The Saarloos Wolfdog is an interesting breed that was bred from crossing a German Shepherd with a Eurasian gray wolf. While these dogs have wolf in their heritage and certainly retain some of their physical traits and behaviors, the Saarloos is also becoming more popular as a companion dog and can make a great pet for individuals, families and experienced dog owners.
These pups are loving and affectionate, but they’re certainly not for first time dog owners. The Saarloos is a powerful and active breed with somewhat high care needs and requires someone who understands them.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Saarloos Wolfdog and seeing whether they might be the right dog for you, keep reading below.
History Of The Saarloos Wolfdog
Thanks to their history, the Saarloos Wolfdog was shown to have more genetic association with the grey wolf (Canis lupus) than any other breed of dog in a recent study in 2015. After the originally breeder of this wolfdog hybrid died, the Dutch Kennel Club recognized the breed and named it the Saarloos Wolfdog in his honor in 1975. The Saarloos Wolfdog has also been recognized by the the Fédération Cynologique Internationale since 1981.
The Saarloos Wolfdog was created by a Dutch breeder named Leendert Saarloos. Saarloos was passionate about the German Shepherd breed but believed that the dog had become too domesticated. Therefore, he decided to breed the German Shepherd with the Eurasian gray wolf to breed a dog that had more “wolf-like” traits.
Originally, the result that Saarloos got was not what he was hoping for. However, he kept crossbreeding in hope of creating the dog he was looking for. Saarloos died in 1969 but others took up the task of breeding to create the ultimate dog.
Characteristics Of The Saarloos Wolfdog
The Saarloos Wolfdog certainly resembles it’s wolf ancestors appearance wise, but these dogs have a great temperament that makes them a great companion, too.
Saarloos Wolfdog puppies are normally born in litter sizes of between 4 to 6 puppies, although they are still a relatively rare breed and finding a breeder may be difficult. You could expect to pay between $800 and $1000 for one of these pups, but you must always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder.
As we have mentioned, the Saarloos Wolfhound does look very much like a wolf! They are a medium to large breed of dog that have a wedge-shaped head with a long muzzle. Their eyes are almond in shape and often yellow, which adds to the wolf-like appearance, and they have medium sized triangular ears on the top of their head.
The Saarloos is slightly longer than they are tall. Normally, they stand between 24 to 30 inches tall and weigh between 70 to 90 lbs when fully grown.
The Saarloos has a thick double coat that is short and dense and very much resembles a wolf’s coat. The outer coat is coarse while the undercoat is softer and more dense. These dogs are known to shed, so brushing is very important. We will go into more detail about grooming these pups later on.
The most common coat colors seen on the Saarloos Wolfdog are wolf gray, red and white. Because the wolf-gray genes are dominant, this is the most common color this dog is found with. The white coat-color genes are recessive, so this is the least common coat color.
While the Saarloos Wolfdog resembles a wolf physically, they actually are a wonderful loyal dog that forms strong bonds with it’s owners. They are very high maintenance and powerful dogs and therefore need to be handled by someone who knows what they are doing and has experience with a dog of this size and nature, but in the right environment will grow up to be domesticated and friendly.
The Saarloos is a very intelligent dog and is therefore easy to train. They like to be the center of attention and will want to please their owners, but you may still need to be firm and consistent with them as they can sometimes be stubborn. They like to be around their family members and won’t really tolerate being left alone, suffering from separation anxiety.
These dogs are friendly to those that they know but will be wary of those they don’t. If a stranger tries to approach them, they will likely run away, and so socialization is needed. They don’t make good guard dogs or watchdogs because they are not confrontational!
Due to the fact they descend from a wolf, the Saarloos has a pack-like nature which means they devote themselves to their owners. They can be very protective of their family members. However, they will very rarely show aggression towards others. When placed in a home with those who understand their needs, they can grow up to be a very gentle, kind and friendly dog who loves to be around others.
The Saarloos Wolfdog breed has an average life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years.
Known Health Issues
The Saarloos Wolfdog is a generally healthy dog, although they can be prone to some health issues. We have laid out the most common health concerns below.
– Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
– Elbow Dysplasia — this is a common condition in large breed dogs. It can be caused by different growth rates and can cause lameness. It can be fixed with surgery.
– Degenerative Myelopathy — this is a progressive disease of the spinal cord that can result in hind leg paralysis. There is no cure but there is treatment. It can be helped with intensive physical rehabilitation.
– Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — this is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
– Cataracts — you might suspect your dog has cataracts if they are constantly bumping into furniture. Cataracts can be cured with surgery.
– Glaucoma — this is when pressure in the eye is abnormally high and the eye is constantly producing and draining fluid.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
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Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Saarloos Wolfdog, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these pups is like on a day to day basis. We will cover their food and diet, their grooming needs, their trainability and their exercise needs.
Food And Diet
The Saarloos is a large breed and therefore it is no surprise that they need a fair amount of food. The amount you feed your dog should be based on their age, weight and activity level. You should also check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding your Saarloos based on these factors.
Try to feed them a kibble that meets all their nutritional requirements. Experts often recommend that you feed them a food formulated for large breed dogs or for very active dogs. Take a look at the food we recommend below.
Best Dog Food For The Saarloos Wolfdog
We recommend the CRAVE Grain Free High Protein dry dog food for your Saarloos Wolfdog. This food is formulated with 34% protein from real salmon, inspired by the diet of dogs’ wolf ancestors. This high protein helps to keep their muscles lean and healthy so they can stay active for longer.
This food has no grains present in the recipe but there are quality carbohydrates for sources of energy. There are also vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the formula to provide your Saarloos with a full and balanced diet. Even better, there are no chicken byproduct meals in this food, nor any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.BUY ON AMAZON
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The Saarloos is an active dog with high energy needs. These pups need at least 40 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, if not more. They will like to go on long walks with the family and can even make an excellent exercise buddy. You should walk them in places where they can be let off the leash and where they will be able to roam free.
Because of their intelligence, the Saarloos can excel at dog sports — particularly agility and flyball. These dogs will need to be kept mentally stimulated as well as physically stimulated otherwise they can become bored and frustrated, which can then lead to unwanted behaviorial issues.
The Saarloos Wolfhound can make a fantastic family pet when placed in the right environment. These dogs devote themselves to their owners and, thanks to their pack nature, will really feel like they belong in a family environment. They also get on very well with children, especially those they have grown up with. They can be wary of children they don’t know and should always be supervised around very young children.
The Saarloos will do well in a household with other dogs. They benefit from having other canines around and someone to play with. However, they do have a prey drive and so it isn’t advised that you keep these pups in a home with other small animals.
These dogs are large and so they will need space. It is also advised they have a yard to play around in, so they have somewhere to exercise and play games. Remember, the Saarloos Wolfdog doesn’t like to be left alone and therefore isn’t the pet for those who are out for hours at the time. However, they will do well in a busy household where there is a lot going on and a lot they can join in with.
Saarloos Wolfdogs are an intelligent breed and are therefore easy to train. However, it is advised that you don’t bring one of these dogs home with you unless you have experience in training a breed of this size and power!
The Saarloos wants to please their owner and therefore generally listens to commands. Sometimes, these dogs can be stubborn and will not want to learn, so perseverance and consistency is very important. You should avoid too much repetition and keep training sessions short and sweet.
Like all dogs, the Saarloos Wolfdog responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats. You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
The Saarloos is comfortable around their family and those that they know, but they can be aloof around strangers. While they will never be aggressive towards others, it is very important that you start socializing them from a young age so they learn that not everything is a threat.
You should introduce them to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way from puppyhood. This way they will grow up to be a well-rounded and friendly dog to all!
The Saarloos Wolfhound does shed a lot, but fortunately they don’t need to be groomed very much. You should brush these dogs at least twice a week to keep their coat tidy and to remove any loose hair. Brushing may need to be increased when they shed more twice a year.
The Saarloos should only be bathed when really necessary. Bathing can interfere with the natural oils in the dog’s fur. You should clip their toenails as and when is needed and brush their teeth as often as you can. Daily brushing will help to prevent dental decay and disease.
Saarloos Wolfdog FAQ’s
How much does a Saarloos Wolfdog cost?
A Saarloos Wolfdog can set you back between $800 and $1000. However, breeders can be difficult to find because the Saarloos is still quite a rare dog. You should always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder who can show you health clearances for both parent breeds.
If this is out of your price range, or you would prefer to adopt, you can check your local shelter. A quick search online will also help you to find Saarloos Wolfdog rescue organizations who will help you to rescue one of these pups.
Is a Saarloos Wolfdog actually a wolf?
A Saarloos Wolfdog was bred from a wolf, but is not actually a wolf breed. Bred from crossing a German Shepherd with a Eurasian gray wolf, these dogs have actually been shown to be the breed that most closely associates with the grey wolf. However, although they do look like wolves, they have a generally friendly and loving temperament that can make them a great companion!
These dogs are gentle with children and love their family members. They are very domesticated and don’t like to be away from their owners for very long. Their coat resembles that of a wolf and sometimes they can have a pack-like nature, but there are not many other temperamental features of this dog breed that are different from other canines!
While the Saarloos Wolfdog breed descends from a wolf and certainly retains many physical characteristics of one, in the right environment these pups can grow up to be a gentle, loving and affectionate breed of dog. These pups love their family and just want to be the center of attention at all times, rarely wanting to be left alone. The Saarloos is powerful and needs a firm trainer and so is not for first time owners, but for those with experience of a dog of this size and temperament they can make a wonderful family dog, even making a great playmate for children.
If you’ve got the time and space for this pup, why not think about adding a Saarloos Wolfdog to your home?