Wolf/Wolfdog Misrepresentation (big post)

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I initially typed a huge post of my own up, but I think another person did it better than I could. So I will start with that and add to it;

I'd like to teach you guys a little bit about wolf hybrids.

First, why should you listen to me? Without going into too much detail, I've been a professional animal trainer for the past 10 years, working with domestic, exotic, and native animals including wolves. I've worked to educate the public about the plight of native animals and their habitat, and also encountered a lot of general ignorance about wolves (and hybrids). I've worked with a variety of individuals from several subspecies of wolf.

(Note: when I talk about hybrids below I'm referring to mid- to high- content, meaning 25% wolf and above, as below that it's often difficult to tell wolf heritage without directly interacting with the animal.

Also please note that the more correct term is "wolf dog", although I'm using the term "hybrid" here as it's used more commonly and is the term used in legal documents and laws. Technically, because dogs are a subspecies of wolf, a cross of the two isn't a true hybrid in the way that a mule or liger is.)

Can you pick out the hybrids below?

Trick question suckas! None of these is a hybrid. Most of what people claim to be"hybrids" aren't hybrids. So why do people think their dog is a hybrids when it's not? There are three main reasons:

1. They think it's cool and makes them special. It gets them attention, in real life and on the internet. They've usually done a bit of research about hybrids and filled in the gaps with things they saw on TV and in movies. They want their dog to be part wolf so badly they convince themselves it's true, or just flat-out lie.

2. Someone lied to them. This is incredibly common these days. Many people selling "hybrids" are lying liars. Why? Well, how much do you think you can sell a GSD/lab x Husky/poodle puppy for? Not a lot, and probably not a whole litter of them. How much can you sell a "1/3 timber wolf hybrid" for? Usually $300 - $600+ for each puppy, and the average buyer can't tell the difference. Bump that up to 50% and it can be around $1000+. Hell, why not call it a 90% hybrid? There's no regulation. Alternately, someone with a dog that falls into the first category has puppies and sells them to their friends, telling them the puppies are 25% wolf (or whatever) because they misidentified their own dog.

3. Several people tell the owner that their dog "looks part wolf". The owner got the dog from a shelter, so they don't know its breeding. They go online and look up "wolf hybrids" and finds out their dog has a lot of physical and behavioral traits that hybrids have. So it must be part wolf! More on that below.

"But I did a lot of research online, and my dog has all these wolf traits."

Anyone can pick the wolf out here. The others are a malamute, a GSD, and a husky-- crosses of which are the most commonly misidentified as hybrids. You can see they share a lot of similarities, in coloration, size, and body shape, and it's easy to see why someone might mistake a cross of one of these for a wolf hybrid. Other common misidentified crosses include Eskimo Dog, samoyed (any spitz or sled-type, really), and collie.

However-- and this is important, so listen closely-- THERE IS NO SINGLE TRAIT THAT CAN DIFFERENTIATE A DOG FROM A HYBRID. There is absolutely no physical or behavioral trait that is found only in wolves and not in dogs. A pure dog can have tons of "wolf" characteristics; after all, dogs came from wolves and get all their genes from them. People who identify their own dog as a hybrid tend to have a laundry-list of reasons their dog is a hybrid, but to the mildly educated objective observer the animal is clearly a dog.

If an expert were to evaluate a questionable hybrid they would look at the animal's appearance, behavior, and how you got the dog. If one of those is off, it sends up red flags. Does the dog have a somewhat wolf-like face and build, but is everyone's best friend and came from a shelter? Probably not a hybrid.

So let's look at a real wolf for a second.

As I said, there's not one thing you can look at to definitively tell a wolf hybrid, but let's look at a few things on this wolf:

The eyes tend to be a big give away; notice how the eyes are black-rimmed and slope sharply up. Wolves often have light gold eyes (this one is brown, which is common in dogs). The face is "flatter" and the muzzle fine and long, with a thin bridge, as opposed to boxy in many dogs. The lips don't droop or sag. The ears are small, rounded at the tips, and not set on the top nor sides of the head. The ears are thickly furred inside.

The coat color is graded and doesn't have sharp, distinct patterns. The markings are symmetrical, and the fur itself is "banded", meaning each hair has several colors (even black wolves). As a young cub a wolf will be almost solid in color (usually black, brown, tan, or rarely pure white) and develop adult markings as it matures, unlike spitz-type dogs which are born with their adult markings.

The back is flat, with the head carried low. The feet are large with black nails and pads. There is no rear dew claw. The tail has no sabre curl and is carried below the height of the back, not above it like a sled-type dog. The elbows are well below the chest.

Note especially the build; there's a common misconception that wolves are really heavily built with massive broad chests, but this isn't the case. Wolves tend to be very lightly built with narrow chests and long legs made for chasing prey. Most wolves weigh between 60 and 100lbs.

But keep in mind, every trait I just listed can show up in dogs too. However, the higher the supposed content of wolf, the more of these traits will be present. A high content hybrid will look almost exactly like a wolf.

So now that you've learned so much about wolves and hybrids, pick out the hybrids below:

Did I fool you again? Maybe, or maybe you're getting a little better at this.

These are all identified crosses between GSD, husky, and malamute-- no wolf in here! But if someone told you any of these were a hybrid be honest, you'd totally give them all your upvotes and send them straight to the front page. I've seen much less convincing fakes make it. So now you see how easy it can be to misidentify a hybrid.

For one thing, notice the attentive gaze on most of these dogs. Dogs tend to focus on humans and look for facial/gesture cues, while wolves and many hybrids don't.

Along those lines, something that many "hybrid" owners point to behaviorally to identify their dog as a hybrid is a lack of barking or shy, aggressive, independent, prey-driven, destructive, un-trainable, or alpha behavior. While hybrids often show these behavioral traits, in a questionable dog they can usually more easily be explained by poor early socialization and training, which is unfortunately common in rescue dogs, or from an excess of energy, which is very common in sled-type dogs (which are the most often confused for hybrids). Bad behavior does not equate wolf heritage, and in the same vein supposed wolf heritage is not an excuse for your pet to act badly-- whatever your animal is, it's up to you to make sure it's well trained, well socialized, and well behaved.

Now what you guys have been waiting for: REAL hybrids!

You can really tell these are part wolf (of different contents), especially if you compare them to the crosses above. There's no denying they're stunning animals, and it's easy to see why people would want them for a pet.

However, wolves and hybrids don't make good pets. There's a reason we changed wolves into dogs: wolves do NOT make good companions, whereas dogs are the perfect companion. Each individual is different, but by and large hybrids don't make suitable house pets.

Real hybrids often must be kept in large outdoor enclosures, sometimes up to 10 acres by law. They will probably be extremely shy of strangers, so don't expect to take them to the dog park or the farmer's market, or even have them play with your friends. In many places it's illegal to take them off your property or even to keep them in the first place. They can be trained, but only by a firm, patient, and competent professional trainer; the average or even experienced dog owner will most likely be overwhelmed by the task of training a hybrid, especially after sexual maturity. Hybrids tend to have strong prey drives, and may see your other pets as dinner. They may react badly to children and loud or intrusive people.

They will most likely not seek affection or have an innate desire to please you or take commands from you. They're naturally more destructive both inside and out of the house-- not just with your shoes, but with your furniture and doors. Hybrids are 11 times more likely to maul a human than a domestic dog.

Point is, unless you have 10 fenced acres and are an experienced trainer who doesn't want to do "dog" things with your pet, you probably should just get a dog.

Dogs make great pets.

So why do I care so much?

I've had people on here say "What do you care if she wants to call her dog a hybrid. It's not hurting anyone."

Well for one thing I've dedicated my life to the proper care and training of animals as well as to educating the public. When a person claims to have a hybrid and tells people what fun it is to have one and what great pets they make, people want to have a hybrid of their own. And some of those people take the steps necessary to make sure they get a real hybrid, which is almost always bad news for the owner and the hybrid:

Usually the owner gets overwhelmed as the animal matures and the owner or hybrid gets hurt. Or the hybrid gets locked up in a 10'x15' chain-link run for its entire life. Or the owner dumps it in the woods to be "wild" and it ends up starving to death because it never learned survival skills and is too shy to approach strangers. Or the owner dumps it at a shelter where it's almost always put down, either for aggression/fear issues or liability on the part of the shelter. It's almost never as the owner imagined, because a hybrid isn't a dog.

Also, claiming your dog is a hybrid (even if you know it isn't) can be deadly to your dog. Although the rabies vaccine almost certainly does work in wolves and hybrids, it's not approved for them. So if your "hybrid" bites anyone for any reason and the police find out you've at any time claimed your dog is a hybrid, whether it really is or not and even if it's up to date on its vaccinations, they would be obligated to test it for rabies. They test for rabies by putting the dog down and taking a sample of its brain. So where a normal dog may have gotten a note in its file or a stern warning, a "hybrid" (even a fake one) would be killed.

And finally.....

The higher content of wolf an animal has, and the closer pure wolf is in the family tree, the more a hybrid will act like a wolf. It's just silly to think an animal that's 75% wolf will act 100% like a dog; if a 75% wolf hybrid does act like a dog, you can be assured that it probably is in fact a dog, or a misrepresented low content hybrid. Wolves are not dogs and do not act like dogs. Wolves absolutely do not make suitable house pets, and neither does an animal that's mostly wolf. This is common sense.

It's been estimated that 70% of wolf hybrids are actually just misidentified crosses of other breeds, and that 80% of actual hybrids have far less wolf in them than the owner was told or claims. So be honest with yourself if you have a "hybrid". It may very well be one, but it very likely isn't. And your friend or relative's "hybrid" that was the greatest dog ever? Probably also a dog.

And please, please: if you have (or think you have) a real hybrid, don't encourage people to go out and get one; this just sets up ignorant owners to get an animal they can't handle, and puts a part-wild animal in a dangerous and unkind situation. Keeping these animals in demand also fuels unscrupulous breeders, as there aren't any regulations or standards for hybrid breeding. Sanctuaries are already overcapacity with animals people thought would be "cool" but which became unmanageable as they grew. Perpetuating the sale of hybrids to amateur owners is bad news for the animals and people involved.

But thanks for reading. If you've made it this far I'm impressed. Now bring on the comments of all the people who really really have "hybrids" and what great pets they were......

So be honest with yourself if you have a "hybrid". It may very well be one, but it most likely isn't. And your aunt's "hybrid" that was the greatest dog ever? Probably also a dog.

But thanks for reading. Now bring on the comments of all the people who really really have "hybrids" and what great pets they were......

TL;DR: Most hybrids aren't hybrids, and real hybrids usually don't make good pets.
http://imgur.com/gallery/TqaTE - Source
Now for my personal experiences on this subject. Almost every person I come across both online and in-person claims their Nordic dog is some wolf mix. And when they do it it's mostly because they think it makes their dog that much cooler. "I don't have any old Husky, he's part wolf! I named him Ghost!" Makes me want to vomit. If they only knew how uncool (in my eyes at least) it actually makes them. And how unsafe it is for everyone involved.

Once you take the time to research them it becomes quite clear what a wolfdog is and how to actually tell visually (called phenotyping) when one actually is [a wolfdog]. But before we get there you have to first understand a dog's content and how that plays a role in how they look.

There's no real way as of now to determine how much content in percentages a dog has. There is no accurate test for this. So my dog is 92% wolf, or "...my vet did a test and here are the papers!" is all bullshit and a red flag out the gate. The only real number one could determine is 50% if one parent is all Wolf and the other all Dog. And this rarely happens. Mostly because owning a Wolf in any State [in the US] is illegal. And owning a wolfdog in most States is also illegal, or requires a permit. Again, more flags. Most wolfdogs come from high-content Wolfdog parents.

Another flag is if it's some strange breed x wolf. You won't see any Beagle's or Great Dane's with any recent (or any at all) wolf in them. It just doesn't happen. Most wolfdogs are Malamute/Husky/German Shepherd Dog mixes. There have been only a few rare instances of random mixes of wolfdogs outside of the norms. And no one actually has them running around right now. They are;

Wolf x Poodle. Experiment from the 70's in Russia. Most badass purse-dogs ever made.

Collie x Wolf mix. From someone who didn't really know what they were doing and this happened. IIRC the owner had all the dogs taken from them.

Lab x Wolf mix. Same litter. Top dog from the top image is the parent.

Pitbull Terrier x Wolf. My fave random mix. Easily the most badass. Again from an owner who had an oops litter.

Wolf genetics are strong. And how much wolf shows up is dependant on how high the content of the parents are + how far removed from the Wolf parentage they are, which are described as generations (F1, F2, F3, etc. for first generation, second, and so on). So a Dog with a Wolf or high-content wolfdog grandparent is an F2 wolfdog. And if no wolf was introduced in the breeding since, the F2 dog will start to lose those traits (depending on the breed and the original wolf content). It all varies and even dogs from the same litter with the same parents are look dynamically different. But some of the rules still apply.

Even a low-content wolfdog will look like a wolf in many aspects, and not look like a Husky/Malamute/Shiba Inu, etc. So when people have a dog that looks 100% like a dog, but his daddy was half wolf, it's a lie. Period. Let's take a look at some confirmed low-content wolfdogs (roughly 34% and lower);

Slim chest, slanted almond eyes, long paws and black claws. Long snout, furry ears. Even at low-content it is quite easy to tell these are wolfdogs. It's unmistakable. One thing that is really rare is blue eyes. Even in low-content wolfdogs. The one above has them. But even with that, everything else about him is clearly from a wolf. He does not resemble your friends Husky outside of eye color.

Now let's look at some mid-contents (roughly 35-74%).

Now we are are getting to a point where even some well trained folk will get them confused with a real wolf. More of the features are all present, and all at once. You won't see a mid-content wolfdog with blue eyes, for instance. It doesn't happen. The build is almost completely wolf. Their mating cycles are not all year long. It's usually only once a year, just like wolves. While in some cases their dog side is still shown, it becomes way more diluted at this point.

(roughly 75-99%)

At this point, you can't even tell in most cases they are wolfdogs. They will look indistinguishable from actual wolves.

Sorry for the long post but it's been something on my heart for awhile. People lost their dogs to something that should be easily avoidable.
Wow this is extremely informative. Thanks for this! As someone who's only exposure to wolf dogs is MGS, I find this very fascinating and useful. Those poodles look really frightening.


Awesome post! Thanks for this. I found myself learning along and picking out the visual attributes with the pictures, and found it made a huge difference. Reminds me of how people also do this incorrectly with pitbull mixes, usually to blame and fearmonger. It's frustrating how animals can be stigmatized, both for coolness and dastardliness enhancement. It's obviously common with exotics (I'm even guilty, I fell in love with a bengal cat once) but they're not the only ones.

Robert Williams

Neo Member
Seriously. I'm a dog person and the wolf-poodles (woodles?) give me the willies. What were the Russians trying to pull in the seventies with stuff like that and the domesticated foxes!?


Wow this is extremely informative. Thanks for this! As someone who's only exposure to wolf dogs is MGS, I find this very fascinating and useful. Those poodles look really frightening.

I tried to be as thorough as possible! I appreciate that. There are people who claim their dogs wolfdogs even knowing they aren't and it only further confuses the general public and hurts others and their dogs in the process. People should not see a Husky or Malamute and think it wolf. There are people who actually make a living off of doing this and it's so dangerous.


This poor dog was almost killed because some neighbor claimed it looked wolfish, and he was dangerous, IIIRC. He is clearly a Husky mix of some kind though. There are no real wolf features in this dog.


Another example. Clearly not a wolf. I don't even see enough features to deem this dog a low-content, but they are claiming it's a full on Wolf cub! -_-

And forget everything the Dog Whisperer said in that one stupid episode, while we are at it.


I had one. He was a real asshole.

See? And because you say that, I believe you 100%. Most don't make great pets at all! They won't roll over for you and sit on command. They will get bored with you if you don't keep them entertained.

When someone says "I have a wolfdog, and I am in the Alpha of the pack and he obeys me!" it's a dog.
Very informative! A few people have told me their awesome well behaved dogs are part wolf. Next time someone does I'll tell them they're full of shit!!!


Great OP. I had a Siberian Husky for 12 years. He looked almost identical to the bottom left picture in your first image.

The number of people who would ask me "Is that part wolf?" was astounding. Every time I'd answer "No, he's a dog. 100% dog".

There was a guy down the street who without fail, every time I came down the road and he was out with his kids would start hollering "Oh watch out now kids, get back some, here comes that man with the wolf!". Frustrating.


Thanks OP, very informative post!
I don't think I've ever seen a hybrid in real life. I've only been in contact with "dogs" and 100% wolves:
In 2013 I went to the Polar Zoo near Tromso, Norway. Went into a wolf enclosure (1 male, 2 females, 2 sisters and a brother seperated from their parents and raised by humans) and that was a really awesome and humbling experience! Will post some pictures later!

They renamed the Polar Zoo to Polar Park:


Really informative, OP!

Question: Is the Czechoslovakian wolfdog a misnomer or are they actually wolfdogs?
Wow what an awesome post. Screw that first poster. :(

Very very informative. Man I love Wolves beautiful animals. Had a chance to play with some wolf pups once. Sooo cute.

As much as my inner naïve self would love something like this. I know...well it wouldn't be very fun.


A Wolf/Poodle mix? Wow that quite a mix.XD

A lot of these are really cool. Love wolves, but don't think I would ever deal with a wolfdog.


Legit? Can you tell use more?

Also that Wolf x Bulldog is one of the most beautiful creatures I've seen in my life.

Legit. Blue eyes with gray fur. Turned black as he got older.
My mom took him to the shelter because he was too much. Chewed on shit, killed our chickens, barked all night, climbed fences, bit a guy at the park while on top of a fence.

He was young though. A little over a year old, if that. Truly the most beautiful breed of dog I've ever owned, and I received a ton of compliments on him. Not worth the trouble though.

Maybe if I had a ton of land.


Really informative, OP!

Question: Is the Czechoslovakian wolfdog a misnomer or are they actually wolfdogs?
They are a breed of dog that retains wolf like characteristics and are not easy to train. Originally bred from I think German shepherd and Carpathian wolf.


Thank you all for the kind words. When I make animal threads I usually try and be as detailed as possible.

Really informative, OP!

Question: Is the Czechoslovakian wolfdog a misnomer or are they actually wolfdogs?

Real wolfdog and one of the only breeds that is officially recognized as well. Wonderful dog breed!

Legit? Can you tell use more?

Also that Wolf x Bulldog is one of the most beautiful creatures I've seen in my life.

Soul mates, you and I are.

A Wolf/Poodle mix? Wow that quite a mix.XD

A lot of these are really cool. Love wolves, but don't think I would ever deal with a wolfdog.

You should check out some of the Wolf/Wolfdog Sanctuaries like Howling Woods Farm. ;) Wolfdogs are very loving and while they don't make great pets with proper education and time, they can make great companions.


Are these wolf dog offspring viable?

Meaning can they breed or are they like mules?

But still unsure.

Sorry, great OP, but still reading it lol.


Are these wolf dog offspring viable?

Meaning can they breed or are they like mules?

But still unsure.

Sorry, great OP, but still reading it lol.

They can breed just fine. Wolves and dogs belong to the same species; Canis lupus. Which is why they can and do breed so well. Wolfdog pups are generally healthier than both dogs and wolves too boot.
So D-Dog really is a dog? Huey was wrong after all


I really want a sort of wolf later on in life, but it's a shame they're shy and hate everything else. Maybe I'll look for a wolf dog @_@


Do you think people shouldn't have them as pets like other hybrids or are they an exception to the rule?

I think owning them is fine. Like anything of this nature people just need to take the time to educate themselves. Visit a Sanctuary or two before taking that plunge. Real breeders will vet you and verify your home before even selling you one and should you deem yourself incapable of handling them, they will take the dog back.

Also make sure it is legal to own one in your state. Google Hybridlaw and verify that because it's illegal in a lot of places.

So D-Dog really is a dog?

Visually yes. Behaviorly no. D-Dog looks like a high-content fully grown. But he acts like a Dog with no Wolf in him at all. Lol


Beautiful looking but good to know they don't make good pets, and it makes sense. I thought being from the same family as dogs that they would be similar to dogs but they are domesticated and not wild for a reason.


I've heard that wolves are not naturally black. Is it true that if you find a black furred wolf hunting in the wild it has dog ancestry somewhere? Or was my TV lying to me? :p


One day I realized that sadness is just another word for not enough coffee.
That collie mix is something else.

KC Denton

Makes perfect sense, he's a dog, everyone calls him Diamond Dog and
Huey's a shit bag

I mean, a lot of people seem to call wolves dogs when they act friendly, like how in Until Dawn everyone calls the wolf a dog even though everything in the game points to it being a wolf.

Also, see the encyclopedia entry above. Kojima loves doing tricky shit like this, just like how (MAJOR MGS5 SPOILERS)
Venom Snake is not Big Boss.


I could have missed something while reading but wasn't it mentioned you can't do percentile of wolf yet you break it down in the end by percentage? I just assume the ~99% would be "f1" or am I out to lunch?

The Adder

See? And because you say that, I believe you 100%. Most don't make great pets at all! They won't roll over for you and sit on command. They will get bored with you if you don't keep them entertained.

When someone says "I have a wolfdog, and I am in the Alpha of the pack and he obeys me!" it's a dog.

Theoretically if someone said "I have a wolf dog. I fought him, he nearly killed me, I came out the victor, and now he's got his shit together."


Guy down be street has a large dog that he claims is half wolf. I just smile and say site as his dog plays with my tiny chihuahua mix.
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