Posts Tagged ‘wolfdog’

jack russell wolf

Yes. For real, apparently.


Read Full Post »

This is dubbed in English, so you can understand the method. They don’t believe in closed registries out on taiga. The dogs they use in the crosses don’t even have to be domestic!


Read Full Post »

This dog’s image comes from a site that says it is 40 percent “Timberwolf” and 60 percent “Norwegian elkhound.”

I don’t know if those percentages are accurate or if this dog has any recent wolf ancestry at all.

But it is said to howl. Norwegian elkhounds really don’t howl. They are know for their barks. I remember my grandpa’s elkhound would rake his back on the lower rung of a split-rail fence in the front yard, and he would bark each time he raked his back against the rail.

I don’t know why anyone would puff an elkhound as being part wolf.

All Norwegian and Swedish elkhounds can have relatively recent wolf ancestry. 

I am skeptical that this particular dog is of recent wolf ancestry.  It might be. It looks more like a wolf than the F1 poodle/wolf crosses that Erik Zimen bred.

Read Full Post »

The dog on the right is a cross between a low content wolf dog and a Labrador. The dog on the left is his son, produced through mating with a black Labrador mix.

Here is the low content wolfdog with his grandson and “daughter-in-law.”

My guess is the majority of the litter were black, but this one wasn’t. There also had to be a gene for the black mask in the Labrador mix mother.

NB:  I use the term “wolfdog,” rather than wolf hybrid.  Dogs and wolves are part of the same species, Canis lupus, and can’t technically be hybrids.  However, crosses between dogs and coyotes and crosses between wolves and coyote would be hybrids.

Read Full Post »


German shepherd dogs were deeply rooted in the German identity. Adolf Hilter exploited the German shepherd's identity for propaganda purposes. This particular dog is a German shepherd with wolfish coloration, which further adds to the mistique. This dog is not Blondi, Hitler's pet GSD. She was an entirely different color and size.



Great post at Borderwars.

I need to mention that I have repeated the line about the wolfd0gs of the Rhine many times on this blog. The mention is supposedly in Tacitus’s  Germania

I did so without checking the primary source, but because so many credible dog authorities used this stories, I posted it verbatim.

Those authorities got their information from other credible authorities, so no one checked the primary source.  I don’t blame anyone for making this mistake. It is often very hard to find credible historiographies of dogs. Many dog histories are about making fantastic claims.

The golden retriever historians are to be commended for their very good historical research, and the widespread acceptance in the breed societies of the verified breed origin stories. As far as I know, this is the only breed where the actual historical record was used to debunk a myth about the retrievers being derived from Russian circus dogs and for this debunking to have such broad acceptance. All too often, breed fanciers hold onto fanciful stories, even if the history seems overly fantastic and requires many assumptions– and contradicts the genetic evidence.

For the record, one of these sources did not claim any relationship between these “wolfdogs” and the German shepherd. It was just mentioned as a type of dog that was in Europe. I figured that it could have been laika-type spitz or one of the early German herding spitz breeds.

Read Full Post »

Garry was registered with the Kennel Club as an “Esquimaux dog” and was exhibited at the Alexandra Palace Exhibition and the “Birmingham dog show” (Crufts?) in 1876.  He was said to be an “Eskimaux [dog] bred in the far north of Lombardy.”

This depiction of him comes from Hugh Dalziel’s British Dogs (c. 1880).  Dalziel was of the opinion that he was not a wolf or wolf hybrid. However, I have a certain amount of skepticism about Dalziel’s reasons for assuming that Garry was a pure dog, which I shall get to in good order.

Dalziel reports the description of Garry from his own C.E. Fryer:

Mr. C. E. Fryer, whose notice of Garry we reproduce from The Country, entitled him a “North American wolf dog,” and we find the idea that these dogs, or at least special varieties of them, are produced by a cross with the wolf rather commonly entertained, but there is no better reason for it than his general wolfish appearance. Garry is decidedly typical of the Esquimaux family of dogs, and on the subject of his breeding we have little to add to our sub-note to Mr. Fryer’s letter at the time it first appeared.

Mr. Fryer says: “The accompanying engraving represents one of these curious dogs, which are so much prized by the natives and inhabitants of North America, and so difficult to obtain in this country. The cut is taken from a photograph of a dog lately owned by a member of Oxford University, who gave me the following account of it: Garry, the dog in question, is about eighteen months old, and has been in this country seven months. He was brought from the Saskatchewan Mountains, Manitoba, in the far north-west of Canada.

Fryer’s geography is a bit off. Manitoba is in the middle of Canada, and I have never heard of any “Saskatchewan Mountains” in Saskatchewan or Manitoba.

Dalziel describes Garry’s origin:

The Indians take great pride in rearing a pure white wolf dog, and when they manage to secure one they have a feast in his honour, called the ‘ Feast of the White Dog.’ I refrain from attempting the native names, lest I should display my own ignorance and do some damage to my readers’ jaws. Garry is said to be the produce of an Esquimaux bitch, crossed nine times by a prairie wolf. The Indians chain up the Esquimaux mothers in the neighbourhood of the wolves, to whose kind attentions they leave them. The dog Garry has travelled many thousand miles over the snow, drawing a sleigh, and is quite tame, following his master closely through the streets without chain or muzzle. Sometimes he is treated to this latter sign of ‘civilisation,’ under which he is very patient, though he continually endeavours to free himself from it. His food is plain dog biscuit, which he eats without complaint, though at first he ate raw meat ravenously. His master, however, finding his blood was getting too hot, gradually reduced him to one meal per day of dog biscuits. He is very tractable and docile, and but for his enormous size would not give any idea of ferocity.

This would have made Garry a very high content wolfdog, and judging from this depiction of him, I would have no reason to doubt that he was either a high content wolfdog or even a possible pure wolf.

His behavior appeared to have been quite wolf-like:

His owner tells me he does not bark, but utters a low growl when enraged, and at night howls piteously.

And his teeth sound as if they were those of a wolf, not a domestic dog:

His mouth would easily take in a man’s leg, and his teeth are a caution to dentists. Whether he feels flattered by being told that we are possessors of developed ‘ canine ‘ teeth I can’t say.

Wolves and coyotes have much more robust teeth than domestic dogs do. The big game hunting specialist wolves have particularly large teeth, and if Garry were a wolf or a wolf hybrid, he would have been of this type.

Of course, Hugh Dalziel didn’t think that Garry was any kind of wolf or wolf hybrid:

The mystic story of Garry’s birth and parentage is very charming, but I fear the talismanic number nine would alone be fatal to it, as it is decidedly suspicious; and in these days of Kennel Stud Books we get awfully sceptical of unauthenticated pedigrees, and in such matters positively refuse as evidence the traditions of the Red Man, however pretty and romantic. I saw Garry in the flesh at Birmingham – where, by the way, he took a £5 prize – and I must pronounce him the very finest specimen of an Esquimaux dog I have seen, but I must differ from our esteemed correspondent when he says there is unmistakeable evidence of wolf blood in the dog. Dogs appear to approach nearer to the wolf type the farther they are removed from the higher civilised life of man, and that, I think, is the case with Garry, and, besides that, hybrids do not breed.

Actually, there have been wolves that have been imprinted upon people are quite docile animals. There is the story of Wags, Adolph Murie’s pet wolf, who was so gentle that he trusted her to play with his children. And she was not the only one. There are many accounts of socialized wolves that were very gentle with people. Not all imprinted wolves are extremely emotionally reactive and predatory animals. It is true that most imprinted wolves exhibit these behaviors, which is why we are so strongly warned against keeping them. But there have always been very docile wolves.

Dalziel is merely showing his Victorian racial views. The “Red Man” of Canada couldn’t domesticate a wolf.  Only Westerners could ever do such a thing.

But he really shows his error in that last line when he says that hybrids between wolves and dogs cannot breed. Of course, wolf and dog hybrids can reproduce. The two animals are now considered to be the same species, and as such, calling them wolf hybrids is no longer valid. The word hybrid denotes the breeding of two distinct species, and that is no longer the case when one discusses the breedings between wolves and dogs. This blog calls wolves “wild Canis lupus” and dogs “domestic Canis lupus.”

Dalziel also though Garry’s proportions all wrong, simply because they are all wrong for a sled dog.

But let’s look at what Garry’s proportions actually say:

Height at shoulder, 2ft. 6in.; length from centre between shoulder blades to centre between ears, 1ft.; from latter point to end of nose, 11in.; length from shoulders to setting on of tail, 2ft. 7in.; length of tail, lft. 4in.; measurement round head just behind ears, 2ft.; just above eyes, lft. 8in.; at point of nose, 10in.; his girth measured fairly tight, not outside the hair, 3ft.; his weight is 8st. 8 lb. His hair is long, straight, and pure white, which is his chief beauty.

Garry stood 30 inches at the shoulder and weighed 120 pounds (that’s how you convert from stones to pounds!)

That would make him a large wolf, not unlike an arctic wolf or perhaps an unusually large “Buffalo wolf” of the Canadian prairies.

No Canadian Eskimo dog (qimmiq) has these proportions. According to the breed standard, they are not to exceed 88 pounds and 28 inches at the shoulder. Qimmiq do look like wolves superfically, but because they have been bred for hauling, they are built very differently– much more bone and much broader chests.

W.D. Drury depicts anther “Esquimaux dog” that was a contemporary of Garry in British Dogs, Their Points, Selection, And Show Preparation (1903). Myouk was derived from dogs brought over by Sir John Franklin, and it is very obvious that he was a genuine article qimmiq:

Drury also takes exception with the notion that Garry could not have been a wolf or wolf hybrid:

Garry…was of a different type from many other Esquimaux that have been exhibited. He was sometimes called a North American Wolfdog, and was said to be a cross between a wolf and an Esquimaux bitch. It is a perfectly well-known fact that the wolf and dog will breed freely together, and the late Mr. Bartlett, of the Zoological Gardens, told the writer that the offspring will continue to breed – a fact that has been doubted by some [like Hugh Dalziel].

In addition to his different proportions from the qimmiq, Garry also appears to have larger feet in proportion to his body size than one typically sees in a dog. Northern wolves have large feet, which they use as snowshoes. They distribute the weight of the wolf out over the snow more evenly, preventing them from breaking through the crust and becoming encumbered. Sled dogs have similar feet, but they are not nearly as well-developed as those of wolves, which also have no sweat glands to produce moisture that will collect snow as the animal traverses snowy ground.

There is also quite a bit of evidence of indigenous people keeping wolves as pets. As a young boy traveling to the Canadian arctic as an assistant to his renowned ornithologist uncle to the artic of Manitoba, Farley Mowat encountered a native trapper with a live wolf pup. He implored his uncle to buy it, but he refused. The trappers wanted the bounty value for the pup– only $5– but his uncle seemed to think that such an animal would only cause trouble. It is possible that Garry or his ancestors had been collected in the same fashion.

Everything about Garry suggests that he was a wolf or high content wolf hybrid that was exhibited as an “Esquimaux dog.”  Compare the depiction of Garry with these arctic wolves:

The resemblance is uncanny.

Almost unmistakable.

Garry was a show wolf or high content wolfdog.

Read Full Post »

From the LA Unleashed Blog:

Mexican researchers said Wednesday they have identified jawbones found in the pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan as those of wolf-dogs that were apparently crossbred as a symbol of the city’s warriors.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said the jawbones were found during excavations in 2004 and are the first physical evidence of what appears to be intentional crossbreeding in ancient Mexican cultures.

The jawbones were found in a warrior’s burial at a Teotihuacan pyramid. Anthropological studies performed at Mexico’s National Autonomous University indicate the animal was a wolf-dog.

“In oral traditions and old chronicles, dog-like animals appear with symbols of power or divinity,” said institute spokesman Francisco De Anda. “But we did not have skeletal evidence … this is the first time we have proof.”

Wolf- or dog-like creatures appear in paintings at Teotihuacan, but had long been thought to be depictions of coyotes, which also inhabit the region. But archaeologists are now reevaluating that interpretation.

Several jawbones were made into a sort of decorative garment found on the warrior’s skeleton at the 2,000-year-old site north of Mexico City.

The wolf-dog apparently served as a symbol of strength and power.

Dogs and wolves are very similar genetically, and there has been evidence of ancient remains that may show natural crossbreeding.

But archaeologist Raul Valadez said the animal was the result of intentional selection. While the inhabitants of Teotihuacan had dogs, wolves and coyotes, they almost exclusively used wolf-dog bones in the ceremonial arrangement.

Of the bones found, eight were wolf-dog, three were dogs and two were crosses of coyotes and wolf-dogs.

These wolves would have likely been Canis lupus baileyi, which is now extinct in the wild in Mexico. They were actually known to hybridize with domestic dogs as the subspecies became rare in the wild. A whole line of these wolves that was kept at Carlsbad Caverns was euthanized under the suspicion that they were “contaminated” with dog blood. However, it was later found that these wolves had no evidence of dog hybridization in their MtDNA sequences.

This is yet another example of a gene flow between wild and domestic populations of Canis lupus, although the exact wild nature of these wolves is certainly in question. It is possible that these wolves lived in a state of semi-domestication. Historically, it hasn’t been very hard to habituate wolves to people, and it wouldn’t be very hard to breed an habituated wolf to a dog.

Or maybe they were urban wolves, like this one in Romania. Because there is no evidence of these people persecuting the wolves, they would have had more reason to hang around the city and have opportunities to breed with dogs.

The people of Teotihuacan were fairly good animal keepers. There is evidence that they were adept at keeping pumas and jaguars in captivity, so it would not be all that strange that they kept both wolves and coyotes in this manner.

Throughout their long history, dogs have retained some of their genetic diversity through wild blood. Now that wolves have been pushed very far from human societies,and dogs have undergone extensive selective breeding, these differences seem much more extreme than they once were.

But through much of that history, dog and wolf have bred with each other–sometimes intentionally, as seems to be the case here, and sometimes accidentally, as is likely the case with the evolution of black wolves in North America.

These ancient Mexicans worshiped the dog and the wolf. The hybrid was likely much like the character they lauded in the warrior. The warrior was civilized in his manner during times of peace and as savage as a wild animal in times of war. That dichotomy was celebrated when these hybrids were used for these ceremonial arrangements.

Perhaps one could find evidence ancient North American dogs were actually hybrids. It was suggested that the domestic dogs kept by various peoples of the Southeast were nothing more than tamed red wolves. Black red wolves were very common, which is why they had the archaic scientific name Canis niger.

However, all the studies I’ve seen suggest that New World domestic dogs from both the Pre-Columbian and modern era have predominantly or entirely Old World ancestry.

More work needs to be performed in examining the genetics of these New World dogs.

I suspect that some “dogs” from South America might actually be domesticated versions of South American wild dogs, as was the case with the Perro Yagan, the domesticated culpeo of Tierra del Fuego.

The intentional hybridization of Mexican wolves and domestic dogs at Teotihuacan shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. We have evidence of wolf hybridization in the origin of certain Finnish and Scandinavian breeds. To find archeological evidence of hybridization in Mexico is just more evidence that dogs and wolves do not represent distinct species.

They represent the beautiful and wondrous diversity that is the species we call Canis lupus. From two-pound chihuahuas that fit nicely in handbags to giant bone crushing wolves that lived in Alaska during the Pleistocene, this species has had the ability to occur in some many different shapes and sizes.

The people of Teotihuacan were probably a little amazed when their domestic bitches bred wolves and produced puppies. Such a crossbreeding from such different looking animals would have been fascinating– almost to the point that it would have required a divine explanation.

And once that explanation would have been put in place, it wouldn’t have been very long before some priesthood would come up with a need to use them for ceremonial purposes.


According to Art Daily, some of the remains are from dog-coyote hybrids and to crosses with wolfdogs and coyotes, so intentional wolf and dog crosses were not the only Canis hybrids these people were creating for this purpose.

I strongly disagree with the suggestion in the Art Daily piece that pumas (cougars) are more easily domesticated than wolves.  We have no domesticated cougars, but we have hundreds of millions of domestic dogs throughout the world. Not all wolves become status seeking machines in captive situations. Adolph Murie had one named Wags that was basically a golden retriever in wolf form.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: