf/dog mixes even though they should be vaccinated.
Basic Characteristics of a Wolf Mixed Puppy
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.
Height, Weight, and Fur
Of course, a lot depends on what type of dog contributed its DNA. 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 photo above, 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.
Are They Hard to Train?
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.
The Puppy Stage
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 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 or just play around.
Likes and Dislikes
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.
How to Care for a Wolf Mix Puppy
Wolf mixes mature a lot slower than domesticated dog breeds and don't fully mature for about three years. 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.
Loyalty and Protectiveness
On top of all that awesomeness, wolfdogs are extremely loyal. They tend to bond to one person only 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.
Do They Eat Dog Food?
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.
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!
Would you ever own a wolfdog?
© 2012 Lisa
Billy on July 28, 2020:
Your info is right on I own a hybrid wolf and they are not a dog but what u put in is what u get out but let me tell you if you are fat or not energized don’t even consider must exercise 6plus hours a day full run sprint jump never knew a animal could just keep going great job guys very informational
Leah on July 22, 2020:
I own a 2 1/2 yr old Artic, Timber and Siberian Husky mix. The SMARTEST "dog" I have ever had! Easy to train but gets bored easily. At 5 weeks learned how to sit in 10 minutes. Very protective and rather large. She sheds 24/7 . One should NOT get a hybrid unless they have the time, money and patience. I am 99% of the time so it is easy for us to keep up on her training. They ARE worth it IF one is very knowledgeable beforehand! Matoaka is NOT a dog and we keep reminding ourselves of that. Cannot assume things about her.
Tegan on December 03, 2019:
Thank you, this helps a lot i have been looking in to getting a wolf-dog so if there is any more important information it would help a lot. Im literally takeing notes lol.
Chelsea from Botswana on February 23, 2015:
I've always been interested in wolf/dog mixes. I find them so beautiful and i dunno, just something about having a pet so close to its wild cousin. Great hub btw :) Dezzy is adorable :)
Paul on January 16, 2015:
Excellent summary. Good looking wolf-dog.
brandy on February 18, 2014:
I live with over a 100 hybrids we are kinda like a haven for them. They are so cool i love all of them.
cindy on October 02, 2013:
How is Dezzy doing now? I have a malamute/white shepherd/wolf mix. I got him at a year old and we've been together three months and he's been great! I have leashed trained him and now he knows all the basic commands and a couple tricks. It's been a challenge but we're settled into a routine now. I actually take him to the dog park and let him run and play. He's great with other dogs and he never goes to far. He checks in often.
Tommyp on January 17, 2013:
Mckenzie valley wolf
jellygator from USA on August 26, 2012:
She's a beautiful pup! Your description sounds a LOT like my dog, who isn't a wolf hybrid at all, but has every single personality trait you described (including chewing the doors if I left her.) We've gotten a handle on that through some crate training exercises, though, and now she's fine when we leave, but I still have to be very cautious about other people coming into my house because she will attack if I don't introduce her and let her know they're a friend.
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on August 19, 2012:
Great info for anyone with a love of wolves and there are quite a few who do. These tips will help anyone with a large breed dog as they are related to the care and feeding of them.
Natasha from Hawaii on August 19, 2012:
Haha. I love how dogs sleep in top of their limbs! I don't see how that's comfortable, but clearly they are. When I'm out walking my dogs, people frequently think my girl is part wolf. I suppose she could be - she was a stray before I adopted her from the SPCA, and I know at least one person in the area sometimes breeds wolf hybrids. After reading your description of Dezzy, my girl behaved pretty much the same way. Now that she's five I pretend she's 'matured!'
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on August 17, 2012:
Dezzy is so gorgeous and this is a knockout Hub! I'd never known about a "hybrid" dog. I'd worry about vaccines. And their anxiety. Your information is so complete. Thanks.
LauraGSpeaks from Raleigh, NC on August 16, 2012:
Interesting hub. I have never heard of a wolf-dog--I mistakenly thought huskies were the closest thing to a wolf. My husky had horrible separation anxiety when she was young, but she is so much better now.
chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on August 02, 2012:
Very interesting and an adorable dog. My chocolate lab didn;t calm down and stop destroying things until he was 7 yrs. old. He is 14 now and still tries to get to things on the countertop!
Hillary from Atlanta, GA on August 02, 2012:
This is an eyeopener Lisa. I never knew such a "hybrid" existed. Rated up and interesting. Good luck with Dezzy and i hope she catches that pesky tail :)
Dawn Ross on August 02, 2012:
Very good information. Although I've heard they are good jumpers too, not just good diggers.
Gamerelated from California on August 01, 2012:
I have always been fascinated by wolf-dog hybrids and all hybrid animals and plants for that matter. This is an interesting Hub. I like your pictures. Good work.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2012:
This is an interesting and useful hub, Lisa. I love dogs, but I don't think I could handle a wolf-dog hybrid! Good luck with Dezzy - she looks like a lovely girl. I hope things go well as she grows up.
Helena Ricketts from Indiana on August 01, 2012:
She's beautiful. I really like this hub. I knew that these dogs were out there but knew absolutely nothing about them. This is good information for anyone that is thinking about getting one of these dogs because it sounds like they aren't for just anyone so it's great that you posted this.