german shepherd wolf mix

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Wolfdog Myth of the Week: “My wolfdog is crossed with (insert atypical breed here), and that’s why it doesn’t look or act like a real wolfdog!" 

When it comes to creating wolfdogs, most breeders chose domestic dogs that are already very wolf-like in appearance: Their go-to breeds are Husky, Malamute, and German shepherd. It is highly uncommon for wolfdogs to be intentionally crossed with any other breed, as most other breeds produce less wolfy-looking wolfdogs. And the wolfier a wolfdog looks, the more it’s worth to buyers and breeders alike. 

That said, there have been several accidental or experimental "odd” wolfdog mixes out there. They are typically well-documented due to the rarity and novelty of the event, and are absolutely not commonplace. The chances of an Average Joe dog-owner finding and housing one of these animals successfully are slim-to-none. 

For starters, let’s look at a couple of F1 (first-generation) wolf/dog crosses. The two used for this example are mixed with malamute and GSD. Note that F1 pairings are the only acceptable time to describe wolf content in terms of percentages/fractions, as an F1 puppy has received exactly half of his genetic material from his mother’s side, and exactly half from his dad’s side.  These animals are the true standard for “50%” wolf. 

Almost exclusively, odd breed mixes are the result of wolfdog/domestic dog pairings, and rarely involve a pure wolf parent. It is highly uncommon for breeders to even own a pure wolf in this day and age, as in many places, doing so is illegal. Those who rare few individuals do own pure wolves for wolfdog breeding purposes will virtually never cross their animals with pure domestic dogs. This debunks claims of “my dog is half wolf and half beagle, mastiff, rottweiler, etc.” right off the bat. 

The only exception to this rule exists in the case of a Russian experiment in canine genetics which saw biologists crossing purebred wolves with purebred poodles. The first-generation offspring share some wolfy characteristics and some doggy ones, too. And while the animals may not look as wolfy as an F1 wolf/malamute cross, the wolf content is nevertheless present and unmistakable. Nobody could pass these animals off as “just” dogs. 

Next, we see an F1 lab/wolf cross. If memory serves me well, this animal was the offspring of a pure wolf being illegally-kept by an exotic game rancher, who raised it with one of his Labrador retrievers. The animals mated just before the original owner was forced to surrender his canines to a wolfdog sanctuary. Note the similarities in skull structure and gait between the lab/wolf and the pure wolf parent in the background. 

Following the wolf/lab mix are two rescued pups which were being bred intentionally by an irresponsible private owner. They are husky, malamute, wolf, Irish wolfhound mixes in the low to low-mid content range. 

Below them is a super low-content collie/wolfdog mix also bred by a breeder who didn’t really know what he was doing. From my understanding, this breeder is now out of business and no longer works with wolfdogs. 

Last, we have one of my personal favorite “oddball” wolfdogs, Buku, who was born at a sanctuary under similar circumstances as the wolf/lab cross above.

Buku’s mother, a high-content black wolfdog, was confiscated along with another male wolfdog from irresponsible owners who couldn’t handle their wild nature. The rescuers knew she was pregnant at the time they took her in, and suspected that she had been mated by the male wolfdog, but were surprised when her pups ended up looking nothing at all what they expected them to!

Further inquiry lead to the discovery that the wolfdogs’ original owners also kept a bully breed dog on the premises who was likely the father. Again, these oddball pups still display some wolfy traits, even if they are harder to identify on account of their doggier appearances.

In conclusion, most claims of “my wolfdog is crossed with pit bull, mastiff, doberman, etc.” are false. The exceptions known are listed above, and are usually widely-discussed in the wolfdog community on account of the novelty factor, but breeders and breed fanciers alike all agree that intentionally breeding wolfdogs with anything other than Northern breeds and GSDs is irresponsible and serves no purpose. 

fieryflyingpanda  asked:

So with F1 wolfdogs, do they always pheno to mid content, or can the pups still inherit different content from each parent? I know in these cases they're technically "50/50" but genetics are still genetics. Thanks for taking the time to answer!

F1 wolfdogs should always pan out to be mid-content animals. Pups from the same litter may not all inherit the same traits - one may have rounded doggy eyes and a bottle brush wolf tail; while another will have small narrow wolflike eyes, but a partially-curled dog tail. Overall, though, each pup will display half wolf traits and half dog.

Below are two different F1 wolf/German shepherd pups which exemplify this principal perfectly. They are both from the same parents - a female wolf and a male German Shepherd dog.

Wolfdog 1:

And wolfdog 2:

You can see that, by throw of genetics, they did not end up looking identical. Wolfdog 1 has a boxier muzzle and a stronger stop to his brow, while wolfdog 2 has a more pointed muzzle and smoother stop.

But wolfdog 1 also has shorter, more-rounded ears, and smaller eyes compared to skull size. By contrast, wolfdog 2′s eyes and ears are more dog-like in their appearance than 1′s. Their traits “even out” to the extent that both animals have an equal number of wolf and dog.