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Saarloos Wolfdog Temperament (Loyal, Gentle): Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The Saarloos Wolfdog is a German Shepherd crossed with a Gray Wolf. The Saarloos Wolfdog temperament shows some of the natural behaviors of the wolf, but this breed also has a gentle side that makes him a good companion dog.

The Saarloos Wolfdog temperament is not for everyone. This breed is best suited to experienced dog owners. If you are considering adding one to your family, you should understand his temperament well.

Saarloos Wolfdog Temperament Traits and Personality

Intelligent

The Saarloos Wolfdog is a smart breed. They learn quickly but need firm boundaries.

Independent

This is a strong-willed breed. He needs his master to be a firm pack leader.

Lively

The Saarloos Wolfdog temperament is enthusiastic and full of life. He can be most enjoyable to be around.

Energetic

He has plenty of energy and needs the space to burn it. This is not an apartment breed. He is not suited to crating and should have a large area to run and play in.

Gentle

The Saarloos Wolfdog is not an aggressive breed. In fact, they make good therapy dogs and guide dogs for the blind.

Faithful

The Saarloos Wolfdog likes to be near his people and forms tight bonds with his family members.

Shy

Some Saarloos Wolfdogs form these bonds only with their family members and are shy with others.

Affectionate

He can be very affectionate toward members of his family. He is good with children if he is properly socialized.

Quiet

He is calm and relaxed in the home. This breed doesn’t bark much but will alert you if there is a stranger near. They do not make good guard dogs.

Reserved

The Saarloos Wolfdog temperament is suspicious toward strangers. The wolf in him prefers to keep his distance in unfamiliar situations.

This trait often leads to excessive shyness and stranger avoidance. He needs continuous socialization from a very young age to prevent this.

Strong Pack Instinct

Because of its wild wolf behavior traits, the Saarloos Wolfdog has a very strong need to belong to a pack. He is prone to loneliness and separation anxiety.

He does best in homes with at least one other dog, preferably not a small one. He would not be happy in a home where no one is home all day.

Prey Drive

Some Saarloos Wolfdogs, but not all, will have this prey drive. If you have a dog that does, he will chase any other household pets you have—or the neighbors’ cats. This dog should be contained with a strong fence.

Saarloos Wolfdog History

The Saarloos Wolfdog originated in the Netherlands. A man named Leendert Saarloos set out to create a breed that would make a good police dog.

He cross-bred a German Shepherd with a gray wolf borrowed from the Rotterdam Zoo. Unfortunately for Mr. Saarloos, the resulting crossbreed did not turn out to be police dog material.

The Saarloos Wolfdog traits weren’t aggressive enough. Ironically, when faced with an unfamiliar situation, it would run from the scene.

So Saarloos did not get his police dog. But the experiment wasn’t a complete failure. Before he died, Saarloos discovered that the Saarloos Wolfdog temperament made him an excellent guide dog for the blind.

Saarloos Wolfdog Training

Obedience

The Saarloos Wolfhound is a very intelligent breed that is capable of learning quickly. However, he needs a firm and consistent pack leader to bring out his best manners.

He is not an aggressive dog, but he has enough wolf in him that he still has some of a wolf’s natural behavior traits. He may think he should be the dominant one. You will need to set very firm boundaries to prevent this.

Exploiting his tendency toward pack behavior may serve you well here. The Saarloos Wolfdog understands that every pack has a leader. In his pack, the leader has to be you.

However, perhaps the best thing you could do with this breed is to provide him with a pack of his own. The Saarloos Wolfdog often does better as a companion animal if there is at least one other dog in his pack.

He understands the natural order of things even better than most dogs.

Socialization

The Saarloos Wolfdog temperament demands more socialization than most breeds. Because he has wolf in his genes, he has a strong prey instinct and a suspiciousness of strangers.

Both of these need to be worked on when the dog is young or they will affect your relationship with him.

He needs to learn not to chase smaller pets and not to regard every stranger he meets as a threat. If he doesn’t get this training young, he is likely to be a nervous, anxious dog. He should also be socialized to small children.

Thorough socialization is necessary for his quality of life as well as yours.

Housebreaking

Again because of the wolf in the Saarloos Wolfdog, housebreaking him can be difficult. It can take a lot of patience and repetition, and it may be months before he “gets it.”

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Saarloos Wolfdog you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Saarloos Wolfdog Appearance

General Appearance

Not surprisingly, the Saarloos Wolfdog looks like a wolf. He is medium to large in size, long-legged and athletic. He has a downgoing straight, furry tail. In the winter, he has a ruff around his neck.

He has a wolf-like, wedge-shaped head. He has medium-sized, upright, triangular-shaped ears. They can have brown or amber eyes. They have a scissor bite.

He has a medium-length, coarse coat with a dense undercoat.

Saarloos Wolfdog Colors

His coat can be wolf-gray or light to dark brown with white markings. It could also be white, but this color is very rare.

Saarloos Wolfdog Size

Saarloos Wolfdog height is 23 to 30 inches.

Saarloos Wolfdog weight is 70 to 90 pounds.

Saarloos Wolfdog Must-Knows

  • The Saarloos Wolfhound lifespan is between 10 and 12 years.
  • This breed does well in cold climates and can live outdoors, though most dog experts today would not recommend that.

Saarloos Wolfdog Health Issues

The Saarloos Wolfdog does have some potential health issues to be aware of: 

Hip Dysplasia: This is a malformation of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. German Shepherds are especially prone to this.

It can be hereditary or caused by a condition such as osteoarthritis. Dogs with hip dysplasia may eventually need surgery.

Degenerative Myelopathy: This is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord. It gets worse as the dog ages and leads to paralysis of the back end. It appears to be hereditary.

Pituitary Dwarfism: Canine pituitary dwarfism syndrome is a deficiency in growth hormone. The disease is often inherited but can have other causes.

A puppy with dwarfism will always be smaller than his littermates. He will need to be tested for secondary conditions related to the dwarfism.

Eye Conditions: The Saarloos Wolfdog also can be susceptible to eye diseases—specifically progressive retinal atrophy, cataratcs, and glaucoma. You will want to talk to your vet about possible tests for these conditions.

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Caring for the Saarloos Wolfdog

Saarloos Wolfdog Grooming

The Saarloos Wolfdog has a short coat, but it is a double coat. He will need to be brushed regularly. He will need more frequent brushing twice a year, when he sheds heavily.

He should be bathed only occasionally to preserve the natural oils in his skin.

His nails will need to be trimmed about once a month. His teeth should be brushed once a week.

Saarloos Wolfdog Diet

The Saarloos Wolfdog should eat a high-quality dog food formulated for large breeds. If he is particularly active, you may want to consider an active working-breed formula.

Some say this dog should eat a mostly meat diet, but there doesn’t seem to be general agreement on that.

Saarloos Wolfdog Exercise

This breed is a combination of two high-energy canines, so it’s natural that the Saarloos Wolfdog would have plenty of energy. He needs a lot of excercise.

Ideally, he would have a large yard so he could run freely. But he would also need long daily walks or jogs.

He also enjoys dog sports like agility. This would be a great way to let him burn off energy. It is an activity that could be enjoyable for the whole family.

Finding a Saarloos Wolfdog

Buying a Saarloos Wolfdog Puppy from a Breeder

You will need persistence to find a Saarloos Wolfdog for sale. This is a rare breed and difficult to find in North America.

There is no established kennel club in the US. This is because the Saarloos Wolfdog is not a recognized breed outside of the Netherlands.

There doesn’t seem to be an organization in North America that maintains a list of Saarloos Wolfdog breeders.

The best way to find a reputable breeder of Saarloos Wolfdog puppies is to attend dog shows and sporting events and ask around. You could also look for online forums for people who own wolfdogs. You may need to broaden your search term to wolfdogs in general to find these.

Finding a reputable breeder can be tough. There are many Internet scams directed at people looking for puppies. And then there are the puppy mills, which you want to avoid at all cost.

Using these online forums is a great way to get word-of-mouth recommendations.

If you find a breeder, it’s important that you investigate them thoroughly. A referral from a trustworthy source along with an online investigation can ensure that you get a healthy puppy from a quality breeder.

Pay a site visit if you can. Look for a clean facility and healthy-looking dogs.

You should expect a breeder to have health records of the pup and its parents. A responsible breeder will also offer support after you buy the puppy. They will agree to take the dog back if it ever becomes necessary.

If you’re lucky enough to find a puppy, the Saarloos Wolfdog price will probably be around $2000.

Adopting a Saarloos Wolfdog

You may want to consider a Saarloos Wolfdog for adoption through a shelter or rescue organization. Adoption is always a wonderful idea with so many dogs being abandoned and needing good homes.

If you’re interested in adopting your Saarloos Wolfdog, it’s a good idea to check in with any shelters near you. You can let them know what you’re looking for, and they will keep your name on file.

Again, this is a rare breed. You may want to consider other breeds of wolfdog or a Saarloos Wolfdog mix. Your chances of finding the right dog for you would be better. A mixed breed may have many of the Saarloos Wolfdog temperament traits without the breed-specific health issues.

There is also a good chance that your new family member will be microchipped.

Like finding a dog in a shelter, Saarloos Wolfdog rescue can also be tough. This may be your best option for finding one, but again, you may have to broaden your search.

There are rescues for wolfdogs in general that work with the Saarloos Wolfdog. One possible source is the Texas Wolfdog Project.

There are a lot of benefits to adopting rather than buying from a breeder.

An adopted Saarloos Wolfdog will likely be an adult dog who has already been spayed or neutered. He probably will have at least some basic training, and he will have had all necessary vaccines.

He would also likely be housebroken, and who wouldn’t love that?

You would pay a lot less for an adopted dog than for a purebred puppy. Local shelters generally charge adoption fees somewhere between $75 and $300.

Rescue fees can be higher. Saarloos Wolfdog cost can be anywhere from $300 to $600. This is still more affordable than buying a puppy from a breeder.

Is the Saarloos Wolfdog the Right for Your Family?

Wolves are beautiful animals. There is something about their wild nature that is fascinating. They wouldn’t make the best pets, though, in their purebred form.

The Saarloos Wolfdog personality combines that beauty and wild but reserved nature with the loyalty and protective traits of the German Shepherd. The resulting crossbreed is a dog with a delightful demeanor that makes him a great family dog.

You should consider carefully if you understand Saarloos Wolfdog behaviors and can commit to the special training he needs. If so, then the Saarloos Wolfdog temperament could make him the perfect family dog for you.

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