Wolf-dog Education...

Responsible Ownership thru Education

High Content Wolfdogs: How can I Tell?


Misrepresentation: Why Lie?


Texx, a high content wolfdog at 1 yr old age (above). He now resides at Mission: Wolf, in August of 2011 (below pic).  He has phased out considerably since his stay with me as a rescue/foster back in 2008-2009.  He will be 8yrs old in April of 2013. His brother, owned by Lynn of Sage and Cedar wolfdogs, has already phased out to completely white.

High content wolfdogs are the most misrepresented "class" of wolfdogs out there. 

Many people think the more wolf they can claim their animals to be, the more money their animals will be worth.

Many people think that more wolf equals a better pet.

Many people think the wolfier they can claim their animal to be, the more attention they will recieve from people.

What many people want is an animal that looks like a wolf, but acts like a dog.

The majority of "high contents" that are being sold throughout the USA are nothing more than husky and malamute DOG mutts or low content wolfdogs that have been severely misrepresented as wolves/high content/high % "wolf hybrids."

Many people are stuck on the idea that if it doesn't look just like a Googled image of an AKC malamute, husky or GSD that it is part or all wolf. They have been brainwashed, so to speak, by many of the misrepping breeders into thinking that any canine with yellow eyes that isn't black and white, is a wolfdog.  And they couldn't be farther from the truth.

Most people really can't tell the difference and really don't know any better.  What they have seen on T.V. shows, in movies and even on popular news programs (interviewing people with "wolves") they really think are wolves.

There are some people, however, that just choose not to care or they blatantly ignore the truth and are causing more of a problem than what they choose to realize.

So, what defines a true High Content


Being able to tell a pure wolf from even the "wolfiest" of dog breeds should not be as difficult as what people make it out to be.

There are several defining features, both physically and behaviorally that separate a wolf from a dog.

There are also MANY overlapping traits that can be found in both wolves and dogs (such as having yellow eyes, black nails or being born a dark color) that many irresponsible people play up to make their animals more "wolf-like" even if no recent wolf heritage is present.

This page will go more indepth on what to look for in a high content animal. 

A true HC wolfdog will display many, if not all the behavioral, seasonal and physical characteristics/traits of a pure wolf.

Just like there can be "lower mids" and "upper mids" high contents can also further be classified as " lower" high content or "upper/very" high content (sometimes referred to as the "wolf content" wolfdogs).  As dumb and confusing as that sounds- to be a little more simple the difference would be a "lower" high content wolfdog would be an animal that has subtle dog-like features (such as *slightly* larger or pointer ears) that would otherwise set it apart from a pure wolf.  An "upper/very" high content would be an animal that, though still classified as a wolfdog, is indistinguishable from a pure wolf and has inherited ALL of a pure wolf's characteristics. 

However, do not be mistaken- high contents should only be owned by experienced people, or people that are willing to learn, adjust everything if necessary and take the full-time responsibility- to live with these animals.


 In order for a wolfdog to be considered a true High Content, it must have inherited a certain number of pure wolf characterstics- physically, behaviorally AND biologically. 


First we will focus on high content adult wolfdogs.


A true high content WILL:


Only breed breed one time a year.  Males start becoming fertile from mid- late December to early March (some males can start producing sperm as early as late November, but it is not common) and females will only come into heat early-mid January to mid-late March).  The viability of the sperm will be at it's peak around February, when females are coming into peak estrus.  Puppies are ONLY born during the spring months (March-May).  When males are not fertile, their testicles shrink to about the size of peanuts.  I have personally seen this many times, and up close while Texx was getting neutered (he was neutered in October).  Even if a pure or high content male is around fertile females during off season, they can still mount and tie, but WILL NOT produce any viable sperm.  Meaning they will be shooting blanks until their real breeding season.

***Breeding cycles/fertility DOES NOT change just because a wolf/wolfdog:

               *was born and raised in captivity

               *was raised in a home/family enviornment

               *was raised indoors as a pet

               *is exposed to weather changes

               *looses its pups during birthing

               *is around different intact males/females

 AN ANIMAL DOES NOT BIOLOGICALLY CHANGE just because it was raised indoors in a "stress free" environment.

**As a side note about *FEW* high content animals that have been born in Jan/Feb.  It is possible to have a higher content animal that was born in Jan/Feb if the mother (which is usually a mid or upper mid content- low contents can obviously breed during this time, but the resulting offspring would probably not be considered true high contents) is a low enough content that they take on the dog breeding pattern (it seems many mid contents still only cycle 1 time a year...but may come into heat a couple months earlier then a true HC female), but still wolfy enough where if she was bred with a wolf/high content male, the majority or some of her offspring would be high contents. Being as that *SOME* male wolves/wolfdogs can be fertile in early Nov/Dec, you can end up with pups born in Jan/Feb. Having an animal with a much higher f-gen number can also alter breeding patterns (mind you, this would be thru extremely careful selective breeding) though most wolfdogs at that point end up being considered more upper mids instead of true high contents.

Have a solid black nose.

Have light colored eyes ranging from amber/gold to lemon yellow and pale yellow, with hints of pale green and grey.

Have a proportionately thick and long muzzle with a slight stop.

Have a large head with a pronouced cheek ruff.  Check ruff may not be as visable when in their summer coat.

Have solid black lip and eye liner pigmentation.

Have smaller to medium fully erect, well-furred, extremely thick ears that are usually more rounded at the tips and set moderately high on the head.

Have a very narrow chest with front paws splaying outwards. In addition their back legs will also be noticably cow-hocked. (top right pic of very young animal)

Have disproportionately long legs, with their back legs having a longer stifle area then most dogs.

Have disproportionately large, enlongated paws, with well developed digits and thick, well curved nails. Two middle toes will be noticably longer. Paw pads will be black.

Have black, dark grey or for Arctics, taupe/tan/skin colored nails. (see above). ALL nails will be the same color.

Have a very straight tail- even when in motion or displaying dominance, though in some high contents the tail may have a *little* or slight curve to its appearance. The tail is usually shorter, ending just above or right at the hock, unlike some breeds (such as GSD's) that extend below the hock.

Have one major shed (molt) consistantly each year in the spring. During that time they will shed the majority of their gaurd hairs and all of their undercoat (in which they often shed large clumps and strings of fur, not little tuffs like most northern breeds). Their summer coat may be fairly short for the first few weeks until they establish a summer coat. The hair is often very coarse and does not have a fluffy, soft appearance. 

Summer coat

Have well-blended (symmetrical) markings, including face masks, leg markings and overall body markings.

Have a noticably thicker winter coat with very pronouced cheek ruffs and a pronounced v-cape. They may even appear to be significantly lighter then during the summer time. Many high contents will phase out and change color with each shed/re-growing of their winter coats.

Top: Summer Coat, Bottom: Winter Coat- same animal- this animal also lives in SE Texas.

Have THICK well-furred areas (especially in their winter coat) that most dogs do not such as- tummys, ears and private areas (testicles).



A true high content wolfdog WILL NOT...


 For females: Come into heat twice a year or at odd times of the year or have puppies off-season/at odd times of the year. For Males: Be fertile all year.

Have a pink, liver/brown or a snow nose (pink stripe down middle of a black nose). 

(L) Subtle snow nose vs (R) distingished snow nose.

Have blue, parti colored, bi-eyes or dark brown eyes. 

Have a short, blocky muzzle with a pronounced stop.

Have a small head or too blocky head (such as seen in Malamutes).

Have pink or pink and black spotted lip or eye liner pigmentation.

Have large, pointed ears, tipped over ears or floppy ears. have ears that are thin and not well furred. In addition, they will not be extremely high set on the head, nor will they be too wide set.

Have a wide chest.

Have short legs (in proportion to it's body).

Have small, compact or rounded paws with short digits. Have rear dew-claws. Have pink or pink spotted paw pads.

Have multi-colored toe nails (meaning there may be one or several black, brown and clear nails all on the same animal), white or clear.

Have a long, curly, hooked, curved, or sickle tail. 

Shed heavily two times a year, nor will they shed constanty (even lightly) thru-out the year).

Have noticably contrasting markings or coat colorations.

Have the same coat all year round.

Have "unintentional" bald spots.


Next we will focus on high content wolfdog pups.

High content wolfdog pups WILL:

Be born March-May (with the exceptions being noted in the adult section), April generally being the most active month.  Arctic pups tend to be born later (regardless of that animal living in Canada or living in Texas) in the May, *sometimes* even early June, months.

Be born a dark SOLID color, such as brown, black or grey, with little to no white markings. 

Be born with black paw pads, noses and pigmentation (such as eye liner and lip liner).

Be born with dark blue eyes (ALL puppies are born with blue eyes) that will lighten to gold or yellow as they age.

Change colors and phase out as they get older


A high content puppy WILL NOT:

Be born at odd times of the year (such as August or November).

Be born with premature markings such as face masks, white blazes or white tummies. There shouldn't be some dark pups and some light colored and some with markings.

Be born with pink or pink and black spotted noses, paw pads or pigmentation.

Be born with dark blue eyes that turn into the light or ice blue eyes as seen in Siberian Huskies and other dog breeds.

This list is for educational purposes only! Please understand if you are reading this to try to determine if your animal has wolf in it or not, that MOST of these traits are OVERLAPPING. When you throw a few off-standard "wolfy looking" dogs breeds together, you can get some very interesting looking animals- that can fool MANY people...especially those that are inexperienced. If you are seriously interested in having your animal phenotyed, please contact me privately and I can phenotype thru a few pictures/video OR I can refer you to someone else (possibly in your area) that may be able to phenotype in person.