The development of the Saarloos working wolf-dog can be credited to Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos who crossed a German shepherd with a female European wolf obtained from the Rotterdam Zoo. The result was a domesticated and rather docile dog breed that certainly made for good household companions. However, Leendert Saarloos wanted more wolf-like properties that would create better working dogs. Over time, Saarloos managed to develop the breed exactly to his liking and by 1975; the Dutch Kennel Club recognized the Saarloos and named it so to honor its creator.
Let us study the temperament, fun facts, and other details about this wolf-dog hybrid.
Cool facts about the Saarloos
- The Saarloos and the Czechoslovakian wolf-dog are the only wolf-dog breeds recognized by major kennel clubs.
- Despite the fact that most wolf-dog hybrids are less stable and rather unpredictable and, as a result, known to be involved in attacks, the Saarloos is quite a popular dog breed not only in the Netherlands, but also in the United States and Canada. In fact; the reason behind its popularity may be due to the fact that unlike most Wolf-dogs, they are less ferocious and lack the propensity to attack.
- The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the Saarloos in 1981.
- While the breed is mostly kept as a family pet, many of these dogs are trained as guide dogs for the blind.
- The Dutch name of this breed is Saarlooswolfhond.
- Leendert Saarloos wanted his wolf-dog hybrids to look like wolves and today, breeders also attempt to keep the Saarloos’s appearance wolf-like.
- This is a large dog with a strong, beefy body and a straight-back. Like the wolves, their legs are long and they have a dense, coarse, and double coat. The coat length is short and you can find it in different colors like wolf-gray, shades of brown or red, crème, or white. Genes for white color are recessive; making it an uncommon though accepted color.
- They measure about 76 cm or 30 inches at withers and weigh up to 88 lb or 40 kg.
- Saarloos is an extremely elegant dog that moves gracefully and is rather light on its feet.
- They have a wolf-like head with a wolf-like expression.
The Saarloos wolf-dog vs. the Czechoslovakian wolf-dog
Appearance-wise both the Saarloos and the Czechoslovakian wolf-dogs are rather similar. The Saarloos might be slightly taller and heavier than the Czech wolf-dog. Temperament-wise, there are several differences between the two wolf-dog hybrids. The Saarloos is less ferocious and makes a stable family pet. The Czechoslovakian is known to be rather shy and that is a disqualifying feature for show dogs. Czechoslovakian wolf-dogs bond very strongly with not only one person, but the entire family. They are also known to get along well with other family pets; a trait which a Saarloos may or may not show. However, both dogs can be aggressive when introduced to other animals. Owing to their wolf-like predatory instincts, both dog breeds need early and firm-training. Wolf-dogs are pack animals and they should never be kept alone or isolated in cages, especially when they are young. Saarloos and Czechoslovakian wolf-dogs do not bark too much; they are quiet dogs that express themselves through grunts, growls, and whining. While the Saarloos has been used as guide dogs for the blind, the Czechs have been used for military work.
Where to find a Saarloos
There are not many Saarloos breeders in the United States. You might easily find Czechoslovakian wolf-dog clubs and forums, but there are none for the Saarloos. The best place to discuss importing a Saarloos puppy from the Netherlands is the AVLS site. AVLS stands for the Association of Saarlooswolfhond Lovers. You will have to use Google translation on this site, which can be a bit tough. But you will surely find a list of registered, ethical breeders who are striving for the breed’s betterment.
Note that living with a Saarloos is not an easy task. This dog needs a firm and an experienced owner and consistent training. The Saarloos wolfdog is only for the genuine dog lover who doesn’t mind wolf-like characteristics and ancient canine ways. So be prepared to deal with these traits which could be considered hassles by some dog owners. Many dogs end up in the pounds and shelters due to this. So make the decision of getting a Saarloos only after careful consideration. The price of a Saarloos is between $1000 and $1500 and it depends on the puppy’s coat colors, bloodlines, your location, as well as the breeder.
As stated before, the Saarloos can make a great companion dog or family pet, provided you spend time on his training and socialization. This is a loyal, loving dog. However, he does have strong wolf-like instincts. Do not be alarmed if your dog howls or growls or grunts instead of barking. They are energetic dogs that need a lot of exercise. They have a strong pack instinct but also a tendency to be a bit shy or reserved. Most Saarloos get along well with other house pets but they may be wary of strange animals that they haven’t been exposed or socialized with. Saarloos has a tendency to roam. They can be a bit stubborn so training could be difficult.
Saarloos need a large yard for roaming about and they don’t do well in kennels or closed enclosures. One member of the family must take on the position of the alpha in order to show the dog what he should and shouldn’t do. This is necessary to avoid bad behavior. Thankfully, they are fairly quiet dogs that do not bark unnecessarily. Worry not: they still make good guard dogs and watchdogs but they just use different methods to notify you of any danger. These are certainly not suitable dogs for first-time dog owners. They hate being left alone and will easily find a way to run if you don’t take precautions. This dog isn’t recommended if you have very small kids!
Saarloos need a lot of exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. Walk your dog twice a day for at least 30 minutes each. Without exercise, your dog will be bored and could end up chewing the furniture, digging, or even running away.
Your Saarloos needs firm training. He needs socialization and obedience training classes which will expose him to other dogs and humans. Continue using the same training at home like in the obedience school. Never hit or shout at your Saarloos. This will only make him excessively shy or aggressive. Be gentle and use reward-based training. With regularity and consistency, you will soon have an obedient house pet that makes a great companion.
Wait until the coat is shed completely to bathe your pet; this hardy breed does not require too much bathing-so once every few months should suffice. Their skin produces oil and you do not want to strip it with excessive bathing. Use a gentle, cleansing shampoo with a cream rinse to make your dog smell clean and more huggable! Regular brushing of the coat is a must to prevent ticks, fleas, and mats. As soon as your puppy comes home, use a brush and comb to tame his fur. You will also need a comb with a handle to groom the undercoat. This will make the fur softer and healthier as it stimulates the natural oils under the skin.
Not many health issues are reported and recorded in this breed. One of the common genetic issue seen in Saarloos is pituitary dwarfism. The life span of Saarloos wolfdog is about 12-15 years.