Wolf dogs are crossbred dogs, one parent is a domesticated dog and the other a gray wolf. While sometimes referred to as hybrids, wolves and dogs are all members of the same Canis species.
The first documented breeding of a wolf and dog took place in England in the mid 18th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became common for gray wolves (along with eastern timber wolves, red wolves, and Ethiopian wolves) to be bred with dogs to create this companion.
Wolf dogs, in general, are not easygoing pets and they have the capacity to be quite aggressive. This means they are probably not a good choice for a family with small children or family members who are not able to control an aggressive pet. Wolf dogs also differ greatly from one to the next; while some are lovely pets, others are extremely difficult to care for in a home setting. This diversity can occur even within the same litter.
Most of today’s hybrids are a mixture of a gray wolf and a Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute, or German shepherd and are considered “low content” wolf dogs.
As with any other exotic pet, verify the legality of wolf dogs in your country before considering adoption or purchase.
Bear in mind that wolves are wild animals, and they are shaped by evolutionary pressures that allow them to find food, keep themselves safe, and produce offspring. They are able to live without the help of humans.
Dogs evolved from wolves through a centuries-long process of domestication.
Through this process, a dog’s behaviour, life cycle and physiology have become permanently altered from that of a wolf. In essence, the selective breeding process has put a different set of pressures on dogs, shaping them so that they are more dependent on humans for their survival and make them flexible to our way of living.
Wolves and dogs mature at different rates, which makes the physical and mental development of a hybrid animal unpredictable. Sexual maturity of wolves signals a shift in hormone quantity and balance. This hormonal change is often coupled with behavioural changes in the animal.
Whether or not hybrids make good pets is perhaps the biggest contention. The reality is that there is an animal with a genetic stew that includes contributions from a line of dogs that has been domesticated over the centuries compiled with a contribution of an animal that has not.
Wolfdogs are perhaps the most misunderstood animals. Advocates of wolfdogs say they can be wonderful pets, while opponents argue that they’re unpredictable, untrainable and inherently dangerous. They’re permitted in some places, forbidden in others and are showing up on breed ban lists, along with Pits and other so-called “dangerous breeds.”
What about Spain? May I have a wolf dog?
Each country has its own regulations on the possession of this type of animal, in Spain it is illegal to own an Iberian wolf or a first generation descendant of them (called F1). If it is an F5, that is, 5 generations raised in captivity, the possession is not illegal, even if it was an Iberian wolfdog with 99% wolf.