If you love dogs that look like wolves, you’re going to fall hard for the Tamaskan. Bred specifically with a wolf-like appearance in mind, with it’s wild appearance and fierce energy, this fairly new mixed dog breed is a favorite among lupine enthusiasts.
There are a lot of designer breeds out there with wolf type characteristics. Most of these have mixed sled dog and working dog ancestry, but don’t have any real connection to the wolf.
But what about the Tamaskan dog? Where did it come from, and is does it have any real wolf ancestry in its bloodlines?
History Of The Tamaskan Dog
Even though the Tamaskan has only been around for approximately 40 years, the history of this breed is somewhat shrouded in mystery and subject to debate. The first dogs of this breed, as we now know them, were bred in the early 1980’s.
There are only three dogs involved in the breeding of the Tamaskan that everyone seems to agree on: the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd. Additional Siberian Husky crosses of Finnish origin were probably introduced to the breeding pool in the late 1980’s.
So, are they part wolf? It seems unlikely. None of the original dog breeds used in the creation of the Tamaskan, aside from, perhaps, the possibility of an Alaskan Malamute mix with residual Arctic Wolf blood, have anything more in common with a wolf than, say, a Poodle or a Corgi does. However, since the first sires and dams used to breed Tamaskans were not purebreds of any breed, we don’t know for sure what other breeds may or may not have been represented in their bloodlines.
Different countries of origin, including the United States, UK and Finland, are all reported, making it difficult to pin down exactly which breeds were involved when, and what dog breeders can take credit for the creation of the breed.
Other dogs that are sometimes referenced as part of the original breeding program, but which don’t seem to be fully documented, are the Utonagan, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and the Saarloos Wolfdog.
However, it seems possible that the Tamaskan was an offshoot breed that developed when various breeders left other programs. Some of the original dogs used, and some of the ideas for the breed, may have come from programs for the Northern Inuit dog and the Utonagan.
The Tamaskan is considered to be a designer dog not a purebred. As such, it is not officially recognized by any kennel club. Breed clubs that do accept the Tamaskan, however, include the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) and the Tamaskan Dog Register(TDR.) Tamaskans are also sometimes called Tams and Tamaskan Huskies.
Characteristics And Features
A large, long-legged breed with a long snout and erect, pointed ears, the Tamaskan dog has a very similar appearance to a wolf. Many people like that the wild features and large size of this breed create a formidable, protective presence. A lot of typical Husky features, like masks, saddles and straight, bushy tails, are also often present.
Ranging in height from 24″ to 33″ and weighing anywhere from 55 to 100 pounds, the Tamaskan can be a rather intimidating dog. The average Tamaskan lives for 14-15 years, but some have been known to live from 12 to 16 years. The litter size for the breed tends to average between 6 and 10 puppies.
These dogs have double coats, the outer of which tends to be medium length, shaggy and coarse, while the undercoat is sleek and dense. Tamaskans are usually one of three mixed shades: wolf grey, black grey or red grey. Their eyes are usually yellow, amber or brown.
Health Concerns For Tamaskans
In general, Tamaskans do not exhibit many serious health issues. As a mixed breed, they are less prone to many of the congenital problems seen in a great number of purebred dogs, and tend to live fairly long, healthy lives. However, there a few medical conditions worth nothing that tend to show up in small percentage of Tamaskans.
Hip Dysplasia is a concern for many large breed dogs, and some Tamaskans will be prone to this condition. However, reputable breeders do their best to avoid this by choosing a mating pair that do not show a tendency towards the condition. Hip Dysplasia is characterized by a slipped disc in one or both hips, and is usually present from birth. This condition, when diagnosed and attended to properly, can be managed and treated so that a dog enjoys a fairly normal, healthy life.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM,)
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM,) a disease characterized by a weakening of the spinal cord leading to eventual paralysis, can also affect the breed. The condition is very serious, often with a quick onset, and there is no cure. However, this is only seen in a small percentage of Tamaskans, and, when it does occur, it tends to appear more in senior dogs. Owners of dogs with DM usually notice an ungainly gait, wobbling, buckling of the limbs or dragging the back feet. Although the condition is lifelong, proper veterinary care and rehabilitation can give affected dogs some relief.
In around 10% of male Tamaskans, Cryptorchidism may occur. This condition is a failure of one or more of the testicles to fully descend into the scrotum. With most affected dogs, it appears within 6 months of birth. The condition does not generally cause any other major health problems, but dogs with Cryptorchidism should be neutered. In some cases, intact dogs with the condition can develop testicular cancer. If your puppy has Cryptorchidism, it is also advised to neuter to prevent the condition being passed along to future generations of Tamaskan dogs.
Typical Temperament Of Tamaskans
Tamaskan dog owners report that these dogs are generally very friendly, affectionate and loyal, making wonderful family pets and companions. They are also known for their intelligence, eagerness to please and protective instincts.
However, despite often being characterized as a good family dog, first-time dog owners, or owners inexperienced with Siberian Huskies and Husky crosses, should be aware that their high intelligence can make the Tamaskan a challenge to train.
Loyalty and affection for a single family member, usually the one who first adopts and trains the dog, can also lend itself to separation anxiety in this breed. Because these dogs prefer to be close by your side, experts do not advise leaving your Tamaskan home alone, or hitched up outside, for long periods.
Intelligence And Training
As mentioned previously, the Tamaskan breed can present something of a challenge in the training department. These dogs are smart, and they are ready to please, but their cleverness can also come out in the form of stubbornness or a mischievous streak. They are also more likely to misbehave when they become bored out of loneliness or lack of mental stimulation.
The key to successfully training your Tamaskan is in starting early and maintaining a consistent program. Begin with a basic training regime for tasks and tricks like leash training and sitting and staying. Rewarding your Tam consistently for good behavior will go a long way towards a successful training program. They tend to have a very loving nature, so physical rewards like a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears can make a perfect reward.
Socialization, including with other dogs and people, may be necessary to avoid either over-eagerness to interact or aloofness. Either of these opposite personality traits can appear in the breed, depending on the specific dog.
Feeding And Exercising
A Tamaskan dog is naturally high in energy and requires a lot of physical activity. With their sled dog and working dog ancestry, these dogs have a muscular build and high endurance. Because they require an hour or more of exercise a day, keeping your dog both fit and entertained will be quite the regime.
Their exercise needs can be met through a variety of activities, such as daily walks, an occasional jog and play time at the park. It’s also advisable to allow your Tamaskan some free-range outdoor time. This can be accomplished by letting them explore off-leash while you supervise, provided they are well trained.
You can also let them play and run in a fenced-in area, such as a dog park or your backyard. A long backyard run is another option, but remember not to leave them hitched up for too long as they will become lonely.
Feeding your Tamaskan twice a day is ideal, rather than giving one large meal. Start with a high quality dry kibble designed for large dog breeds with high energy. These dog foods are generally high in lean protein. You can also supplement the dry food with wet food or occasional dog-safe human foods.
A Tamaskan may need anywhere from 2 to 5 cups of dry kibble per day, depending on the size of the animal and how many calories are burned in daily exercise. If you are unsure how much to feed your dog, consult with your vet for a personalized feeding plan.
Grooming For The Tamaskan
The Tamaskan requires light to moderate grooming, including brushing once or twice a week with a wire slicker brush. Their double coats blow out twice a year, and they will require more frequent brushing during the moulting seasons.
You may also need to occasionally trim your Tamaskan’s nails and brush its teeth, or have a professional groomer or vet do these jobs. Many dogs will wear down their nails through exercise, making only very occasional trims necessary. Tooth brushing is optional, but your dog will enjoy better oral health and be less prone to bad breath with regular tooth brushing.
Because Tamaskans have open, upright ears, they will need their ears cleaned very infrequently. However, an occasional cleaning to prevent buildup of environmental debris and to monitor for fleas, mites and ticks, is beneficial. Most of the time, you can clean the surface of the inside of your dogs ears during or after a bath, using only a soft cloth and warm water. A dog’s ears should never be cleaned with cotton swabs. Specialty ear-cleaning solution from your vet may be necessary for a more thorough cleaning.
Full baths are only needed once in a great while. Washing after a muddy play session, an encounter with a skunk or for flea and tick control might be necessary occasionally, but be sure to use a dog shampoo designed for healthy skin and coats.
Keeping up with regular vet visits, and maybe an occasional trip to the groomer, will also keep your Tamaskan looking and feeling sharp.
FAQ On The Tamaskan Dog
1. Where can I get a Tamaskan Puppy?
Those who wish to purchase a Tamaskan puppy should always seek out reputable breeders. Puppy mills are infamous for churning out all kinds of mixed dogs that may or may not be what you think you’re acquiring. Trustworthy Tamaskan breeders should offer parentage and health documentation, where possible, so that you know exactly what you’re getting.
2. How much do Tamaskan Puppies cost?
As with the breed’s history, prices for Tamaskan puppies seem to be subjective. However, a rough average seems to be about $1700, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $1200 to $2,500. If you see Tam puppies being sold for only a few hundred dollars, these are probably coming from questionable breeders.
3. Is the Tam the right dog for me?
There are many things to think about when choosing a dog breed. If you’re looking for a wolf-like dog, the Tam is a wonderful option. But if you’re not up for the challenge of training this high-energy, intelligent breed, you might want to stick with something a bit less challenging. They also require a lot of exercise, and if you don’t have the capability to maintain a regime, you may want to consider a dog that doesn’t need as much activity.
4. Are Tamaskans related to wolves?
Probably not. Proving that the Tamaskan dog has wolf ancestry is pretty much impossible. The only likely wolf blood in a Tamaskan might come from the possible addition of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog or the Saarloos Wolfdog to the Tamaskan breeding program. A pure Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a cross between a GSD and a wolf and has only around 6% Carpathian Wolf blood. A pure Saarloos Wolfdog is a cross between a GSD and Eurasian Grey Wolf, and has a similar percentage of wolf blood.
However, since the history of the Tamaskan is so complicated and ambiguous, it seems impossible to know if any purebred wolfdogs were actually used. Conclusively, even if some dogs with wolf genes were used to breed the Tamaskan dog as we know it today, the percentage of wolf blood that would be present in a Tamaskan now would be so low that it would probably be comparable to the percent found in pretty much any other dog. In short, the Tamaskan was bred to look like a wolf, not to actually be part wolf.
5. Are there any famous Tamaskan dogs?
Yes! One famous Tamaskan, a dog called Luchta, played a wolf in the 2016 Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Another famous Tamaskan, a dog named Wave, became the North Caroline State Football Team’s mascot in 2010.