It seems cool to own a part-wolf like you are a character from Game of Thrones or a modern-day Mowgli. German shepherd dogs, commonly known as GSDs, already look like wolves and are often the dog breed of choice when unscrupulous breeders cross them with wolves.
Although all dog breeds, including the German shepherd, descend from grey wolves, dogs are far different in temperament and trainability than wolves. Wolves are nearly impossible to train because they do not find obeying people worth their while.
How Much Wolf Is In the Mix?
Not all German shepherd and wolf mixes for sale are a half-German shepherd and half wolf. Some may be three-quarter GSD and one-quarter wolf. That’s one parent that’s a full German Shepherd and another parent that is half wolf and half GSD.
Some mixes are sold where the wolf is a great-grandparent or even a great-great-grandparent. The more dog in the mix, the better if you want a companion animal that can be taught basic obedience. Unfortunately, they may all be considered wolves under the law.
German Shepherd Dog Wolf Mixes Are Usually Illegal to Own
Wolves are wild animals. In most places in the United States, it is illegal to own a wild animal like a wolf unless you have a special (and expensive) wildlife permit. GSD-wolf mixes walk a tightrope between a wild animal and a domestic one.
Because of the wolf parent or grandparent, the law considers the resulting mix not reliably domesticated and prone to acting dangerously.
Therefore, if you want a wolf-dog mix, you may have to do a lot of research to even find a place in the world that will let you do so.
Don’t Some Dog Breeds Have More Wolf DNA Than Others?
Some proponents of wolf-dog mixes claim that some dog breeds have more grey wolf DNA than other dog breeds.
If these breeds are allowed, then so should GSD and wolf mixes. According to Science Trends.com, a few breeds do have more wolf DNA than others.
These breeds include the Finnish Spitz, the Shar-Pei, the Siberian Husky (another breed often crossed with wolves), and the Greenland dog.
However, the ancestors for these breeds branched off from wolves thousands of years ago and not just in one or two generations.
Aren’t German Shepherd Part Wolves?
Over one hundred years ago, German shepherds were popularly called Alsatian Wolf Dogs, since they were bred in the Alsace region of what is now France and looked like wolves. However, no wolves went into creating the breed.
Other breeds mistakenly thought to have wolves in their recent ancestry include Siberian Huskies and the Alaskan Malamute. Although descended from wolves, the last wolf in their pedigree was thousands of years ago.
GSD Wolf Mixes Cannot Be Predictable
According to the International Wolf Center, it is impossible to predict the behavior, trainability, or health problems in a dog-wolf mix. Even each puppy in the same litter may act vastly different than his or her littermates.
Wolves rely on their instincts. It is not instinctive for them to look for humans as pack-mates or pack leaders as dogs do.
Wolves tend to ignore people and do what they want. Any wolf-dog mix is prone at unpredictable times to act more like a wolf than a dog.
Won’t GSD Wolf Mixes Make Better Guard Dogs?
Wolves are intensely territorial creatures. They attack any predator in their home range, including wolves not in their packs. This behavior has convinced some people that GSD-wolf mixes make better guard dogs than dogs.
This is a myth and not true, according to the International Wolf Center. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to bark when intruders appear. Wolves stay silent. Wolves also are shy by nature and are prone to flee intruders that look bigger than they are.
Will GSD Wolf Mixes Live Longer than a GSD?
German shepherds are notoriously short-lived since they are large dogs. Their average life span is from nine to thirteen years. This is because large dogs age faster than small dogs.
Why this happens in dogs and not other species is not known. A GSD wolf mix will not necessarily live any longer than a dog, especially if he or she inherits some of the devastating health problems common in the breed.
Will GSD Wolf Mixes Be Healthier Than a GSD?
The hard of a wolf mix is harder to predict than the health of a purebred dog. After decades of study, it is known what health problems each breed like the GSD, is prone to. Wolves tend to die from problems other than old age or disease in the wild.
However, because each German shepherd dog-wolf hybrid puppy is a genetic toss of the dice, you have no way of knowing what health problems each puppy will be prone to. A wolf mix needs to be well-behaved in order to be treated for an illness, but the mix may be too dangerous to treat.
Finding a Vet For a GSD Wolf Mix
Assume that any animal you adopt or buy will eventually get sick. Never assume that all vets will be willing to take in a German shepherd wolf mix as a patient. All the vets in your area may refuse to work on such an animal.
This is not due to prejudice against wolves. This is because wolves, and wolf-mixes, are different species than dogs and considered “exotic.” Although all vets are trained to help domestic animals like dogs, very few are trained in the care of exotics.
Can a GSD Wolf Mix Get the Same Vaccines as a Dog?
One problematic area for vets and exotic animal owners is that of vaccination. Rabies vaccines are crucial for dog owners. However, many dog vaccines do not work on wolves and may not work on wolf-dog hybrids.
Because of the threat of rabies and the problems of the rabies vaccine working on wolf-dogs, any wolf-dog that shows signs of rabies or has been exposed to a rabid animal needs to be euthanized. According to the California Veterinary Medical Association, this is the policy in California.
What are the Most Common Medical Problems With GSD-Wolf Mixes?
The two most common medical problems with any wolf-dog mix are complications from being overweight and hip dysplasia.
Being overweight can also contribute to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is very common in German shepherds and in most large dog breeds.
Hip dysplasia symptoms like limping start when the dog is young, even at puppy age. They get worse over time if left untreated. This is a very painful and chronic condition that may require surgery to treat.
What Other Medical Problems Could A GSD Wolf Mix Have?
Depending on the genetic roll of the dice, a GSD wolf puppy may be looking at a very short, unhealthy life. According to the Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue, GSDs are prone to bloat, epilepsy, perianal fistulas, skin allergies, lupus, and blindness.
GDS is also prone to a deadly and incurable condition called degenerative myelopathy that hits GSDs seven and older. They are also prone to Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency, a pancreas problem that makes them unable to extract nutrition from food.
How to Exercise a German Shepherd Wolf Mix
Since getting overweight is a big problem for wolf-dog hybrids, then getting enough exercise seems like a no-brainer. Actually, it’s a big problem. Wolf-dogs cannot be walked and played with like you can with a dog.
Puppies may be able to walk on a lead until they are large enough and strong enough to ignore you and pull you over to go chasing a squirrel. Most wolf-dog hybrids wind up staying permanently in an outdoor pen because they cannot be walked or trained.
How Large Can a GSD Wolf Hybrid Get?
Although most everything about a GSD wolf mix is unpredictable, their size is not. The smallest they can get is as small as a GSD can get at 49 pounds.
The largest they can get is about 180 pounds, which is the size of a large male Mackenzie Valley wolf, the largest known wolf species.
Just like with all species of wolves and most breeds of dogs, females are smaller and heavier than males. Neutering does not seem to impact how large a GSD or a GSD wolf-hybrid will get. GSDs are as tall as small wolves, but wolves and their offspring can get to 34 inches tall at the shoulder.
What Colors Does a GSD Wolf Mix Come In?
GSD wolf mixes come in a wide variety of colors, but most have two or even three tones to their coats. Rarely are sold coats produced, but when they are they are often all black, all dark brown (called liver), all red (called sable), or all white.
Canines in two or more colors blend into the background better and so are more common, even if the GSD wolf mix never has to hunt for his supper. Common two-toned colors include black and tan, grey and white, silver and white, brown and grey, and tan and grey.
What If the Puppy Was Trained Really Well, Will the Adult Behave?
Puppies of dogs, wolf-dog mixes, and even wolves can be trained and easily handled. However, once the wolf-dog hybrid becomes physically and sexually mature, all bets are off. He or she will do whatever he or she wants, which is not necessarily what you want.
Just when a GSD wolf mix matures differs from puppy to puppy. Dogs mature a lot faster than wolves. So, a German shepherd wolf mix could mature as early as six months, when an SGD matures, or as late as four years old when a wolf matures.
What About All Those Wolves in Movies and TV?
We’ve all seen movies and television shows where wolves do a wide variety of stunts. However, these are not wolves. They are dogs with dyed coats and sometimes, added hair. Wolves are not reliable enough to be used in movies or on television.
According to Psychology Today, wolves are not completely untrainable. However, wolves will only obey when they want to and not whenever they are cued to perform. The more GSD in a GSD wolf mix means more a more trainable dog.
However, if you want an animal that obeys commands all the time, why not just save yourself a lot of money, effort, and bother and just get a dog?
Why Wolves and Wolf-Dog Mixes Cannot Be Well-Trained
Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to do what people wanted them to do. It’s in their genes to not only please people but to watch them constantly to see if the person is going to ask them to do something. They also ask people for affection.
Wolves are just the opposite and many wolf-dog mixes also suffer from this character flaw, especially if they are half-wolf. They often will not look at a person and do not solicit affection from people. Since they have no drive to please people, they won’t.
If It Doesn’t Work Out, Can’t I Just Set My German Shepherd Wolf Mix Free?
Setting your GSD wolf mix free is a bad idea and incredibly cruel. The animal will not know how to capture food for itself and will slowly starve to death if it is not run over by a car or shot first. Hunting their food is not an instinctive ability in wolves, dogs, or wolf-dog mixes.
They have to be taught to hunt by their older pack-mates. GSD wolf mixes lack a pack since they are usually brought up by a dog mother and so never learn to hunt. All they know is that they are given food at predictable times.
Has a GSD Wolf Hybrid Ever Attacked Anybody?
All wolf hybrids, including GSD wolf mixes, have severely bitten or attacked adults, children, and pets numerous times in the United States. Wolf-hybrids often attack children more than adults because children make noises resembling small prey animals.
More often, wolf-dog mixes will attack other pets than people. These are very territorial animals. If any other animal is perceived as being on their turf, a GSD wolf mix may not only attack but kill a dog, cat, or another animal.
What Happens if Your GSD Wolf Mix Bites or Attacks Anyone?
If your German shepherd wolf mix does happen to attack anyone on or off of your property or does manage to kill someone’s beloved pet or valuable livestock, then you are in serious trouble. You are legally responsible for the actions of your GSD wolf mix, even if he has not left your property.
Not only will you have to pay restitution and possible court costs, but, depending on your local laws, your GSD wolf mix will be confiscated and euthanized. Your chance of appeal is very small and only if you can afford the huge court costs.
The Least You Need to Know
When it comes to owning a GSD wolf hybrid or mix, the negatives outweigh the positives. Because you are not getting a purebred dog or purebred wolf, appearance, health problems, and behavior will be impossible to predict.
The only known factors are that this is a large animal with the ability to inflict serious damage on pets, livestock, wildlife, and people, especially children. These are not trainable animals because they have little to no desire to please people.
You may have to keep the animal in a pen for the rest of its life. You may never be able to find a vet willing to look after the GSD wolf mix. You may have laws banning the ownership of such an animal where you live.
And heaven helps you if the GSD wolf mix attacks anyone visiting your home or if the animal gets out and attacks someone. You will then be in a world of legal and financial trouble. Your GDS wolf mix will be killed.
A GSD wolf mix puppy or adult costs thousands of dollars. You will need plenty of land, fencing, and legal advice in order to keep it.
It’s just not worth the hassle to you, your neighbors, and the community at large. When it comes to any wolf-dog mix, leave it alone.