Members in the Media
From: The Atlantic

What Do Wolfdogs Want?

The animals are a human creation. They belong neither in homes nor in the wild.

Shadow is a wolfdog—a wolf-dog hybrid. That makes her an exotic animal in the eyes of Tooele’s law enforcement, ineligible for residence in a family home. Many states ban wolfdogs, as do many municipalities, since they require more resources and pose more danger than your average pup. “It is like having a toddler for a decade,” said Steve Wastell of Apex Protection Project, a wolfdog-rescue group based in Southern California. A toddler with jaws strong enough to shatter a moose femur. Still, like sugar gliders and pythons, wolfdogs have an enduring, cultish following among pet owners. An estimated 250,000 of them live as pets in the United States.

Today, scores of breeders across the United States mate wolfdog with wolfdog and sell the puppies, for as much as $5,000 each. The animals surged in popularity recently thanks to Game of Thrones, which featured mythical “direwolves,” and Instagram, which has dozens of popular wolfdog accounts. 

Wolfdogs are not the kind of animal anyone should be picking up on Craigslist. They are superior athletes, for one. “Think about wolves, who have territories of 800 square miles and run at 35 or 40 miles an hour,” Nicole Wilde, a canine behavior specialist, told me. “A 15-minute potty walk? That’s not going to cut it. Even with the northern [dog] breeds, huskies in particular, people have no idea how much exercise they need.”

They also tend to be intelligent, and more diffident and less obsequious around humans than dogs are. Apex’s Wastell told me that some wolfdogs he’s encountered do not obey commands like “Sit,” not because they are incapable of learning them but because they are unmotivated to perform them. And some share of wolfdogs are, like their wild cousins, terrified of humans. They shy away from their owners, no matter how patient and kind.

“You have no way of knowing what mixture of dog behavior and wolf behavior you have in your animal,” said Clive Wynne, a psychologist at Arizona State University and the author of the book Dog Is Love. “You could spend years living with this animal, a beautiful and maybe a bit aloof doglike companion. Then one day your sister or brother brings around your new niece or nephew and snap, there is an incident that is gonna really spoil everybody’s afternoon.”

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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