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Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

Saarloos Wolfhound

The Wolfdog is a mixed dog being a cross between a wolf and any dog! There are two main breeds of Wolfdog, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog which mixes the Carpathian Wolf with the German Shepherd Dog and the Saarloos Wulfhund which mixes the Timber Wolf with the German Shepherd Dog. This is not a typical designer dog. It has some portion of wolf in him though how much varies a lot. There are also many Wolfdogs that are really just two or more dogs bred together to get a wolf like appearance. Most Wolfdogs have been created by human intervention. Since the dogs used can be any this article is a general guide only. Also be aware that in some places these dogs are not legal.

Here is the Wolfdog at a Glance
Average height 26 to 34 inches
Average weight 50 to 120 pounds
Coat type Double, Straight, close, thick
Hypoallergenic? No
Grooming Needs Moderate
Shedding Moderate to heavy during seasonal times
Brushing Daily
Touchiness Very sensitive
Tolerant to Solitude? No, pack animals
Barking Rare but they do howl
Tolerance to Heat Good to very good
Tolerance to Cold Very good
Good Family Pet? Varies but high percent wolfdogs are not naturally great family pets
Good with Children? With socialization they can be
Good with other Dogs? With socialization they can be
Good with other Pets? With socialization they can be
A roamer or Wanderer? Yes
A Good Apartment Dweller? No
Good Pet for new Owner? No
Trainability Difficult
Exercise Needs Very very high
Tendency to get Fat Low
Major Health Concerns Genetic ones unknown but they need shots against things like rabies and distemper
Other Health Concerns Important to note many vets will not treat mid to high content wolfdogs
Life Span 13 to 16 years
Average new Puppy Price $900 to $3000
Average Annual Medical Expense $500 to $650
Average Annual Non-Medical Expense $800 to $1000

Where does the Wolfdog come from?

There are several versions of Wolfdog out there. High content Wolfdogs have 75 to 99 per cent wolf in them. Mid content Wolfdogs have 35 to 74 per cent wolf in them. Low content Wolfdogs have lower than 34 per cent wolf in them. The more dog there is in a Wolfdog the more like a family dog he can be. There are several generations, F1 through to F5 with the latter being the further away from the original wolf breeding. F4 and F5 Wolfdogs like the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and the Saarloos Wolfdog do not require a special license for ownership. F1 to F3s do. Since it is impossible to look at the two purebred parents as we have in other articles here we will look at the two more common wolfdogs mentioned and then some general information.

The Saarloos Wolfdog

The Saarloos Wolfdog’s origins began in 1935 when a Dutch breeder called Leendert Saarloos cross bred the German Shepherd Dog with a European Wolf. His intention was to get a dog less domesticated and more work orientated. However the result was a cautious and reserved Wolfdog. While some have been trained as guide dogs and rescue dogs most are kept as family pets. He is a large dog up to 30 inches in height and weighs up to 100 pounds. He is athletic with a strong body, a short and dense coat and is an energetic and independent dog. Common colors are wolf grey, white and red.

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog came about during a scientific experiment when Ing. Karel Hartl crossed a Carpathian wolf with a German Shepherd in 1955. A few years later it was decided to do so again and begin a new breed. It was found the F1 to F3 generations were harder to train and raise but the F4 and F5s were able to placed as service dogs and they has better hearing, smell, vision and endurance. Most are still found in Europe. This wolfdog is smaller than the Saarloos, weighing about 54 pounds and standing 26 inches. He has a rectangular frame, triangular upright ears, a large chest and thick, close hair. Unlike the Saarloos he is not usually shy. He can live with a family but needs strong training and socialization as he can see smaller animals as prey to hunt. He is playful, independent, temperamental and needs motivation when being trained.


Since the Wolfdog is so varied the following information is a general overview. Usually Wolfdogs have very strong pack instincts and need a very structured and clear hierarchy. They tend to be independent and have less need for their owner’s approval. He is loyal to his family and that can make re-homing them difficult. He tends to be a one person dog, bonding more closely to one person if there are more than one owners. When raised with a family and socialized and trained he can be affectionate and be trusted with children. He may not be as expressive of his loyalty though as regular dogs and some can even be reserved. Some will suffer from separation anxiety so should not be left alone for a long time. He is very suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive without a lot of work. He is smart and also very territorial.

What does the Wolfdog look like

Typical wolf traits include a narrow chest, a long muzzle, large feet, taupe or black toenails, a straight tail, black lip and nose and thick, straight fur. He can also have slanted eyes, eyes that are black rimmed, and colors can be green, amber, grey, yellow, brown and a rare blue. He can weigh 50 to 120 pounds and measure 26 to 34 inches in height.

Training and Exercise Needs

How active does the Wolfdog need to be?

This dog has very high exercise needs so really should not be even considered as a pet if you cannot offer that. He needs at least a couple of hours of vigorous activity a day, some might even need more. That can be walking, play, jogging, hiking but ideally somewhere in there is some time to run free in an enclosed space. When he does not get what he needs he will have some serious behavioral issues becoming destructive, excitable, aggressive and will howl a lot. Because he has such exercise needs he is not at all suited to apartment living. He needs at the minimum a large yard, though ideally that would be some actual land to run on. He also needs a good enclosure built with good and high fencing. It is not a good idea to have a wolfdog in an urban area. You should also be prepared to have to get plenty of toys and things to climb on and hide in to keep him entertained and stimulated.

Does he train quickly?

He is usually intelligent and if being trained by someone with experience can be taught almost anything. But he is not quick to train by anyone less than highly skilled because he is not eager to please, he bored very quickly, and can be independent and stubborn. There has to be motivation for him to do something, you have to be very clear about your position as pack leader, and you need to avoid being repetitive and boring! He is not a good choice for anyone without experience.

Living with a Wolfdog

How much grooming is needed?

He will need brushing daily to keep his coat looking nice and healthy. He does shed, moderately throughout the year but then quite heavy twice a year. He should not be bathed frequently as it will damage the essential oils. He does have a tendency to roll around in smelly things so you may need to hose him now and then! If he is a low content wolf dog you will also need to take care of things like tooth brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming. Higher content wolfdogs may be less inclined to be put through these routines but that can vary.

What is he like with children and other animals?

Again wolf content can affect how well he interacts with other animals and children and dogs. Some are known to be more aggressive especially with same sex dogs who bring out their territorial nature. However he does have a strong need for social hierarchy to be clear and once that has been determined he can get along with them. He is natural hunter so smaller pets and animals can trigger his instincts to chase prey and kill it. With skilled owners when he receives early socialization and training and is raised with the children he can be good with them. It is best to always supervise smaller children and visiting children.

General information

He likes to escape his yard and roam so make sure his enclosure is secure. He howls rather than barks and that can be quite loud so keep your neighbors in mind. He should be fed a raw diet rather than dry dog food as he does not usually digest that very well.

Health Concerns

He is prone to the same health issues as dogs are, fleas, ticks, rabies, distemper and so on. He needs to be vaccinated but you should know that some vets will not treat wolfdogs who are mid to high content. Usually wolf dogs are very healthy and they are not prone to genetic health problems we see in most dogs today like joint dysplasia.

Costs involved in owning a Wolfdog

A Wolfdog puppy’s cost depends on a lot of factors like location, wolf content and appearance. Ranges at the moment can be from $900 to $3000. Owning a Wolfdog, especially mid to high content will cost more than owning a regular dog. As well as having to pay for the fencing, extra things for entertainment, special medical care, licensing, there are other higher costs for things like training and their raw diet. A general idea is that initial costs along with the puppy will come to $1000 to $1200. Then yearly costs might range between $1300 to $1650.


Looking for a Wolfdog Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

A Wolfdog is absolutely not something to jump into without doing research and being properly prepared. He needs owners with experience in training, who have the space outside for him, have the funds for his enclosure and food, and are active and happy to be so. As attractive as this dog can be it takes more effort to train and socialize him and more money to keep him. It can be very rewarding but you need to be prepared.

Featured Image Credit: zuzule, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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