A wolfdog (also called a wolf–dog hybrid or wolf hybrid) is a canid hybird resulting from the mating of a wolf (various Canis lupus subspecies) and a dog (Canis lupus familiaris). The term "wolfdog" is preferred by most of the animals' proponents and breeders because the domestic dog recently was taxonomically recategorized as a subspies of wolf. The Amercian veterinary medical association and the U.S departments agriculture refer to the animals as wolf–dog hybrids.Rescue organizations consider any dog with wolf heritage within the last five generations to be a wolfdog, including some established wolfdog breeds.
The physical characteristics of an animal created by breeding a wolf to a dog are not predictable, similar to that of mixed bred dogs. Genetic research shows that wolf and dog populations initially diverged approximately 14,000 years ago and have interbred only occasionally since; thus imbuing the dissimilarity between dogs and wolves in behavior and appearance. In many cases the resulting adult wolfdog may be larger than either of its parents due to the genetic phenomenon of hetorosis (commonly known as hybrid vigor).
Breeding experiments in Germany with poodles and wolves, and later on with the resulting wolfdogs showed unrestricted fertility, mating via free choice and no significant problems of communication (even after a few generations). The offspring of poodles with either coyotes and jackals however all showed a decrease in fertility, significant communication problems as well as an increase of genetic diseases after three generations of interbreeding between the hybrids. The researchers therefore concluded that domestic dogs and wolves are the same species.
Wolf-dog hybrids are a mixture of genetic traits, which results in less predictable behavior patterns compared to either the wolf or dog.This is not to say that the behavior of any specific hybrid is erratic. It would, however, be unlikely that someone unfamiliar with an individual animal would be able to predict that animal's behavior with reasonable certainty.
The adult behavior of hybrid pups also cannot be predicted with comparable certainty to dog pups, even in third-generation pups produced by wolfdog matings with dogs or from the behavior of the parent animals. Thus, though the behavior of a single individual wolf hybrid may be predictable, the behavior of the type as a whole is not. The majority of high wolf-content hybrids are very curious and are generally more destructive than dogs. Subtypes:
Today, at least seven breeds of dog exist which acknowledge a significant amount of recent wolf-dog hybridization in their creation. Four breeds were the result of intentional crosses with German shepherds dogs, and have distinguishing characteristics of appearance that may reflect the varying subspecies of wolf that contributed to their foundation stock. Other, more unusual crosses have occurred; recent experiments in Germany were conducted in the crossing of wolves and poodles. Another breed is the Wolamute, a cross between analksan malmute and a timber wolf. The intention in creating the breeds was manifold; ranging from the desire for a recognizable companion wolfdog, to military working dogs.
Most wolf and wolfdog rescue organizations maintain that wolfdogs retain many of the traits and requirements of their wild relatives and therefore may be inappropriate as domestic pets.The view that aggressive characteristics are inherently a part of wolfdog temperament has been contested in recent years by wolfdog breeders and other advocates of wolfdogs as pets.
As a pet:
Proponents of wolfdogs as pets say that the animals are naturally timid and fearful of humans, but that with proper training and responsible ownership wolfdogs can become good companions. Even in cases of wolfdogs displaying consistently dog-like behavior, they still often retain some wolf like behavior such as howling, digging, chewing up household items such as furniture, fences and, to varying degrees display considerable difficulty in housebreaking.