The Trend of Owning Wolf Hybrids
Having wolf hybrids as pets is a controversial yet growing phenomenon. Partly responsible for this pet trend are the numerous mystical tales and folklores about the wolf. Pet owners, especially those who have a penchant for exotic creatures, are lured by the thought to somehow bring the majestic wolf into their homes.
If you are thinking that wolf hybrids are crosses between wolves and dogs, then you certainly are on the right track. However, wolf hybrid is in actuality an antiquated term for as of 1993, dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have been reclassified as a subspecies under wolves (Canis lupus). This is probably a good time to remind you what a hybrid is. A hybrid is the progeny of two different species (i.e. carabao and cattle). Therefore, taxonomically, wolf hybrids cannot exist. The more recent and rightful term concerning a wolf-dog mix is wolfdog.
Nevertheless, for the sake of familiarity and to avoid any confusion, this article will continue using the term wolf hybrid in reference to a wolf-dog cross.
As long as there is a demand for wolf hybrids, breeders will supply them. A genuine wolf hybrid should ideally be able to trace its wolf ancestry for the last five generations. A wolf is usually mated with a dog breed that already possesses wolfish physical characteristics such as a German shepherd or an Alaskan malamute. The surest way to identify the actual wolf: dog ratio in a hybrid is to know the animal’s wolf heritage five generations prior, which is a very unlikely happening in normal times. Thus, breeders often rely on phenotyping, that is, guessing the wolf percentage as displayed by the wolf hybrid’s physical and behavioral attributes.
Since breeding genuine wolf hybrids require a rather prolonged period, there are really only very few reliable wolf hybrid breeders. In most cases, unscrupulous breeders have taken advantage of the wolf hybrid market by providing fast yet very dubious wolf hybrid pups. Aside from the animal’s heritage uncertainties, more alarming concerns involve potential health issues and unpredictability of temperament that can be harmful to the pet owner.
Another growing problem involve pet owners, who purchase wolf hybrids on a whim, decide to abandon their animals believing that since hybrids are half wolves then they will be able to survive just fine. Not only is this irresponsible pet ownership, the idea that an animal that has been domesticated all of its life to automatically revert to its feral nature is absolutely ludicrous.
Do not be lulled into getting a wolf hybrid because your cool neighbor has one; do it because you see an animal that you can love for a very long time.