Although dogs and wolves share some ancestry, dogs have undergone thousands of years of domestication, making them different creatures. A new fad in dog breeding sprang up in the 1960s, when some breeders started breeding dogs with the American grey timber wolf. Although smart and loyal, these dogs can be dangerous in the wrong hands. If you plan to purchase a timber wolf dog, make sure that you have the adequate time and resources to manage the dog properly. Most humane societies and shelters will not take in these wolf-dog hybrids, so changing your mind after your purchase may not be an option.
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Contact your insurance company. Many insurance companies will not insure your home if you own a specific breed of dog, such as pit bulls, rottweilers or wolf-dog hybrids.
Think about your experience owning, handling and training dogs. You should only consider ownership of a wolf-dog hybrid if you have extensive, successful experience owning and handling other large dog breeds.
Base a large part of your decision on whether there are small children or other small pets in the home. U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinary medical officer Dr. Robert Willems states small children have been the target in most of the attacks on humans by wolf-dog hybrids. Wolves are predatory animals and Willems believes that children and other small animals may unwittingly give off signals to the dog that trigger their drive to attack prey.
Assess your living situation and the amount of space you have. Like most large dog breeds, wolf hybrids need space to run and by physically active. A small apartment in an urban centre, for instance, would not be a good environment for one of these dogs.
Review your finances. Not only will you be taking on food and medical expenses, but you should have enough money to send the dog to a reputable, professional dog trainer. Keep in mind that despite the training, wolf-dog hybrids often exhibit unpredictable behaviour due to inherited genetic differences between the dog and wolf.
Think about the amount of time you will be able to spend with the dog. Wolves are social animals and will not thrive if left alone for long periods of time, such as when you are at work. If you work full time and plan to purchase a wolf-dog hybrid, consider bringing a second dog into the home as well.
Consider your reasons for purchasing a wolf-dog hybrid. If you plan to use the dog as a security or guard dog, you will most likely be disappointed. Wolves have not become acclimated to humans as dogs have become, and tend to flee rather than fight when confronted by an adult human.
Tips and warnings
- Research your state, county and city laws, as well as any homeowner association ordinances, so that you are aware of any and all restrictions about wolf-dog hybrids. Many states, including Florida, Indiana and Alabama, have laws that allow ownership of the dogs but set out many restrictions, such as the type of fencing or enclosures you must have. In Indiana, for instance, wolf hybrids must be kept in specific types of enclosures or on a leash while outside; simply tethering them is a misdemeanour and, in some cases, a felony. Roughly 25 per cent of states, including Alaska, prohibit ownership and sale of the breed altogether.
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- State of Indiana: Information Maintained by the Office of Code Revision Indiana Legislative Services Agency
- Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter: "The Wolf-Dog Hybrid"; R. Willems, DVM; 1994/95
- "Alaska Dispatch"; Wolf hybrids: The Call of the Semi-Wild; Rick Sinnott; March 2011
- Florida Lupine Association, Inc.: Considerations Before Acquiring a Wolfdog