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Wolf-Dog Hybrids: Can Wolves and Dogs Mate?

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Yes, wolves and dogs can indeed mate with each other. They are interfertile, meaning they can breed with each other and produce viable offspring.

When wolves and dogs mate, they produce wolfdogs. A breed that’s half-dog, half-wolf.

Wolfdogs can come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes depending on their parents. They can also be very friendly or ferocious depending on how much dog DNA they have inherited from their parent canids.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at crossbreeding, hybridization, wolfdogs, and more.

What Is a Wolf-Dog Hybrid?

A wolf-dog hybrid is a canid creature that is the result of mating a wolf and a dog. They are often called “wolfdogs”. 

Sometimes wolfdogs are born to wild wolves and dogs, which can create difficulties for both the parents and offspring, but they’re most often seen in captivity.

Wolves and dogs are genetically very similar since dogs are descendants of wolves. Dogs were originally bred by humans to serve as working animals, such as hunting dogs or herding dogs.

wolfdog sitting

Can Wolves and Dogs Mate?

Yes, wolves can mate with dogs. Wolves and dogs are interfertile meaning they can breed with each other and produce viable offspring their mating can result in live births. 

In other words, wolves and dogs can have offspring, and their offspring can also reproduce successfully themselves.

Wolfdogs tend to look very much like an ordinary domestic dog but can vary depending on how much wolf DNA has been passed down through generations.

Wolfdogs can be bred with pure wolves or other hybrids, which can lead to an increase of wolf DNA in the breeding pool and thus result in more wolf-like features within each successive generation.

wolfdog and golden retriever

Why Can Wolves and Dogs Mate?

Wolves and dogs can mate because they are interfertile. This means that the two can breed with each other and produce viable offspring. They also have very similar genetics.

Dogs are descendants of wolves, so the two animals share many of the same genetic characteristics. Wolves and dogs share 99.9% of their DNA [1]. Hence, they also have the same chromosome count, making them viable mates.

Related: Are wolves and dogs the same species?

Dogs Evolved From Wolves

Dogs can be traced back to wolves. The domestication of dogs likely occurred between 14,000-29,000 years ago, as wolves learned how they could be valuable members of our lives. [2]

Dogs evolved from Eurasian gray wolves that became isolated about 16,300 years ago in East Asia. The genetic evidence points towards all existing dogs coming from just a handful of wolf lineages.

Related: What dog is closest to a wolf?

Wolf-Dog Hybrid: The Wolfdog

When wolves and dogs reproduce, their offspring are called wolfdogs. These are, as the same suggests, simply a hybrid of a wolf and a dog.

Wolfdogs can both be great pets, or they can be ferocious predators. It all depends on what traits are passed down from the parents.

Wolfdogs are very similar to wolves, and most often look like a smaller version. 

A lot of people have misconceptions about what exactly these animals are, so let’s dive into it.

czechoslovakian wolfdog

What Does a Wolfdog Look Like?

A wolfdog can look like a large dog, or a small wolf, with some physical characteristics of wolves. The ears can be droopy and the face can have a wide jaw like that of wolves. 

Wolfdogs can also possess thick coats and colors such as black and tan like most dogs or grayish-black like many wolves. 

While they typically resemble dogs more than wolves in their appearance, there are cases where this is not true at all. Wolfdogs can, in rare cases, end up looking very much like regular-sized grey/brown colored wolves.

Are Wolfdogs Fertile?

Yes, wolfdogs are fertile. When hybrids are bred from viable parents, that have the same amount of chromosomes, their offspring will be fertile. When these genetics do not line up, the offspring won’t be fertile.

Wolves and dogs share almost all of their DNA, and they both have 78 chromosomes (39 pairs). This enables them to produce fertile offspring.

An example of an unviable offspring is a mule. This is a mix between a donkey and a horse. As horses have 64 chromosomes, and donkeys have 62, the mule is infertile.

Lifespan

Lifespan can vary depending on the combination of each. Wolfdogs can range anywhere from 12-18 years, depending on whether they live in the wild or in captivity.

Wolfdog

Wolf Genes in the Hybrid

Technically, a wolfdog will be a 50/50 split between a wolf and a dog. However, depending on the wolf, and depending on the dog, it may have more wolf genes or more dog genes.

This all comes down to the parents. If the wolf is pure, and the dog in itself is a wolfdog, the offspring will have more wolf genes.

How Big Do Wolfdogs Get?

Wolf-dog hybrids have the physical appearance of a large German shepherd or Alaskan malamute crossbreed – so can weigh anywhere from 50 to 150 lbs [3]

Some wolfdogs resemble regular-sized wolves, meaning they can get up to 35 inches tall (89 cm), but they’re most often smaller, ranging between 12 to 27 inches (55 to 68 cm).

Wolfdog in the forest

Are Wolfdogs Illegal?

It can be difficult to determine the legal status of wolfdogs, as the laws governing them are often complex and vary from state to state. [4]

In some cases, a specific breed of wolfdog may be classified as a wild animal, making it illegal to own or keep one in your home. Other states may consider all wolf-dog crosses to be wild animals, regardless of the percentage of wolf genes they carry. 

If you’re considering getting a wolfdog, it’s important to research the specific laws in your area and understand what owning this pet could mean for you.

Related: Can wolves be pets?

Do Wolfdogs Live In the Wild?

Wolfdogs can live in the wild, but they are most commonly found in captivity. 

For a wolfdog to live in the wild, a wolf would have needed to mate with a wild dog, which does not happen often.

While dog-like animals, such as wolves, coyotes, and wild dogs, have been observed mating in the wild, it’s a rare sight, as they often see each other as competitors.

brown wolfdog

What Animals Can Mate With a Dog?

Dogs can mate with many other canines, including wolves, jackals, and coyotes. 

When dogs mate with other canines, it results in hybrid offspring that are known as wolfdogs, coydogs, or others depending on the breed. 

Wolfdog hybrids can have a range of appearances depending on how much dog is present in the animal’s genetics and what type of dogs were bred together. The traits inherited by these animals can also vary widely depending on their environment and upbringing.

Other Wolf Hybrids

Wolves can also mate with other animals, including jackals, coyotes, and more canines. Out of all the possible combinations, the wolfdog is the most common hybrid. 

Coywolf

The coywolf is a canid hybrid that is the result of mating between a coyote and a wolf. 

Coyotes are found in the western and central United States, while wolves can be found in Canada, Alaska, and parts of the northern United States. These two species can mate and produce viable offspring together. 

The result of this mating is the coywolf.

coywolf

As coywolves are a mix of coyotes and wolves, they’re somewhat larger than coyotes but smaller than wolves. They have both characteristics of their parents – they are able to hunt small prey like rabbits and rodents like coyotes, but they also take down larger prey like deer if needed, like wolves. 

They also typically have gray and black fur, similar to a wolf, but can also have brown or reddish fur like a coyote.

Myth: Wolf-Fox Hybrids

There is a persistent myth that wolf-fox hybrids are often produced in the wild. However, foxes and wolves are incapable of reproducing, as they don’t have the same amount of chromosomes. 

The stories about wolf-fox hybrids are a myth, as these animals simply can not exist.

Related: Can wolves and foxes mate?

Conclusion

Wolves and dogs can mate, and their offspring are called wolfdogs. While wolves are illegal as pets in most countries, wolfdogs are not always illegal to own.

Wolf-dog hybrids can be very unpredictable, and it’s important to remember that they are still wild animals. 

They can have the temperament of a wolf, which can include being shy around people and aggressive towards other animals. They can also have the temperament of a dog, which can include being loyal and friendly to their family. 

It’s important to do your research before getting a wolf-dog hybrid, as there is no guarantee what kind of animal you will end up with. Some wolfdog owners report that their animal has been the best pet they’ve ever had, while others say that their animal has caused them nothing but trouble.

FAQs

Can a Wolf Impregnate a Dog?

Yes, a wolf can impregnate a dog. In fact, when wolves and dogs mate, their offspring are called wolfdogs. These hybrids are interesting creatures because they have the characteristics of both parents. They can be quite tame like dogs, or they can retain some of the wildness of their wolf parents.

Can Wolves and Dogs Interbreed?

Yes, wolves and dogs can mate and produce viable offspring. They are genetically very alike since dogs are descendants of wolves. Dogs were originally bred by humans to be domesticated pets, but some breeds have retained more wolf-like characteristics than others.

Wolfdogs are a type of hybrid animal that is produced when a dog mates with a wolf. They can occur intentionally or accidentally. Wolfdogs are not considered an official breed, but they do have their own specific set of characteristics that make them different from either parent species.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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