Do Wolf-Dog Hybrids Make Good Pets?
Wolf-Dog Hybrids as Pets
After some time and debate, scientists have decided that the domestic dog originated from the wild wolf. It is thought that way back when (about 20 to 100 thousand years ago), wolves began to warm up to humans, who started selectively breeding them for traits that they could use for hunting and protection. They look alike and are similar in genetics, but the two animals are completely different. Over the past several thousand years, dogs have been domesticated to live amongst people; wolves are still wild animals.
They are not the same animal. Dogs and wolves are just similar.
When it comes to keeping a hybrid wolf as a pet, there's a lot that should be considered. There are many stories of hybrids being wonderful pets, and this may be true, and in the same studies, they show that most hybrids do not die of old age, rather the owners either let them loose, it runs away, or some other reason as to why the wolf-dog was gotten rid. If it was truly a good dog/wolf, why did they get rid of it?
Wolf hybrids can have quite a varied appearance; some will have more of a wolf appearance, whereas others may look predominantly like a domestic dog.
Some wolf hybrids that take more of the wolf genes can be very hard to distinguish from a true wolf, whereas those who take more of the domestic dog genes can be hard to distinguish from a mix breed dog.
- Wolf hybrids will have medium length fur with a medium to thick coat. The fur will range from a variety of colors to include black, gray, tan, brown, and white. Their coat color is not set in until after 1 year in age.
- Eye color will range from golden to brown.
- Ears will generally not flop.
- They may have larger teeth than a regular domestic dog.
- Their legs may be a little longer than a domestic dog.
- The tail may not curl, but remain straight at all times, whether in the air or ducked.
- At a full grown size, males can weigh between 85 to 155 pounds and females between 75 to 130 pounds.
Behavior and Temperament
Being that dogs are the descendants to wolves, they have a lot of the same basic traits and characteristics in terms of protection and territory, but domestic dogs have been selectively breed for thousands of years to live among humans so the wild characteristics have been greatly altered.
Wolf hybrids are generally going to have behaviors of the wolf and the dog, but it is completely unrealistic to expect a hybrid to act like a domestic dog. Training will never eliminate the natural behaviors and characteristics of a wolf or a hybrid, so you will never be able to completely suppress the natural instincts.
Puppies will be more accepting to humans than adult hybrids. Puppies will be more willing to submit to humans, as well. After they turn about two years old, wolves start to challenge their pack, so don't assume a wolf/dog mix is not going to ever try to win his dominance over you. Hybrids will live in captivity with humans with great ease, but if you show even a simple sign of weakness, such as fatigue, frustration, or even an injury, you may find yourself in a battle over dominance, which can end in a fatality for you or the hybrid. (According to the CDC, there have been about 14 fatalities reported between 1979 and 1998 due to wolf-dogs; they are 6th in dog attack fatalities. But, like all dog statistics, you can't take these numbers as the word of God or 100 percent truthful, considering that it can be hard to distinguish a wolf mix from just a regular dog mix with no wolf genetics.)
Studies show that neutering dogs reduces aggression and dominance problems, but when neutering a hybrid, you'll only notice differences during mating season, not throughout the year.
Wolfdogs are very intelligent animals, so you never want to put anything past them. When bored, they can be destructive. When under-stimulated, they can be plain mischievous. These dogs are not predictable, and if you do not have proper experience, it's not recommended that you bring a pup home.
You will want to give your hybrid a lot of exercise on a DAILY basis. You'll want to provide at least 3 to 4 hours twice a day, split between morning and evening, as that's when they'll be most active. Strenuous exercise will help keep destructive and irritation behaviors (chewing, digging, howling) decreased.
Wolf Hybrids and Children
If you have young children in the house, you will want to be very leery of every leaving the child alone with a wolf mix. It's a big concern enough to leave a trusted domestic dog with a child, as you never know what may happen to cause the dog to turn, but a dog mixed with a wild animal poses more of a risk. Even as an accident, an adult wolf hybrid could accidentally smother a child easily.
wolves are very predatory, mixes can maintain this natural instinct,
which can result in major problems if set off. Children scream, run,
trip, and cry, which can scare a wolf mix; children are prone to
injury, clumsiness, and fatigue, which shows weakness to the mix. These
things can set off the predatory response. Even hybrids that have been
trained and raised with children, can flip, resulting in serious injury
Once the predatory instinct has been triggered, the wolf-dog will never look at the child, or animal the same again.
Wolf Hybrids With Other Pets
Other animals (cats, domestic dogs, chickens, sheep, etc.) can easily stimulate natural instincts and should not be considered 100 percent safe when left alone.
Behavioral Problems With Wolf Hybrids
As mentioned, these mixes retain much of their wild behaviors and can be considered quite erratic and unpredictable. They can assert dominance on children, the elderly, and everyone in between. They can attack other pets, and their predatory instincts cannot be shut off permanently.
Another behavior issue with wolf-dogs is the strong natural territorial instinct. Domestic dogs can be quite territorial, but when mixed with a wolf, the behavior can be increased. Wolf hybrids do not like trespassers, whether animal or human.
Once the wolf mix has set his territory boundaries, that is his space and if he doesn't think another animal or human is supposed to be there, he'll take it into his own account to deal with it.
You'll find that basic territory marking behaviors are not going to be the most pleasant to deal with. While being possessive, pacing the area, and being shy may not be as big of a problem for you, having a dog that digs, destroys, howls, and chews isn't that pleasant. Much less scent marking, inside and outside of the house. These may not be dangerous behaviors, but they're not acceptable to most.
You can train a wolf-dog, but you will never be able to 100 percent remove natural instincts. You can socialize the hybrid around other animals and people, but you will never be guaranteed that an animal or human won't trigger some kind of response that could cause injury or death.
Wolves have developed their behaviors of millions of years, and even domestic dogs who have been living with humans only thousands of year, still experience natural instincts that can be deadly. Wolf hybrids have the wolves' genetics, as well as the domestic dog's, but in many cases, the wolf genes are more dominant.
When training a wolf hybrid, they are very intelligent. They catch on fairly easy, but don't expect them to obey commands as well as the domestic dog. They get bored easily, and once they're bored, or even frightened, they're not going to obey (which can be common in domestic dogs as well).
Younger hybrids are more susceptible to obeying commands and training, but adults will try to overpower you when they think they can.
Some hybrids will retain the characteristics of a domestic dog, but you'll always see the traits of the wild wolf. You will find that mimicry is the best method of training a wolf hybrid because wolves learn best by watching their pack members and mimicking their behaviors.
Because there are many health problems across the board that are associated with dogs, it can be hard to determine if a mix breed will be prone to any health problems.
What you can consider are basic health problems that are associated with big dogs, as wolves can be considered large dogs. Hybrids will see the same basic problems.
- Hip displasia
- Eye infections
Wolf Hybrid Studies
Although, I will be the first to tell you that dog studies are not the most accurate when comparing the group in the study to the population as a whole, you can look at the individual studies and summarize those results to form your own opinion.
most common study is one with 300,000 hybrids (with more dog genetics) and out of the entire group, 10 people were killed
(about 1.25 annually); in comparison, out of about 50 million dogs are kept as pets, there are about 20 people killed annually (about 0.11 annual deaths).
Deaths by hybrids is about 11 times more than
Wolf hybrids are not for everyone, and if you decide to bring one home, you want to do all the research that you can before hand, and you want to make sure that you and the entire household will be prepared to handle the animal. You cannot expect too much out of a hybrid in terms of obedience or the same pet relationship as with a dog.
Even though hybrids have domestic dog genetics, they are still considered wolves and wild animals to most states.
Wolf Hybrid Laws
Wolves and wolf hybrids are not legal in all states to keep as pets. Before you get a wolf-dog, you need to check with your state and local laws.
- Alaska: Illegal to own unless grandfathered in on January 23, 2002.
- Arkansas: Owning hybrid wolves requires special regulations and considerations.
- California: Illegal to own first generation hybrid unless you have proof you had the hybrid before 1988. You can own a second generation hybrid without a registration.
- Connecticut: Illegal to own.
- Delaware: Permit required to own a hybrid.
- Florida: Doesn't regulate wild x domestic mixes, but hybrids of wild x wild crosses are regulated.
- Georgia: Illegal to own; considered any cross of a wild animal still a wild animal.
- Hawaii: Considers a hybrid to be a non-domestic animal and are illegal to own.
- Idaho: Illegal to sell, purchase, barter, keep, own, or transport wild animal or hybrid.
- Illinois: Illegal to possess hybrid unless the person has authorization from the Department of Natural Resources to bring into the state and a Federal Exhibitor's permit to keep it.
- Iowa: Considers hybrids dangerous animals, and if you own one or want to are subject to many restrictions.
- Kansas: Consider hybrids to be large domestic dogs rather than wolves. However, it's still required to have a "Special Wildlife Possession" permit.
- Louisiana: Illegal to import, possess, purchase or sell.
- Maine: Must be licensed, rabies vaccinated, and have a permanent ID (microchip or tattoo), as well as special caging requirements for breeding.
- Massachusetts: Illegal to possess, sell, trade, breed, import, export or release except as otherwise provided by regulations of the division.
- Maryland: Illegal to possess, trade, sell, barter, breed, or own.
- Michigan: Illegal to own unless grandfathered in before the act was passed.
- Minnesota: Not state regulated, but regulated by county.
- Mississippi: Permit required to own as well as special caging.
- Missouri: Permit required.
- Montana: No restrictions, but hybrids with 50% or more wolf genetics must be permanently ID-ed (tattoo or microchip).
- New Hampshire: Some restrictions.
- North Carolina: Not state regulated by county regulated.
- North Dakota: Illegal to own unless grandfathered in as of August 1, 1997, and has had the animal spayed/neutered.
- New York: Allowed as long as the hybrid is 5 generations removed from the wild.
- Ohio: Not regulated by state, but county regulated.
- Oregon: Not state regulated by county regulated.
- Pennsylvania: Permits required.
- Rhode Island: Ilegal to import, receive, or possess, unless otherwise permitted.
- Tennessee: Permit required by the Department of Agriculture.
- Texas: Illegal to sell, trade, barter, or auction any dangerous animal or animal parts. As for owning, that is determined per county.
- Utah: Not regulated by state, but regulated by county.
- Vermont: Regulates hybrids that are 4 generations or less removed from the wild.
- Virginia: Permit required.
- Washington, D.C.: Illegal to possess, display, offer for sale, trade, barter, exchange, adopt, or give as a household pet.
- Wyoming: Regulates import, possession, and confinement.
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana (permit required for wolves, not hybrids), Kentucky, Nebraska (unless the dog is 90% and 10% dog), New Jersey (must be able to show proof it's a hybrid), New Mexico, Nevada (law is changing by still currently allowed), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.