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Wildside Explores Wolf Dogs (Canine Hybrids)

Interested in canine hybrids, considering obtaining one, or already entrenched in ownership of an animal that is too complicated for your lifestyle? This article will touch on different issues surrounding wolf dogs also known as wolf dog hybrids. There are seven parts to this comprehensive wolf dog series click here to start at the beginning.

Canine Hybrids: (Part 3 of 8)
Issues Surrounding The Wolf Dog

Photos Copyright © By Monty Sloan & Jill Moore Porter.

Wolf Dog Ownership Issues: Roll your mouse over photos for an explanation.
Inhumane treatment is commonly found with owners unprepared for wolf hybrid ownership.This is not a proper environment or enclosure for a wolf hybrid.  

What Motivates Hybrid Ownership?

The factors that motivate people to obtain wolf dogs are varied. Since the intrigue that surrounds wolves is widespread, dreams of owning a wolf surface. This fantasy usually never ventures into the realm of investigation into the regulation of wild animal ownership.

Government agencies help prevent the haphazard ownership of wild animals. Owning a wild animal is not like owning a domestic animal. The demands and requirements are overwhelming. Special certifications, licenses, permits, and inspections are required.

When asked about why they want to get a wolf dog many say that they just want to "connect" with a wild animal. Others feel that the ownership will give them special distinction or give them a status boost. For instance, there are those that say it would be "cool" to own a "wolf."

These reasons for desiring an animal are not good ones but are also not unique to wolf dogs. There seems to be an idea that the association with certain breeds equates to being "macho" or "hip." Smaller or less intimidating breeds do not have this appeal.

These motivations indicate a lack of understanding and concern for the welfare of the animal and rampant misinformation about wolf dogs and the wolf. Most believe that the wolf is a mystical and friendly creature and don't realize that wolves have attacked people in captivity and in the wild.

Fantasy really drives the trade in these animals. Productions like "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" feature wolf dogs. These movie and television productions can be disastrous since they often trigger increased trade in the breed of the animal actor that is featured.

For instance, "101 Dalmatians" spawned a nightmare. The Dalmatian is a high-energy breed that many people found did not integrate well into their busy city lifestyles. Many animals started showing up in the shelter world because they were so difficult.

Hybrids pose a more difficult challenge since they require astute ownership. Many shelters will euthanize them, rescue agencies cannot handle the amount of calls to place hybrids, and zoos will not take them.

Wolf Dog Hybrid Ownership Preparation

The way to integrate a wolf dog into the household is to take a variety of steps before, during and after getting the animal. Unfortunately, most wolf dog hybrid owners just buy on impulse.

Ideally a potential owner of a wolf dog hybrid will take the time to get familiar with wolf behavior and to actually get some training in that behavior. There is one facility that offers this type of program with wolves and wolf dog hybrids and another rescue agency that helps prepare people for ownership of rescued animals.6 Often, people who have this type of encounter decide against the adventure. It is just plain hard work and very risky.

If everyone invested a year of good research and actual efforts into obtaining a pet of any sort, most of the problems, neglect, and abuse could be eliminated. However this is a rare occurrence. Unfortunately animal ownership is considered a right when it should be considered a privilege.

The inability to meet the financial responsibility, liability, and lifestyle requirements that the ownership of a hybrid animal demand should be identified before the animal arrives into the new home. A bit of preplanning could prevent a lot of animal cruelty, injuries and heartache later on.

The impulsive decision to buy a wolf dog is for the lifetime of that animal, even if it is not working out. Each state, county and city have different rules and anyone making a decision to obtain a hybrid is responsible for researching this and abiding by the law.

Ownership Requirements

Beyond the general problems I have mentioned, the challenges associated with wolf dog ownership go way beyond what the average pet owner anticipates. Even if the hybrid animal was appropriately raised or socialized, there is the danger of challenge and injury within the household; this risk can escalate without proper handling and rearing.

The ownership commitment to this animal must be for the entire life span and that can be quite long in some cases (14 years or more). It is also recommended that you have a veterinarian experienced with exotic animals and/or wolves since many react more fearfully or more aggressively than your average mutt or companion animal. In addition, complications with anesthesia and other treatments, such as the rabies vaccine, can have complications.

Mistreatment and abuse, even if it is through ignorance, occurs when wild animals or hybrids are taken as pets. Most people cannot provide the intensive care these creatures need, nor are they prepared for the long-term and comprehensive maintenance they require.

Animals on chains, lack of exercise, improper diet, and isolation are just some of what hybrid animals experience when the new owner is not prepared. Vacations or holiday times are difficult since these animals cannot just be left alone. They require special care and management and often will not accept just anyone's guardianship. Many do not travel well.

Wolf Dog Hybrids Part Four: Wolf Dog Hybrid Breeding Issues


Diana L. Guerrero, author of this series, is an animal behavior consultant and animal training coach with extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. She first began working with wolf-dogs in 1979 and discourages the ownership and breeding of these animals.


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