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Wolf-dogs as pets?

A Wolf-dog is not a “breed” but rather an animal that contains some wolf (Canis lupus) DNA and some domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) DNA. Dogs and wolves share a common ancestor and almost identical DNA, and thus share many physical and behavioral traits. Each wolf-dog is an individual. Their personalities and temperaments depend on the amount of socialization they received early in life, the breeds of dogs in the animal (usually German Shepherd, Siberian Husky and/or Malamute), and the percentage or content of wolf vs. dog in them.


It is the position of Wolf PAWS that Wolf-dogs (a.k.a. Wolf Hybrids) do not make good animals to keep; they are part wild and really begin to demonstrate their wild natures as they mature. According to the National Wolfdog Alliance “A statistic shows that almost 65% of all bought wolfdogs end up in a rescue or are euthanized by the age of three”.


However, the reality is that people are going to continue having them as pets, and they are unfortunately becoming more popular due in part to their appearance in movies and TV shows such as Game of Thrones. Wolf PAWS wants to help keep these animals in their homes and not be relinquished to a shelter where they will most likely be euthanized. Part of our mission is to educate the public about responsible ownership of wolf-dogs. These are among the many reasons that wolf-dogs do not make good pets and wind up in sanctuaries and rescues:

  • Wolf-dogs are escape artists and require specialized containment (*see recommended specs below). They can jump over 8’ fences, dig holes under fences, and figure out how to open doors and gate latches.

  • If not properly socialized early in life (2-6 wks of age), they can remain skittish to strangers all their life.

  • They do not make good guard dogs! They are naturally cautious, wary and often fearful animals. They are not aggressive animals and would prefer to retreat, but if cornered or mistreated, they will defend themselves.

  • They are not easily trainable. They have an independent nature, and do not have the desire to please humans like dogs. Even if you can you can train a wolf-dog, you will never be able to 100 percent remove natural instincts.

  • They have a natural prey instinct that can be awakened by a small child screaming or a small animal running away.

  • They are social creatures and do not like to be left alone; they need a canine companion, or constant human companionship. If left alone indoors, they can become very destructive, tearing through door frames and drywall, and destroying furniture.

  • They typically do not do well living indoors because they do not like the feeling of being confined. Wolves in the wild roam for miles every day – captive wolf-dogs prefer wide open spaces and require large enclosures (minimum ½ acre for 2 animals).

  • They require an abundance of daily exercise and need enrichment to stimulate their minds or they can become bored which can lead to digging and other destructive behaviors.

  • They steal from you! They make a game of taking items with your scent on it and hiding them from you.

  • They usually bond with one person, which makes it difficult for that person to travel or work outside of the home, which can cause separation anxiety in the animal.

  • They require a specialized (and expensive) diet consisting mainly of raw meat. If feeding kibble, it must be high-protein and grain-free (no corn, wheat or soy ingredients)

  • Veterinary care could be difficult to obtain. Many veterinarians do not offer services for wolf-dogs for liability reasons.

  • There is no approved rabies vaccine for wolf-dogs and there is a real possibility of euthanasia if they bite someone. Organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are against rabies vaccination approval because they believe it will support ownership of wolf-dogs.

  • Wolf-dogs are not legal in all states to keep as pets. Before you get a wolf-dog, you need to check with your state and local laws. Click here for a list of sate regulations regarding ownership of wolf-dogs 

  • If the animal escapes and Animal Control picks it up, it will most likely be euthanized since shelters cannot re-home wolf-dogs for liability reasons.

  • Wolf-dogs average life span is 12-15 years. Where will you be in 15 years? Wolf-dogs are a lifetime commitment. Their love is unconditional and requires the same in return.


*Recommended enclosure size is a minimum ½ acre for 2 animals with 8’ high fencing (9-gauge chain-link is sturdiest), barbed wire lean-in at the top to prevent them from jumping out, a dig guard which is 4’ of fencing buried around the entire inside perimeter of the enclosure and tied to the bottom rail every 6 inches (or you can pour concrete along the base of the fence perimeter), and a double-gated entry.


If you are still considering adopting a wolf-dog as a pet, please consider volunteering at a wolf-dog sanctuary and learn all you can about wolf-dogs before deciding if you should get one as a pet. There is unfortunately an over-abundance of wolf-dogs needing to be rescued and thousands are euthanized each year. The few wolf-dog rescues and sanctuaries that exist are usually full or overflowing.  The animals end up either in the back yard on a tie-out if the owners cannot provide the proper containment, or the animals escape and get picked up by animal control and are taken to a shelter where the animal will most likely be put down.

Your generous donations help us in our mission to provide wolf-dogs a permanent home with the proper care and life that they deserve.

Orion has a permanent scar on his nose from trying to escape his previous enclosure.

Leia jumping an 8-foot fence

Leia jumped an 8-foot fence while Dakota takes notes

Watch video clip!

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