|Some considerations, when choosing a wolfdog puppy...|
|All wolfdogs can be wonderful friends, whether they are 10% or 98%. "Wolf Content", or the approximate amount of wolf genes evident in an animal, is a useful way to give an idea of what the animal will look and act like--the same way that knowing a domestic dog's breed is useful.
Low content wolfdogs (no matter their supposed "percentage" on paper) make much better "pets" in the conventional sense. Low contents have many advantages: *They are usually better in the house, if you were wanting a full-time house dog. *More likely to enjoy car rides, visiting your friends/family, walks around downtown, therapy dog or agility work, or any of the other things that high contents are often averse to. Low contents are normally less timid than highs, and make better "All-Around dogs". *It's easier to break your vet in to wd's with a low content, than a high...it's also easier to avoid mentioning your wolfdog's heritage, if need be, until you find a vet who accepts them or teach YOUR vet that they are not "wild animals". *When getting others to feel comfortable around wolfdogs, it is much better if they are able to play with the lower content critters, and see how much "like anyone else's much loved dog" they are...BEFORE they are introduced to more "wolfy" animals, who may respond with suspicion or fear. If people interact with some 'slightly shy' low contents...then they are more understanding when the "even shyer" highs won't come to them to be petted. (It's a matter of degree...just as if you were desensitizing your dog to children: you would start by letting him approach calm, gentle older children; not just toss him into the middle of an 8 year old's rowdy birthday party.) *For first-timers who think they want a wolfdog, a low content will be a better choice...because it will act more like what they are accustomed to (dogs), and won't be such a 'culture shock' to them. It may also be easier to re-home, if the person decides that they simply can't handle or accomodate the animal. Many experienced wolfdog owners strongly believe that new folks should start out with a lower content animal. This way you can "adapt" yourself, your house, and your lifestyle to that of a Wolfmom or dad, and make the mistakes you are bound to make with an animal that is a bit more forgiving than a high content would be. Then (since you were planning on multiple dogs anyway! Wolfdogs do not like to be the Only Child) you can add one higher in content as you gain experience. *Low contents are more easily trainable, more adaptable to their situation, more suitable for being raised with children, easier to contain, and so on...they have more of the 'doggy' behaviours that man has modified canines for, for centuries; to make them "fit in" better in modern society (and with minimal effort on the part of the owners). *For those who want a wolfish canine, but who have a less-than-ideal situation for raising a wolf (or mostly-wolf dog), such as: a family with young children, a home in town with a 6 foot fence and nearby neighbors/dogs, someone who wants to "do things" with their dog (such as off-lead obedience, agility, extensive travelling, etc)...a low content wolfdog may be an excellent choice. The *breed of dog in the mix* is VERY important with low content wolfdogs, as this will be the most influential factor in the dog's look an temperament. For example, a low content husky cross will essentially be a "Husky-Plus". ;)
True "high content" animals are virtually identical to a pure wolf, in both looks and behaviour. These guys are indescribably fascinating to watch and interact with. Their intelligence & perceptiveness is off the scale...as is their creativity and ability to get whatever it is they are interested in. That includes opening doors, windows, & the fridge...so be forewarned ;) Wolves play roughly with each other, but are normally gentle and affectionate with their humans if properly raised. The biggest difference between wolves and dogs, behaviourally, is the intensity, awareness, and reactivity if the interaction...i.e, wolves are more "hardwired" to act on external stimuli, dogs have had this suppressed & selectively bred out of them for thousands of years. The amount of wolf in your animal will determine which end of this scale she leans towards. Wolves truly have a mind of their own...*their* well-thought-out conclusion on a given situation matters more to them than *yours* does, and that's something that needs to be considered and accommodated to some extent. They also have their bad points, and plenty of them: most are very destructive, are not particularly obedient (you are dealing with a "hundred pound cat that speaks Dog"), tend to be rather spooky--especially when full grown, and are often fearful of novelty- new people, or anything they've never seen before. Most are not appropriate for homes with small children. For this reason, most breeders will not sell a wolf or high to a home with young kids. Establishing & maintaining the "alpha" position--fairly!-- is critical with highs. Food aggression may be an issue, so you'll need to do things correctly from the very start. If left intact, they may exhibit seasonal aggression (sometimes called "winter wolf syndrome"). They'll also "mark" things--neutering or spaying a companion wolfdog is always highly recommended.
Again, the breed and line/genetics of the dog involved is important...particularly with lows and mids. (You may have difficulty finding someone who uses quality dogs, let alone accurately represented wolf!) The breed of dog in the mix is largely up to personal preference, although you do want to stay away from breeds that tend to be overly human or dog aggressive (such as chows, pitbull or any other terriers, akitas, or any of the dogs intended for fighting, livestock guarding, or home defense). Doglike aggression combined with the wolf's intensity, reflexes, and physical prowess is a *bad* recipe! Most breeders also avoid breeds that are not at all wolflike in appearance--after all, even a first generation wolf/lab or wolf/poodle looks far less wolflike than a pure bred malamute dog!
Most wolfdogs are mixed with: ~malamute (produces a larger, heavier, calmer animal that many feel remains most true to the "wolf look" and intelligent, independent temperament; malamutes are larger than wolves, some up to 200 pounds; owners note that malX's are generally stubborn, headstrong, & rather dog-aggressive) ~Siberian husky (produces a smaller animal, as sibes usually run around 50 pounds; more likely to be outgoing/friendly with strangers; very pretty dogs, sibes are known for their striking features, blue eyes, & sharp markings; more hyperactive/energetic cross) ~German shepherd (very similar in body type; may be more aggressive/protective/loyal; anecdotal evidence suggests a better behaved, less independent, and more controllable animal; the shepherd "saddle" is very prevalent; hip dysplaysia and nippy temperament becomes a concern if American GSD is used; extreme prey drive and dominance may be an issue if Euro GSD is used) ~Samoyeds, Keeshonden, & Norwegian elkhound are other smilar breeds that have been used with success. Be sure to study the dog breed(s) in your wolfdog!
The subspecies of wolf is often another matter of personal preference...some folks prefer arctic crosses, as they are said to be less human-shy...Some like the sweet, timid nature of continental subspecies. Many breeders fail to keep accurate track of the subspecies used...others invent fancy "rare" suspecies such as Alaskan Red, Persian, or Russian Blue, to hook buyers with. Some claim "red wolf", which is endangered and is either a separate species (Canis Rufus) or (as some scientists suspect) a hybrid of grey wolf x coyote...I don't believe there's ever been a verified case of someone with pet red wolves used in wolfdog crosses. "Red wolf" typically implies red Siberian husky was used. Many others claim MacKenzie crosses; Mac's tend to be a larger, heavier-built wolf...I suppose somebody took this tidbit and ran with it, because the number of supposed "full blooded Mac Valley wolves" that just so happen to be malamutes <grins> is staggering. As a rule of thumb, if the breeder claims anything besides Timber, British Columbian, Alaskan Interior, or Tundra...take it with a grain of salt. (True MacKenzie and Arctic animals *do* exist, but they are few & far between.)
Gender is another thing entirely up to personal preference, *if* this is your only dog. Some folks do better with one sex or the other...female dogs supposedly listen better to men...female wolfdogs *do* tend to be more submissive/"softer" critters and may be somewhat easier to raise. Intact males are often grouchy and disagreeable during the fall & winter months, so consider that also. Intact males love to spray...but higher content intact female wolfdogs are reputed to spray as well. Some people find males to be calmer and less 'clingy', and get along better with other dogs. (Females, in general, are more likely to get into same-sex fights--and do more damage. Males are more inclined to stop at posturing.) Keep in mind that this is all based just on various folks' experiences, and all dogs are different--so your experiences with dogs in the past should guide this choice. If you have other dogs/wolfdogs at home, that should be your primary factor: it is advisable to get an animal of the opposite gender as your current one. In a multi-dog household, have a backup plan/extra containment if, one day, two of your same-sex animals no longer get along.
Bear in mind, when choosing a pup, that both aggression & extreme shyness are due in part to genetics...if her parents are terrified of you, or growling and charging you through the fence, she may be the same way. Is this something you're willing to risk? Things like hip dysplaysia and eye defects are also genetic...the parents should be screened for any hereditary diseases that the dog breeds involved are susceptible to.
There are many considerations in choosing a *breeder*, as well--online resources for this are abundant. Be sure to check them out!