So much mythology! What to expect with wolf x dog crosses?
It's long past time for little common sense, please.
I get asked about these animals a lot, and here is the simplest, most short-n-sweet description I can offer.
Everyone online has an "opinion" about them, but most of those opinions are based on no direct experience at all. They're just wild guesses or, at best, "I heard this from a guy whose cousin had a dog that was supposed to be part wolf..."
Then you have a few people who wanted "wild animals"...and that's absolutely what they got. Raised like those people raise wolves, even a malamute dog can be a wild animal. :-/
In contrast, here is some information based on reality, coming from extensive hands-on living with wolfdog companions.
-Wolves and dogs are the same species (Canis lupus).
-Wolves present NO behaviours not also shown by some dogs. (The intensity and frequency may vary, but the behaviour modification techniques and body language are the same.)
-Wofdogs are MIXED-BREED DOGS...no more, no less.
They're not "confused", any more than a half French/half Irish guy is "confused". However, they will exhibit a mixed bag of traits from both the wolf and dog breeds involved.
-Wolves and many wolfdogs are extremely active, and are constantly throwing out behaviours. They don't go on "standby" like many dogs, waiting for you to want to do things with them. Entertain them or they will entertain themselves...usually in an undesirable way.
-If you're not watching them, CONTAIN them in a secure fence.
-The secure fence is not optional.
-They are as unreliable offlead as a husky, generally speaking. Never ever let a Northern dog offlead.
On that note, wolves do not need to run miles and miles each day. A large fenced yard provides plenty of exercise--in the wild, that enormous territory is maintained only to secure enough food (!) and when food is plentiful, wolves and crosses are quite lazy animals. Nature is not wasteful, and that applies to energy expenditure as much as anything else.
-They have AT LEAST the prey drive of a husky. Don't leave them alone with small pets.
-Don't leave them alone with small children. Accidents happen fast.
-Don't leave them alone, period. Without human interaction, a wolfdog needs another dog for company. They are PACK animals.
-"Aggressive"? Rarely...much less so than regular domestic dogs, simply due to their strong pack structure (allowing the Leader to take care of threats) and their timid nature. Wolves have no instinct to guard their people, car, etc the way many dogs will. Most WILL instinctively guard their food, however, unless you teach them not to.
-"Unpredictable"? Not at all. Remember that our understanding of dogs comes from the WOLF model of behaviour! ;-)
Dogs can deviate from this in varying degrees, so are actually less predictable than wolves.
-Dogs never "turn on you". Neither do wolves.
This is a persistant bit of ignorance. Canines offer warnings before a takeover occurs, but many humans pay too little attention to their dog's (or wolf's) state of mind and are caught off guard on the day the animal finally makes his position obvious.
-Don't hit them. TRAIN them. And don't fail to be a firm, consistent leader...or they will assume that job themselves. They probably won't like it! and it will make them stressful, uneasy animals who are more likely to bite, not listen, and manifest any other problem you can think of. HUMANS lead, dogs (and wolves) follow. Anything else is asking for trouble; you are not doing Canis lupus any favors by letting him call the shots. This is YOUR world, not his, and failing to provide the security of a leader makes the world a scary place.
-DO things with them! Give them a real life. There is no need for a companion wolfdog to be unhappy.
You can offer them even more than the hard-but-free life in the wild...but you have to put some effort into it. Too many wolfdog owners waste their animal's potential.
-Yes, they can learn commands. (Being Northerns, you have to make it worth their while.) Yes, they can have manners. It's not "all in how you raise them", and wolfdogs are often more difficult than the average dog, but you can get an excellent companion if you put the effort in. The only "wolfy" things you probably can't fix entirely are shyness around strangers, and some degree of destructive behaviour when unattended. These are compromises a wolfdog owner needs to accept.
Many wolfdogs also show same-sex aggression or prey drive, things common to dogs in general...and these things are *managed*, not erased, regardless of breed.
-AS the saying goes: in order to train a dog, you must be smarter than the dog.
Wolfdogs are smart dogs! They expect you to understand canine body language. They expect you to be a decent trainer. Great dog handlers make excellent wolfdog owners. :)
If you're not willing to learn how to correctly raise a dog, you have no business with a WOLFdog. They are "graduate level dogs" and failing them will usually cause a much worse situation than failing with a Golden retriever.
-Anyone can learn to raise and train a dog, even one with wolf heritage, if they make it a priority. Wolfdogs *must* be a priority.
-Wolfdog ownership is not rocket science.
There's nothing inherently dangerous about these mixed-breed dogs, when raised correctly, unless you are a hamster or similar species.
Hundreds of thousands of wolf/dog mixes lived full lives and died quietly, without ever causing an issue. Sadly, some have poor owners and they make the news. As with all things canine, wolfdogs have a People Problem.
Perhaps one day, humans will get their act together...in the meantime, perhaps we can try to avoid stereotypes and hysteria.