Sarah is a passionate veterinarian who graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2008 with a D.V.M. She has a longtime interest in helping pet owners better understand and communicate with their pet companions, and in doing so, strengthen their relationships with their dogs and cats. Sarah has long written for her website www.dogstruggles.com, an exclusive online source for dog product reviews, dog care, training information and helpful advice about choosing the right dog breed.
In this Modern Pet Living featured guest post, Sarah will be informing us about the German Shepherd dog breed, and specifically answering questions about the German Shepherd Wolf Mix. So if you are looking for quality information and useful tips on German Shepherds in 2017, you have found the right place!
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix Complete Guide
The wolf is the ancestor of our domestic dogs. So how awesome would it be, to go back to the source and own a dog that is half-wolf, with the looks of a wolf, but is part domestic dog? If this sounds like having your cake and eating it, then look no further than a German Shepherd Wolf mix.
However, it takes a special sort of person to own a German Shepherd wolf hybrid because these are no lapdog and a prospective owner needs to rise to the challenge and be an experienced dog handler. With this in mind let’s take a practical (and realistic) look at what this breed needs in order to live a happy and fulfilled life.
What Exactly are German Shepherd Wolf Dogs?
Long before designer dogs were dreamt of, people were keen to own a domestic dog with the lupine looks of the wolf. Indeed, early breeders of the German Shepherd dog (GSD) are said to have cross bred their stock with wolves in order to achieve the long muzzle and wolf-like looks of the GSD.
If the GSD is wolf-like enough already, then creating a hybrid with pure-wolf blood should certainly take you back to the wild side. These two genetically very similar breeds are potentially a match made in heaven…for the right sort of owner. And if the idea of a wolf hybrid appeals but you’re not sure about the German Shepherd element, there are other crosses mixing wolves with breeds such as Huskies or the Spitz, to create a puppy with a very wolf-like appearance.
Is a German Shepherd Wolf Mix a Good Pet?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there’s no denying how handsome these hybrid dogs are. However, there’s more to dog ownership that looks because you need to consider the dog’s traits and characteristics. For example, some breeds need an experienced handler to train them, and others can be unpredictable around kids.
There is a strong argument which says that a German Shepherd hybrid is inherently unpredictable and dangerous, given the strong wolf traits running through the breed. However, what about the person who is an experienced dog trainer and has time to devote to meeting the needs of this energetic dog?
Before jumping to conclusions, let’s look at the character and temperament of these beautiful animals so as to get a more balanced opinion and see if they are indeed misunderstood.
The Temperament of a German Shepherd Wolf Mix
The word ‘hybrid’ is key to understanding the temperament of the German Shepherd wolf. Just as their physical appearance is a blend of the two, so is their personality. Indeed, just as a littler of Puggle puppies may throw up some pups that look 100% beagle and some that look 100% pug, with others being somewhere in between, this can also happen with the dog’s character.
This means that when taking on a German Shepherd Wolf mix you have to be confident that you could handle the situation should the dog proved to inherit strongly characteristics from the wolf parent. By understanding the parent breeds, we are better prepared to anticipate any problems that lie in wait.
German Shepherd Traits
This breed has a strong guarding instinct and can be possessive over people, toys, or territory. They are much loved for characteristics such as courage and loyalty, but balanced against this is a tendency to be anxious or nervous when not properly socialized. Whilst German Shepherds have many positive traits, their size and potential to do cause physical harm mean they are not a suitable dog for a novice handler…undoubtedly so when combined with wolf blood.
Wolves are wild animals with instincts to match. They are hunters with strong predatory instincts, which makes them a danger around small children that could fall over trigger the instinct to pounce and predate. They are intelligent creatures that require a lot of mental stimulation or are apt to become bored and destructive. They also need plenty of exercise (think of roaming for days across a vast territory) and will create their own entertainment if deprived of exercise.
Realistically, how would a wolf hybrid dog showing such traits fit into your life?
However, this is very much a black and white picture because it’s recognized by many German Shepherd Wolf mix owners that the GSD characteristics tend to dominate in the puppy, up until about the age of 18 months. After this, when the dog is sexually mature the higher hormone levels tender to amplify the wolf element of their character. This means there is a window of opportunity early in the life of the dog to establish good manners and obedience, which stands you in good stead with the mature dog.
It should be noted that there is little room for error from a safety point of view (especially in a family with children). This is because a poorly disciplined German Shepherd Wolf mix with the wolf blood fueling hunting and predatory instincts, has the potential to become a dangerous animal.
German Shepherd Wolf Mix and Children
It is never appropriate to leave a child alone with a dog, no matter what the animal’s breed. From the erratic movements of a child causing the dog anxiety, to kids teasing a dog with a toy, there are circumstances under which even a perfectly mild mannered canine is pushed into becoming aggressive. This ends up with an injured child and the dog wrongly labelled as aggressive.
This concern is amplified for the German Shepherd Wolf mix as tragically they have been responsible for a number of child deaths. This is not wholly down to the dogs as children are poor at reading dog body language, and therefore don’t back off in a dangerous situation. Failing to recognize signs of distress sent out by the dog can push the canine past a point where they feel compelled to attack in order to defend themselves.
Another worrying aspect of this hybrid’s character is the wolf-like tendency to shake their young in order to correct bad behavior. Whilst this is fine when a dog shakes a puppy, if a strong wolf hybrid decides to shake a baby, toddler, or small child this could easily result in serious injury.
One of the characteristics of the German Shepherd Wolf mix is that they have lower tolerance levels and quicker to attack than the average dog. This means any parent should consider very carefully if they can put adequate provision in place to keep the children and a German Shepherd Wolf mix apart.
Training a German Shepherd Wolf Mix
In order for a dog that is part wild animal to fit into a domestic setting, it is crucial that they are well trained using reward-based methods. German Shepherds are highly trainable dogs whereas wolves are independent thinkers driven by getting what they want. To train such an animal requires an experienced and skillful handler.
In addition, the trainer must expect to devote considerable time to hold regular training sessions, in order to succeed. Another essential need that must be met is the German Shepherd Wolf mix’s need for plenty of exercise. Think of wolves ranging widely in the wild and you appreciate just how physically fit these animals are.
When not given the opportunity to exercise appropriately, the German Shepherd Wolf mix will divert their energy into undesirable activities such as escaping, digging, or destructiveness. It’s only a short journey from there for an unruly animal to become aggressive and possibly pose a risk to life and limb.
Final Thoughts on the German Shepherd Wolf Mix
In summary, be aware that beneath the appealing vulpine looks of a German Shepherd Wolf mix, lies the heart and instincts of a wild animal. Therefore anyone considering buying one as a pet should think very carefully about how appropriate this is for their circumstances. They need to be an experienced handler with both time and space to lavish on the dog. In addition, dog owners with a young family should weigh up the risks to their children and have a plan in place to supervise them at all times when together.
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