Wolfdogs

Wolf Haven International is opposed to the breeding, selling, owning, trafficking and promoting of wolfdogs (and wolves) as pets. Wolfdogs are often purchased by people who are unaware of the animals’ unique physical and social needs, behavioral traits, and possible characteristics.

Wolf Haven receives a surprisingly large number of calls from individuals desperately seeking a new home for their “pet” wolfdog. Unlike domestics, these animals cannot be “rehomed” through normal channels of adoption (e.g. shelters, rescues). Although some wolfdog sanctuaries can be found around the country, there are not enough sanctuaries to accommodate the burgeoning number of animals in need of placement. (Wolf Haven has a handful of resident wolfdogs, but our primary mission remains conserving and protecting wolves.) It is much easier to attain a wolfdog than it is to find placement for one. Many people who purchase a wolf or wolfdog as a pet find themselves in over their heads and as a result, many of these animals are displaced, abandoned, abused, or neglected; sadly, the majority of them are euthanized by the ages of two or three, when they reach sexual maturity.

Wolves and dogs can make a dangerous mix and very often instead of getting the best of both wolf and dog traits, owners end up with the less desirable ones. While breeders and owners often use percentages to describe – and put a price on – their wolfdogs, such estimations are misleading because there is no way to control or determine which genes are inherited and expressed in their animals. Phenotyping wolfdogs according to physical and behavioral characteristics provides a more accurate description and wolfdogs fall into one of three categories: low, mid or high content depending upon how “wolfy” an animal looks and behaves. However, given the great variability and unpredictability of these animals, content levels are not always a true indicator of a particular animal’s true nature.

Wolves are remarkably powerful animals with innate behaviors (predatory, territorial) that can’t be suppressed even with the best training and socialization. Wolves are genetically “hard- wired” differently from our dogs, and our dogs look to us for their survival- wolves do not. Keep in mind, wolves are designed by the pressures of nature whereas dogs are designed by the pressures of humans. When we combine the two, the result is often a conflicted animal who is caught between two worlds.

Similarly, due to the wolf’s intelligence and social complexity, wolfdogs can be extremely restless and bored (resulting in destructive and compulsive behaviors). They are extremely agile and strong, and can jump, climb and dig – making them extremely difficult to contain.

Finally, wolves possess a healthy fear of people, making them predictable in their response to human activity. Usually wolves seek escape when humans are near, which is an adaptive behavior that promotes survival in the wild. Dogs have very different adaptive behaviors, such as playfulness, loyalty and protectiveness, which promote their survival as companions for people. Wolfdogs can inherit a wide range of wolf and dog behaviors, causing individual wolfdogs to be highly unpredictable in their response to both familiar and unfamiliar situations and stress factors.

While we do not condone private ownership of these animals, we recognize that there are currently thousands of wolfdogs bred and sold each year into the pet industry, many of whom need rehoming. If you are an owner and have found yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for your “pet” wolf or wolfdog, please contact our director of animal care: wendy@wolfhaven.org . Provide photos and a description of your animal(s) and the reason you need to rehome your animal and we will try and refer you to someone who can assist with placement.