Intriguingly, there are plenty of facts about wolves but not enough information about wolf dogs. The current data arising is a result of people becoming extremely fascinated by them over the last few years. Wolves and wolf dogs share many similar characteristics, but what separates them is the wolf’s wild side, their large prey drive, their nature and physical differences.
Wolves are known as canine lupus and the dog’s side is known as canine lupus familiaris. Once a wolf mates with a dog such as a German Shepherd and produces its offspring, they become known as the canid hybrid. Canid hybrid literally means wolf hybrid dog. As we can see, each animal belongs to different families in the animal kingdom.
Depending upon which wolf was used to breed with a purebred dog, then their temperaments can vary. Unfortunately, there is no one-set temperament formula as many assume; some are subdued, aloof, quiet, lazy and gentle like my Saarloos. However, other wolf types can be highly spirited, very stubborn and athletic, etc. Genetic facts about wolves and wolf dogs are very important, and how they’ve been trained; this plays huge part as to how each one behaves. For more information on genetic blending and temperament’s check out ‘Gray wolves to modern wolf dogs‘.
In addition to these facts about wolves and wolf dogs, there are physical traits, which make them either distinctively more wolf or more dog like. Before buying a wolf dog, compare the facts about wolves and wolf dogs below as to whether one would be suitable for you and your home.
Physical facts about wolves, wolfdogs vs dogs
- A wolf’s physical body structure is larger and leaner.
- A wolf’s brain is approximately one third bigger than the domestic dog.
- A wolf’s muzzle is much longer.
- The wolf’s legs are much longer especially their rear legs.
- The wolf’s paws are much bigger, particularly their front paws.
- The wolf’s cranium is much wider.
- Wolves trot when out walking whereas a dog will walk.
- Wolves trot with their tails pointing downwards.
- Wolves tails hang straight down never pointing upwards.
- The wolf’s eyes are lateral and are mostly yellow and brown.
- The wolf’s ears are much smaller than dogs.
- Wolves trot with their paws in a single line (known as single tracking) as opposed to dogs walking in left and right parallel.
- When wolves are looking somewhat curious, they stand with their front paws facing out, their elbows facing inwards and with head down below their shoulders.
- The wolf is stronger and physically more powerful.
- The wolf’s teeth, particularly their molars are stronger and longer.
- Wolves are natural carnivores; they need to eat raw meat not dry dog food.
- Wolves are born with two dew claws.
- Most wolves are born with distinct fur markings, dogs have none or near to nothing.
Behavioral facts about wolves, wolfdogs and dogs
- Wolves are unpredictable, some people consider this dangerous.
- Wolves have a very high prey drive, even wolfdogs ought not to be left near small children or little dogs unsupervised.
- Female wolves are on heat once a year compared to twice per year with domestic dogs.
- Female wolves (known as the breeding wolf) have to be the alpha of their pack to reproduce; omega females do not breed in the wild.
- Wolves don’t quarrel among themselves in a survival situation compared to domestic dogs.
- Wolves are naturally shy and they don’t relate well to crowds of people and areas, unless they’ve been trained to cope with this from a puppy.
- Wolves are naturally suspicious of other animals and people.
- Wolves are much cleverer than a dog; they can devise plans to outwit any human or other animal.
- Wolves are particularly aware of their surroundings; it is very difficult for them to move to another owner, location or a different home.
- Wolves are not natural barkers like dogs, but they do communicate in different ways to dogs such as wimping or howling.
- Wolves are natural hunters with larger prey drives; dogs have practically lost their ability to hunt.
Our experience fostering wolfdogs
We were privileged to foster three wolf dogs at one time. Each one had different wolf looks, personality and characteristics.
One of our foster dogs looked like a wolf and had more wolf instincts than the other dogs put together. She was a high-ranking female, very highly strung and was incredibly clever. On the other hand, one of our male wolf dogs looked like a wolf but behaved more like a domestic dog. Generally, when our foster wolf dogs were in the home, they were calm, gentle and quiet just like domestic dogs. However, once they were let loose on the beach or any other rural place their wolf instincts kicked in.
Wolf dogs are beautiful regal animals that require a lot of hard work. To some owners, it could even mean full-time work. If you buy one wolf dog, you may find you might need to buy another because these types of dogs love to live as pack animals.
For more facts about wolves and wolf dogs check out Living with Wolfdogs: This is: An Everyday Guide to a Lifetime Companionship, Second Edition (Wolf Hybrid Education) by Nicole Wilde. This is a real published book that’s currently #1 on a best-seller list at Amazon. Also, here are some more amazing facts about wolves and wolf dogs called Wolfdogs A-Z Behavior Training & More: by Nicole Wilde. Both books are best-sellers, have superb reviews and are excellent books that will give you great insight.