What is a Wolfdog?
Simply put, the definition of a wolfdog is a canine with a mixture of wolf and dog ancestry.
This can be a pure wolf bred to a dog, however more often it is the breeding of two dogs with some wolf and some dog ancestry. Some define a wolfdog as an animal with only recent pure wolf heritage. They go on to stipulate that there must be a pure wolf used in the breeding within the past 5 generations. We do not follow in this belief. If this were true this animal would not be considered a wolfdog.
This animal clearly demonstrates wolfdog characteristics, yet no animal within the first 5 generations of his pedigree was a PURE wolf. This animal was bred by someone who selectively bred for looks in addition to temperament and has succeeded in producing animals that carry many of the wolf traits yet have no PURE wolves in recent generations.
What’s in a name?
Historically, the cross between a wolf and a dog has often been referred to as a hybrid or a wolf-dog hybrid. Until 1993, the domesticated dog was scientifically known as canis familiaris. The dog was classified as a separate species under the family Canidae and Genus canis. At that time, taxonomists reclassified the dog as a subspecies of the gray wolf canis lupus.
When this reclassification occurred the term "hybrid" became technically incorrect, as a hybrid is generally the offspring from the breeding of animals from two different species.
What Makes a Wolfdog?
There is no breed standard for the wolfdog as we see in dog breeds. Because of this, breeders have historically set their own standards for what they want their lines to look and act like. This has produced a variety of animals all labeled as wolfdogs. Breeders have used a number of different subspecies of wolf ranging from canis lupus arctos, columbianus, hudsonicus, lycaon, mackenzii, nubilis, occidentalis, pambasileus, and tundrarum. Each of these subspecies brought a variety of looks to their lines. The dog breeds most often used in the breeding of wolfdogs are German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky. Although some breeders haven’t stopped there. Today we also see additional northern breed dogs mixed into the pedigrees such as Samoyeds, Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Huskies, American Eskimo dogs. Many pedigrees include animals with Norwegian Elkhound, white German Shepherd, Collie, and Chow. Some have been known to breed golden retriever, Australian shepherds and Rottweiler into the mix.