The Publics View:
A Low % Wolfdog or a "Full Blooded Wolf"...?
There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding when talking about wolfdog content VS % (Please visit the Content and Phenotyping page).
Hopefully this page will help give everyone a more in depth understanding of how to determine content, what traits (both wolf and dog) define wolfdogs and what are the major overlapping traits that can be found in both wolves and dogs.
****Not all Low Contents will look and act like Peto. Breeding, the type of dog breed used and genetics will play a big part- but keep in mind that just as a certain amount of pure wolf traits must be present for an animal to be considered a High Content, there are certain traits (or lack thereof) to look for when phenotyping Low and Mid contents too.
However, where *few* Low and many Mid contents can vary in both appearance and behavior (ie: some pups born dark, some multi-colored, some animals may have curly tails or blue eyes, others may not, some may act more wolf-like and others more like a northern breed...) even within a single litter- true High Contents and Pure Wolves will have little variation in appearance and behaviors.
To sum it up, you should easily be able to tell a Low Content wolfdog from a High Content one. As easy and simple as it sounds (like many people think they know) most people cannot or don't know any better.
And here is why. Please enjoy.
"HE LOOKS JUST LIKE A FULL BLOODED TIMBER WOLF!" [At work of course]
That is just one of MANY comments I have heard being directed at my Low Content wolfdog named Peto.
Some others I have heard while out and about with him (various places such as my vets office, parks, walking/hiking, while driving with him in the car- people will do the weirdest things to see a "real pure wolf.")
"HE IS HUGE! HE MUST BE PART WOLF!" [At work]
"IS THAT A PURE BRED WOLF?" [pickup truck driver in my neighborhood]
"THAT IS A TIMBER WOLF ALL RIGHT." [referring to his coat and eye color- any dog that has yellow eyes is part wolf you know! This was a comment made by a client where I work.]
"HOW MUCH WOLF IS HE? HE LOOKS LIKE A FULL WOLF." [At work again]
"OH HE'S NOT FULL BLOODED WOLF? HOW CAN YOU TELL?" [trying to explain to hikers at Huntsville State Park]
"WOW IS THAT A WOLF?! HE IS SO BIG! [that was from a little kid]
And a few of the most recent comments:
"WHAT KIND OF WOLF IS THAT?" [while filling up my SUV with gas on my way home from work- Peto didn't like that guy very much.]
"MALAMUTES DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT. I KNOW I HAVE ONE. YOUR ANIMAL IS A WOLF." [after trying to explain that he (Peto) is a Malamute MIX, and his wolf content is LOW. The lady still didn't believe me. To top it off, I recently saw her Malamute...who had ice-blue husky eyes.]
Most of these comments have been while Peto was at work with me- from both co-workers/staff and clients. I work at a Veterinary Clinic and have worked there for over 9 years. There are times when people still don't believe me that Peto is NOT a pure wolf and is actually mostly dog. He is my DOGwolf boy. And Monty is not mostly wolf either!!!
That should go to show you how much people THINK they know about wolves/wolfdogs (hybrids) and what they REALLY know about them- which is quite obviously VERY LITTLE.
This is one of the main reasons why so many bad breeders are able to get away with selling low-no contents (some mids) dogs/wolfdogs as high %, high content, 98% wolf or pure wolves- and their buyers don't even think twice.
They really think what they are getting is a 98% wolfdog- when all too often, the animals they are purchasing are usually the opposite- a low content wolfdog and sometimes even pure DOGS!!!!
Peto's previous owner had him since he was about 3-4 months old. He was a wolfy looking young puppy, that grew into a less wolfy looking adult.
He is borderline low/lower mid content. For a lower content wolfdog he has retained more wolfy characteristics then most- however he is still considered a LOWER CONTENT wolfdog.
This page will go to show that even a phenotyped low (lower mid) content can display wolf-like characteristics (both physical and behavioral) that make it stand out compared to MOST "wolfy" northern breed DOGS. Sometimes it only takes a little bit.
For the record- and I am sure this will continue on for Peto's lifetime- countless people have asked, stated and EVEN ARGUED WITH ME that he is a pure wolf.
To give everyone an idea of his size, Peto is approximately 90 lbs (usually 80-85 in the summer and 90-95 in the winter) and 32 inches at the shoulder.
SOME OF HIS DOG TRAITS:
He has a shorter, more broad muzzle which is commonly seen in Malamutes.
He gets a snow nose in the winter time. This is a DOG trait that is commonly seen in northern breeds. Other breeds such as Pit Bulls, Collies and even small dogs like Poodles and MinPins can have snow noses.
Winter snow nose. Keep in mind that this trait may or may not be as pronouced in some animals as it is in Peto. Some animals have a distinct snow nose only during the winter, which darkens back to black during the summer. Other animals can retain their snow noses all year round. This trait is NOT found in pure wolves and VERY RARELY seen HC wolfdogs.
He has a long German Shepherd type tail. Sometimes he hold it straight, and sometimes it curves (it does not curl over his back).
He has smaller paws, especially for his size. They remind me of Siberian Husky paws!
He has multi-colored toe nails. Some are black, some are taupe and a couple are even almost clear. I can see his quicks on a few of his nails.
His ears, although being small-medium sized and thick like a wolf, are pointed and not as well-furred.
He was born February 18th. Typically off-season for pure wolves and HC wolfdogs. Dogs can have puppies anytime of the year. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. Wolves and HC's will only produce pups in the spring- March-May, with April being the most common. Low and mid contents can also cycle one time a year or twice a year like a dog, depending on what they inherit. Many times when a lower content cycles 1 time a year, it is slightly earlier or later in the breeding season.
He is completely house broken and generally pretty trustworthy to be alone. He would much rather come inside and laze around the house then to be outside, with his annoying sister!
HIS OVERLAPPING TRAITS:
His eyes are gold. This can be a wolf or a dog trait. Yellow/light colored eyes can be seen in Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and German Shepherds- 3 of the most commonly used (and often mistaken for being "wolf crosses") DOG breeds for breeding wolfdogs.
He is very tall and while there are many tall dog breeds, most Alaskan Malamutes and German Shepherds do not get to be 32 inches at the shoulder, especially without easily weight over 100lbs. Siberians aren't even close. His height, in comparison to his weight/build, probably comes from the wolf.
His legs are very long. This can be a wolf or a dog trait.
He has a wolf grey/light sable colored coat. This can be a wolf or a dog trait. His coat is probably a mixture of both.
He walks like a dog (he does not single track) and his trotting gait leans more towards being dog-like then wolf-like. This however, could be due to bad breeding. His back legs are pigeon toed and turn inward rather then being straight (like most dogs) or cow-hocked (like pure wolves and many wolfdogs).
He howls...a lot. This can be a wolf or a dog trait. Howling does not mean they are part wolf! His howl is typically more wolf-like, though he does have his moments where it sounds like he is dying.
He has a narrow chest. This can be a both a wolf and a dog trait. His chest I would say is in between. Not quite as narrow as a wolf but moreso then your typical Mal, Husky or GSD.
His front feet do splay outward (caused by his more narrow chest). This trait can be seen in some dogs (including my border collie) such as racing Huskies or more narrow built dogs.
He is very independent- obviously a trait that can be seen in both wolves and dogs- especially Siberians!
He has a (pre) caudal gland mark on his tail. This trait is seen in wolves and the gland is fully functioning. All dogs have it (very few breeds it actually functions) and some dogs it is visable like on a wolf's tail- Malamutes, Huskies, GSD's, Labs, and even Great Danes can have the "precaudal mark" on their tails!
He scent rolls on just about anything. Both a wolf and a dog trait, though wolves tend to do it more frequently and on a wider variety of things then most dogs. Some dogs do it, some dont.
He has retained a prey drive. Most dogs have a prey drive- some, like Huskies and malamutes, are a little more intense then others.
He is a bit more aware and sensitive to his surroundings.
HIS WOLF TRAITS:
He rarely barks, this obviously can be a wolf or dog trait. I have known many a husky that, in their entire life, had never barked- only howled, yipped and gruffed. He is very vocal and does have an alarm huff, something he rarely does unless he feels threatened (usually when he feels uncomfortable around people he doesn't know) which is more common in wolves/wolfdogs, not so common in dogs.
He only sheds/blows coat one time a year in late spring, typical of wolves VS two times like most double coated dog breeds (ie: huskies and malamutes). His coat is significantly shorter (by 2-4 inches) in the summer time, shedding both his thick undercoat and guardhairs. This usually takes him several weeks to complete. His coat is usually full by late October. He has minimal to NO shedding throughout the rest of the year.
Peto has a long mane and coat in the winter time.
Peto in his summer coat.
This list is for educational purposes only! Please understand if you are reading this to try to determine if your animal has wolf in it or not, that MOST of these traits are OVERLAPPING. When you throw a few off-standard "wolfy looking" dogs breeds together, you can get some very interesting looking animals- that can fool MANY people...especially those that are inexperienced. If you are seriously interested in having your animal phenotyed, please contact me privately and I can phenotype thru a few pictures/video OR I can refer you to someone else (possibly in your area) that may be able to phenotype in person.
Here are some additional pictures of low contents to see the variation when different dog breeds are used!
Sariah, can you see the G. Shepherd?
Romulus (Rommy) has a fair amount of malamute and a hint of Collie.
Rommy head shot. Just because an animal doesn't look like a googled image of a husky or malamute, doesn't mean it is a high content, or even an animal with significant wolf heritage. Many times multiple "wolfy looking" breeds are used (such as a mixture of Malamute, husky and GSD) and when you throw in a smidgen of wolf, can give you an animal that looks like this!
Jasper, a low content that was sold as a 75%/high content. The famous "throw of the genes" and "you never met them in person" excuses were used by the breeder to dismiss him (and his siblings) phenotyping as a low content. Notice his very large, poorly furred ears, his smaller and more rounded head and very contrasting dark agouti/sable northern breed type coloration. Some of the puppies were born white, very light, most with heavily contrasting markings as puppies and adults (among other things).
Kovu has a lot of wooly malamute!
Low content litter (mal/wolf and G. shepherd). Having dark colored puppies does not automatically mean they are high content.
Ricky. Yes his eyes are pale yellow- they are not blue. He is a mixture of G. Shepherd, husky and wolf.