Do Wolf-Dog Hybrids Make Good Pets?

October 16, 2009

By Linda Cole

I had an opportunity to see a wolf-dog hybrid several years ago. He was a magnificent animal, taller and heavier than a wolf. His father was a pure black wolf with intense amber eyes that followed my every move. The breeder who had the wolf and a dozen or so hybrids, told me not to let them know I was scared. OK, I wasn’t afraid until she said that. It was obvious she knew her animals and what she could expect from them, but do wolf-dog hybrids make good pets?

A hybrid pup comes from two hybrid dogs, a wolf and dog, dog and hybrid or wolf and hybrid. The breeder answered all of my questions and was frank about the erratic temperament of wolf-dog hybrids. When asked if these dogs made good pets, her emphatic response was no. It takes a strong person who understands how to read a dog’s body language and understands completely what they are getting into when accepting the role of pack leader to one of these animals. Her concern was selling a hybrid to someone who was only looking for a “cool pet” to show off and had no idea how to handle an animal that is half wolf and half dog. She had buyers sign an agreement to return the dog to her if they could not handle the dog once it reached adulthood. She didn’t want the hybrid released into the wild by an irresponsible owner.

Like any animal raised by humans, wolf-dog hybrids have never been taught how to hunt and have no idea how to catch their own food. A lucky one might learn as hunger awakens his wolf instincts, but there’s no guarantee and most would likely fall to the same fate as a dog who has found himself on his own with no hunting skills. A hybrid on its own is also more dangerous than a wolf because the dog traits can work against a wolf’s natural fear of humans.

It’s important to understand that wolf-dog hybrid breeders never know which characteristic or behavior will show up in the pups. One pup could be more like a dog whereas a sibling could be more like a wolf. Either way, a hybrid dog will never score bonus points in a dog training class. They do not make good guard dogs and, like a wolf, are more likely to retreat and let you deal with a burglar on your own. If no one is at home, he would probably watch quietly from his hiding place while you were being ripped off.

It’s not impossible to train a wolf-dog hybrid, but close to it. They are quite capable of learning commands, but respond more like a cat than a dog to training. You know the attitude of a cat, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” We are able to teach our dogs to obey us, their pack leader, because a dog’s behavior is similar to an immature wolf. Dogs rely on us for food, shelter and protection. In return, they learn our commands and show their loyalty by protecting us and their home. A mature wolf doesn’t have the luxury of playing and no one commands them. They have to be independent in order to survive.

Wolf-dog hybrids will never fully accept a new dog into the pack. Because of the territorial nature of wolves, a hybrid sees a new dog as a threat. It’s the dog who will suffer the consequences of an uneducated hybrid owner who attempts to socialize a new dog with the hybrid. Forget about cats or other small pets, and never leave a child alone with a wolf-dog hybrid.

Wolves are beautiful animals that have gotten a bad rap throughout history. They have been blamed for attacks made by wolf-dog hybrids who have been released or escaped into the wild. There has never been a verified recorded attack on or death of a human by a healthy wild wolf in the United States. I admire the wolf who has managed to survive despite human interference, but I would never want one as a pet.

Hopefully, those who would like to own a dog with wolf-like traits will do extensive research before bringing one into their home. They need to consider all safety issues as well as the added expense in insurance cost and potential fines from accidental bites and howling at 3 in the morning, along with other possible fines. And then there are the costs related to properly containing a hybrid and even the cost of destroyed furniture and walls if it’s not kept outside, but it’s not a good idea to keep one inside.

Wolf-dog hybrids do not make good pets for a variety of reasons. However, a responsible pet owner with expert knowledge of how to be a strong pack leader as well as an understanding of a dog’s body language and what to expect from a wolf-dog hybrid, can make owning one safe for all family members.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. Malu Gomez says:

    Hello can somebody please help me I just got a wolf hybrid dog she has 15% wolf 65% Alaska Malamute 20% Siberain husky I don’t know if I should keep her she’s 10 months old just the fact of thinking that she has some a wolf on her makes me think twice but some people say it’s not bad… she’s a great dog she listens and loves to play a lot

  2. I do not agree with you. My friend that I live with has a black straight back male – part wolf and part german shepard – he is wonderful and sweet and so very loving and smart – I have had nothing but a wonderful experience with this dog. He’s smart, very obedient and so beaurtiful. He just loves me so much – he’s my boy. I would suggest this type of pet to any home.

  3. Cheyenne says:

    I have a three year old German Shepard/Mackenzie timber wolf. He’s been part of our family since he was 8 weeks old. I have 3 children and he has never once, EVER shown agreession towards any of us, especially the children. He is the sweetest! He has a loud bark that can be intimidating, but he’s just a gentle giant. He mostly barks at cats and squirrels. Very protective but not agreesive. We once took him hiking and I was too exhausted to continue to summit, and so my husband and our friend continued on and Slevin (which BTW means mountaineer in Gaelic) stayed with me. He was my pillow as I took a nap, and he alerted me every single time someone walked up on the trail. Very intelligent and sly (he can turn the door knob with his paws)…he’s just the best!! I have to disagree with a lot of stuff in this article. Socialization is key, asserting dominance is key ( and the same would go for any other large breed of dog ) and always remember, a dogs temperament is a direct reflection of its owner.

  4. Zak says:

    The reasons there is so much controversy surrounding wolfdogs is due to people seeking them out for the wrong reasons (watching Twilight too much) and not being prepared to provide them with the special care they need. OF COURSE they are going to destroy your house if you try and keep them as house pets…OF COURSE they may snag a cat or other critter…but could the same not be said about any large dog? Most all of the negative articles I read are obviously written out of a place of ignorance, by people who have only witnessed wolfdogs that are improperly housed, or neglected, or collected anecdotal and biased evidence.
    If we took a poll and outlawed the breeds of dog that have been involved in instances of killing other pets, or biting someone, we would all resort to gerbils as “pets”. I am always disappointed and disgusted after seeking literature about wolfdogs, because there are more blindly written articles demonizing them and their owners than actual testimonials from people who own them responsibly…I have three, and they are sweet, goofy, and laid back animals- but they need a lot of direction and I don’t reccommend people buying them up on a whim, because they do require special accommodations, instead of being treated as a toy to show off to the world. They need a lot of mental and physical exercise, socialization, and plenty of SECURE outdoor space…But as I eluded to earlier in this post, MOST large dog breeds require the same, and simply don’t get it because in our culture, many animals are treated like toys to entertain when they are called upon, and are expected to sit quietly when they are put away.
    Breeders should be required to provide buyers with educational literature and conduct thorough screenings in order to sell puppies, and wolfdogs should not be passed out haphazardly, which is what I witness when I come across some “wolfdog” ads, which frequently are obvious attempts by people to pass off a husky mix as a wolf hybrid. (Huskies are cool, just call it a husky) More so than any other breed, wolfdogs are lifelong commitments- rehoming them is a huge disservice to them and could be their death sentence because they do not readily trust trust anyone like another breed of dog might.
    So, in a nutshell, no, wolfdogs don’t make great “pets.” But they make excellent companions if they are respected, understood, and proper accommodations are made prior to obtaining them. If it sounds like a headache, IT IS- However, if the challenges of owning them were presented in less-condemning way, or at all, there would be far less reports of them getting into mischief because responsible people who knew they couldn’t accommodate them would (hopefully) pass on them, and the people who SHOULDN’T have them (or any dog) would not have access to them.

  5. sue says:

    After reading this article my question is why would anyone want to own one? I’m a total animal lover!!! I have 3 dogs and 8 cats and a pet rat. So I was just wondering with so much negative things said in this article why?

    1. Alexandria says:

      I own 1 and she is good with other dogs and I have the same question.

  6. Victoria says:

    I grew up with a Doberman named Max and a female wolf/German Shepherd hybrid named Dakota, both of which belonged to my cousin. They were gentle, over-sized lapdogs and I used them as gigantic pillows and snuggled with them when I wasn’t beating them at tug-of-war. I don’t think I’ve ever heard either of them so much as growl even over the communal food bowl or a piece of rawhide and Dakota treated my Pomeranian like he was her own pup (the others mainly just tolerated him since he’s annoying) and she liked my cat. When I stayed with my aunt for two weeks I ended up sharing the bed with Max and Dakota came in every hour or so just to say hi and have me rub her neck; she probably would’ve joined us on the bed but it was a twin and I was already squished between Max and the wall.

  7. I own a wolf/German Shepard. He is an odd duck, but such a part of our family. We rescued him from a neglectful ower before they put in a shelter system. He is extremely social outside of the home. When new people come inside the home, he is iffy, but never aggressive. He is watchful. He has never been destructive (one time he tore up my window blinds trying to see me in the yard, but I considered it an accident.) He is definitely not like other dogs. His best friends are a stray cat we adopted and her kitten. He cowards down to them so they won't run away. 🙂 They tolerate the slobber and licking (as cats do.) I honestly believe that all pets are different and respond differently to their environments.

  8. Sue Huss says:

    I owned a wolf hybrid and I can tell you they don’t make good pets. They have a high prey instinct and mine killed two of my neighbors pets. We electrified our fence in an attempt to keep him from running the neighborhood. They are highly destructive also, digging and destroying everything.

  9. Jill says:

    Many years ago I knew a family who had a wof-dog hybrid, and it was very well-behaved and seemed to be under his owner’s control, but it was still kinda spooky. The dog was named Diablo, which seemed to fit his appearance. He had a way of looking at you like he was ready to eat you, but I’m still here and intact. Interesting article.