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Certain breeds of canine pets seem to be in fashion from year to year, and many people will rush out to aquire whatever is currently popular. A new breed of animal gaining popularity is the Wolfdog --part wolf, part dog-- which is also known as a wolf hybrid.

It seems like most people getting "into" wolves/wolfdogs for the first time start out in fantasy land. This mixture of animal is very different from a plain old domesticated dog breed. Many who think they want one can be easily talked out of it once they see what's involved. Many just need a low content animal as their first wolfdog and can remain happy with that.

Others with certain personalities and/or family situations should never get a wolfdog of even low content and would just be a disaster waiting to happen. Because wolfdogs do not easily adapt to a second home, it is important that you make sure it IS the animal for your family before going further. Let's take a look at some of the requirements of responsible wolfdog ownership, before you decide if this is really the pet for you.

The first thing you should find out is whether or not it is legal to own a wolfdog where you live. They are outlawed in many areas and towns completely. Other areas require special permits and/or special training classes of up to 1,000 hours experience before a permit will be issued. In addition pens must be inspected and found to meet minimum requirements.

Wolf dogs are extremely shy animals and do most of their bonding when they are very young. For this reason they are usually taken from the mother at the early age of about three to four weeks. This means they require middle of the night feedings and a lot of human contact and should be kept away from other animals at first until they are well bonded with humans.

Even with early interaction, many wolf dogs do not readily accept humans outside of the immediate family. For this reason, it is important to introduce them to as many people as possible prior to about four months of age. An animal that has not been around other humans by that age will probably always be shy of unknown humans and may become a problem animal later.

You also need a friend or family member that does not live with you to become intimately aquainted with the animal in case of an emergency or if you should be hospitalized, or, do we dare say it, you want to go on vacation.

Wolfdogs are known to be extreme escape artists. To properly contain a wolfdog, one should have a chain link fence of extra heavy duty 11 gauge wire that is eight feet tall with tip-in wires at the top similar to the security fencing you see around junkyards to keep trespassers out. Because wolfdogs have a jaw tensile strength of 1500 pounds per square inch--more than double the average dog--they are able to chew holes through lighter chain link fencing or wood fences, and will do so.

The pen must have a double entry to prevent escape as you enter and exit the compound. In addition there should be a perimeter fence outside the primary fence to prevent children or loose animals from reaching through the primary fence.

Wolfdogs are notorious diggers and will dig under a fence in a heartbeat if you don't have a barrier. It is recommended to bury cattle panels or chain link fencing about a foot under the ground around all edges of the compound and to attach the edges of the barrier to the bottom of the ChatLink fence with steel hog rings. This underground wire should extend at least four feet into the pen.

Your wolfdog will probably destroy most plants and small trees within the compound. Large trees must be at least ten feet from the fence. Because many wolfdogs are also climbers, it is recommended that you get an electrical fence charger designed for cattle and run three strands of hot wire inside the pen as well.

All of these construction materials are not cheap and require considerable labor to properly install. This compound should be about 2,000 square feet per animal. To put that in perspective, that is about the size of a good sized house.

Once you allow a wolfdog to escape one time, you will find it extremely difficult to contain him in the future. Escape can often mean the animal's life or a hefty lawsuit if he even so much as scratches someone. If the animal is very wolfy looking he may be shot on sight in many areas.

Wolf dogs do not respond well to physical corrections and they have a memory like an elephant. That cute four month old puppy is going to remember when he is a hundred pound adult so you cannot allow him to mouth you or rough house when small. At about three years of age hormones kick in and if you haven't established yourself as undisputable alpha of the pack, you may have problems with the animal challenging you for position.

If you were thinking of a house dog and had trouble restraining your inquisitive toddlers, you might as well forget having a wolf dog. They are much smarter than dogs, having the IQ of a five year old child. A wolf dog will be able to open the refrigerator and reach on top of it.

He'll climb on counters and tables, the entertainment center or any other convenient furniture. Speaking of furniture, if you are picky about yours you might as well know you can plan on stuffing ripped out of couches, chair legs chewed off, and we won't even bother to mention the small things like shoes and clothes.

Those safety latches for cupboards designed to keep out children will barely slow him down. Any unlocked door is fair game to be opened, and if it is locked and he really wants out, a wolfdog is perfectly capable of chewing a hole in it, and they often do. Sometimes a glass window is just as convenient.

It is not cheap to feed a wolf dog. They do not do well on ordinary brands of dogfood. Most commercial dogfoods contain soy or corn, which a wolf dog cannot properly digest. The better brands of dogfood that will meet his needs run about $30.00 to $40.00 for a 40 pound sack that he will eat in a week. It's also recommended that you supplement the kibble with two to five pounds of meat and meaty bones per day and fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you haven't changed your mind yet, and this is your first wolfdog, I would STRONGLY urge you to start with an animal of very low wolf content. Spend some time volunteering at a wolf sanctuary or wolfdog rescue and read all you can find on the subject before you even consider shopping for a wolfdog.

When you go to look for a breeder, if they don't make you fill out an application and ask more questions than if you were adopting a child, then that is probably not a reputable breeder and you should keep looking.

These are wonderful animals and do make good pets for people with the right personality. But, you should realize you are making a commitment to this animal for the next ten to fifteen years. If you don't think you'll be able to stick it out when the going gets rough, perhaps you should just pass on this breed.