All About the Saarloos Wolfdog; AKA Saarloos Wolfhound, European Wolfdog

Saarloos WolfdogUnique and beautiful, the Saarloos wolfdog is a breed that truly sets itself apart from other wolfdog hybrid breeds. Known for being more dog than wolf, the Saarloos wolfdog is a wonderful companion breed that thrives when they have an attentive family and comfortable home.

Description

The Saarloos wolfdog is a large breed of dog that is the result of breeding German Shepherds to wolves and is well known for being a devoted companion to their owners. They tend to have a shyness about them that is very similar to the reserve seen in wolves. The breed is lively and energetic and they do very well in an active home with a strong owner.

With training and socialization, the Saarloos wolfdog, which is also known as the Saarloos wolfhound and the European wolfdog, can excel in a number of dog activities such as search and rescue, flyball and agility. The breed is known for being very intelligent and while they do well outside, they thrive when they can be near their family and pack. As social animals, the Saarloos wolfdog does very well in multi-dog homes.

Saarloos Wolfhound History

The Saarloos wolfhound is a breed that has a long history and can be traced back to one breeder in Holland before the start of World War 2. During the 1930’s, Leendert Saarloos set out to create a breed with the idea of creating a better guarding dog. His focus was on breeding a German shepherd to a European wolf and was able to do so when he gained access to a female wolf from the Rotterdam Zoo.

The resulting puppies, however, were not what Saarloos was hoping for since their shy, timid nature; much like their wolf parent, made them unsuitable as a guarding dog. The puppies he did produce did not have a strong instinct to attack and would often flee when confronted.

Despite this setback in his breeding program, Saarloos continued to refine his breeding and introduced more wolves into his pedigree. The result was the breed as we know it today, however, Saarloos kept a strict control on his breed up until his death in 1975.

After his death, the Saarloos wolfdog began to decline in number and only the intervention of the Dutch government in 1975 kept the breed from becoming extinct. The breed was officially recognized in 1975 by the Dutch Kennel Club and in 1981 by the FCI. A breed standard has been established that continues to ensure the growth and development of this rare breed.

European Wolfdog Appearance

Wolf-like and breathtaking are some of the first things people think about when they see a Saarloos wolfdog and the reason is simply that the breed’s appearance should bring to mind a wolf. The breed should be athletic with a perfect balance between its long legs and long, powerful body. The top line should be level and the overall appearance of the dog should be a broad and powerful animal with a thick neck. The tail should hang low and should have thick-feathered hair. The ears of the Saarloos wolfhound should be large, erect, triangular shaped and set high on the rounded head. The muzzle should taper and it is important for the nose to be a dark black.

Saarloos Wolfdog Size

Saarloos WolfhoundThe Saarloos Wolfdog is a large size breed of dog that has a distinct size difference and morphology between males and females. Males should be 25 to 29 inches in height while females are slightly smaller at 23 to 27 inches in height. With weight, both male and female can range from 75 to 100 pounds; however, females should be slightly smaller than males. They female Saarloos wolfdog should also look feminine. .

European Wolfdog Coat

The coat of the European wolfdog should be thick and heavy with a short length to it. The coat should be a double coat with a soft undercoat and a waterproof, coarse outer coat. Both the outer coat and undercoat should be lighter in the summer and they usually have a heavy shedding period in the spring.

The color of the coat is usually agouti, white, red or wolf grey and they can have black or white markings that are similar to a wolf or husky.

Saarloos Wolfdog Grooming

Grooming the Saarloos wolfdog is a very easy task since the coat is waterproof and stays clean most of the time. On average, the Saarloos wolfhound only needs to be brushed once or twice a week, with more time given to grooming during shedding season. They should be groomed more frequently when they are young to build their confidence with grooming.

Bathing should only be done when necessary and can be done every few months. One important part of grooming the Saarloos wolfdog is to check their ears. The breed often suffers from excess wax build up and often requires their ears to be cleaned several times per month.

Saarloos Wolfhound Personality and Temperament

The temperament and personality of the Saarloos wolfdog is almost a contradiction at times. They thrive as a pack animal and need to be around their families, however, they can also be quite shy and timid. In fact, they are often so timid that harsh correction will see them run away rather than stand and fight.

The breed is known for its loving and independent nature. They can be very affectionate with people in their immediate family but are usually reserved with strangers. Although they are always alert in their homes, they are not good guard dogs do to their shyness and will not usually bark at strangers. The European wolfdog can be very strong willed and can be a challenge for even the most experienced dog owner.

Saarloos Wolfdog Life Span

The Saarloos Wolfdog has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

European Wolfdog Health Problems

Overall, the European wolfdog is a hardy breed that has few health problems. However, since the German shepherd was one of the foundation breeds that went into its creation, there are concerns over some health problems that plague German shepherd. For that reason, always check the overall health of the parents and make sure that you are purchasing a Saarloos wolfdog from reputable breeders who are following the guidelines of the original creator of the breed. Some health problems to be aware of with the Saarloos wolfhound are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Pituitary Dwarfism Syndrome
  • Subaortic stenosis
  • Eye problems such as:
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Retinal Dysplasia
  • Juvenile Cataracts

It is important to note that maintaining a healthy weight, proper exercise and limiting physical activity in Saarloos wolfdog puppies will reduce and can lead to the prevention of many health problems that can affect the breed. As can choosing a puppy from a proper Saarloos wolfdog breeding program.

Saarloos Wolfhound Litter Size

Like wolves, the Saarloos wolfhound usually has smaller litters than their canine counterparts. On average, a Saarloos wolfdog litter is between 4 to 6 puppies. Smaller litters can often be seen, however, larger litters are rare with the breed.

Living Conditions

Since the Saarloos wolfdog is part wolf, it is important to understand that this is not a breed for every family. They are not suited for urban centers and should never be raised in an apartment. In addition, they do better where they have a large enclosure and acreage to exercise. The breed does better in cooler climates due to their thick coat and while they do need human interaction for socialization, the breed can do very well as an outside dog.

Saarloos Wolfdog Training

Although the Saarloos wolfdog is an intelligent breed, they can be a challenge when it comes to training due to their shy, non-confrontational nature. Harsh correction can see the European wolfdog run and hide rather than learn from the correction. For that matter, they need a lot of patience, time, attention and positive reinforcement to be trained properly.

If they are given that type of training, the Saarloos wolfhound learns quickly and happily. They are a playful breed and enjoy when training is in shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes at a time. It is important to avoid repetition and boring training sessions. Mix up training and give the Saarloos wolfdog activities to keep them entertained while training.

The breed does need a firm pack leader in their owner, who will give them consistent and firm rules. When they have this in their owner, they are wonderful dogs, however, without that strong leadership; the Saarloos wolfdog can become lost over his role in the home.

Socialization is important with this breed. Even with proper socialization they will be reserved and shy with strangers, however, a well socialized Saarloos wolfdog is a joy to his family.

Saarloos Wolfhound Exercise

As mentioned, the Saarloos wolfhound is an active breed that requires ample exercise on a daily basis. This breed should be taken for several walks through the day where they can not only expel their energy but also spend time exploring and meeting their natural curiosity.

Owners of the European wolfdog should expect about 60 minutes of exercise every day. In addition, the breed need time to explore off leash but since they will run off, it should only be done in an enclosed space and under supervision. Saarloos wolfdogs are extremely intelligent and will find and exploit weaknesses in a fence if they are given the opportunity.

On top of regular exercise, the Saarloos wolfhound does require mental stimulation. This can be through training but they also need toys and activities that will challenge their intelligence. Boredom can lead to the breed becoming very destructive.

European Wolfdog Feeding

European wolfdogs are an energetic breed and for that reason, require a high quality food with an excellent caloric intake. The breed does very well on RAW feeding; however, they can also do well on dry kibbles. High protein levels are important as are high fat content, as they will often burn off calories quickly. On average, the Saarloos wolfhound will eat between 3 to 4 cups of kibble per day; however, the type of food and the individual dog may necessitate more kibble on a daily basis.

Meals should be split up into two feedings and the Saarloos wolfdog should be offered water throughout the day. While the breed is not prone to bloat, they are considered a deep chested breed, which increases the risk of bloat so it is important not to exercise your Saarloos wolfhound 20 minutes before or after eating.

Saarloos Wolfdog Puppies

Saarloos Wolfdog PuppiesWhen choosing a Saarloos wolfdog puppy, it is very important to purchase from an established and knowledgeable breeder. The main reason for this is because of the timid nature of the breed. Without proper socialization, training and handling from a very young age, the Saarloos wolfdog can be very shy as an adult.

Once the Saarloos wolfdog puppies go to their new homes, it is important for new owners to start training and handling right away. Puppies and young dogs need a lot of one on one time with their family so their confidence can grow when they are at home. Rules and boundaries should be set in place from day one and should be followed consistently. Another consideration with the Saarloos wolfdog puppy is to always be attentive to what your puppy is learning; this is an intelligent breed and they can learn bad habits as easily as they learn commands.

In addition, the Saarloos wolfdog puppy should be well socialized to everything from noises to people to other animals. By providing the puppy with ample socialization, the Saarloos wolfhound will be a more outgoing dog when they reach maturity. With proper socialization, attention and training, the Saarloos is a wonderful, gentle family dog that thrives in their pack.

Saarloos Wolfhound Suitability

As with most wolfdogs, the Saarloos wolfdog is not recommended for first time or timid owners. This is a breed that requires a strong pack leader who will set consistent boundaries and rules for it to thrive. In addition, the Saarloos wolfdog still has a pack mentality and does better in multi-dog homes, especially if they are with another European wolfdog.  Due to their high prey drive, they are not suitable for homes with smaller pets.

While they are not recommended for homes with young children, the breed can do well in homes with older children. All members of the family need to be a part of the care, attention and training of the Saarloos wolfhound to ensure that the dog understands his place in the pack.


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