Saarloos Wolfhound Breed

Published: 20th February 2009
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The Saarloos Wolfhound is one of the rare dog breeds that over time has been addressed as the:

• Saarloos Wolfhound

• Dutch Wolfdog

• European Wolfdog

The Saarloos Wolfdog or Wolfhound was named after Dutch dog breeder Leendert Saarloos (1884-1969) who developed the breed. By the early 20th century Leendert Saarloos had become profoundly and adequately disillusioned with the direction that genetic breeding of the domestic dog had taken to take it upon himself to save Canis familiaris (domestic dog) from the inexorable and slippery decline of genetic degeneration.

Leendert Saarloos was of the opinion that centuries of selective breeding had in effect genetically weakened the domestic dog to the point that hereditary disease was rife in almost every breed. Furthermore he also strongly believed that the domestic dog had long since lost its true canine qualities as a result of such prolonged selective breeding. Thus he decided there was only one course of action left and that was to re-infuse the domestic dog genes from "the original source," its ancestor Canis lupus, the wolf.

Creation of A Wolf Dog

In 1920 Leendert Saarloos embarked on his project of creating a new and genetically rejuvenated dog breed, a project that was to consume him for the rest of his life. Leendert began the creation of the European Wolfdog (as it was then known) by crossing a German Shepherd Dog called Gerard with a female wolf called Fleur. That pairing between GSD and Fleur the wolf produced a total of 20 wolf-dog hybrids over time. Leendert Saarloos then crossed those half-wolves back with their father the German Shepherd Dog Gerard producing a new stock of hybrids that were just quarter wolf.

Leendert felt comfortable that he had attained the genetic perfection and rejuvenation necessary with the quarter-wolf litter and set about training his "new and improved canine." Leendert had high expectations for his new dog breed after all the dogs supposedly came equipped with the innate and insightful intelligence of the Canadian Timber Wolf combined with the unparalleled smarts of the German Shepherd Dog which as it happens is one of the brightest dog breeds. Unfortunately he was to be sorely disappointed!

His quarter wolf-dog mix canines were extremely shy and wary of people an undesirable trait that 12,000 years of domestication had apparently relieved the domestic dog of. Wild wolves are notoriously shy and wary of people and generally avoid man as much as possible. Furthermore his Saarloos Wolfhounds were little disposed to the usual methods of training and overall made for lousy work dogs. The Wolfdogs were also lousy guard dogs because they just plain refused to attack and made for equally bad watchdogs because just like the wolf, barking simply was not their thing.

In effect by injecting a fresh infusion of wolf genes into his Saarloos Wolfhound breed Leendert diluted those genetic properties that make the domestic dog such a comfortable fit with people. The Wolfdogs performed equally dismally at trial shows and in fact the only thing they appeared to excel at was looking good!

Saarloos Wolfhound Had A Little Too Much Wolf Not Enough Dog

In the end what it really boiled down to was that the Saarloos Wolfdog had inherited a tad too much of the wolf gene. Wolves are highly intelligent animals that are very adept at escaping confinement within manmade enclosures, something that the average domestic dog is not. It is in fact now believed that wild canids learn through insight whereas the domestic dog learns by rote and repetition. Yet people tend to think of dogs that do their bidding willingly and eagerly as intelligent and those that don't as dumb. Many independent thinking dog breeds that are little predisposed to obeying human commands are commonly labeled as primitive breeds (suggesting an inferior intellect), but such animals like the wolf are more adept and skilled at insightful learning and assessing any given situation on their own. The Saarloos Wolfdog fell within this category.

Anyway despite his initial failure Leendert Saarloos continued refining his Wolfhound dog breed with no real success to show over the years. Then in1963 Leendert decided to infuse a little more wolf blood into his dog breed by crossing his quarter-wolf mix dogs with a female Wolf called Fleur II. Unsurprisingly there was little improvement in the temperament and behavioral characteristics of that new stock of wolf dogs. In 1969 Leendert Saarloos passed away and within short thrift his Saarloos Wolfhound dog breed fell into rapid decline.

If it hadn't been for the timely intervention of the Dutch Canine Authorities in 1975 it is quite likely that the Saarloos Wolfdog breed would have disappeared in a haze of free-for-all breeding frenzy that paid no heed to the quality of genetic standard that Leendert Saarloos had been so particular about!

Anyway Leendert's wolf dog breed was saved from extinction in 1975 when it also came to be officially recognized by the Dutch Canine Authority as a true dog breed at which time it was designated the name Saarloos Wolfhound in honor of its deceased creator!

Saarloos Wolfdog Characteristics

Height: 24 - 29 1/2 inches (60 - 75 cm)

Weight: 80 -90 lbs (36 -41 kg)

This dog retains many wolf qualities and has a strong pack instinct and needs plenty of space to sate its roaming appetite; thus the Saarloos Wolfhound is not cut out for apartment life. This breed of dog is inherently strong-willed and as mentioned previously does not adapt well to obedience training. It is imperative for the owner to establish the dominant alpha position. The Saarloos Wolfdog is not recommended for households with young children. This is breed does not make for an ideal watchdog because like the wolf it rarely barks at all. It is best suited to cold climates and does well living outdoors. The Saarloos dog requires plenty of exercise every day!

Life Expectancy And Health of Saarloos Wolfdog

The Saarloos Wolfhound has a lifespan of approximately 10 -12 years. Like the German Shepherd it is prone to hip dysplasia as well as spondylosis of the spine. Grooming requirements of this dog breed necessitate regular combing and brushing of its weather resistant coat and bathing should be on a as need basis in order not to deplete the natural oils in its skin

More About The Dog


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