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What Is a Wolf Dog & Do They Make Good Pets?

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by Dogster Team


What Is a Wolf Dog & Do They Make Good Pets?

Dogs rely on us humans to care for them and make sure their needs are met in order to experience a high quality of life. Conversely, wolves live on their own in the wild and need nothing from humans to thrive, let alone survive. In fact, they would prefer to never see a human if they could help it.

So, the idea of a “wolf dog” might seem like an oxymoron. Some dogs and wolves look a bit alike, but they don’t have much else in common otherwise. They have completely different lifestyles and would suffer if their environments were reversed. However, there is such a thing as a wolf dog, or a canine with recent ancestors that are both domestic dog and wolf. Wolves are wild animals and their offspring, even when mixed with that of a dog, are not equipped to live the life of a domestic animal. Here, we break down the details.

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Part Wolf, Part Dog

An animal is considered a wolf dog if they are born from one of the following breeding variations:
  • A pure wolf and domestic dog
  • A pure wolf and wolf dog
  • Two wolf dogs
  • A wolf dog and domestic dog

The idea is that any dog with at least one parent or grandparent that’s at least part wolf is considered a wolf dog. It’s important to note that wolf dogs are the product of human intervention and would not be produced in the wild, with a few extreme exceptions. Wolves see animals that aren’t in their pack as either enemies or prey, so they would not intentionally form a relationship with a domestic dog unless under dire circumstances.

wolfdog on a leash
Image Credit: wolfyy01, Pixabay

Is It Legal to Own a Wolf Dog?

Whether it is legal to own a wolf-dog as a pet depends on where you live. Some states, such as Hawaii, Illinois, and Wyoming, prohibit the ownership of wolf dogs. Others, like North Dakota, Kentucky, and Florida, require permits and minimum standards for things like an enclosure. States like Colorado, Oregon, and Tennessee classify wolf dogs as domestic animals and have no laws against ownership. If you are seriously considering owning a wolf dog, it is crucial to contact your county officials and find out what the current ownership laws are.

Why You Shouldn’t Own a Wolf Dog

While a wolf dog might seem like a cool pet to have, there are several reasons that it isn’t a good idea, unless you are trained to work with wolves and have extensive hands-on experience with the animals.

Wolves are pack animals that require constant unification with their pack members. They would never be happy hanging out at home waiting for their human pack members to arrive, and their wolf dog offspring wouldn’t be happy either.

Here are other reasons not to own a wolf dog:
  • Wolves are unpredictable and can be tough to train and manage. You would be responsible for their behavior in all situations, and if they misbehave in a social setting, it could be disastrous.
  • There is no approved rabies vaccination for wolf dog hybrids. The vaccines have not been tested on wolves, so even if a wolf dog is administered a rabies vaccine, they would not be considered vaccinated. If your wolf dog were to bite someone, they would be impounded and possibly euthanized to test for rabies.
  • Wolf dogs need almost constant attention and excessive amounts of exercise. Wolves are used to roaming to look for food and protect their territories throughout the day. Wolf dogs want to spend as much time as possible outdoors walking and getting rid of their extra energy. A quick daily walk isn’t going to cut it.
wolfdog in the wild
Image Credit: Tahoe, Unsplash

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Wolf dogs are interesting animals but they do not make good pets. Sadly, many of them live in rescue facilities due to being abandoned by their owners or experiencing mistreatment by breeders. Purchasing a wolf dog supports the practice of breeding wolves and domestic dogs together, which can have dire consequences, such as poor quality of life, bad health, and even social dangers.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: gloverk, Shutterstock

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