If owning a wolfdog has crossed your mind, it’s something that needs serious consideration with a willingness to put the animal’s true well-being above your desire to own one.
Owning a wolfdog is nothing like owning a domestic dog. They are not pets. They are a lifestyle – similar to having a child – and one needs to be able and willing to make the necessary adjustments in one’s life to make it a successful partnership.
Depending on your city, county and/or state, Animal Control most likely classifies wolfdogs as “wild animals”, “inherently dangerous animals” or something along those lines. They are also classified as an “exotic breed.” They are illegal in many states, counties, and cities/towns, so it’s important to know what the laws regarding wolfdog ownership are in your area before even considering bringing a wolfdog into your home. Some towns or cities have banned them, or have special laws regarding ownership when the state or county doesn’t.
Government shelters are not legally allowed to re-home wolfdogs that enter the system. By law, because they are not recognized as pets, they must be euthanized or placed in a USDA certified wolfdog sanctuary. It is estimated that approximately 70% of all wolfdogs bred in the United States end up in rescues or are euthanized by the age of three due to owners finding them “too difficult” to manage. Even if an owner has made the appropriate commitment and is one of the 30% who are successful, an unexpected life change can come along that inevitably ends poorly for the wolfdog, which is devastating for the owner.
Dozens of wolfdog sanctuaries are popping up all over the country and are filling up quickly with wolfdogs that were bought by people who weren’t ready for the kind of commitment and dedication necessary to own one. Many wolfdogs have to be rejected weekly by sanctuaries that are filled to capacity, resulting in their deaths.
So with this knowledge, ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
Why do I want to own a wolfdog?
Seriously ask yourself this and give yourself an honest answer. If it’s because they look cool or everyone on Game of Thrones has one, that’s not a good reason. If it’s because the wolf is your totem animal, that’s also not a good reason, and the answer is no. Read personal stories…
Do I live in an area where wolfdogs are legal?
If not, the answer is no. Owning a wolfdog illegally puts the wolfdog’s life at risk. If confiscated, the wolfdog will most likely be put down and you will receive a hefty fine. One complaint from a neighbor and its game over. Read personal stories…
Am I willing to make the necessary adjustments to my life to successfully own a wolfdog?
You are essentially about to have a baby, and along with that will come all of the responsibilities required for its well-being. You will be giving up freedoms and ways of life that you are used to. Is it worth it to you and can you commit to it for the next 15 years of your life? If not, the answer is definitely no. Read personal stories…
Do I live on a property large enough to sustain a wolfdog and am I able to have appropriate containment for it?
If you live in an apartment-style home or in a home with a small backyard, the answer is no. Wolfdogs need space for their sanity; otherwise they can become anxious and destructive. In most places, 8 foot fencing with protective dig guard 3 feet wide around the perimeter is the minimum requirement for containment, it’s extremely expensive, and you will usually need more. Being problem solvers, wolfdogs can also figure out how to open doors and gates, and they will assess how to escape successfully, so you will also need to be prepared to change door knobs and gate latches to a style your wolfdog can’t open. Read personal stories…
Am I able to dedicate the time necessary for my wolfdog’s well-being?
Do you work a job where you will need to leave your wolfdog alone at home? If so, the answer is no. A wolf’s need to be with its pack is stronger than a domestic dog’s and this goes for wolfdogs too. Many wolfdogs experience anxiety when left alone for any amount of time. Both anxiety and boredom can lead to the destruction of everything you own and attempted (if not successful) escapes from the yard.
As implied above, wolfdogs are also much more intelligent than the average domestic dog and their brains are built for strategizing. This means they need to be mentally stimulated on a regular basis, or boredom sets in. When boredom sets in, they look for their own stimulation which, again, usually equals destruction of everything you own and attempted (if not successful) escapes from the yard. If you don’t have the time or energy to exercise your wolfdog’s mind with stimulating activities on a regular basis, the answer is no. Read personal stories…
Am I financially stable enough to own a wolfdog?
Wolfdogs are expensive. They require a specific diet consisting daily of raw meat and, if you choose to add it, a high quality, high protein kibble which is not cheap. The daily preparation of meals is also time consuming. If you can’t afford 7-14 pounds minimum of raw meat with bone from the butcher and a large bag of top quality kibble a week, the answer is no. Read personal stories…
Vet bills: Wolfdogs respond differently to medications and treatments, as well as sedation and anesthesia. You are taking your chances when taking your wolfdog to a domestic pet veterinarian. Wolfdogs should, if possible, be treated by an exotic animal vet, which is difficult to come by in most areas and definitely more expensive. If your wolfdog needs to be put under anesthesia for any reason, often, an anesthesiologist who specializes in exotic breeds will need to be called in. You can’t afford to take risks with your wolfdog’s life. If you can’t afford quality medical care from a specialized veterinarian, the answer is definitely no. Read personal stories…
Am I physically fit enough to exercise my wolfdog every day with rigorous hiking, jogging, etc.?
If walking Timber around the block is all you are capable of, the answer is no. Wolfdogs need physical exercise not only to burn physical energy, but mental energy as well, and they have loads of it. Without this daily stimulation, boredom and anxiety will set in and unfortunately dog parks usually aren’t an option. Wolfdogs tend to be timid and sensitive to energy. Dog parks are generally high energy environments and are usually overwhelming for a wolfdog. The result is a stressed out Timber hiding in a corner. Read personal stories…
Am I strong enough and aware enough to protect my wolfdog out in public?
Every time you walk out your door with your wolfdog, you need to be mindful that if ANYTHING happens to another person or animal, the wolfdog will be the one blamed, then immediately confiscated and euthanized. No questions asked. You must be physically strong enough to handle a lunging animal if it goes into the “red zone”, meaning that they are in full protection mode and on the defense. You must be physically strong enough to break up a possible fight between two animals. If you’re not, the answer is no.
You also need to be highly attuned to your wolfdog and know when it’s uncomfortable or afraid, to avoid any unnecessary confrontations. Wolfdogs can be very timid around certain things – people, other animals, objects flapping in the breeze, overhangs, and other objects you may be unaware of, until they react to it. You need the heightened awareness of these possibilities and to be able protect your wolfdog from the things that frighten it in the moment. You may be walking down the sidewalk and something (you may or may not be aware of) scares it. It may suddenly dart in any direction to get away from it, throwing you off balance and bringing you to the ground. Are you able to handle that kind of physical strain? If not, the answer is no.
Am I willing and able to be patient with my wolfdog’s quirks and independent thinking?
Wolfdogs do not have the same need to please as domestic dogs. In this way, they are more like cats. They are harder to train because of this, as well as the fact that they are independent thinkers. They will often consider a command before acting on it, and they will often do it in their own time. Training a wolfdog takes time and patience. If you don’t have this kind of patience, the answer is no. If you are not able to work with this kind of independent thinking from a “pet”, the answer is also no. Read personal stories…
Wolves undoubtedly awaken something magical within many of us that create a longing to be close to them. Of course, the thought of owning one can be incredibly appealing – getting to bond and be close to a wolf, and having that wild spirit in our lives. However, is owning a wolfdog a good idea? If you have answered the questions above honestly with the animal’s highest well-being at the top of your list, you will make the appropriate decision. Our goal is to make sure you do. It’s our mission to help lower the astounding failure rate of wolfdog ownership due to bad choices, lack of preparation, and unrealistic expectations. Too many of these animals die in vain.
Our recommendation is, before buying a wolfdog, or if you cannot provide a wolfdog with the requirements listed above, to find a local wolfdog sanctuary to volunteer at instead. Not only are sanctuaries always in desperate need of hands-on help, but it’s incredibly rewarding on many levels. It’s the perfect place to interact with, and learn first-hand about these fascinating animals; and you won’t have to make the sacrifices you would need to make by owning one. Volunteering at a wolfdog sanctuary also provides some of the best training, and will help you in making the decision of whether to own a wolfdog or not.
If there isn’t a sanctuary near enough for you to volunteer, donate to one of your choice. You can frequently choose one of their residents to sponsor and even visit them on vacation. We can help you with ideas to raise money in your community or among your friends, to contribute to the protection of these magnificent beings.