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The Case of the Hybrid Dogs

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Even more muddied than the situation around hybrid cats is the topic of hybrid dogs. This is largely due to people misattributing the term to non-hybrid dogs. For example, a Goldendoodle is not a hybrid, in the technical sense. This is because, in scientific terms, a hybrid is the result of successful reproduction between two different species or subspecies. Both Golden Retrievers and Standard Poodles - and every other breed recognized by the AKC, from Great Danes to Chihuahuas - are the same subspecies; Canis lupus familiaris.


Sidebar - if you are unsure about how the latin name works; Canis is the genus, lupus is the species, familiaris is the subspecies. Click those links if you'd like to dive more into those individual terms!


Grey Wolf on the left // Wolfdog on the right

There are only 4 known examples of canine hybrids that we are aware of. The first of which is the Wolfdog. A mix between a domestic dog and a wolf (Canis lupus), these are the best-known dog hybrids. Wolf-dogs can occur in the wild, though this isn’t common, as wolves and dogs generally have a contentious relationship. Wolves even predate on dogs from time to time. The Wolfdog is generally easy to find if you want to acquire one, though we would caution against it. They tend to have very different behaviors and communications than typical canines, and therefore are often difficult to intertwine into a human family. Proceed with an abundance of caution.


Coyote on the left // Coydog on the right

Next up on the canine hybrid list is the Coydog. The result of a successful copulation between a coyote (Canis latrans) and a dog, coydogs are indeed possible but are quite rare. Like wolves, the relationship between coyotes and domesticated dogs is typically not pleasant. Coyotes are even willing to hunt and kill domestic dogs on occasion. Coy-wolves are far more common, though we highly recommend you not attempt to own one of those either.


Dingo on the left // Dingo-Dog on the right

Dingo-dogs are the result of breeding a dingo (Canis dingo) and a domestic dog. Free-roaming domestic dogs are increasingly common in Australia, resulting in more mating between the two species. Unlike other dog hybrids, dingo-dogs are common. Fun fact: the Australian cattle dog technically got its start as a dingo-dog!


Golden Jackal on the left // Jackal-Dog on the right

The offspring of a domestic dog and a Golden Jackal (Canis aureus), Jackal-Dogs are rare but have occurred in both the wild and in captivity. The Sulimov dog is a relatively new "potential-breed" derived from jackal-dogs.


There is another discussion to be had here; when is a hybrid no longer a hybrid? It is generally accepted that once a hybrid of species or subspecies of canine begins to "breed true" (the form of each subsequent generation is predictably identical to that of the previous litters) after outcrossing to canines that are not hybrids, it is no longer considered a hybrid. This typically takes many generations. None of this is black and white, though. It's all shades of gray. Which is a perfect segway into our next point of discussion, the Blue Bay Shepherd.

Adult Blue Bay Shepherds

The Blue Bay Shepherd is a work in progress, beginning in the state of Florida by crossing Wolfdogs with non-wolf dogs. After many generations of breeding out most of the Wolf, the result has been a large blue to black shepherd-like dog that breeds mostly true. The Blue Bay Shepherd behaves mostly like you would expect from a shepherd, according to mist reports. But they apparently exhibit quite a bit of headstrongness and some unpredictable behaviors have been alleged from some who have interacted with them. How much of that is factual is anyone's guess. Our advice would be to proceed with caution if you are interested in trying to obtain one. Also, these are very big dogs. Females usually weigh 70-85 pounds, but have weighed up to 100 pounds. Males usually weigh between 85 – 105 pounds, but can go up to 130 pounds. With such a massive dog, the potential for health issues increases. You would want to try to get a puppy only from a breeder who health tests the parents for hip and elbow dysplasia, basic cardiac exam, and eye certification. You may also want to consider keeping a focus on healthy joint development and following general guidelines on raising giant-breed puppies (limit running in puppies until growth plates have closed, limit jumping until close to 2 years of age, etc.). Because this is a new breeding experiment, a relatively high occurrence of health abnormalities in comparison to older purebred dogs with tightly monitored breeding (such as Afghan Hounds, which have been a breed for approximately 2,000 years) may be par for the course. But if you aren't willing to roll the dice with a Blue Bay (and it is exceedingly rare that any are offered for sale), perhaps another new breeding project would be of interest.



Adult Direwolf

Introducing the Direwolf. The Dire Wolf Project is a program dedicated to breeding only domesticated dogs in order to continue to take advantage of the 15,000 years of dog domestication, towards the goal of producing a structurally sound and genetically healthy domestic dog that has a more "lupin" (or wolflike) appearance. As Dire Wolf Project founder, Lois Schwarz, explains, "The wolf is not a domesticated animal; it is a wild animal. Dogs are domesticated and no one should breed any domesticated animals with wild animals. It defeats the purpose of being domesticated." Hundreds of DireWolf Dogs have now been DNA tested, and you can look into those results here! It's a fascinating project with a lot of promise. Only time will tell, so stay tuned!



And adult Czechoslovakian Vlcak, aka Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Czechoslovakian Vlcak. These are wolfdogs that were first created in 1955 to be used as attack dogs, and they did this by crossing German Shepherds with Carpathian Wolves. This currently unrecognized breed isn't for a first-timer. Fanciers highly recommend someone with guardian dog experience, as these can be very strong-willed and can have a very high prey drive. This breed is currently in the AKC's FSS (American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service) program, which is a prerequisite to becoming a fully recognized breed.


Before you get excited and start searching for a canine hybrid to bring home, keep in mind that many veterinarians refuse to see canine hybrids. Wolfdogs are generally not seen by most animal hospitals, even in an emergency, unless the office is willing to see larger exotics or zoo animals. This is for liability and safety concerns for the staff and doctors. For the record, we here at Windsor Animal Hospital do not see Wolfdogs or other hybrids. It remains to be seen if we would see a Vlcak.





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