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How to Own a Pet Wolf

Two Parts:Preparing For the WolfTaking Care of Your Wolf

Are you interested in keeping a pet wolf? Or a wolf dog hybrid? They can be a good pet - but only with a lot of work and a lot of knowledge. Before you go buy a wolf or wolf dog hybrid, do your homework and make sure you understand all that goes into taking care of these animals.

Part 1
Preparing For the Wolf

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    Know what a wolf hybrid is. A wolf hybrid, also called a wolf dog, is an exotic animal that is a mixture of a domesticated dog and a wild wolf. Most consider an animal a wolf hybrid if they have a pure wolf ancestor. This wolf should be at the most 5 generations back to be considered a wolf hybrid. They are scary dogs but can be cute if trained well. However, consider why do you feel the need to own a wild animal in a domesticated setting.[1] They are mostly considered companions instead of pets.
    • Low Content (LC) hybrids only contain 1-49% wolf content.
    • Mid Content (MC) hybrids contain 50-74% wolf content.
    • High Content (HC) hybrids are 75%+ wolf. HC hybrids are almost indistinguishable from a pure wolf. They may only contain 1-3 dog traits.[2]
    • While a LC hybrid won't act like a dog, they are better for someone new to wolf dogs. They are more outgoing, easier to train, though they still have the wolf stubbornness and independence.[3][4]
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    Investigate your local laws. Wolf ownership is not legal everywhere. In the United States, the legality of owning a wolf varies from state the state. Some states completely ban private ownership, some ban only certain exotic animals, others require a license, and others have no laws. Look up your state, region, or country's laws to make sure it is legal for you to own this type of animal.[5]
    • Some states allow up to 98% wolf; others draw the line at 75%, 25%, or "no first generation crosses".
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    Consider the price. Wolves and wolf hybrids are not cheap. They average around $1500 and can go over $2000.[6] This is more expensive than most purebred dogs. Decide if that is the kind of money you would like to spend on an animal.
    • There is no way to prove the animal's pedigree. Experts at Wolfdog Rescue Resources, Inc. state that over half of the wolf hybrids being kept actually possess no wolf DNA. Other experts claim that the majority of wolf dog breeders are selling hybrids that actually are only dogs.[7]
    • When buying a wolf or wolf dog, make sure to get it checked out by an expert if at all possible. This can save you from dropping thousands of dollars on a fake.
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    Remember that wolves are not domesticated animals. Dogs have been bred to be submissive and to assist humans; they have been bred to be pets. This process has taken 10,000 years. Wolves, on the other hand, have spent the last 10,000 years being wild. Though people keep wolves as pets when they've raised them from a puppy, they are still instinctual animals that can't completely be tamed.[8]
    • Do not take a wolf from the wild. If you are interested in owning a wolf, do not get one from the wild. Instead, adopt one from a wolf sanctuary. Taking wolves out of the wild can be very dangerous and might end in injury or even death.
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    Talk to an expert. If you are still interested in owning a wolf or wolf hybrid, visit a wolf sanctuary. Many sanctuaries have both wolves and wolf dogs that you can observe. Before getting one of these exotic animals, talk to an expert at the sanctuary. They can help answer your questions, give you more information, and help you understand the responsibility that goes into owning a wolf or wolf dog.
    • Try finding wolf and wolf dog owners in your area. Contact them and arrange a meeting. They can be a valuable source of information since they own an exotic animal.
    • Some of these sanctuaries rescue wolf hybrids and may let you adopt one from them.

Part 2
Taking Care of Your Wolf

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    Train the wolf. You cannot get away with buying a wolf or wolf hybrid and hoping it will figure out how to be a good pet. Wolves are not dogs. They need a lot of training to become suitable as a companion, which takes a lot of time and effort on the owner's part.
    • These animals are cunning and extremely intelligent. They pose a much greater challenge than dogs. Some wolf hybrids are docile, while others are essentially wild. If you don't have the patience or time to train and care for the wolf, don't get one.[9]
    • If you have never owned and trained a dog, do not attempt to get a wolf or wolf hybrid.
    • Many owners who aren't prepared for their wolf or wolf dog end up either dropping them off at sanctuaries, which are already overcrowded, or taking them to the animal shelter where they will likely be put to sleep. Letting them go into the wild almost guarantees they will die. Adopting a wolf then getting rid of it does irreparable harm to the wolf. Since they are pack animals, being split from their home and pack can cause the wolf to get extreme anxiety and even fall ill.
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    Know that affection might be confused with aggression. Wolves show affection differently than dogs. Sometimes this affection can be confused with aggression. Wolves greet each other with affection, but since they can't give hugs, they use their mouths. Wolves will chew on pack-mates' faces in greeting or as affection. [10]
    • Wolves may do this to people, too. Most of the time, the wolf will approach you, touch its nose to yours, and then lick your teeth. However, if you get scared and pull away, the wolf will grab your face with its teeth to bring you back so it can greet you and show its affection.
    • Wolves love small children, but they might get excited, jump on them, and try to carry them with their teeth by the head or arm. This could cause injury to the child when the wolf was only showing affection.[11]
    • These demonstrations of affection can easily be confused for attacks.
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    Build the proper living conditions. Wolves like to roam, and they will hop fences, break off chains, and dig their way out of yards. This can be very dangerous, because the wolf might be mistaken for a wild wolf or coyote and be shot. Or it might kill neighbors' livestock or pets. Never let the wolf roam free.
    • LC and some MC wolves can exist in a normal fence without breaking free. MC and HC wolves are most likely to try to break free. They need 6-8 feet fencing, along with other security measures. The fence cannot have any footholds for the wolf to climb because they can climb out of fenced in enclosures.[12]
    • You also need to dig-proof the area you will keep the animal in.
    • Some LC will break free while some HC will stay in the fence. It depends on how bad the animal wants to be free, how bored they are, and how much outside the fence excites them.
    • A large fenced in enclosure is ideal. Wolves and wolf dogs need a lot of room to run and play.
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    Socialize the wolf dog. Wolves are social, pack animals, so they require canine companionship. Just as important is socializing your wolf or wolf dog to people and places at a very young age. This starts training the wolf or wolf dog to be around people in a domesticated setting.
    • The wolf dog needs to be taken from its mother at 2 weeks old and bottle fed. They need to immediately start being socialized to both male and female humans so they will be used to humans for the rest of their life.
    • Wolves need another canine for companionship and to meet their emotional needs. You need to place the wolves with another canine of the opposite sex around the same size. This ensures the wolf or wolf dog will not be lonely.
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    Become the Alpha. You have to be the Alpha of your wolf. When the animal is a puppy, start training them to submit on cue. This doesn't mean that the adult will always submit - wolves are very independent and self-assured. But the wolf or wolf dog will know you are the Alpha and the one in charge.
    • While training the pup, never hit, bite, shout, or pin or shake the puppy by the scruff. Wolf parents don't punish their pups for chewing and biting; they are very tolerant parents. Try to refrain from physically dominating the wolf, because this could damage the relationship.[13]
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    Feed them the right food. Wolves exist on a meat diet. Pure wolves and HC hybrids won't be able to exist on dry dog food. Most wolves and wolf hybrids eat 2-5 pounds of meat daily.
    • Venison is great for wolves. You can feed them fresh road-kill deer, but this requires a permit.[14]
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    Provide entertainment for the wolves. Wolves can get very bored, which could result in them breaking free from their enclosure to find stimulation. Build things inside their enclosure area to keep them active, like platforms. Wolves need to be mentally stimulated on a regular basis.[15]
    • Make sure there are trees around and use old logs to hide treats inside.
    • Another good idea is providing swimming areas, like water troughs, swimming pools, creeks, or ponds, for them to lay in and to dig inside.
    • Sandboxes or dirt piles are great for them to dig in.
    • Leash train them as pups so you can take them out on a leash. You should use two leashes when you walk them - one on the collar or harness, the other a slip leash. You should walk them every day.[16]
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    Make sure you have available veterinarian care. Most vets don't know how to care for wolves or wolf dogs. Many will even refuse to provide treatment on these types of canines.[17] Make sure to find a vet who will care for your wolf before you purchase one.


  • Wolf dogs should not be owned in a city. They should be kept in rural areas. They need a large enclosure, and HC wolves will get nervous and scared in busy environments.[18]
  • Understand that wolves and dogs are very, very different. Certain breeds, such as Huskies and German Shepherds, are more similar to wolves than others, but they are still completely different animals. Don't get a wolf just because you've owned dogs and assume they'll be the same.
  • Educate yourself about wolves further than wolf care. You need to know the facts about how wolves act, live, and exist in the wild.
  • Obedience training is essential. Your wolf dog should be taught to follow you, not his or her instincts. This can be very difficult, another reason why only experienced dog owners should own a wolf.
  • Make sure the wolf has a lot of space to roam around. They can get very stressed in a small place.
  • No matter how docile a wolf is, it will never be completely tame. Even a wolf hybrid, depending on his wolf ancestry percentage, can have wild instincts.

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Categories: Wildlife