German Shepherd Wolf Mix – Complete Hybrid Guide
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix is the combination of the highly popular German Shepherd Dog with a wild wolf. This intriguing breed is referred to as a wolf-dog hybrid. This means they have real wolf DNA in their blood unlike wolf-like dogs which don’t carry any. This mix combines the loyalty, obedience and intelligence of the German Shepherd with the captivating looks and wild instincts of a wolf. It is not a good mix for beginners and requires an experienced owner that knows how to handle this energetic hybrid.
History of the German Shepherd Wolf Mix
The very first attempts to breed a German Shepherd Wolf Mix actually go back to the late 1800’s. Dog enthusiasts in Europe at the time wanted to create a new wolf-dog breed. Attempts were made in countries like Finland and Sweden but without success.
The First Litter
In 1898 a man by the name of Mr. Niedener from the Netherlands bred a male German Shepherd with a female wolf. The outcome was successful and eight wolf-dog puppies were born.
However, the breeding did not continue and didn’t resurface until years later. It did however set the stage for what would become the first ever documented wolf-dog.
The first registered German Shepherd Wolf Mix ever created was called the Saarloos Wolfdog. It was developed in 1935 by a Dutch dog breeder. His name was Leendert Saarloos and he lived from 1884 until 1969.
Born in the city of Dordrecht in 1884, Leendert Saarloos was a dog aficionado who was consumed with crossbreeding dogs and other animals.
All his life he was interested in -some say obsessed by – crossbreeding… for example a rabbit and a hare; a ferret and a polecat. He even tried to breed a jackal to a pinscher. He succeeded, but the dogs were much too aggressive, even after several generations.SaarloosWolfhond – The Creation of Leendert Saarloos by Ria Horter
It was his belief that the traditional German Shepherd had become too tamed. He wanted to crossbreed the GSD with a wolf to bring back some of the working dog traits. He also wanted to develop a high-caliber police dog.
In 1935 Leendert had plans to breed a German Shepherd with a female wolf that was donated by the Rotterdam Zoo. Unfortunately, she died before the breeding could take place. He then accepted another donated female wolf of European descent. He gave her the name “Fleur van de Kilstroom.”
Leendert bred the wolf with his own personal German Shepherd “Gerard van Fransenum.” Sadly, the first litter of puppies all died within the first month. The following year, several litters of German Shepherd Wolf Mix puppies were born.
In fact, a total of twenty eight puppies were successfully produced. However only three were used for breeding purposes. Unfortunately for Saarloos, the wolf-dogs were reserved and shy. Their temperament was more geared towards running away from a fight instead of attacking.
Failure and Success
In the end, his attempts to create a premium police dog were unfruitful. He instead focused on breeding dogs for blind people and had some good success. Saarloos established a training club and even founded a magazine called “De Wolfhond.”
Unfortunately Leendert Saarloos died in 1969 before his German Shepherd Wolf Mix was ever recognized as an official dog breed. A total of forty dogs paid tribute to their creator at the funeral.
His daughter and wife inherited his dogs and the training institute. They continued to breed under the affix “van de Kilstroom.” They were able to keep the pedigree alive thanks to meticulous records kept by Saarloos. His stud book had recorded every single dog through four generations of their bloodline.
Finally in 1975, after two failed attempts in previous years, the Dutch Kennel Club recognized the “Saarloos Wolfdog” as an official breed. It was named in honor of its original creator who was never able to see the fruits of his labor. It was later recognized in 1977 by the FCI.
The breed is still very rare in European countries and you won’t find many at the dog shows due to their shy nature.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is very similar in appearance to the Saarloos Wolfdog. Its origin story goes back to 1955 when a man named Karel Hartl desired to crossbreed a German Shepherd Dog with a Carpathian Grey Wolf.
What started as a scientific experiment in Czechoslovakia’s military kennels became a reality a few years later. On May 1958, the first hybrids were born to a male German Shepherd “Cézar” and a female wolf “Brita.”
The first generation of puppies didn’t successfully meet the criteria. But by the fourth generation, the German Shepherd Wolf Mix was ready to serve. The new wolf-dogs had many advantages compared to traditional GSD’s.
Improved Traits from Crossbreeding with a Wolf:
- Ability to navigate large areas (Wolves can cover 800 square miles of territory)
- Greater endurance (During tests, hybrids completed 100km without exhaustion)
- Increased hearing and sense of smell
- Night vision (Wolves have glow in the dark eyes that reflect light)
Similar to the Saarloos Wolfdog, breed recognition took many years after failed attempts and several lines. Finally in 1982, the Czechoslovakian breeders’ associations recognized the canine nationally. The last inclusion of wolf into the DNA was In 1983.
Provisional recognition by the FCI occurred in 1989, just one year before the breed became “World Champion” at the Brno World Dog Show. Forty four long years later, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog was fully recognized by the FCI.
German Shepherd Wolf Mix Description
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix is a beautiful hybrid and will definitely make you look twice. The GSD is already a wolf-like dog breed by appearance so this hybrid has a lot of similarities.
This dog has a very strong and powerful wolfish appearance. They have coarse hair and a wolf-like head. Their body is athletic and harmonious with long legs and a straight, strong back.
The eyes are amber or yellow and almond shaped. Ears are erect, medium and triangular in shape. The neck is thick and sometimes has a collar, specifically during the winter months. Tail is big and bushy.
Coat colors will vary depending on the exact mixture of German Shepherd and Wolf. Most common colors include cream to white, brown (forest brown) or wolf-grey.
Like the appearance, size will vary depending on the precise mix and background of the wolf mix. The German Shepherd stands up to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 90 pounds. The Eurasian Wolf stands up to 33 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 110 pounds.
The wolf mix will likely fall somewhere in the middle range standing 25-30 inches tall and weighing between 50-90 pounds.
German Shepherd Wolf Mix Temperament
The temperament of a German Shepherd Wolf Mix will vary depending on how much wolf is in the DNA. The Saarloos Wolfdog for instance, has the highest percentage of wolf DNA in its blood at 18-33%. This is close to a quarter part wolf.
This means that they can be highly unpredictable and possibly dangerous around people who aren’t qualified to handle their personalities. However they can make great companions if handled properly by an experienced owner.
Personality Traits Include:
- Without nervousness or fear
Overall the German Shepherd Wolf Mix temperament is the best of both worlds. They are energetic, intelligent, lively and loyal like the German Shepherd and independent, shy and reserved like the wolf.
They will connect and form strong bonds with their owner while staying reserved and timid around strangers. However, they don’t make great guard dogs because of their cautious nature.
Does The German Shepherd Wolf Mix Make A Good Family Pet?
Although it may seem tempting to own one of these amazing hybrids, they aren’t the best fit for the average family with children. A lot of wolf-dog owners don’t know what they are getting into when they first purchase one of these dogs.
They end up not being able to handle some of the wolf-like traits that come along with the breed. Unfortunately this often times leads to abandonment by the owner.
Rescuers estimate that between 60 and 70 percent of wolfdogs are abandoned or put down.The Atlantic – What Do Wolfdogs Want?
This breed will do much better with an experienced handler who has spent time with the wolf-dog and knows how to handle their energy and wild instincts.
How To Train The German Shepherd Wolf Mix?
The breed is extremely intelligent and trainable but can be stubborn when it comes to following commands. This is because they sometimes lack the motivation to obey.
Like GSD’s, this hybrid needs to learn bite inhibition and socialization from a young age. This is very important because of their wolf-like nature which makes them even more weary of strangers. A good rule of thumb is to introduce them to at least 100 people by the age of three months.
Positive reinforcement training is the best method. Reward them for good behaviors or when they discontinue any bad behaviors. Because of their strong will, a confident, consistent and firm owner has the best results.
Prepare for lots of chewing, digging and howling as this breed loves to do all three. Keep their minds busy with games and use chew toys to help alleviate some of their more aggressive behaviors.
How To Care For A German Shepherd Wolf Mix?
Caring for this breed requires a serious owner that knows what they are doing. Number one there are laws and regulations when it comes to owning a wolfdog. Certain states require a permit and in other states it is outright illegal to own one.
There is always a danger when owning a domesticated dog that has been crossbred with a wild wolf. Most of the time, these animals are loving and reserved. However, a wolf mix’s high prey drive and intensity can sometimes lead to dangerous situations.
A study conducted by the CDC from 1979 to 1996 revealed that 6.5% of the 214 dogs involved in fatalities over the 17 year period were “Wolf Hybrids.”
Caring for this dog will require experience, patience, knowledge of hybrids, lots of exercise and a healthy diet. They will need the appropriate vaccinations and regular checkups at the Veterinarian.
Adequate exercise is a must for this energetic breed. Similar to GSD’s, they will need two hours of exercise daily to stay lean and healthy. This will also help limit any unwanted behaviors due to boredom.
Because they are part wolf, they will have a tendency to roam and require plenty of room to do so. Wolves are used to traveling up to thirty miles a day when hunting for food in the wild. This means a large backyard with a solid fence is a must. They love to dig and can make excellent escape artists.
Food and Diet
Hybrids should be fed 2-3 times daily. Their diet should consist of lean protein and healthy fats. The “B.A.R.F.” Diet (Bones and Raw Foods) is a good diet for wolf-dogs with a lower wolf content. This diet consists of raw meat along with fruits and vegetables that are dog safe.
|Raw Meats||Fruits and Vegetables|
Ground meat and whole raw chicken parts are excellent choices. Avoid feeding them pork from the grocery store. It can be riddled with bacteria and be pumped with growth hormones. Also avoid dangerous or toxic foods such as grapes and raisins.
Raw whole bones are an important part of the equation and provide the necessary calcium needed for growth. They also help reduce the amount of tarter build-up on the dogs teeth. Never feed your hybrid cooked bones. They can splinter and injure your dogs mouth or cause them to choke.
Supplements are great for maintaining your dog’s health. Glucosamine is one of the best and helps with arthritis and stiffness in the joints. Vitamins A, B-complex, C, D and E are great for many conditions. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil help nourish the dogs coat and help prevent skin issues.
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix will require weekly brushing to prevent any matting or tangles in their coats. A good rake brush will do the job.
They will experience heavy shedding twice a year to prepare for the seasons. This means they will require frequent grooming. They will shed their undercoat once in the fall for a warmer winter coat. They will shed their old previous undercoat once in the spring to prepare for the summer with a lighter coat.
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix is generally healthy but can develop some of the common health issues that GSD’s are prone to getting.
Common Health Issues:
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Eye Problems
- Hip Dysplasia
- Pituitary Dwarfism
A lean healthy diet, good exercise and regular checkups are recommended. Life expectancy for this breed is approximately 10 to 12 years. Regular dental cleanings are a great way to extend lifespan.
How Much Does A German Shepherd Wolf Mix Cost?
Prices will vary depending on the specific mix of breed. A Saarloos Wolfdog will cost around $2000. A Czechoslovakian Wolfdog which is more rare and harder to get will run around $8000.
This amazing mix combines the friendly and loyal nature of the dog with the spectacular beauty of the wolf. Just remember to do your due diligence and research before owning one of these hybrids. They need a confident owner with some experience and plenty of outdoor space to run around.
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Do you have any experience with wolfdogs and have you ever owned one? Please let us know! We would love to hear about your story!