About Wolves
About Wolves

About Wolves

To answer the question: Are wolves as loyal as dogs? Are they good pets? I found interesting feedbacks.

By Bello Adeniyi

No to the first (they are more loyal) and No to the second.

Here’s my reason.

Contrary to the widespread belief that wolf packs (in the wild) function with an alpha male and alpha female as the pack leader. This is not true. Pack leaders are not alphas, they are merely the parents of the other members.

Wolf families (packs) function much like human nuclear families. Which start with a young couple that fall in love and get married. They set up their territory and give birth to their first child (or cubs). They take care of this bundle of joy and live happily.

They teach their child how to hunt and fight. They read bedtime stories and share family bond as well as protect the child.

The following year, this couple give birth to another bundle of joy (more like annoying bundle of shit), but it gets better because there is an extra hand (last year’s child) to help with nanny duties. So not so bad after-all. The family is lively, kids everywhere, mum and dad proud of what they have done. So much love and affection in the family.

So next year they give birth to another child, but now, the first child (now 2 years old) is in puberty and thinks mum and dad should start respecting him.

That he can come home anytime he likes.
He is old enough to smoke and live on his own.
His (now 1 year old) sister is annoying and the new born is super annoying
There are no girls living in the neighborhood and he need to have his first kiss
Mum and dad are old-school and their stories and fashion-sense are so boring. They don’t even know when Instagram is.
Long story short, with all the built-up resentment, he leaves the house to live on his own on his third birthday. I can imaging him telling his parents that “I’m 3 now, I can live on my own”. His mum crying and his dad trying not to cry and consoling his wife.

Then he moves around the country, visits clubs his parent will never allow him to visit. Drink alcohol. Try out stuffs on his list and then finally meet a decent girl and settle down to start a family.


This analogy implies that the mind of a wild wolf (not wolf hybrid) is much more developed than that of a dog. Concepts such as Respect, Love, Freedom, Care, Family, Constrains e.t.c are clearly understood by wolves on a very different level than dogs and this can be catastrophic to humans who does not understand that much like the minds of human kids, wolf cubs go through series of cognitive maturity unlike dogs that have been bred to retain their cub minds.

A wolf will love and protect you like its mother but when asked it to go to its room or stop using its phone while eating supper, it will fight back.

And that is the definition of a person, not a pet.

By Oliver Starr

Short answer:

“Dogs have owners. Wolves and wolfdogs have staff.”

For most people (including a huge percentage of people that have these animals and will eventually give them up) no. For a very select group willing to make huge sacrifices, read the longer answer below.

Longer answer: Having raised a number of wolves and high content wolf dogs I have to say that they aren’t ever really pets. They can be remarkable and interesting animals that have the ability to truly enrich your understanding and appreciation of the natural world however you have to be willing to accept the responsibility and adapt to the requirements of having an animal in your environment that is going to challenge you in many ways.

I’m not just talking about challenging you for dominance (although this can happen with potentially disastrous consequences) but also challenges with socialization, feeding (for the first six months we had our current pup we hand fed her everything she ate) to containment (wolves can dig, climb, chew, pull, and mimic people to open certain kinds of latches and doors. (Here’s an example of our pup opening a spring-loaded screen door from the outside. It took her about two months without our assistance to solve this “puzzle”:

They are agile in ways domestic dogs aren’t and tend to have less respect for where they are allowed to go in your house — having a wolf jump up onto a counter (fully, not just front feet) or onto your table is not uncommon.

They tend to be fearful in unfamiliar situations and this needs to be taken into account when you take the animal out. It’s no fun to scrub the inside of your car because your wolf got nervous when you started driving down a twisty road.

They are also far stronger than a domestic dog of comparable size, particularly with respect to jaw strength. Things that you simply can’t imagine a dog could destroy are easily dispatched by a wolf or high content wolf-dog. (here’s a video I shot just playing around with our pup:

if you’ve got about eight minutes you’ll get a better idea of just what I mean). A quicker example would be the thickest rope toys commercially available for dogs. I’d guess these have a diameter of about an inch and a half. Our eight-month-old pup can literally saw through one of these using her rear (carnassial) teeth in just a few minutes leaving a cut about as clean as if you’d hacked through it yourself with shears.

Although they aren’t inclined to bite their caretakers (and especially those that have handled them for lengthy periods) they have far less bite inhibition than domesticated dogs and the damage they can do is considerable. Twenty years ago I sustained an attack from an animal I did not acquire in his early life. At one point he had hold of my forearm and was trying to advance this grip further into his mouth. It felt like I was being pulled into a machine. I was fortunate I had a companion with me that probably saved my life. (My account of this incident is also a Quora answer here: Oliver Starr’s answer to Animal Behavior: Would a lone adult wolf be able to take down an unarmed, athletic adult human? )

These are also highly social animals – far more social than domesticated dogs. It would be cruel and unusual to leave one of these animals isolated. They need to have fellow canid companions. In other words, you need to be committed to having a multiple-animal household.

Even simple things like veterinary care or boarding are much more complex with a wolf. Many veterinarians are not comfortable working on animals they consider to be exotic and until just a few years ago I was aware of some states that had laws that prohibited vets from giving certain vaccinations to animals that presented as wolves. Also, few (if any) boarding facilities are going to be willing or able to host your wolf.

Generally, it is best to leave the animal in its familiar domain especially if pack structure is going to be disrupted temporarily by your departure. This means you’ll need to have a caretaker that is completely competent with your animals. Finding people like this can frequently prove impossible and as a result, leaving home for any length of time can become a problem.

Diet is a challenge. Although wolves and domestic dogs are very similar, dogs have had time to become adapted to consuming the kinds of things put in commercial dog food (mostly refuse from commercial human food production – a diet that has evolved along with the human/dog relationship, incidentally). Wolves have not. It can be very costly to find and maintain the best diet for your animal. http://www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org/ has one of the most advanced feeding protocols I’ve seen and they fast one day, feed loaves of elk meat that weight appx 4 pounds to each animal on five days and on a sixth day they feed a loaf that mimics organs, entrails, and digesta (stomach and intestine contents that consist of partially digested vegetable matter – wolf veggies!).

Their environment also has to be appropriately interesting. This does not mean a big flat grassy space. Wolves are animals that have large and varied territories. They require geographic diversity in order to be physically and mentally challenged while in a confined area. Take a look at the kind of terrain that Wild Spirit provides for their animals:

This is what these animals require.

Of course, this also means you must have the financial or social resources to help you do all of the above.

Personally, I find that having wolves and/or wolf dogs is a highly rewarding experience but I have devoted a huge amount of my life and resources to these animals and have rarely met other people that had the commitment, knowledge, and resources to keep these animals happy, healthy, contained and properly socialized.

Finally, I had a few thoughts on the other comments above. The comment on the industry statistics is interesting but misleading. Wolves, in particular, represent only a tiny percentage of annual bite stats. Even wolf/dog hybrids are still not an extremely popular dog and thus don’t account for very many ACTUAL bites. The thing is when these animals do bite the consequences tend to be much more serious which makes them much more likely to be reported. For example, there are many more Spaniel bites than wolf/wolf-dog bites combined but they aren’t usually very serious and so they are dramatically under-reported.

Lastly, I really like Alex Chen’s comment above. Based upon my experience he’s right in that the right animal with the right temperament combined with the right person with the right resources and almost unlimited patience can result in an almost magical relationship. The problem is that like Alex said, this is an exceedingly rare combination. For most people that would like a wolf-like companion animal I highly recommend an Alaskan Malamute instead. Their behavior has a lot of wolf qualities but very few of the drawbacks. In fact, I have a Malamute and much of my success with my current pup I owe to him.