Posts Tagged ‘pet wolf’

Lessons learned from a pet wolf

A Saarlooswolfhond, not the wolf in the article.

A Saarlooswolfhond, not the wolf in the article.

Here’s a great article by James D. Felsen in today’s Charleston Gazette:

Recently, we buried our beloved wolf on a bluff at our cabin overlooking the Potomac. We trust he is running free on the tundra, a noble creature that never should have been confined.

I abhor the hatred, vitriol and “ad hominem” pejorative derision that accompany the polarization, chaos and intolerance plaguing contemporary U.S. society. Living over a decade with Nietzsche, our wolf, offers insight.

He never wanted us, nor, did we want him. Abandoned as a young pup at an animal shelter by a dolt who thought a wolf would make a good watchdog, he was to be euthanized. He could not be offered for adoption since rabies vaccine efficacy had not been adequately studied in wolves.

Bred by humans in captivity, environmentally, he never ran free or enjoyed the social order of a pack. Yet, he was intensely and innately distrustful and fearful of humans, seeking the most distant corner in which to cower. He was physically beautiful and the vet estimated genetically he was 95 percent wolf. We did not believe he deserved to die and took him home where we planned to construct a large fenced run.

Socially, home consisted of my wife and me, my wife’s daughter who often visited and an aging cocker spaniel. As his run was being constructed, it was obvious he did not want to be “trapped” in a house or garage, hiding behind an old couch in the basement. My wife was the only family member who could get near him and coax him to eat.

With time we believed we could build trust and have the big dog we always wanted to sit beside us in my truck and lay on the floor or deck at our feet as we watched the sunset or TV. It never happened. It became clear that if the wolf was going to survive, it would have to occur with mutual respect and accommodation for his social order, not ours. We were never going to train him. Survival demanded he adopt us within the paradigm of the social order of a wolf pack.

He never strayed from that social order until his death a dozen years later. He would tolerate and even enjoy a few of the practices and foibles of humans and domesticated pets, but never compromised on core wolf social values. Never a part of a wolf pack socially, we wondered how these behaviors became “hard wired,” since Lamarckian genetics had been scientifically disproved years ago.

I was designated the “alpha-male” of the pack. He would move away and drop his head when I approached and not eat when I fed him until I was out of eyesight. He would also spend several minutes checking around his food dish to assure there were no traps and he was not going to get swatted by the alpha male. He would accept food out of hand from his mother (my wife) and sister (her daughter). My wife enjoyed frequent hugs and kisses.

If he was allowed into the house, he would not move from the same spot where he could view all commerce if I were present. If only his mother was present, he would follow her around and observe what she was doing. If his sister babysat him, he felt he had the run of the house, including jumping on beds.

His run was his domain and no animal, wild or domestic, survived if they somehow managed to slip or burrow into it. The exceptions were the “pack member” cocker spaniel and a young pup we took care of for a short time. In the domain of the vet’s office he was completely docile and hospitable, personally greeting each cat and dog waiting to be seen.

One of our favorite stories of “missed” wolf-human communication involves a hunt episode. He had escaped from his run and headed for a pasture nearby where a horse, mule and pony were present. As we ran to retrieve him he decided the pack was on a hunt and began nipping at the back legs of the mule and horse in order to turn them aside and turn the pony (dinner) toward us. The scenario was repeated many times as we tried to get near him to grab his collar. Finally, as if to say you two are the worst hunters I have ever seen, he just sat down exasperated and let my wife put on his leash and head home.

In his run or the truck, we observed him exchange “whine” words with other large canines and a black bear. His talk enraged them but he paid no heed to a group of deer that bedded down near his run. We never figured out why. He was headstrong, and when my wife walked him it was usually a struggle as to pace and direction.

At first he would hide in his run and never make a noise when strangers would be present. His oral communication consisted of howling when he chose. However, he did develop a “wannabe” bark after awhile and would sometime use it when strangers came. We thought he might have believed the cocker spaniel had certain privileges he did not have and it might help his status to bark. He also started raising his leg to urinate and scraping the ground afterward, although he never could master the right leg or motion.

His favorite food was venison scraps hunters would bring or he would find on his walks. However, he discovered discarded fries and Frosties on his walks and became a fast food junkie. He would tire of his dog food and raw pork bones, picking out well-seasoned leftovers and scraps, being especially partial to Italian and Chinese food.

Our stories of human-wolf social boundaries and accommodations are many, memorable and often amusing. They are also a lesson of diversity and tolerance.

A wolf’s life expectancy in the wild is about five to eight years; Nietzsche lived twice as long. If wolves would evolve as did other domesticated canines they would have much longer and easier lives. Some might suggest that. I would resist such an evolutionary policy in respect of the value, beauty and positive aspects of social diversity. I’ll never coerce a wolf to sit beside me in the front seat of a truck. Wolves should run free.

Many individuals are ridiculed today for “selfishly” holding onto a social order that other factions within our diverse and pluralistic country finds archaic, dysfunctional, reactionary and anti-progressive. They assert these individuals — and all society — would be better off if they adopted the same behavior, practices and social order to which society has, allegedly, progressively evolved. They are entitled to their beliefs but can traditionalists be “trained” to behave within the precepts of a new social order that others have determined would benefit them? Or does such attempted coercion result in conflict and chaos?

Should, or can, these traditionalists, be trained by government to abandon the values of their social order without causing severe disruption and destruction? No doubt, analogies to the wolf’s situation will be greeted with ridicule and derision, noting that, unlike wolves, humans can “reason”. Perhaps, but what does that really mean?

Nietzsche adopted certain contemporary human and domesticated pet behaviors, e.g., love of Frosties and fries, but never abandoned his core social order values. They were “hard wired.” Are we to believe that all human social values are the result of contemporary social and religious environmental beliefs that can be disproved and discarded by science and “reason?” Are we to believe that over time social values can be “hard wired” into other species but not humans?

Are we to accept that it is natural for a wolf to refuse to abandon his social order values if he is to survive but humans can easily abandoned them when confronted with reason and science? Perhaps such coercion, real or perceived, significantly contributes to social chaos, conflict and acrimony.

Finally, Nietzsche prospered by accommodating certain human behaviors but retaining his core social values. Given the recent rise of violence and destructive behavior in U.S. human society, I am not convinced discarding many traditional social values has brought increased social prosperity.

In today’s contentious society one’s ideology will likely determine if one either accepts and embraces — or derides and discards — any potential lessons. That would be unfortunate but probably appropriate. On learning of Nietzsche death, my youngest brother sent a quote from his philosopher namesake, “And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.”

Wolves are not ideal pets.

The episode with the wolf running the horses reminds me of a story my grandpa told me of his favorite hunting dog, a cross between a “toy collie” and an elkhound named Blue.  A friend of his sent the dog out to bring in a mare and colt, and by the time it was over, Blue had the colt nearly hamstrung.

But it is in relationships with wolves like Nietzsche that we see how the human-dog bond could have started.

Some wolves are such intensely social animals that they are surprisingly quite tolerant of humans and other animals.

I don’t know whether he was actually 95 percent wolf or not, but one thing is clear– wolves cannot be kept under the same coercive conditions that so many dogs acquiesce to.

The animal must be allowed to be.

And most dogs would be better off if they were allowed such liberties, too.

But too many humans just aren’t into that.



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Keulemans wolf

Americans don’t like to admit it much, but the French intervened to help us win our independence. If they had not intervened, the entirety of British North America might have wound up like Ireland– constantly in rebellion and constantly being repressed.

When the French formally recognized America, they sent out trained soldiers to advise the rebels and to support their mission.

Among these officers were François Jean de Beauvoir, Marquis de Chastellux and Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouërie. The Marquis de Chastellux was  major general who served as the main liaison between General Washington and Comte de Rochambeau, the commander who was in command of French forces in North America.  The Marquis de la Rouërie, referred to in American texts as “Colonel Armand,” was a French officer who came to North America in 1776 to assist in the rebellion. He would later return to France and as an ardent defender of the nobility,  he became one of the leaders of an armed rebellion against the 1st French Republic in Brittany and Maine.

Colonel Armand spent enough time in North America to become fully acquainted with our wildlife and customs, and while in service of the rebellion, he managed to take in a black wolf.

The Marquis de Chastellux, who was a leading public intellectual in France and a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, would later write about Colonel Armand’s pet wolf.  At the time, Chastellux was a renowned author, and he had been appointed to the Académie française in 1775. The Académie française is sort of the “guardian council” of the French language. It has final say about the correct usage of the French language.  When Chastellux returned to France, he wrote a memoir of his experiences in North America, and it is in his recollections that he mentions Colonel Armand bringing a pet wolf to Monticello:

The only stranger who visited us during our stay at Monticello, was Colonel Armand whom I have mentioned in my first Journal; he had been in France the preceding year with Colonel Laurens, but returned soon enough to be present at the siege of York, where he marched as a volunteer at the attack of the redoubts. His object in going to France, was to purchase clothing and accoutrements compleat for a regiment he had already commanded, but which had been so roughly handled in the campaigns to the southward, that it was necessary to form it anew: he made the advance of the necessaries to Congress, who engaged to provide men and horses. Charlotteville [Charlottesville] a rising little town situated in a valley two leagues from Monticello, being the quarter assigned for assembling this legion, Colonel Armand invited me to dine with him the next day, where Mr. Jefferson and I went, and found the legion under arms. It is to be composed of 200 horse and 150 foot. The horse was almost compleat and very well amounted; the infantry was still feeble, but the whole were well clothed, well armed, and made a very good appearance. We dined with Colonel Armand, all the officers of his regiment, and a wolf he amuses himself in bringing up, which is now ten months old, and is as familiar, mild, and gay as a young dog; he never quits his master, and has constantly the privilege of sharing his bed. It is to be wished that he may always answer so good an education, and not resume his natural character as he advances to maturity. He is not quite of the same kind with ours, his skin is almost black, and very glossy; he has nothing fierce about the head, so that were it.not for his upright ears, and pendent tail, one might readily take him for a dog. Perhaps he owes the singular advantage of not exhaling a bad smell, to the care which is taken taken of his toilet; for I remarked that the dogs were not in the least afraid of him, and that when they crossed his trace, they paid no attention to it (pg 46-48).

Travels in North-America, in the years 1780, 1781, and 1782, the Marquis de Chastellux (1786).

There is no mention of what happened to this black North American wolf that was as tame as any dog.

At ten months old, this wolf would still be less inclined to be testing its boundaries, so its behavior is not out of the ordinary.

There is no record that Colonel Armand brought his wolf back to France.

Maybe it ran off into the forest.

Maybe it became someone else’s pet.

Maybe it was bred to some farmer’s dogs.

We don’t know.

But humans have long been intrigued by wild dogs. One of the reasons why we have domestic dogs in the first place is because people were fascinated with wolves. It is this fascination that caused us to bring them into our societies in the first place.

And all over the world people have kept wolves. It is usually a poor decision.

But there always were wolves that don’t mind being dogs.

After all, a dog is a wolf that doesn’t mind being a dog, and those traits had to come from somewhere.







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The Iberan wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is often a lovely red color.

One of the most interesting stories about a pet wolf I’ve come across is the story of Captain Hare’s Spanish wolf. The story is a beautiful testament to the loyalty that wolves can exhibit toward those with whom they have bonded, and it is also a tragic tale of what happens when a misunderstood wild creature is brought into captivity.

Captain Hare was an officer in the British army during the Peninsular War, which was one of the Napoleonic Wars. It happened when Napoleon used a coup d’etat to get his brother seated on the Spanish throne and then invaded the Iberian Peninsula in hopes of conquering Portugal, which remained neutral and still traded with Britain.  When Napoleon’s troops invaded Spain, they were initially greeted as liberators, then a brutal guerrilla war ensued. Britain sent its own troops in to the Iberian Peninsula to assist the uprising.

Captain Hare managed to tame a wolf pup while in Spain, and it became his comrade- in-arms.

The account of this tame wolf comes from The Eclectic Magazine  (January 1864).

Early in the Peninsular War, Captain Hare, of a well-known Devonshire family, came home on absence or from wounds, bringing with him a tame Spanish wolf, caught young in the Sierra Morena, which, by constant familiarity, had become tame as a dog. During many a mountain bivouac, the soldier, his charger, and his pet wolf lay huddled together beneath a spreading cork-tree, or in the sheltered ravine, sharing between them the scanty supply of coarse biscuit, too often the whole of the military rations. During Captain Hare’s sojourn at Bristol, the beast followed him unmuzzled in his daily promenades, to the no small terror of Bristol citizens; and it was amusing to notice what a wide birth they gave him in passing, and how they turned, and at a respectful distance followed him the whole length of a street. But Paterfamilias presently began to murmur at the insatiate maw possessed by his son’s Spanish follower. After many a regretful struggle, the captain therefore transferred his old comrade to the keeping of Sir Hugh Smith, of Ashton Court. There, secured to a wooden dog-house in the kennel-yard, he spent nearly the whole summer’s day in pacing, to and fro at the full range of his tether, in a sort of ambling trot, plainly indicating his impatience of captivity, and sorrow at the abrupt disseverance of old associations. Gifted, like all his species, with a power of scent even beyond that possessed by the blood-hound, he winded a stranger’s presence the moment he got within the precincts of the park. Now the monotonous jog-trot is at once arrested; with ears erect, dilated, quivering nostrils, and flashing eyes, he stands motionless till the expected visitant comes in sight. Satisfied at length that it is not hia much-loved master, he hastily retires into bis lair, where, couchant at full length, with head between his paws, and closed eyelids, he feigns sleep. Rarely does this stratagem succeed, for the wary stranger stands gazing at a very respectful distance. Master Wolf now shakes off dull sleep, rises, shaking his hide and his ponderous chain, recommences his perambulations, but this time far within his limits, the chain lying in a zigzag coil beneath his feet. Still unsuccessful in deluding within his range his wished-for prey, the excited beast, with a hideous snarl, bounds sidelong to the full extent of his tether, and of course is dashed to earth by the recoil. Disappointed and humbled, he hastily retreats far into his dog-house, concealed from view. I noticed that the cunning animal never repeated this his favorite ruse a second time on the same person, but every fresh arrival induced him to repeat the assault (pg. 91).

During the war, the wolf and soldier were largely free.

War is not a beautiful thing, especially a nasty guerrilla war like the one that went on in Spain at this time.

The wolf likely gave Captain Hare a lot of comfort in a place where no one could really be trusted.

But while they were fighting in the war, they ran around in the mountains together, covering great distances as wolves like to do.

That’s why it is such a shame that this poor wolf wound up on a tether. Not only did he lose the person he loved, this poor wolf lost his mobility entirely.

A life on a tether isn’t a particularly good life for a dog, unless it’s given regular exercise and liberty from its bondage.

I can see this poor wolf running out to the end of his chain when a stranger approaches.

His nostrils would be flaring to catch the scent while his ears would perked forward to catch hint of the familiar voice.

And then that hope would be dashed when it became known that the person approaching wasn’t his beloved captain after all.

Pet wolves and dogs that happen to bond very intense with just a few people require owners that are willing to make a lifetime commitment to them.

They can never be truly satisfied living with someone else, and it is almost a great cruelty to expect them to do so.

Especially if they are forever exiled to the end of a chain.

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You’d be amazed at the exotic information information one can find on breeders’ sites.  Lots of people think their chosen breeds are somehow different species, and they tend to weave such bizarre lore about them that one wonders if any of it is true. The two best cases I can think of are the story that chihuahuas are derived from fennec foxes— based upon nothing more than possessing a superficially similar phenotype– and the desire for New Guinea singing dog fanciers to have their dog declared an entirely different species– based upon their supposedly unique howls and the fact that bitches scream when the males penetrate them.

But nothing compares to the “wolf breeder” site that Pai sent to me last night. I use “wolf breeding” in quotations, because as you will see, these “wolves” are quite interesting. First red flag, is that some of them are black and tan or have German shepherd masks. Others are long-coated, like a collie or Shiloh shepherd. Red flag two.  (Warning: this site plays annoying religious music.)

Now, you think that would be enough to discredit the veracity of the claims that these animals are actually wolves, but the information provided on the site is more than a little bizarre.

This person isn’t just a “wolf breeder.”  This person is a wolfaboo. What is a wolfaboo? Basically, a wolfaboo is someone who thinks wolves are so awesome that if you say anything negative about them, you are evil and want wolves to become extinct. Wolves are naturally gentle animals that live on rats and mice, which they kill only when hungry. Any evidence one provides that wolves may have killed people is derided as folklore or is blamed upon rabies or predation by dogs or wolfdogs.  The wolf is kind of like the noble savage myth. It is pure and natural, unlike dogs, which are poor substitutes for wolves.

This breeder shows off her wolfaboo sensibilities with this statement:

Wolves are not natural born killers, they only kill to eat. Since our wolves eat puppy food they have no need to hunt and so show no signs of aggression towards other animals. When a wolf shows signs of aggression towards a person all they really want is the person to stop what they are doing and go away. Some wolves that show signs of aggression may have been traumatized or they may have dirty blood lines or have been inbred, which will never be the case with our wolves.

Although I have written that some wolves can be as docile as domestic dogs, I don’t mean to imply that they all can.  The average wolf, especially one from modern populations, is too emotionally reactive for the average family to keep. When I say reactive, I mean aggressive at times. Even wolves that show no aggression towards adults in the family might be stimulated into predatory behavior by children. This also happens with some domestic dogs.

I also think it’s simply silly to say that wolves have never killed people. Wolves have killed people, though some of the claims made about their depredations have been exaggerated.  If you’d like to see examples of wolves hunting people, check out The Wolves of Paris, The Wolf of Ansbach, this fatal wolf attack in Alaska, and the story of child snatching wolves in India. The last two involved modern wolves of both the northern and southern wolf subspecies, which were pure wolf, rather than wolf hybrids.

This “wolf breeder” thinks that any time a wolf attacks someone, it’s because they are “inbred” (becoming like dogs) or because they are crossed with dogs.  Wolf hybrids can be quite aggressive, but they can be quite docile, especially if the dog content is really high and the dogs used in the cross are particularly docile. Pure wolves can be quite easily tamed and kept with people, but these are the exception rather than rule– at least now.

This “wolf breeder” thinks wolves are so nice that anyone can own one.


· Day Care Centers

· The Elderly

· People with kids that have ADD (the cubs calm them down)

· To the blind

· People in wheelchairs, so they can help them get things.

· The deaf

I don’t know if any of this is true, but one might create a successful relationship through selling a very docile German shepherd or German shepherd cross, even one with trace wolf ancestry, to some of these people. My guess is that selling a high content wolfdog or a wolf hybrid to a daycare center is probably an accident waiting to happen.

This “wolf breeder” also recommends these animals for long-haul truck drivers. Great idea!  “The wolf is kept fed by its feet, ” says a Russian proverb, which points to the simple fact that wolves like to range long and hard,  often traveling many miles in a single day. If these animals were wolves, they would be positively barmy after two or three hours in the cab of a truck. However, some lines of German shepherd and the Shiloh shepherd are noted for their calm behavior.

One wonders if some of the facts stated on this breeder’s site are even remotely true, for as we shall see, it gets even more bizarre than the information I’ve stated so far.

On another page on the site, the breeder states that wolves have some amazing adaptations:

Wolves can also hear about 6 miles away, smell about 4 1/2 miles away, jump and climb. You could be blocks away and they can still get to you in time. Nothing can stop them from coming to your aid to help you not even a chain. You are safe with a wolf, it is part of your family. It is like having a safe gun, it only goes off when it is necessary.

So a wolf can break a chain to save you!

But I thought they were never aggressive and never hurt anybody.

Wolves can hear up to six miles away, but I’ve not been able to verify if wolves can smell something four miles away. It is believed that polar bears possess the greatest olfactory abilities of any Carnivoran. They can smell seal carcasses from several miles away, but it isn’t clear if wolves have anything like their scenting abilities. Wolves are thought to be better at smelling and hearing than dogs are, but no one has empirically tested if this is so. If true, this could explain why wolves might have larger brains in proportion to their body sizes than dog. They need the bigger brains to hold all the “hardware” that comes with these increased sensory abilities. (One reason why humans in Northern Europe and the arctic have larger brains than those living in the equator that people living in northern latitudes had to survive the northern winters, which are quite dark. To survive in the darkness, these humans evolved larger eyes and larger brains that can process visual material. It has nothing to do with actual intelligence.)

But even if wolves can smell and hear from that distance, I don’t think they would be of that much use to save you from a dangerous situation. Pure wolves are notoriously bad guard dogs.

Strangely, this breeder thinks that ranchers should be getting wolves to guard their stock, when we all know that ranchers are getting large guard dogs to guard against wolves. This breeder claims that ranchers are buying her “wolves” for protection:

We have been selling to more ranchers lately because snakes, coyotes and vermin will not come around where wolves urinate. Since our wolves are raised on dog food they don’t kill to eat. In the wild they only kill when hungry. A hand raised wolf will not kill the owners stock, they see the animals as part of the pack. A wolf will not go in to another wolfs territory, so if you have a hand raised wolf around your cattle, no wolf pack will come in where your wolf urinates, it’s now your wolves territory. Your animals will be safe, I have seen this with my own eye’s over and over.

Well, that’s nice, but my guess is that most pure wolves would not be of any use guarding livestock.  They might be able to, but it seems to me that the would be more likely to kill stock, even if they were raised with them, than most domestic dogs. Because these “wolves” are low content wolfdogs or German shepherd crosses, I don’t really see them as being a major threat to stock.

However, these “wolves” have an even more amazing ability. Guard dogs can only keep the varmints out of your stock, but these wolves can take out the flies and “tics”:

Wolves could even take care of a fly and tic problems. A wolf has the ability to soak up moister through their skin. When the fly or tic get on the wolf the moisture is sucked out of pests which kills them.

These “wolves” are so amazing that they can suck the ticks to death! Either that or they are born with flea and tick treatment on their skins.

Now, if all of this wasn’t enough, you get a choice in what kind of “wolf” you can buy.

Yes. This breeder offers several different varieties of “wolf.”

Here are the varieties:

Mexican Gray: 25″ at shoulder 250 lbs

Tundra: 22″ at shoulder 150 lbs

Canadian: 26″ at shoulder 200 lbs

Mckenzie Artic: 30″ at shoulder 300 lbs

Look at those sizes!

No wolf in history has weighed 300 pounds. None has weighed over 200. Only one wolf in history weighed over 150 pounds, and that was a wolf that was killed in Alaska that weighed 176 pounds. It is very rare for even a large wolf to exceed 130 pounds.

Miley is 23″ at the shoulder, and she weighs 73 pounds. She’s a relatively large dog. The “Tundra wolf” this breeder is offering is roughly the same height at the shoulder as Miley, but it almost twice as much.

The 250-pound Mexican wolf is also a fiction, for Mexican wolves are one of the smallest wolf subspecies, weighing only 60 to 80 pounds– golden retriever-sized. However, this breeder thinks she is contributing to Mexican wolf conservation by breeding these so-called “Mexican wolves.” 



The government has reported that 2008 there are only 52 Mexican Gray Wolves remaining in the wild and at government facilities. We are trying to change this.

Yeah. Never mind that a whole line of Mexican wolves was euthanized because they looked like they might have some dog characteristics.  These wolves were deemed hybrids solely by appearance, and they were euthanized for that reason. These ‘wolves” really have very strong dog characteristics and are definite hybrids or dogs that look like wolves. Exactly how are these animals ever going to contribute to Mexican wolf conservation?

Oh. And did you know wolves are hypoallergenic?

I’m telling you these animals are magic.

The breeder claims that one of these “wolves” now lives with the trainer of the wolf in Dances with Wolves:

The lady that owns the wolf two socks,from the movie “Dances With Wolves” just bought a wolf from us, a Tundra male. She said that while they made the movie Kevin Costner and her slept outside with the wolves. Still to this date Kevin Costner visits her every now and then.

According to Christopher Landauer, who saw a behind-the-scenes commentary on the film, Kevin Costner didn’t like the wolf at all. He didn’t like trainer either. Of course, considering all the other exotic information on this site, what else would we expect?

My guess is that these “wolves” aren’t all that healthy. In a wolfaboo litany on another page, the breeder makes this admission:


The wolf is the lion of the North. They are called that because they are descendants from the same lineage as lions.

Their eyes are that of a lion brown color and a thick mane runs around their neck and down their back. Females have shorter hair than males.

They also have a cat-like bone structure. They can collapse and dislocate their joints.

They can climb, jump up to 6ft.(or higher) from a standing position and can run up to 40 mph.

Because they are 98% wolves they are not aggressive, but protective when needed. They have to be threatened or feel you are being threatened before they react.

When you hear of a wolf being aggressive, it is more than likely mixed with a dog. When you mix a wolf with a dog you pass on the aggressive traits, brain imbalance and the health problems of a dog.

What she’s actually saying is these wolves have joint problems, like hip dysplasia!  But they are healthier than dogs are.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Of course, this person also thinks that dogs were created by inbreeding wolves. Actually, as a population, dogs retain 95-96 percent of the genetic diversity of the wolf. Dogs were created through inbreeding tamed wolves. The inbreeding in domestic dogs is really quite recent, something that has happened within the past 150  years. The idea that dogs have brain imbalances is part of the appeal to nature and noble savage-esque nonsense that is so commonly held by wolfaboos.

As to the ancestry of these “wolves”:


Our wolves are 98% wolf, the game and fish her in Texas have told us to say they can only be 98% or 99%. This is because if you say 100% then they are led to believe you took them right out of the wild, we received ours from other breeders..

The game and fish here know what we have, I can tell you they are 98% and 99% and them as such. I have to put down 98%, but if you know any thing about percentages, 98% is very close to the real thing it is all in how you raise them. They are first generation and second .. now saying 98% and 99% is not a enough. They say we have to say high bred so people will not call them. I say the nuts out there will still call no matter what.

My guess is that Texas will let you put down any percentage you want, but if you look at these “wolves,” they don’t look anything like 98 percent pure wolf.

After all, this person has made some dubious claims about the size of the “wolves” they are offering, and puppies are available now, which should tell you a lot. Wolves don’t have puppies any time of the year. Oh, I forgot, she calls them “cubs.”

So you can order 300-pound, black-and-tan wolf that will protect you and your livestock and will kill flies and ticks that land on it.  Damn. That’s a hell of a deal for a really magical animal. The lion of the North. Or maybe that’s the “lyin’ of the North.”

Some of these wolves are particularly fertile. One had 20 “cubs” last year.

And, of course, everyone wants a “wolf cub” sired by a “Mexican wolf” named “Poncho Via.

So this is what happens when a wolfaboo gets into the puppy milling business.

It ain’t pretty.














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FromChapters on Animals (1877) by Philip Gilbert Hamerton:

It happens from time to time that an attempt is made to bring up a wolf like a dog. These attempts succeed up to a certain point. One of the most remarkable instances occurred in the neighbourhood of Bordeaux, where a grand veneur brought up a black wolf-cub, a bitch, along with his young dogs, in perfect liberty. She went out hunting with the dogs, and enjoyed the chase extremely, except when the purpose of the expedition was a wolf-hunt, to which she had honourable objections. She behaved charmingly in the kennel, and her only fault was sheep-killing, a crime she committed whenever the opportunity offered (pg. 167-168).

So it was not only frontiersmen in Pennsylvania and Kentucky who had wolves that were fine hunting dogs.

At least one wolf in France proved to be a decent hunting dog.

But like those in the New World, this French wolf was also black.

The black coloration is likely indicative of some dog blood in every one of these cases.

But I don’t know if any of these animals had a significant amount of dog ancestry. There is simply no mention of it.

Modern black wolves aren’t necessarily tractable, and Wags, the very friendly tame wolf owned by Adolph Murie, was a normal gray phase wolf.

The Beast of Gevaudan and possibly the killer wolves of Paris were likely wolf dogs or wolves with a certain percentage of dog ancestry. I don’t think they would be quite as nice as these wolves that proved excellent hunting and working dogs.

So it’s a complex question to which there may be no simple answer.

See earlier posts

But again, we do have more evidence of people in modern times using wolves as hunting dogs.






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Arabian wolf

It’s not great that this one is chained (or even in captivity), but it does give you some idea about the size of an Arabian wolf. This one is in Saudi Arabia:



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The following account comes from Stories of Animal Sagacity by William Henry Giles Kingston (1875):

Even a wolf, savage as that animal is, may, if caught young, and treated kindly, become tame.

A story is told of a wolf which showed a considerable amount of affection for its master. He had brought it up from a puppy, and it became as tame as the best-trained dog, obeying him in everything. Having frequently to leave home, and not being able to take the wolf with him, he sent it to a menagerie, where he knew it would be carefully looked after. At first the wolf was very unhappy, and evidently pined for its absent master. At length, resigning itself to its fate, it made friends with its keepers; and recovered its spirits.

Fully eighteen months had passed by, when its old master, returning home, paid a visit to the menagerie. Immediately he spoke, the wolf recognised his voice, and made strenuous efforts to get free. On being set at liberty, it sprang forward, and leaped up and caressed him like a dog. Its master, however, left it with its keepers, and three years passed away before he paid another visit to the menagerie. Notwithstanding this lapse of time, the wolf again recognised him, and exhibited the same marks of affection.

On its master again going away, the wolf became gloomy and desponding, and refused its food, so that fears were entertained for its life. It recovered its health, however, and though it suffered its keepers to approach, exhibited the savage disposition of its tribe towards all strangers.

The history of this wolf shows you that the fiercest tempers may be calmed by gentleness.

I must differ with the author here. It is likely that this particular wolf had some genetic tendencies that made it more disposed being more like a dog.

One should not use this particular account to make the case for keeping pet wolves. Pet wolves are for those who know how to handle large and powerful dogs that can be nervous and emotionally reactive.  Many wolves do not tolerate strangers and can be quite aggressive towards. Understanding canine prey drive is a definite necessity, because it is very easy to stimulate wolves into full-blown hunting behavior. This behavior can be stimulated by something as simple as a child crying. There are dogs that can have exactly the same reaction, but the behavior is generally more common in wolves.

Wolves also cannot be socialized to humans once they are 19 to 21 days of age. And for this socialization to take place, they must be bottle-fed. If reared on their mothers, they never learn to trust people.

Raising wolf pups in the presence of dogs can lead to them imprinting on dogs but not people.

Wolves are generally hard to make into dogs. They may be the same species, but just as a bulldog will never be a Labrador, a wolf will never be a golden retriever.

But that said, it is obvious to me that not all wolves have these hard to handle characteristics.

The one in the story above clearly had some characteristics that predisposed it to becoming very dog-like.

And it’s not the only one.

Adolph Murie kept a pet bitch wolf pup named Wags as part of his study of the Mt. McKinley wolves. Wags proved to be very much like a dog.

She was a very friendly animal that enjoyed playing with both dogs and children.

Wolves like these had to have been once common the wild populations. Centuries of relentless persecution probably selected against these characteristics, making these wolves far less numerous.

However, I’m fairly certain that some tamable wolves still exist. These are likely found in the regions where wolf persecution has never been all that common. As I have mentioned before, there are accounts of arctic wolf pups that have been socialized to humans while still nursing from their mothers.

It is likely that the first dogs came from wolves that could be socialized in this fashion, and they came from wolves that had a predisposition towards a kind of dog-like docility.

Just because wolves are hard to domesticate now doesn’t mean that it was always the case.

It had to have been very easy.

So easy that a caveman could do it.

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