The purpose of Wolfdogs 101 is to provide first timers with insight of what they should expect and prepare for if they plan to welcome a wolfdog into their family. Many of the topics covered here are controversial, you may hear different opinions based on different experiences. We have based this information on our 37 years of experience with wolves and wolfdogs. Regardless of our experience, we continue to learn more and more about our animals each day we spend with them, and always keep an open mind that there is still much to learn. The moment we think we know everything is the moment we close the door to growth. That said, we advise anyone considering a pup to research various sources, and seek different opinions and advice, and listen to different experiences from people who have owned wolfdogs.
If you are thinking about getting a wolfdog, this section will hopefully give you better understanding of what to expect with each of the different contents, and which content is most suitable for you and your household. After learning about what to expect, you may decide to just go ahead and get a regular dog. Either way, if you have never owned a wolfdog, it is extremely important to learn as much as you can before you make a commitment to buy one from us or any other breeder. Owning a wolfdog is simple, but not easy. The commitment to owning a wolfdog is lifelong, if you decide later down the road that you don’t have time for it, can’t afford it, or you have to move somewhere and you can’t bring him or her with you, you won’t be able to rehome them like you would a regular dog. The higher the content the more difficult it is. Often times when a family has to give up their animal, it will mean the death of that animal, or will be an incredibly traumatic experience for him to say the least. Try to imagine if your family suddenly rehomed you as a child, and suddenly your family dropped you off with strangers and never returned. How would you feel? Sadly, many people who can’t handle their wolfdog will give them up, or lose them to animal control and consequently that animal will most often then not get euthanized. Wolfdogs will never trust another person or family they way they do to the family that has raised them. The bond that forms with you will be stronger than anything you will experience with a dog, which can be a rewarding and amazing experience. However, the bond is not meant to be broken, so great care is taken to ensure the homes we place are pups in are established, stable, and permanent homes that take this very seriously. As said, the higher the content, the more severe it is. High and mid contents especially do not take well to rehoming, and they are most difficult to place when rehoming is necessary. That said, we encouraged and REQUIRE new inexperienced owners to be responsible and take the time to educate themselves about what they are getting into. We are also here to help educate first timers and ensure they are adequately prepared before buying a puppy, weather it be from us or not. In the event a family encounters unforeseen extenuating circumstances where they must rehome the pup, our policy requires the pup we sell to be returned to us without refund. We believe breeders who care about the animals they breed should always be in a position to welcome back their pups if necessary. Any breeder who cannot take back pups should not be breeding.
Wolf content for a high content animals ranges between 80-95%+. Extreme high content is 95%+. A high content, especially an extreme high content, should be indistinguishable from a pure wolf in appearance, and behavior. Their coat should be course and have a thick undercoat. Their color may vary from gray, white, cream or black. They should have a distinguished v-cape. Their ears should be small and slightly rounded at the tips. Their legs should be long and set on a narrow chest. Their hind legs should be cow hocked, paws are large with black nails. Their canine teeth are much larger than that of a regular dog. Their gums should be black. Their eyes should be slanted with a black outline that looks like black eyeliner. Eyes are an amber, yellow, gold, or hazel type color. Wolves usually don’t weigh 150 to 200 pounds as some people claim they do. In actuality a male can weigh between 70-125 lbs, and the females usually weigh 60-100 lbs. Any more than this would be from dog genes vs wolf genes. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. One of the largest wolves found in the wild was around 145 lbs, but when accounting for the 20lbs of food in his stomach that would make him closer to 125 lbs. A wolf should not look bulky or have a broad chest, rather they look more like runway models. High contents are very agile and can escape a regular 6 ft fence with ease. Their paws are like shovels, if you don’t have dig guards they will dig out under your fence with ease. I’ve even seen upper mids dig under 4ft dig guards. Their teeth can snap through 11 gauge chainlink with ease. 9 gauge or stronger minimum is necessary in most cases. Fence should be min 8 ft, or 6ft with additional 2 ft lean ins. Some very skilled escape artists might require even more. They should have ample room to be able to sprint and run. The less time that is spent with the animal, the larger the containment needs to be. A wolfdog that spends most of it’s time in the containment should have at least a 1,250 sq ft containment at min. We even advise to build platforms or other structures they can jump on to survey their surroundings. High contents are pack animals, they hate being alone and often get stressed or separation anxiety when your at work or away. For this reason, if you do not work from home, you should have another animal of the opposite sex to keep them company. Wolves are not same sex compatible once they reach maturity at 2-3 years old, so keep this in mind. If you decide to take your chances and pair your pup with the same sex, don’t be surprised if you come home to the dog being dead once your wolfdog reaches maturity. High contents don’t usually want to be indoors after 6 months. If you like a well behaved animal to curl up and sleep next to you while you watch TV, this isn’t the animal you want. They are best suited with families that have very active lifestyles. High contents are perfect for hikers, long distance joggers, or people that will take them out and spend time exercising and training them on a daily basis. They are a bit more challenging to house train, and they are very destructive. If you leave them home alone for even just 15 min you might just come home to thousands of dollars in damages to your home. We have seen high contents try to chew a hole in their owners wall to get outside, or tear their sofa into tiny pieces, or even rip apart a kitchen. My upper mid even managed to dig up and rip out my irrigation system in the backyard of one of my previous homes. When training, only positive reinforcement should be used. If you want your high content to be well behaved and social with other people and animals, then you must put in hours of work and training and take them out to be socialized the moment you get your pup. Socializing and training should be done daily in order to get them accustomed to meeting new people and dogs, and prevent their natural tendencies of being shy or withdrawn. If you simply throw the pup in a containment and don’t put in the daily and consistent time and work, then be prepared to have a lawn ornament when they grow up that you wont be able to do much with. High contents must have raw meat, including raw beef and chicken for optimal health. Kibble should only be used to supplement and as a filler. Kibble is necessary especially as a pup when they are growing, they need the added calcium from kibble, but raw is also essential. High contents should never live off only kibble. High contents can also live up to 15-20 years. If you plan to get a high content, be prepared to commit to the lifetime of the animal. High contents shouldn’t be placed with families that do not own their own home. In most cases landlords will not be cool with you putting up a 500-1000 sq ft containment in their backyard, and when your lease is up or the landlord decides to sell their property, you will not have an easy time finding another rental that will allow you to bring your wolfdog, especially if they are house proud and have a well groomed yard. Neighbors in residential neighborhoods can also be a nightmare. Problem neighbors might make repeated complaints about noise if your wolfdog howls during the night. Its also important to be sure you live in a wolfdog legal area, we won’t sell to illegal areas. If you live in an illegal area, and a neighbor decides to call animal control, you will lose your pup, and your pup could be euthanized. High contents are best suited in more rural areas where neighbors are further apart and where there is sufficient space to build a decent sized containment. Due to their expensive diet and upkeep and need of a stable home, you might also want to consider your financial stability. Are you in college? Do you have a job that might require you to relocate? Can you afford the raw diet, the containment, the vet bills? Buying the pup is the cheap part. Another thing to keep in mind when getting a high content is it will affect your overall lifestyle. Your life will literally revolve around your animal, not vice versa like with a dog. This will dictate where you live, what you do with your free time, what your money is spent on, and will even affect your social life . If you are one that likes to go out with friends on your time off and have a big social life, then you will probably not a high content, because they will need most of your time. Also, if you aren’t married, keep in mind a lot of people may not want to live a lifestyle centered around animals, so one of these may also affect your love life, so its always easier to have a partner that has the same passion you do with respect to wolfdogs. And you really need to have a passion for this for it to be a rewarding experience. This information isn’t meant to be discouraging, because it is a very rewarding lifestyle for me and my husband, but it isn’t for most of the population, and its important to know and understand the reality of owning a high content before you buy one, rather than buying one because it sounds nice then realizing you made a mistake after you get one, which would be a mistake the pup will be paying for. If you are thinking about getting a high content, you should also be sure to educate yourself and become familiar with canine body language. Another thing that should be considered is high contents DO NOT make good guard dogs, and no, they will not protect the family if an intruder comes to your property. They will be the first to run and hide. They will jump out of a 2 story window to get away from strangers before facing one. For some reason a lot of people think it would be a great idea to get a high content as a guard dog, please do not think about buying a high content if what you are looking for is a guard dog. We are breeding a low content working line, that would be a better fit for this scenario. Generally, people who are established in their career, own their own home in a less densely populated area, don’t have kids or have older kids, and are financially stable are the best candidates to own one. Moving is also very stressful for high contents, even when with the same family. If you foresee having to move in the near future, or frequently have to move, then wait until you are settled long term somewhere. Usually young adults in their low to mid twenties are either still in college, and are not settled in their careers, location, and also value having more of a social life and dating or starting a family than having their life revolve around an animal. We look at each situation on a case by case basis, there are always exceptions to the rule, but we find that people in their 30s and upward are usually the ones ready for a high content. That’s ok, it is better to wait. I had wanted a high content since I was 18, and found that I wasn’t ready to have one until I was settled and financially stable which was in my early 30s. This is often the case.
Mid content animals range between 50% and 80%. Upper mids are usually considered to be about 70%-80%, depending on who you talk to. Mid contents are less intense in behavior and appearance. What you can expect from a mid content litter is far less predictable than high and low contents. Some mids might inherit genes that produce the wolfy appearance, but doglike behavior. Or you can get doggy looks, with more wolfy behavior. Normally a mid content will share features of both the dog and wolf. Solid mids tend to have less coarse fur, larger ears that aren’t quite as furred. But generally their appearance will have a mixture of wolf and dog traits. Their canine teeth are still larger than that of a regular dog. Upper mids can be very similar to high contents in behavior and personality. One of our upper mids is just as wolfy if not more wolfy than some of our high contents with respect to adaptability and ability to escape some of the most secure pens. We don’t breed upper mids, since they most often then not need to be treated like a high content anyway, at that point you might as well just get a high content. If you are going to get a mid, get true mid, a solid 50/50. The plus about getting a mid content is you will still have an animal with a wolfy exotic appearance, but they are easier to work with and train, and aren’t quite as extreme in their behavior. They are better suited in the average household that’s in a track home neighborhood, providing the yard is fenced with min 6 ft height and has concrete or dig guards. They will still possess prey drive and have a tendency to chase and kill smaller animals they weren’t raised with. They also usually still have separation anxiety issues, and can be on the destructive side, but mid contents are more likely to be indoor and outdoor dogs, vs outdoor only, and can be less timid and fearful of people than high contents. They still require time and commitment and do not take well to being rehomed, but you can get away with keeping one in your backyard as long as the yard is properly secured. As said before, there are cases where mids should be treated the same as high contents, but this is most common with upper mids. Another thing that affects the looks and temperament of the animal is the F-gen. You could have a 50% mid content that might be more extreme in behavior and or appearance due to being an F-1, we will discuss F-Gen later on. Mid contents should still be fed raw diet daily, but can better tolerate a higher kibble intake than high contents which might lower the food bill a bit.
Low contents will have a behavior and appearance that is much more similar to a dog, but will still possess a few wolfy features. Extreme low contents may even be indistinguishable from a regular dog, just like extreme high contents are supposed to be indistinguishable from a pure wolf. The same happens in reverse where the wolf content is practically nill. Contents that are less than 25% can usually be treated like a regular Northern breed dog. Low contents will often have maybe 0- 2 wolfy traits, and are easier to train like a regular dog. They usually don’t have any issues being indoors and have the social behavior of a dog. Low contents between 30-49% might display some behavior that’s more similar to a mid, but they adapt easier to new people, places, and things and can more easily be rehomed. While they are easier to rehome, we must add that we don’t believe any animal should be rehomed. When someone chooses to bring a dog into their family, they should commit to that animal for the duration of its life. You can have a low content in a regular track home. While raw is always best, you can get away with feeding them primarily a high quality kibble, which makes them more affordable to keep. The cost to purchase a low content is also much less than a high content. Something else to keep in mind, especially with mid to high contents, is it is important to find a vet that is experienced with wolfdogs. Their bodies don’t tolerate general anesthesia and sedatives the way dogs do, and the last thing you’ll need is something to go wrong should your animal get fixed or get some other type of surgery. Regardless of the content, its best to find a vet experienced with the breed. If you are looking for an animal that has some wolfy looks, but has the behavior resembling more of a regular dog or one that might also want as a guard dog, then it is best to keep the wolf content at a minimum. Low contents ate best suited in the average household and can better fit in to the more densely populated areas.
Wolfdogs thrive on raw meat. It produces a healthy shiny coat and healthy weight. They should have raw red meat (steaks, chuck roast, ground beef, brisket, etc) and chicken, including the bone. Bone is essential in cleaning their teeth. Avoid pork, or keep pork to a minimum due to the fat and sodium content. We also advise to avoid pork bone. Its also beneficial to give them whole uncooked eggs with shell included. Do not cook the meat, you will be cooking out essential nutrients if you do. Feeding them raw meat will not affect their behavior or make them more aggressive, or enhance their prey drive in any way. You should also feed a portion of raw veggies. They love pumpkin and carrots as well. They may not be as interested in eating vegetables, so it might help to mix the veggies with the meat and bone in a food processor so they get a bit of everything. We highly recommend giving some kibble in their diet especially as young growing pups, but don’t advise feeding more than 35% kibble to the adults. Kibble is more essential for the pups due to their rapid growth spurts, the kibble will prevent calcium deficiency and issues with bone density. We feed pups kibble for every feeding. Also, wolfdogs can’t really tolerate poor quality kibble such as Pedigree. We advise you visit www.dogfoodadvisor.com for ratings and reviews on kibble, you should feed a min 4-5 star grain free kibble. We recommend feeding Orijen, Acana, Liberty, or Rawbble. Some other acceptable brands are Victor, Taste of the Wild, or Canidae. Be sure to only feed Grain Free kibble. Visit www.dogfoodadvisor.com for information on quality brands and products of dog foods and their ratings. Their poo should be solid and black in appearance due to their diet being composed of mostly raw meat, similar to Coyote skat
Some breeders will not sell wolfdogs to homes that have children or plan on having children. Wolfdogs do not tolerate abuse that an unsupervised child will often times afflict. For example, a child that is not taught to respect animals or interact with them properly might pull ears, or step on them while they sleep. They will likely get bit. Its not the animals fault, but the parents are responsible for supervising their children and teaching them to respect their pup. Another common problem is pups have a tendency to play with children like they would another littermate, which is very rough. My first wolfdog was 76% content, and when he would see my 3 year old son he would get so excited he would get out of control and tackle him like he was another pup. He wasn’t trying to hurt him, but that’s how they play. So it took a lot of time and desensitization to get my pup used to being around my son and other children. It takes a lot of time and patience. Eventually my pup became perfect with children, but most people would not have the time and patience to see that through. Not to mention at no point should any child be left alone with a dog, wolfdog or not. Wolfdogs and small children are not recommended, however we do not have a black and white policy when it comes to placing our pups in a home with children. Everything is a case by case basis. We have sold pups to homes with children 3 years and under that have done an amazing job with the pups and teaching their kids to properly handle and interact with them. We have also refused selling pups to families with small children, particularly when they are inexperienced. If you do have children , do not get an adult wolfdog. Adult wolfdogs, especially those that haven’t been raised around children, will often times either fear children, which results in children getting bit if they feel threatened ( when they run, play, yell, or make lots of noise), or there might be issues of prey drive if you have very young or small children. The term “prey drive” refers to “ a dog's level of excitement or motivation to perform a task involving hunting-related behaviors or going after an object” Usually prey drive is an issue with small children or other animals like small dogs, cats, chickens, etc. If you don’t have children, but plan to have children, then do not think about buying a wolfdog right now. By the time you decide to have kids you’ll find you won’t have the time for the pup and a new child, and by the time the child is born, the pup will be grown and not used to small children in the home, making a situation that will be unfair to the animal and unsafe for the child. These situations usually fail and result in rehoming. We will not place pups with couples that plan to have children but don’t have them yet. If you fit this category, then it is advised you have your children first, then if you decide you still have the will and time for a wolfdog, you can get one as a pup that can be raised with and imprint on your children. If you have children or plan to have children, keep in mind that when you get a wolfdog it will be like having another child that will never grow up for the duration of its life. The higher the content, the more extreme the case will be.
Containment for high contents should be no less than 9 gauge chainlink or stronger gauge fence panels. Height should be 8 ft minimum, or 6 ft with additional 2 ft in lean ins to prevent climbing out. Dig guards must be 2 ft deep or more vertically below the dirt, or at minimum should be a 3 ft apron on the ground attached to the bottom of the containment along the inside as shown in the photos below. Containment should be minimum of 1,000 square feet, and less should only be considered if they are taken out multiple times and worked with on a daily basis. They should have access to shelter and water at all times. Here are some examples of containment.
Containment standards don’t need to be quite as extreme when you get into the lower contents, however regardless of content we require photos/ videos of your containment and back yard to ensure it is appropriate and secure for the wolf content you select. Please note that many people use cattle panels from Tractor Supply due to them being cost effective. However we advise against using these, as they have 6"X4" sections that the animals can stick their heads through, which can be unsafe for small children that approach or people that approach the containment. It can also be unsafe for the animals. Puppies and other small animals can easily fit through this mesh, so we advise if you go that route to wrap a layer of field fence around the outside to prevent any accidents from happening. We prefer to stick with 9 gauge chainlink. The containment in the image shown is one of the first ones we built years back at a previous property. It wasn't complete, as you can see it still needs mesh on the lean ins, but it is a good example of what you should have or prepare to build.
If you are a first timer, do adequate reading and research before you decide to buy. I advise first timers to always read “Living With Wolfdogs” by Nicole Wilde. It is important to do your own research as well. Talk to as many experienced owners as you can to learn about their personal experiences with their animals. We also are available to educate potential buyers that are interested in learning more and sharing their life with a wolfdog. We also encourage volunteering at a sanctuary or other facility that will help you gain relevant experience to prepare you and help you make an educated decision about the animal you will be making a permanent part of your family. When you decide you are ready to buy a puppy, make sure the breeder you select has DNA tested the parents of the litter to verify wolf content and confirm there are not any genetic conditions that could be passed on to your pup. Furthermore, DNA testing is important to verify the COI factor of the parents. This factor will tell you how inbred the animal is. Inbreeding is unfortunately common in the wolfdog community and is widely accepted by many people. This topic is probably one of the most controversial. We do not promote nor accept inbreeding; aka line breeding and we go out of our way to breed for a low COI. The lower the COI, the better. The higher the COI factor the more inbred the animal is. Ideally you want a pup with a COI below 15. Most of the pups we produce have a COI below 10. The COI of the average purebred dog is 20 to give an idea. It is important to avoid inbred animals because inbreeding can cause health and neurological issues along with physical deformities. Most people wouldn’t sleep with their siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles, nor should this occur when breeding animals. Also ask about the lineage if both parents to ensure you aren’t purchasing a pup from parents closely related. We disclose the DNA results of the parents of the litters we produce as well as DNA results of past pups we have produced from the same pairings when available. This way you know exactly what to expect with regards to wolf content, and health of the pup. When buying a pup, keep in mind that you’ll get what you pay for. If you want a top quality animal, you probably wont’ find a decent quality high content for $500. High contents can range from $2,000-$5,000. Our prices aren’t the highest, but aren’t the lowest. We aim to offer the best quality pups at a reasonable price. Also keep in mind buying a pup is the cheapest part of owning that animal. If you can’t afford the price, then you probably should wait until you can. The reason is because the vet bills, diet, and other unforeseen expenses will far exceed what you will pay for a pup. The lower the wolf content the lower the prices will be as well. When choosing a breeder, be sure to ask them to share the DNA results of the parents, and also pictures of pups produced from that pairing from previous litters. Also ask for references of past litters that you can reach out to, and ask about their experience with that breeder and their satisfaction with the pup they purchased from them. Also, a responsible breeder should always take back pups in the event you can’t keep the pup. Ask your breeder if this is their practice as well. Breeders that take back pups are the ones that are most concerned about the welfare of their animals above their profits. We offer lifelong support to owners of our pups, but we are also here to help educate others and help however we can, and extend our help to those that may not have our pups. If you have any questions, concerns, or need advice, feel free to reach out to us.