|It’s time to put a few of these old wives' tales to rest. :) People who live with wolf crosses and educate themselves about the animals can easily see through the hype...but it is nothing short of amazing how many of these myths have survived, and continue to be believed.
The worst offender, of course, is this one:
"Wolfdogs are confused--the wolf and the dog are at war within, and the animal doesn't know whether he's a wolf or a dog."
The truth: wolves and dogs are the same species. An arctic wolf is Canis lupus arctos, a timberwolf is Canis lupus lycaon, and Fifi the poodle is Canis lupus familiaris. This is why they can interbreed freely. (This is also why they are, technically, not a "hybrid"...except in the sense that a 'labradoodle' or 'cockapoo' is a hybrid. A wolf cross is just a "mutt", the same as a husky/shepherd cross would be.) Science aside, wolves *are* dogs, for all practical purposes. In general, they are more independent and intense than most breeds of dog, and they still retain many of the original canine behaviours that the majority of "regular" dogs have forgotten or toned down...but it is all a matter of degree: wolves are simply at one edge of the canine behavioural spectrum, and ~not~ a separate entity.
The amusing thing about this topic is that some people will readily believe in an internal conflict between something that's part captive-bred wolf and part domestic wolf (i.e., DOG)...but they'd feel ridiculous accusing a person who is half Polish and half Italian of being at war with themselves! ;) Same exact thing, folks. <grins> The Italian/Pole "hybrid" just *chops up the kielbasa & tosses it in with the spaghetti* <eg> In a canine of mixed heritage, both breeds or types are thrown into the mix and the end result is a blending of traits from both parents.
"Wolfdogs hurt wolves in the wild, because they are obtained by killing the mama wolf and taking the pups."
The truth: ABSOLUTELY not. Most wolfdog pups are obtained from (pet) wolfdog to wolfdog breedings. Others are created by backcrossing to privately-owned, captive-bred wolves. Wolfdogs do NOT harm wolves in the wild in any way; their breeding and possession is the same as that of the breeding and possession of Alaskan malamutes or Siberian huskies. "Pet" wolfdogs and captive-bred wolves are not a form of wildlife.
"Wolfdogs are unhappy living with humans; they dream of running wild in the forests."
The truth: I suppose it is impossible to know what an animal dreams of <grin>, though wolfdogs (and captive-bred wolves) are no more likely to dream of being wild and free than your average husky. They have never been wild, and cannot miss a life they've never known. Many a wolfdog "owner" can show scores of photos that prove how "unhappy" these critters *aren't*...They do, however, have needs that must be met...and, like any other dog, if they are abused or their needs are not met, they will certainly be unhappy!
"Wolfdogs were not meant to be."
The truth: domestic dogs are the end result of man's manipulation of the species Canis lupus, in order to create what he desired in a companion or servant. What he "meant them to be", in essence. Wolfdogs are exactly the same thing, with less modification: no cutting off the ears and tails, or breeding for squashed-in faces that make it hard to breathe and forms that make it hard to run. Wolfdogs are the end result of man saying "C. lupus is fine company, just the way it is". :) Since most dogs nowadays serve only as companions, what is "meant to be" becomes simply a matter of personal preference.
"Wolfdogs are unpredictable."
The truth: some myths do have their origins in a grain of truth, and this is one of them. The fact of the matter is that wolves, as a species, are more predictable than dogs; after all, the wolf is normally used as the model of canine behaviour, and is the basis from which we try to understand our dogs...dogs, however, deviate from this model as determined by what they were bred for, and what cosmetic modifications were done to them. Each individual wolfdog is entirely predictable...however, it *is* difficult to predict what you are getting when you initially bring home a wolfdog--there is great variation from one animal to the next, just like any other mixed-breed dog. Learning about genetics and background and choosing your pup carefully can give you a much better idea of what to expect, ahead of time. All responsible owners should learn the ins and outs of their particular animal.
"Wolfdogs are aggressive/vicious."
The truth: Nope. Actually, a wolfdog is less likely to behave aggressively than most fully-domesticated breeds…especially if it has a high wolf content. These animals are very shy, and generally will not approach a stranger. (There are always exceptions, of course.) Animals that are mostly dog, and/or crossed with aggressive breeds of dog such as chow, terrier, or fila, are more likely to be protective or aggressive…but although the dog component is responsible, it's usually the wolf who gets the blame.
~*Do not* take this to mean that you can't be bitten by a wolfdog! All dogs can and do bite, and wolf crosses (like most shy dogs) have a high risk of delivering a defensive or "fear" bite. It's never a good idea to corner, roughly grab or startle, or chase after and try to catch a strange wolfdog. If he thinks you are trying to hurt him, he may defend himself. The best rule of thumb is to never touch someone else's dog (wolfdog or otherwise!) without talking to the owner first. Children are at the greatest risk of being bitten by a wolfdog; young children should never be left unsupervised with any large canine, especially shy dogs or ones that are part wolf…and wolfdogs should never be chained outside where they are unable to flee from roaming children!
"The more wolf is in the mix, the more dangerous it is."
The truth: Usually, it is quite the opposite. (See "unpredictable" and "aggressive", above.) In fact, one of the main objections to the concept of wolfdogs is that you theoretically could get an animal with the capabilities and intelligence of a wolf, but the boldness and aggression of a dog. As it turns out, most wolf mixes retain much of the timid, wolfish personality even after the "wolf" look has largely been bred out. However, some have noted that these "low content" animals are more likely to bite (usually out of fear) than animals that are mostly wolf. (The mostly-wolf animals have their own set of problems—but these involve being poorly-behaved, and affect the owner alone...unless he is not responsible enough to build proper containment!)
"The rabies vaccine doesn't work on wolves and wolfdogs."
The truth: medically speaking, a wolf is a dog. All vaccines, wormers, etc that work on dogs, work on wolves as well. However, there is a political controversy surrounding wolfdogs and the rabies vaccine…in a nutshell, officials fear that putting wolfdogs on-label for the rabies vaccine could be taken as giving their approval for them to be kept as pets; and nobody wants to open *that* can of worms ;) Do get your wolfdog her rabies shot, she needs it as much as any other dog. But, be advised: if she bites or scratches someone, she will most likely be put to death on the spot. Look here for more info on the rabies issue.
|Silly Wolf-Cross Myths|