This isn't anything to do with Corgis, but I am really interested in hearing some opinions on this.
Twice in the last few years we have met a wolf/dog cross. I do realize that most alleged "wolf-dog" crosses are not wolf at all (they just sort of look wolfie), but I think both of these were. The first was a female with yellow eyes and such extreme versions of dog body language that she just did not seem anything like a dog at all. She was super-submissive, more than any dog I've ever seen, without being fearful.
The second was just the other day in the park. He was a male, very lanky. Yellow, slanted eyes. He also had no "stop" (the part of the forehead that inclines upward from the muzzle); his nose just maintained the same angle slope all the way to the top of his head, and I learned online that this, along with the funny eyes, are two points that tend to verify actual wolf ancestry.
Anyway, my two met this guy and he again behaved very little like a dog. He was very interested in the dogs, but super dominant with them and again his body language was exaggerated. He was shouldering up the other dogs and making a strong point of swinging his head over everyone's shoulder. He was not aggressive, per se, but his body language clearly seemed to indicate that he would tolerate no nonsense. Since Maddie can be a bit dippy and Jack does not take kindly to dominant body language, I did monitor their interactions closely. Jack seemed slightly uncertain at first meeting, but warmed up to him and was very happy to see him again at the end of our walk.
I'm curious how other people feel about this phenomenon, keeping part-wolves as pets in an urban area? I don't intend to knock anyone's choices. I can certainly see where some people would find this appealing. The animals are stunning, impressive, most likely very healthy. On the other hand, we have bred away from certain traits in wolves that make them the dangerous predators they are--- domestic dogs maintain juvenile traits throughout life, they don't maintain such rigid pack structure, their predation sequences have been bred to be truncated (excepting the terriers, most have the kill-phase bred out of them) and countless other things that make them safe to live with, and even with all these bred-in safety measures some dogs still cause great harm. So I do wonder about the safety of keeping large predators as pets.
Thoughts? Opinions? I find it an interesting topic to ponder.
These are actually really common around here. I view them like I do hybrid cats. Nice in theory, but not very good in practice. Since you can't really domesticate or breed out the wildness of them. So, they tend to be a little more aggressive, tend to bite more, and in most areas are completely illegal.
Beth.....I had never heard of a Saarloos Wolfhound that Ludi posted about so with my love of wolfhounds I had to check into them. The description they give is very much akin to what you would expect from a wolf. They have a strict pack order, they cannot be confimed in a crate or kennel...they have to lots of room and a lot of exercise or they can become aggressive and hard to handle. The feeling I got from the description sounded akin to what you witnessed at that zoo. I saw them listed as wolfhounds and wolf dogs, I think wolfhound is not an accurate description...they sound much more like a wolf cross/mix...at least in my opinion. They are beautiful dogs but if I was to go back to a wolfhound it would be my beloved Irish. And trust me, knowing both corgis and Irish wolfhounds, the corgi would be the pack leader.
My inlaws had an Irish and a Wheaton...the Wheaton was 100% the boss.
Now let's see if spellcheck is working again...or not. It's working.
Marcie....I had a plain old housecat who is too smart for her own good. She opens doors including bi-fold doors. Thankfully she only chooses to open the bi-fold closet door in the bathroom to sleep on the towels. If she decides to try the pantry door in the kitchen then the corgis and the other 2 cats are gonna have a feast.
Mokey has other behavioral issues as well. My vets have been very helpful through it all. When they attributed the behaviors to her bengalness, I accepted that. There are no feline behavioralists within driving distance.
It was like going from a couch potato pug, to a border collie in full fly mode. I was not prepared for the energy level or for the "I'll find something to do" attitude. I think the hybrid cat breeds exist and people are not informed about them.
Beth, I have a lot of personal experience with wolf behavior, having done wolf research with several individual captive animals. This is a subject that is dear to my heart and the stories I could tell you would make you cry. Wolves are MAGNIFICENT animals who belong in their natural wild state. I have also had experience with wolf hybrids and will give you the short version of what is a complex subject.
As you say, thankfully, many animals sold as wolves or wolf hybrids are neither. Their odd behavior traits can simply be traced to a mix of poor breeding (of dogs) and even worse handling by owners who "think" they have an exotic animal and treat it accordingly. Most animals I evaluated fell in this category.
I also have seen pets that were full wolf ( few and far between ) and wolf hybrids. The ones that were wolf hybrids were first generation, usually the sire was a wolf.
I know you have studied some genetics, as we have discussed this subject before, so you know that any cross past the first generation becomes iffier and iffier to evaluate genetically when it comes down to an individual animal, rather than a number on a piece of paper. People who have hybrids go to great lengths to calculate the percentages of wolf in their cross ( 31% - 43% - 67% ) this is senseless nonsense.
As for behavior, wolf behavior has been very well studied and so is predictable to the extent of our understanding of the species. Wolves in the wild are not dangerous to man, they avoid man, do not prey on man and will not even defend their den. Captive wolves can vary, but again their behavior is consistent and understandable to anyone conversant with wolf behavior. Not so with hybrids.
True hybrids, behaviorally, are neither wolf nor dog and their behavior is unpredictable, which makes them dangerous. Domestication of the dog occurred over thousands of years and you simply cannot shortchange Mother Nature in a few generations....Training a hybrid is a conundrum. I can tell you about dog behavior and suggest handling methods accordingly. I can do the same with a wolf. I cannot do that when it comes to a hybrid with any confidence that it will apply.
If you are interested in more information I can recommend the two books written by Lois Crisler. She was a wolf researcher who raised a pack of captive wolves in Alaska. Her first book is called "Arctic Wild". When the research project finished, and she could not turn them loose, she returned to the U.S. bringing the animals with her to Colordo. Here she also had some hybrids born and she relates her experiences in the second book " Captive Wild ". They are fascinating books you would certainly enjoy reading. I highly recommend them.
The last thing (promise :-D) I want to say is that, if you get a dog and it does not work out, you can hope to find it a new home. If you have a wolf or wolf hybrid and cannot keep it, forget re-homing it. The animal always pays with its life.....
Anna, thanks for sharing your experience. I will definitely add those books to my reading list.
I understand what you are saying about anything other than F1 crosses. With the nature of genetics, it is theoretically (though not practically) possible to breed two F1's and get resulting offspring that are either genetically 100% wolf or 100% dog (again, practically it would not work out that way due to the nature of dominants, recessives, recessives with partial penetrance, shared genes, etc). Anything past the first generation is a guessing game.
It is indeed true that the surviving timber wolves are shy of people. My guess (and I may be wrong) is that the common ancestor of the dog and timber wolf was more behaviorally varied, like the modern coyote: coyotes can live in packs or individually or (most often) in mated pairs. They can be primarily hunters and will sometimes bring down larger game, but are mostly opportunists who will eat road kill, eggs, vegetable matter, mice, etc. The wide behavior differences between dogs and wolves point to me to more than selective breeding (since the founding population obviously scavenged, or they would not have hung around human camps). It speaks to a split that happened since the domestication of dogs: Wolves have been persecuted for thousands of years, and so only those that stayed well away from people survived. As a result, they got pushed into many fringe territories and needed to be pack hunters of large game to survive. Their more behaviorally flexible cousins got themselves tamed and then domesticated. Wolves continue to survive best when they avoid humans completely. Dogs, on the other hand, survive best when they are affiliative to humans and the shyest typically end up in shelters or euthanized. The missing link-- the mid-behavior animals who are indifferent to humans and neither shy nor friendly--- have all been killed and most of their genes lost, though we may see them pop up again in modern wolves as their range expands in protected areas.
If we were to start from scratch in domesticating canids, we would probably not even start from the modern wolf, but from the more flexible coyote.
What I have read, in exploring the topic online, is that the unpredictable behavior in wolf-dogs comes from conflicting drives. Since they are often crossed with wolf-looking dogs, and many of those dogs are very people-oriented and can be somewhat aggressive, they have a conflict between the shy genetic behavior of the wolf and the forward, confident, guarding-type behavior of the dog lines they were crossed with. The result, as you say, is unpredictability.
While it is true that those who study wolf behavior can likely predict it easily. most of us who have experience only with dogs cannot. I know I would certainly not want to live with one.
Anna....very interesting info especially from someone who has actually been there.
I agree with Linda!
We met a wolf mix once at the dog park. The owner said he used to work at a wolf preservation in Wyoming and this particular wolf was something like 15/16th wolf with one little part husky or something back in the lineage. He said ever since it was a pup it was super domesticated and spent its days with the people who worked there and so when this fellow left that place, he was allowed to take it because A) he was very well trained in working with wolves, B) the wolf was allowed to leave the preserve because it wasn't 100% wolf, C) the wolf was extremely docile and domesticated. It was an older animal and spent the whole time just sitting by its owner, but it really enjoyed having people come up and pet it. It was such an amazing creature. His head was absolutely massive and you could certainly see how its huge jaw could be used to bring down prey. Also, his fur was ridiculously thick. I think my corgi has a lot of hair, but I've never felt anything like this. You could just bury your hair down in his mane. I don't know if I think wolf hybrids should be allowed by just any owner, but it was certainly a delight to meet such a beautiful and sweet animal.
I watched a documentary a few months ago. The mixes are not typical dog behavior, there for even if someone has raised dogs their whole lives... it's a different ball part with hybrids. I remember the one girl ( expert) went to a couples home where the lady had trouble getting her "dog" to stop rough housing, and the girl (expert) grabbed the dog by the scruffs, pulled it up to her face and bared her teeth at it. The dog instantly piped down. Everything about the dogs behaviour, positive and negative, was much more assertive.
And there's a sanctuary/rescue somewhere I think in California? where a lot of these dogs end up.
They are gorgeous animals, but I don't think people should be seeking them out as pets.... Malamutes and huskies look very wolfish, and have the "wild" bred out.
Mind you, I will admit, I know there are people out there, who are perfectly capable of raising hybrids, and do wonderful jobs; Also maybe not all the dogs need to be handled more like a wolf, and less house pet, but unlike most breeds, there's a bigger risk of "danger" when you're getting a hybrid "because its beautiful". That's how a lot of dogs end up in shelters and rescues, because the people got the dog based on looks and didn't bother to do their research.
This is my thoughts on it anyways.
I personally am very fond of wolves, but they are wild and I'd never want to break that balance of domesticated and wild by mixing wolf and dog. Let them be wild and free is what I believe.
My only experience with them aside from on movie sets when they were not pets, but working animals, was in rural Kentucky. I went with my mom to look at a horse we where thinking of buying and the owner told us about her neighbors wolfdogs and how they would howl and spook the horses. Considering how dangerous horses can be when they spook, it really put me on edge. I heard them howl a couple of times and it was really erie. The woman told me she was always concerned for the safety of her children and horses because it wasn't just one wolfdog, this guy had a number of them.
I think they are beautiful animals, but probably best owned and handled by professionals. If you want a dog that looks like a wolf, get a husky/shepherd mix or something. There is no reason to have an animal as a pet that will bring out fear in your neighbors and other animals.