9 Facts You Need To Know About The German Shepherd Wolf Mix
One part German Shepherd, one part wolf, the German Shepherd Wolf mix is a majestic and commanding dog that has become one of the most well-known dog hybrids around.
They first appeared over a century ago, making them one of the oldest designer or hybrid dogs. A designer breed is any dog that is crossed between two purebred dogs to create a new hybrid.
The designer dog breed industry has gained momentum in the previous thirty years. Designer breeds are now outselling many pure breed dogs around the world.
With their gorgeous appearance and exotic nature, the hybrid has become a hot commodity, with more and more people thinking about getting one. However, this isn’t your normal dog, so much so that many places ban you from having one.
The German Shepherd Wolf hybrid can be a complicated dog to own. He could even pose a fair amount of risks that you should be well-aware of before having one.
They are not recommended for a first-time dog owner either, because they can be more like owning a wild animal.
Today, we are looking at the 9 facts you need to know about this exceptional breed if you’re considering getting one.
Fact #1 - They Have A Striking Appearance
The German Shepherd Wolf mix is truly a sight to behold. They are as gorgeous as they are intimidating with their graceful but curious gait. They have long legs that connect to an equally long torso that’s covered in a thick double-layered coat.
This is a formidable dog, in every way. He’ll grab your attention and keep it, making you feel the honor of just being in his presence.
They hover around 100lbs, though there can be big discrepancies due to the blending of their parent's divorced genetics. Their coats are usually a mixture of fawn, brown, white, and shades of grey.
They can come in other colors though. They can also vary a great deal in size, depending on which parent they take more from, genetically speaking.
Their face pulls you in with their vibrant yellow eyes that connect to a long snout that’s matched by big upright ears. The erect ears are very furry, always alert, and able to turn in any direction to hone in on a sound as far as five miles away.
Fact #2 - The German Shepherd and The Wolf Hybrid Appeared Around The Same Time
Unlike most purebreds and the designer mixes that follow, the German Shepherd and German Shepherd Wolf mix occurred within just a few years of each other. Both owning their origins to the same man, Max von Stephanitz.
In 1899, Von Stephanitz was on the lookout for a dog that he could call the perfect working dog. Soon he stumbled on a dog called Hektor Linksrhein, who he was completely in love with remarking that it was perfectly strong, intelligent, loyal, and beautiful.
After purchasing the dog, he renamed it Horand von Grafrath, and Horand went on to become the first German Shepherd after Von Stephanitz started the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (Society for the German Shepherd Dog).
The German Shepherd of today has changed a great deal, sadly. The straight line of the back and square back legs has been bred out of them in favor of a more slanted body posture.
This has caused some problems with the breed and their hips. Sadly, many German Shepherds bred outside of Germany are going to have genetic hip problems.
You should have your young German Shepherd screened as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can do screenings early for any warning signs of hip dysplasia which can wreak havoc on your GSD’s joints.
This is also a dog that should not be bred, unfortunately it is happening though. This is how the problem continues to be an issue in the dog’s genetics.
Shortly after, Von Stephanitz bred Horand von Grafrath and his offspring with wolves giving us the first German Shepherd Wolf mixes.
These dogs are not around today because unlike the German Shepherd, the wolf hybrid’s popularity did not take off. In fact, many states have made this hybrid illegal to own because of the issues with their behavior.
Wolves do not mature at the same speed that dogs do. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have also discovered that domesticated dogs still have puppy-like behaviors well into old age.
Old dogs still play. Wolves are far less likely to be interested in play and do not behave like puppies.
Therefore, it is postulated that domesticated animals differ from wild counterparts in that they do not mentally mature to the extent of wild animals. This is especially the case in dogs.
Because of the way they differ, a person can get far more than they bargained for when they choose a German Shepherd Wolf hybrid. In fact, it may be an outright mistake, so do your research!
Fact #3 - They’re Friendly But Have A Strong Instinctual Drive
The German Shepherd Wolf Mix is not a dog for first-time dog owners or even the casual dog owner. The German Shepherd Wolf mix can make for a super loyal and friendly dog, but at the same time when left untrained or bored, they can be incredibly destructive.
Another big factor is you never know how much wolf side the dog may take, and they can become incredibly aggressive with small animals, and it will beg the question of whether your dog is tame or not.
You will need to closely watch for signs of the wolf side developing for the first two years, as they slowly pop up until they reach maturity. As puppies, they often act exactly as if they were purebred German Shepherds.
This is where Duke University research comes into play. Your wolf pup was a pup, but now that he is an adult, if he takes more after the wolf genetically, he may be a wild animal that you simply cannot control. It may be a dangerous situation waiting to happen and the liability is great.
Your German Shepherd Wolf hybrid may never be safe around other animals or even children. What will you do if he escapes your yard? He could do a lot of damage. In fact, they can jump a six-foot fence with ease. You’ll need to take special precautions just to ensure that he cannot leave your property.
Fact #4 - They’re Not The Best Choice For Families Or The City
Many people consider it highly inappropriate to have a wolf-dog in the same household as kids. As we’ve already pointed out, they may not be safe. There have been cases of wolf hybrids attacking children and even jumping into cribs and killing babies. This is not an average pet and it is not a domestic animal.
First, wolf mixes can be trained to like kids and do well around them. Instead, the problem is leaving kids unsupervised with these dogs, and that’s something that’s near impossible to avoid when both are living under the same roof.
Children who are young, as well as infants, should absolutely never be left alone with one of these dogs. The risk is simply too great. Ask the Virginia family whose eight-day-old baby was mauled and killed by their wolf hybrid. They thought they knew the dog.
It’s not even a dog, it’s a wolf and you cannot make the comparison. If the animal takes more after the wolf in his genes, then you’ve got a huge challenge on your hands. It is a criminal liability as well. Are you prepared for this?
Young kids have a hard time understanding the sensitive nature of the wolf mix, and one wrong tug on the ear or pat in the wrong place can trigger the wolf side to come raging out. It’s better to play it safe rather than sorry and only let kids interact with wolf mixes when they are behind a fence.
Fact #5 - They Are Very Healthy Dogs
Thanks to genetic diversity and both parent breeds which are quite healthy themselves, the German Shepherd mix is overall a very healthy dog, and you can expect them to live for around 15 years — which is impressive for such big dogs.
There are a few health conditions that you should still be on the lookout for such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, bloat, and cancer. Neither the wolf or the German Shepherd are particularly susceptible to illnesses or chronic conditions.
They tend to be very robust animals that aren’t easily injured and can recover from muscle pulls and minor injuries with ease.
Some German Shepherd police dogs have been wounded in the line of duty and continued to fight assailants, even with a bullet wound.
These hybrids tend to be fearless, as both parent breeds are not known for backing down from much. They are fierce protectors and could potentially make a good working dog if the hybrid takes more from the domesticated genes of the Shepherd, for control purposes.
Fact #6 - They’re Big Eaters That Require A Special Diet
A raw diet comprised of chicken, beef, turkey, and bison is the best diet for the Wolf hybrid. Dogs have evolved to better handle carbohydrates, where wolves have not, and this makes kibble an ill choice for the mix breed.
You do need to be careful with a raw diet, as it’s easy to mess up the proper ratio of nutrients your wolf mix requires. As well, you need to be careful about salmonella.
These are the two big reasons vets recommended kibble over raw for most dogs, but with the wolf mix raw still the best choice.
You may find that a mixture of raw and kibble works well for your hybrid. The best thing to do is to monitor his health very carefully and work with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is doing well and remaining healthy at all times.
Fact #7 - They Need A lot Of Exercise
It’s a wolf and German Shepherd hybrid, if you don’t think you’ll have to exercise these guys and gals a lot then maybe this isn’t the best dog for you.Both the shepherd and the wolf have big exercise demands as German Shepherds are bred to work all day and a wolf is a wolf.
Both animals are capable of running long distances. A wolf can run all day, quite literally for hours, chasing prey. They follow the scent of deer for days until they find a herd. Then they single out the weaker animal and hunt as a pack.
Their instinct to run is very strong and their stamina is incredible. The German Shepherd was also bred with this same quality for police and guard dog work.
The trained German Shepherd Dog (GSD) has a tenacity that is nearly unrivaled by other breeds. They are amazing. A GSD can leap over walls as tall as 8 feet.
They can wrestle grown men to the ground, run through burning buildings, carry a pack all day long, balance on beams high in the air as they sniff for bombs, and work with soldiers in the field doing bomb seeking and more.
Any mix of these two animals is not going to want to lay around and sleep while you watch soap operas all day long.
As well, with other dogs, not giving them enough exercise can result in health problems, not giving the wolf hybrid enough exercise will result in health issues and them getting bored and destroying things.
You can’t even imagine what damage a wolf-hybrid can do. When they destroy something, it will be something big - like eating a whole recliner.
1-2 hours a day of exercise is the recommended amount for the German Shepherd Wolf mix. As well, it’s recommended that your pup has access to a fenced-in yard they can run and play around in when they need to.
These dogs often get anxious when cooped up for too long.
Fact #8 - They Are Big-Time Shedders
If you’re not prepared to do some intensive grooming, then you’ll want to run away from the wolf hybrid. Both the wolf and the German Shepherd are notorious for being big-time shedder with both growing incredible  coats in the winter.
As well, since your wolf hybrid is part wolf you may have a harder time finding a groomer to groom them, so make sure you check out How to Stop Dogs from Shedding for all the grooming tips you could possibly need.
To say that they shed massive amounts of fur each year is possibly an understatement.
They will lose enough fur each year to piece together an entire pack of more dogs. Invest in a shedding blade and groom your dog daily, outside. Let the fur blow away and birds and other small animals will use it as nesting material.
Fact #9 - Training Is A Must
We’ve mentioned training and why it is an absolute necessity for these dogs a few times already, but it’s a big deal, so let's really focus on it.
Training a German Shepherd Wolf mix is not like training a regular purebred dog because you’re dealing with wolf instincts that can come out at any time — even after tons of consistent training.
If you struggle to train a regular dog at all, the wolf hybrid isn’t for you. Some dog trainers will not even want to work with you if you have a wolf-hybrid because they know the risks associated and there is a liability on their part as well.
You may have to sign special waivers and even then, many trainers will refuse to work with an animal that is part wolf. You’ll need to do some research and seek a trainer that has experience with these animals.
It’s important you understand and verse yourself in the dog’s psychology and mindset; you have to understand when they are pushing back against you and what the appropriate response to that is.
Taking a course to help you learn about wolves is a great idea. Your local zoo may be able to give you some tips as well. Read all you can about wolves before you get your hybrid, to ensure that you know what you’re in for.
All-in-all, if it’s your first time training a wolf hybrid, it’s a smart idea to work with a trainer who has experience training these dogs.
Ask for references and choose someone who uses positive reinforcement, rather than punishment. This will be far better. You are much better off to not teach a wolf how to be aggressive. Using force isn’t recommended.