Have you ever seen someone walking their dog, but it looks like a wolf? You might be looking at a wolfdog, which is a crossbreed between a domestic dog and a wild wolf. One such example of a wolfdog is the Czechoslovakian wolfdog. This is a combination of German Shepherd and Carpathian Wolf, created during the 1950s as part of a military experiment. The aim was to create a bloodthirsty, ferocious breed useful for guarding the Czechoslovakian borders during the Cold War.
Instead, they created something much different. The Czechoslovakian wolfdog looks like a wolf, which might be scary, but in reality they have lively, playful and curious personalities. Nowadays the breed is much loved and people worldwide are proud owners of the dogs that everyone looks at and double-takes, because it looks ‘just like a wolf’. The Czechoslovakian wolfdog is even used in British Search and Rescue operations.
Appearance, personality and abilities
Compared to standard dogs, the Czechoslovakian wolfdog has better night vision, endurance, vision, and sense of smell and hearing. In 1999, it gained recognition by the FCI as a dog breed. This is because it has wolf-like morphology but it is also characterised by its tameness and loyalty to its master.
Whilst it may look like a wolf on the outside, it still behaves very similarly to a dog. Loyal. friendly and quick. It is also very active, and typically finds it unnatural to bark. Instead they communicate with their owners more through body gestures and quieter noises such as whines.
Other wolfdog breeds are equally ‘domesticated’, such as as the Sarloos wolfdog, which is another mixture of gray wolf and German shepherd. These are known to be cautious, reserved and lack the ferocity to attack. It seems that dogbreeds with a bit of extra ‘wolf blood’ are not the dangerous hunters they were once expected to be.
The genetic landscape
The first thing to realise when talking about wolves and dogs, is that they are genetically 99.96% similar. Because of this, wolves and dogs can breed together and produce viable offspring. In the Czechoslovakian wolfdog specifically, the animal is 6.25% ‘pure wolf’ and 93.75% ‘pure German shepherd’.
Gray wolves (Canis lupus) and dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the same species. They are different subspecies, but it’s all about perspective. Your pet dog is a kind of wolf and the wolf you hear about in the wild is a kind of dog.
Have you ever seen a video of a wolf jump over a fence, or a photo in the media of a wolf in new territory? Perhaps this was really a wolfdog. Many people have never heard of the Czechoslovakian wolfdog, and it is difficult to tell the difference between a wolf and a wolfdog.