Posts Tagged ‘wolfdogs’

All black wolves that have been examined in modern times have been found to be dominant blacks. The dominant black mutation first originated in domestic dogs and was transmitted through crossbreeding between wolves and dogs. However, there is at least one record of a wolf that was carrying recessive black.

Recessive black is most commonly found in German and Belgian shepherds. It can also be found in pulik, Samoyeds, schipperkes. Shetland sheepdogs, and the so-called “American Eskimo dog,” which is actually an American variant of the German spitz.

It’s one of two ways that a dog can be solid black, but it’s far less common than dominant black.

The mutation that causes dominant black originated either in dogs or the wolf population that became dogs, because the mutation is older in domestic dog populations than in wolves. This black coloration wasthen transmitted to Italian and New World wolves through cross-breeding with domestic dogs.  All wolves that have been examined in North America thus far have turned out to be dominant blacks, as have those in Italy.

However, there was at least one case of a wolf carrying recessive black in the literature.

The Soviet zoologist and dog expert N.A. Iljin carried out several experiments crossing various dogs with wolves. In 1941, he reported on the progeny of a male wolf that was bred to a female mongrel sheepdog.  In the first litter, there were black and “zonar gray” (wild wolf gray puppies). If the dog in question were a dominant black, then the entire litter would have been black, but getting gray puppies suggested a very different conclusion.

After breeding from the offspring for several generations, Iljin discovered that the black was being inherited as a recessive allele, which means the dog in question was a recessive black– and the wolf was a carrier!

Now, results of Iljin’s study have been used to show that wolves carried recessive black from the beginning.

However, since the time of Iljin’s work, no one has found a recessive black wolf.  The team of geneticists at UCLA have found only dominant black in wolves.

So it’s possible that this wolf was not actually “pure,” and at some point, one of its ancestors was a recessive black dog. I would not be surprised if someone had crossed a recessive black German shepherd into captive Russian wolves at some point. Iljin himself was very much into breeding German shepherds to wolves, and his studies on wolf and German shepherd morphology are pretty much classic literature for those interested in wolves and dogs.

So maybe recessive black did exist in certain Old World wolves from the beginning, but it’s just not been confirmed in the genetic literature in the same way that dominant black has.

I don’t know of another species besides Canis lupus that has two separate genetic variants for melanism. Coyotes have inherited dominant black from breeding with either dogs or wolves, and golden jackals and Ethiopian wolves could also inherit both types of melanism through similar hybridization.

So it’s very interesting that we have this one case of a wolf carrying recessive black, but we need more information to see where this color came from.

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Whoever is running West Virginia’s Wildlife Center at French Creek must know nothing about wolves.

Here’s why:

In the picture above are 13-week-old puppies. I would have instantly thought they were malamute puppies.

But that’s not what the West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek, West Virginia is claiming that they are.

This image comes from an article in the Charleston Gazette:

After spending several weeks getting acquainted with each other, three 13-week-old gray wolf pups given to the West Virginia Wildlife Center by an anonymous donor in January have bonded with the center’s resident 5-year-old gray wolf.

“They’re a pack now,” said West Virginia Wildlife Center Superintendent Gene Thorn. “The older wolf kind of adopted them.”

Thorn said the three male wolf siblings were initially placed in a quarantine cage, which was in turn placed inside the enclosure inhabited by the 5-year-old wolf, allowing the juvenile and adult wolves to see, smell and hear each other without risk of injury from possible aggressive behavior.

“Wolf researchers told us if the pups were all male, which they are, the male adult would adopt them,” he said.

But in case the adoption process did not go smoothly, “we had all hands on deck when we put them all together in the same enclosure,” Thorn said.

As it turned out, the mature wolf “was running from the pups at the beginning, because they mobbed him,” Thorn said. “But he’s the boss now. He doesn’t like the pups getting too close to humans. It’s been an interesting process to watch.”

Gray wolves once ranged across most of West Virginia, until the late 1800s when farmers concerned about livestock kills, mainly sheep, successfully pushed for a bounty system. The last gray wolf in West Virginia is believed to have been killed in 1900 in the Pickens area, in the mountains just east of French Creek.

Thorn hopes the wolf pups, which he described as “still in the cute stage,” will help attract off-season visitors to French Creek, where wildlife species now found, or once found, in West Virginia can be seen in a series of enclosures along a 1.25-mile walk. From now until April 1, there is no admission fee.


I’d like to know who gave them these wolves, because they are about the least wolfy wolfdogs I’ve seen in a while.

Wolves aren’t like dogs.

They don’t breed year round.

Mating season for wolves runs from January to April. Most North American wolves have their mating season in early February.

These pups were 13 weeks old on February 29.

Now, it is true that wolves will adjust their mating seasons a bit in captivity. Females might come into season during the first year, instead of their second.

But the general mating season runs from January to April.

If one goes back 13 weeks,these puppies were born in December of last year.

That means their parents mated in October.

I’ve never heard of wolf mating in October.

I suppose it could happen under some weird circumstances.

Then, let’s look at the pups themselves.

At thirteen weeks, they still have floppy ears.

Wolf pups, unlike dogs, usually have fully prick ears by the time they are four weeks old.

The pup in the middle looks so much like a reddish malamute that I bet one could easily mistake it for one.

I’d like to know what expert at the Wildlife Center thought these were wolves.

A simple Google search can lead you to sites that clearly show how you can tell a wolf from a wolfdog.

The best is this page from Wolf Park.

Dogs and wolves are the same species, but if you’re going to conserve wolves or educate people about them, you’d better get the animal right.

You don’t reintroduce wolves by turning golden retrievers loose in Wyoming.

And you’re not providing an accurate picture of wolves by having wolf hybrids at a zoo.




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