Saarloos Wolfdog


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Contents

Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Introduction
History
Appearance
Temperament
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Health
Caring for a Saarloos Wolfdog
Grooming
Exercise
Feeding
Average Cost to keep/care for a Saarloos Wolfdog


Key Breed Facts


Popularity #136 out of 238 Dog Breeds.


The Saarloos Wolfdog breed is also commonly known by the names Saarloos Wolfhound, European Wolfdog, Saarloos.
Lifespan
10 - 12 years
Pedigree Breed ?
No - Not Currently KC Recognised
Height
Males 65 - 75 cm
Females 60 - 70 cm at the withers
Weight
Males 65 - 75 cm
Females 60 - 70 cm at the withers
Average Price (More Info)
£1,046 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics



Introduction

The Saarloos Wolfdog as their name suggests boasts having very wolf-like looks. They were first bred in the 1930's by crossing a German Shepherd Dog with a European Wolf with an end goal being to produce a dog that was more natural in their behaviours. Although not as popular in the UK, they have a big fan base in other parts of the world thanks to their wolf-like looks and their kind, loyal and biddable natures. The Saarloos Wolfdog is not recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club (July 2016) but many local breed clubs have been established with an end goal being to continue to produce healthy, well-bred puppies.


History

The Saarloos Wolfdog was first bred by a Dutch breeder by the name of Leendert Saarloos during the 1930's. He was a big fan of the German Shepherd Dog, but wanted to breed dogs that boasted more natural behaviours than existing GSD's. He managed to get a female European wolf from the Rotterdam Zoo which he crossed with a male German Shepherd with a plan to create the ultimate working dog. However, he did not achieve exactly what he was hoping for with his new breed which turned out to be more reserved and cautious by nature. His dogs also lacked the strong instinct to attack.

He retained full control over his breeding programme right up until his untimely death in 1969 and the Saarloos Wolfdog was only recognised as a breed by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975 when they were given their name in recognition of their founder. They were recognised by the United Kennel Club of America in 2006 when a breed standard was established.

The breed was recognised by the FCI in 1981 after which time a few Saarloos were trained as assistance dogs. However, the majority of dogs were bred to be companions and family pets. Today, the Saarloos remains popular in their native Holland and in America although these wolf-like dogs are still relatively unknown in the UK and the breed is yet to be recognised by The Kennel Club (July 2016). Anyone wishing to share their home with a Saarloos Wolfdog would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred every year, but since the law changed in 2008, more Saarloos are being imported and bred in the UK as such their popularity is growing, albeit slowly.


Appearance

Average height to withers: 24-29 inches for males and females. Average weight: Up to 41kg for both sexes. If you hold a picture of a wolf in your head, you will not be far from the appearance of this dog. As the name suggests, there are many wolf like physical traits seen in this dog, including the intense eyes and 'long stare' developed by most wolf breeds. Athletic, powerful and perfectly balanced, this breed is large and imposing. It has a coarse and dense coat, which is 'agouti' (grizzled light and dark hairs) in colour with limited white marking. It may also be a mostly grey or brown colour. The ears are 'German Shepherd' sized and erect, the muzzle rounded and the tail carried low.


Temperament

Height at the withers: Males 65 - 75 cm, Females 60 - 70 cm

Average weight: Males 36 - 41 kg, Females 36 - 41 kg

The Saarloos is a medium to large dog that boasts an athletic body and a wedge-shaped head which gives these dogs their very wolf-like appearance. Much like the wolf, they move quietly and stealthily on their feet. They have broad, flat skulls and only a slight stop. Their muzzles are as long as their skulls and they have straight bridges to their noses. The Saarloos has a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.

Their eyes are almond shaped and set a little obliquely on a dog's face being yellow in colour which adds to the breed's wolf-like looks although some Saarloos have brown eyes too. They typically have an alert, yet reserved and cautious look about their eyes. They have medium sized, triangular ears that boast being rounded at the tips and which are set level with a dog's eyes.

The Saarloos has a well-muscled, clean cut neck that merges smoothly into their shoulders. During the winter months, they grow a distinct ruff around their necks. They have moderately long shoulder blades and their front legs are straight, well-muscled showing a good amount of oval shaped bone. Front feet can turn out slightly.

They are slightly longer in the body than they are tall with dogs having moderately broad chests and strong, straight backs. Their ribs are nicely sprung and bellies lightly tucked up which adds to a dog's athletic appearance. Their hindquarters are well balanced in relation to their forequarters with tails being set low, wider at the base and well covered in hair which dogs carry in the shape of a sabre. Their hind legs are strong and nicely angled with dogs having quite hare-like feet with well arched and muscled toes with firm, strong pads.

When it comes to their coat, the Saarloos Wolfdog boasts having a profuse double winter coat that consists of a coarser outer coat and a much softer, dense undercoat. Their top coats are less profuse during the summer and their undercoat is usually less dense. The most common colours seen in the breed are as follows:

  • Wolf grey
  • Red
  • White

Intelligence / Trainability

The Saarloos Wolfdog is energetic, independent and very intelligent dog that forms strong bonds with their owners. They can be reserved and timid at times which often sees them run away from a situation rather than be confrontational. Although they become devoted and loyal to their families, they remain suspicious of people they don't know preferring to keep well away from strangers rather than be around them. However, rarely would a Saarloos show any sort of aggression towards anyone they did not already know.

They are high maintenance, powerful dogs and as such they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the breed or the particular and very specific needs of a similar type of dog. They need a lot of time and attention, more especially when they are puppies and young dogs which is another reason why they are not best suited to first time owners.

Because they are so intelligent, in the right hands and environment, the Saarloos is easy to train and they enjoy the one-to-one attention they get when they are being put through their paces. Puppies need to be taught the basics and boundaries as soon as they arrive in their new home is essential and it's really important for Saarloos to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs.

Their socialisation has to include introducing dogs to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Saarloos is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.

They make wonderful family pets and for over 80 years, these lovely dogs have bought a lot of pleasure into many people's lives, but it's important to remember that sharing a home with a Saarloos is not the same as with other breeds because they are a very special kind of dog, but not a wolf at all. The Saarloos has retained their need to be part of a "pack", as such, they do a lot better living in a home where there's another dog rather than on their own.


Children and Other Pets

The Saarloos is a smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. They need to be well socialised from a young age and their training has to begin early too. It also has to be very consistent and always fair so that a dog understands what their owner expects of them. In short, in the right hands and environment, the Saarloos is easy to train.

The key to successfully training a Saarloos Wolfdog is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions shorter which helps keep a dog more focussed on what they are being asked to do, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored.

They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods because they are quite sensitive dogs by nature. However, they respond well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these smart and quick witted dogs.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


Health

The average life expectancy of a Saarloos Wolfdog is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Saarloos is generally a healthy dog, but they are known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:


Caring for a Saarloos Wolfdog

As with any other breed, Saarloos Wolfdogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming

The Saarloos has a thick, dense double coat that consists of a harsher outer coat and a softer undercoat. However, they are not that high maintenance on the grooming front. A twice weekly brush is all it takes to keep their coats tidy and to remove any dead and loose hair. They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Exercise

The Saarloos is an energetic, active, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need anything from 40 to 60-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Saarloos would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty. Some Saarloos enjoy taking part in canine sports which includes things like flyball, agility and tracking to name but three and they are known to be very good search and rescue dogs.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


Feeding

The Saarloos is an energetic, active, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need anything from 40 to 60-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Saarloos would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty. Some Saarloos enjoy taking part in canine sports which includes things like flyball, agility and tracking to name but three and they are known to be very good search and rescue dogs.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Saarloos Wolfdog

If you are looking to buy a Saarloos Wolfdog, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £400 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.

The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Saarloos Wolfdog in northern England would be £19.49 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £45.91 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Saarloos and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £900 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Saarloos Wolfdog would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.


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