Wolf hybrids are not recommended as household pets
Wolf dog mix animals (hybrids), whether domestic or wild, may have unpredictable behavior, and are therefore not recommended as household pets. Although selling or keeping wolf hybrids is not illegal in Sonoma County, the County offices of Public Health and Animal Care and Control discourage the breeding of these animals and caution against casual ownership. Special skills and facilities are necessary to keep wolf hybrids. Because of their ever-present wild nature, certain conditions apply to the immunization, registration, quarantine and control of these animals.
Risks and responsibilities
The following information is provided for persons who own, or are considering ownership of, a wolf hybrid. Those who take on the ownership or care of a wolf hybrid must be sure to first understand the risks and responsibilities involved.
Although under state laws and regulations wolf hybrids do not require a special permit, they are required to be vaccinated against rabies and registered with Animal Care and Control. In unincorporated Sonoma County* wolf hybrids are subject to the same County laws as domestic dogs. They are issued identification tags but they are not considered licensed. This is because there is insufficient evidence that rabies vaccine is effective in wolf hybrids, and hence they cannot be considered immune to rabies even after vaccination. In fact, when high risk exposures occur involving hybrids, they may need to be destroyed for rabies testing.
Behavior and care
Wolf-dog hybrid behavior is unpredictable and typical of pack animals like wolves. It is difficult for hybrids to adjust to an environment that is suitable for pet dogs. Natural predatory instincts combined with frustration and insecurity may result in destructive behavior and attacks on children or other animals. Hybrids are powerful and can destroy furniture, wooden doors, and other large objects.
Elizabeth Dunman of the North American Wildlife Park Foundation categorizes wolf hybrid behavior as falling into four areas: (1) hyperactivity/destructiveness, (2) dominate behavior, (3) territorial and (4) predatory behavior toward children. Only very skilled and very attentive owners manage to keep wolf hybrids healthy and secure. Caring for wolf hybrids also requires specialized facilities. Keeping hybrids on chains is dangerous and walking them in public is not recommended. An unpredictable animal may attack at any time and without provocation.
Wolf Park, a nationally recognized authority on the subject of hybrids, stresses the importance of adequate facilities, diet, and commitment by an owner for a wolf hybrid's entire life. Hybrids should always be kept within securely fenced compounds, with a minimum of 1600 square feet of space. Among other things, their diets must include fresh meat and bone.
Additional information about wolf hybrids is available from your local animal control office, and from the references listed below.
Albert, Christine, Patricia Goodman and Erich Klinghammer (1987) Health Care of Wolves in Captivity, Frank, Harry (editor), Man and Wolf, Junk Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Dunman, Beth (1994) Wolf and Wolf-Hybrid Attacks on Children, updated listing available from author.
Dunman, Beth (1990) "The Wolves of Wolf Park: Peaceful Coexistence With A Socialized Pack", Wolves and Related Canids, Spring 1990, pp. 40-42.
Hauben, Mra and Monty Sloan (1988) Handbook For Wolf Park Volunteers, North American Wildlife Park Foundation, Battle Ground, Indiana.
Klinghammer, Erich (1985) Capture and Control of "Vicious" Animals, Ethnology Series #1, North American Wildlife Park Foundation, Battle Ground, Indiana.
Klinghammer, Erich and Patricia Ann Goodman (1985) The Management and Socialization of Captive Wolves (Canis Lupis) at Wolf Park, Ethnology Series #2, North American Wildlife Park Foundation, Battle Ground, Indiana.