We all know about wolfdogs but have you ever seen one? Wondering if these impressive canines make a good pet? What are they like, and where can you get one, anyway?
We’ll tell you everything you should know about the German Shepherd Wolf mix – also known as Wolfshepherd – a beautiful but challenging pet. Do you think you have what it takes to own this hybrid?
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A little bit about the German shepherd wolf mix
As you’d guess, a German shepherd wolf mix gets its name from its parents: the German Shepherd dog and a wolf. Sometimes called wolfdogs, wolfshepherd, or half wolf half dog, these hybrids can be bred out of eastern wolves, red wolves, gray wolves, or the Ethiopian wolf.
There’s not much information about the origin of this crossbreed, but getting to know the parents will give us an idea of what German Shepherd Wolf mixes are like in terms of their physical qualities and personality.
While the German Shepherd (GSD) parent may look a bit wolfy, they are truly a domesticated dog. This incredibly popular breed was first bred in Germany in the late 1800s and has since been used as a companion, guardian, shepherd, and service dog.
They get about 22 to 26 inches (56 to 66 cm) tall and weigh anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds (23 to 41 kg), with females being slightly smaller than males.
They are loyal, courageous, smart, willing to learn, and can be a bit aloof, but this is a dog who is happiest when they have a job to do.
Meet the wolf parent
The wolf side of this mixed breed is a different beast. While they may be the ancestors of all modern dogs, wolves are wild animals. They haven’t been domesticated and they can’t be expected to behave like a dog.
They’re pack animals that spend their days playing, hunting, and learning. They’re carnivores with a voracious appetite and can run up to 40 miles per hour!
While they vary between types, gray wolves are generally 66 to 180 pounds (30 to 82 kg) for males and females are 51 to 120 pounds (23 to 54 kg). They can be anywhere from 26 to 32 inches (66 to 81 cm) at the shoulder.
A wolf hasn’t learned to trust and relate to humans, but they are smart, friendly, and not aggressive with other wolves. In strange situations, however, they are shy, reluctant, and cautious.
If you want to bring a half-wolf half-dog into your life, be aware that they are illegal in many states, counties, and cities. You’ll need to research your local and state laws to be sure.
Even if they are legal in your area, most landlords and rental properties won’t allow wolf hybrids, so housing can be a challenge.
What does a German Shepherd Wolf mix look like?
As you can imagine, the German Shepherd Wolf mix looks similar to a wolf, but with some GSD characteristics.
It has a majestic, regal look with pointed ears and long, tapered muzzle. It has a wolf-like appearance, with a heavy mane, pronounced fur along its back, and a long tail.
How big do German Shepherd Wolf mixes get?
These are sturdy dogs that can vary in size depending on the size of the parents. Males are 65 to 90 lbs. (29.5 to 41 kg), while females are 50 to 70 lbs. (23 to 32 kg).
When it comes to height, males reach 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm), and females stand about 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61 cm) tall. That said, they can vary much larger or be slightly shorter.
Because of their size and need for tons of exercise, they’re NOT for apartment dwellers or even city dwellers. They need a lot of space and room to explore. They can also be frightened by loud noises and the bustling city life.
What color does this wolfdog come in?
German Shepherd Wolf dogs come in any color you’d see their parents have. That includes sable, gray, tan, or red. It’s possible for them to have a rare coat of black or white, while some have a combination of these shades.
Their hair can be medium or long, and they all have a heavy double coat that sheds profusely.
Want to see what a German Shepherd Wolf mix will look like if it has more wolf in its genes? Watch this video of Balto playing with a smaller designer dog:
The temperament of a German Shepherd Wolf mix
These dogs are fascinating because they don’t act like any typical dog. While their personalities can be as varied as humans, there are a few things that characterize the breed.
First of all, remember that these wonderful pups are still very much in touch with their wild roots. As a result, they are diggers, howlers, and explorers. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it means they need a yard where they can indulge their natural instincts.
If you have a fancy garden, this isn’t the right dog for you, but with a big, fenced-in field, they can be incredibly happy.
The good news is, they aren’t really barkers. Wolves don’t bark much and most wolfdogs retain this trait. Instead, they howl, chortle, whine, and otherwise vocalize. Don’t expect them to alert you with a bark when strangers come around.
Speaking of strangers, they can be reserved with new people and places, another part of their wolf heritage. Instead of checking new people out or welcoming them, they’ll stay back and observe until they’re sure the world is safe.
While they are protective of the people they trust, they do not make good guard dogs. Their instinct is to run away or hide from danger. The only time they’ll confront someone is when they can’t get away.
In other words, wolfdogs are cautious. They aren’t particularly affectionate with their owners, either. Instead, they’re happy to just be near their “pack,” no matter what makes up their family.
Even when they consider children a part of their family, they are not good with kids. They can be too unpredictable and too sensitive for life with little ones. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but you should use the utmost caution when they’re around kiddos.
They can be aggressive or even dangerous at times. That’s because they don’t behave like we expect dogs to behave because of their wolf genes.
When they’re young, they tend to act like your typical puppy and you may think you have a German shepherd on your hands. Interestingly, that’s because you won’t see their wolfy characteristics until they’re mature.
This magnificent mixed breed also has a high prey drive. They should never be around small pets and animals like cats, goats, sheep, or rodents unsupervised. They shouldn’t go to a dog park, either. You never know how they may interact with other dogs there.
Will training a German Shepherd Wolf hybrid be difficult?
While they may be a different challenge than a typical dog, that doesn’t mean that they can’t make a suitable companion. The key is consistency in training and socialization to remind them you’re the boss.
In the wild, wolves dare each other to determine if the leader is still capable of being in charge of the group. Your dog may or may not continue to test you throughout its life so prepare yourself.
Mental stimulation is also important. While a wolfdog may not want to work for you, they still need a job to keep that clever mind occupied.
These are very curious animals and they need a fenced yard and to stay on a leash because they can wander or run unless you train them well.
This video shows a well-trained German shepherd wolf hybrid.
You should definitely learn how to train a german shepherd wolf mix puppy before deciding to bring one home.
Introduce your new puppy to every kind of situation you can think of – loud noises, new people, different shapes, different ground textures, windows, doors, and buildings. Have them walk on cement, plastic, metal, and grass.
That means doing things like opening umbrellas, clanging pans, showing them glass windows, blasting the TV, honking car horns, and pointing out airplanes. They need to be introduced to any sound you can think of.
Then, introduce them to people with different accents or skin color. Let them meet differently-abled people, like those with prosthetic legs or in wheelchairs.
If your German Shepherd Wolf mix shows excellent progress and doesn’t react negatively when exposed to unfamiliar places and strangers, slowly introduce your fido to the elderly and little tots. Again, keep your pooch on a leash, just to be safe.
You can establish yourself as the leader by controlling your pet’s food, the playtime, nap time, sleeping space, and exercise time. Don’t let him demand, cajole, or pressure you into giving him what he wants – no matter how cute those puppy eyes can be. With that said, this wolf hybrid is for experienced owners only.
How to care for your loyal companion
The best food for your wolfdog is a diet that’s very high or rich in protein. These dogs don’t do as well on the modern kibble diet because their bodies haven’t adjusted over the centuries to modern food. They’ll need fresh or raw meat supplementation.
Opt for BARF or raw diet for this crossbreed and feed him 2 to 3 cups of food per day, but this may vary depending on the age and weight of your German Shepherd Wolf mix.
It’s not enough to give them a space to run because they also need to be able to dig and explore. Keep in mind that this doggo has tons of energy. Wolves can travel 30 miles a day in the wild, while German Shepherds are no slouchers, either.
They require up to 2 hours of exercise a day. Aside from usual walks, fetch, swimming and running are all good options.
While you can give them plenty of time to explore on their own, they also need to have some activity with you, because that helps to establish you as part of their pack and as the leader.
These aren’t high maintenance dogs, thank goodness. Just brush their coat to work out the undercoat once a week, or more often when shedding. You can use a rake style comb to get it done.
Brush their teeth every few days and check their ears once a week to monitor for any issues.
Finally, keep in mind it may be difficult to find a kennel or dog walker if you want to leave town. You may need to rely on family and friends who know and understand how to care for such a unique creature.
Health: Do German Shepherd Wolf mixes have a long lifespan?
German Shepherd Wolf mixes live about 12 to 14 years with the right care. These are relatively healthy dogs because they don’t have many of the problems associated with dogs who have been bred by humans.
Still, watch out for issues like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, bloat, and cancer. These are illnesses that commonly plague GSDs and their hybrids.
One thing to consider is, it can be hard to find vets that will work with half wolf half dogs. It can present a legal and physical challenge for them. Also, be aware that rabies vaccines don’t work as well on wolf hybrids, so if a dog is exposed to rabies, they legally must be put down in many areas.
How do I get a German Shepherd Wolf mix?
So, ready to add a wolfshepherd to your life? We can’t blame you. Despite being formidable pets to have, they are incredible.
You can either rescue one who is looking for a new home, or purchase a puppy.
When buying, expect to pay somewhere between $800 and $1,200. Some can cost up to $5,000. These aren’t cheap dogs to breed and be cautious if you find one in the $200 to $500 range.
Most wolfdogs are imported from Germany, but they are costly.
German Shepherd Wolf mix breeders & rescues
Because they are such challenging animals to live with, they often end up in shelters. That doesn’t mean they’re bad dogs, just that they were perhaps with the wrong person for them.
Whether you live in North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, California, or anywhere in between, there is likely a wolfdog waiting to be rescued that will be right for you.
Remember to always do your research, especially with this type of dog.
Midnight Run Wolves breeds these dogs in Kentucky, though note that we don’t endorse any breeder and you should do your research before buying from anyone.
Here’s what to know about wolf hybrids and some other hybrids out there
The German shepherd wolf mix isn’t the only wolf hybrid out there. If you want to see more wolfdogs, check out these articles:
Since it may be difficult to find and own wolf hybrids within the US and some parts of the world, maybe these German Shepherd mixes will satisfy your need to own a canine friend that looks like a wolf:
- German Shepherd Husky mix
- German Shepherd Lab mix
- German Shepherd Rottweiler mix
- German Shepherd Pitbull mix
The German Shepherd Wolf mix isn’t for everybody
By now you’ve probably figured out that wolfdogs aren’t for everybody. They require a special kind of owner who is willing to do the work necessary to keep these dogs happy, healthy, and safe.
But for the right person, they can be an incredible and unique companion. Just be sure to do plenty of research and maybe even visit a wolf rescue before deciding to bring one home.
That way, you can be sure you know what you’re facing.
That way, you and your new companion can both enjoy each other and live your best life.