First and foremost, a wolfdog is the result of crossbreeding between a domestic dog and a member of one of the other Canis sub-species. Something that is possible because dogs and wolves are close from a genetic perspective, so much so that crossbreeding between them is known to happen in the wild as well as through human intervention. With that said, the sheer number of dog breeds as well as the existence of four other Canis sub-species out there mean that wolfdogs can exhibit a remarkable range of characteristics, meaning that the Saarloos wolfdog should be considered in its own right instead of being compared too much with the counterparts that can be found all around the world.
Given its name, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Saarloos wolfdog would not have existed without a Dutch breeder named Leendert Saarloos, who lived from 1884 to 1969. In brief, the man respected the capabilities of the German Shepherd breed, but believed that it could not reach its full potential because it was like most dogs in that it was too domesticated. As a result, he sought out a male German Shepherd and a female European wolf, which he started crossbreeding in 1935 in order to create a dog with more natural characteristics that would make it more suitable as a work animal.
Unfortunately, while some of Saarloos’s wolfdogs were used as work animals, Saarloos failed to accomplish all of his aims but nonetheless persevered. When he died, the work on what he called his European wolfdog was taken up by other people, who managed to secure recognition for the dog breed from the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975. At which point, the European wolfdog was renamed the Saarloos wolfdog in honor of the man who made their existence possible.
Since the Saarloos wolfdog came from the crossbreeding of German Shepherds with European wolves, it is unsurprising that the dog breed is most notable for its remarkable resemblance to a wolf. Overall, it can be said to possess a strong and muscular body, which is lean and athletic in shape rather than stocky and heavyset like some of the other dog breeds out there. These characteristics can be seen in the broad head set upon a powerful neck, the elegant march of its long legs, and its short but dense coat, which is perfect for providing protection from the weather. Finally, the look of the Saarloos wolfdog is completed with a dense, feathered tail, which is a striking contrast to the rest of its coat. It is interesting to note that the most common color of the coat for Saarloos wolfdogs is wolf-grey because that particular gene is dominant, whereas white is much rarer because that particular gene is recessive. With that said, there are some examples of the dog breed with reddish coats as well.
Since the Saarloos wolfdog was crossbred from German Shepherds and European wolves, it has some rather wolvish instincts, which can create problems for owners who are more accustomed to normal dogs. However, so long as said individuals are willing to put some serious time and effort into reading up about the dog breed and then putting those recommendations to use, they should be able to manage with so problems whatsoever.
Generally speaking, Saarloos wolfdog are shy, quiet animals that need exercise on a regular basis. Otherwise, they have been known to panic when locked into enclosures, which is not just terrible for their health but can also be distressing for their owners as well. As a result, their owners must be prepared to take them out on a daily basis in order to make sure that they can expend their excess energy while also satisfying their urge to roam. People who are interested in Saarloos wolfdogs are often recommended to get more than one dog because of the dog breed’s strong pack instincts, meaning that they are extremely social animals in spite of their seeming shyness. However, their owners must always make sure to assert themselves at the top of the social hierarchy in order to maintain the desired degree of control over their Saarloos wolfdog. For example, letting a Saarloos wolfdog walk in front of them rather than besides them is not recommended because that is the prerogative of a social superior, which is bad for their behavior.
The Saarloos wolfdog is at-risk for some health issues, though not as much as some of the dog breeds out there. For example, hip dysplasia is one potential problem with such animals, while spondylosis is another. With that said, those responsible for the management of the dog breeds are paying close attention to such issues, meaning that they are not as bad as they could be.
Like with other dog breeds, that can be some variation from dog and dog when it comes to the Saarlos wolfdog. However, most examples can be expected to live somewhere between 10 and 12 years, which is a figure that is not uncommon for most dog breeds.
A Saarloos wolfdog stands at an average height of 24 to 29 and a 1/2 inches, meaning that it is not a small dog by any means. Combined with the fact that it tends to weigh somewhere between 79 and 90 pounds, people who are interested in owning such an animal should make sure that their homes have the dimensions needed to accommodate it, particularly in light of its temperament. In other words, Saarloos wolfdogs are best-off when their owners live in their own homes rather than apartments, preferably with convenient access to natural landscape where they can run around to their heart’s content.
The Saarloos wolfdog is not a common dog breed for a number of reasons, but it is recognized by a fair number of relevant organizations such as the American Canine Association, the American Canine Registry, the American Pet Registry, the Continental Kennel Club, the Dog Registry of America, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and the National Kennel Club. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, meaning that interested individuals should continue researching on their own to see whether the Saarloos wolfdog is recognized by their local organizations.