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Saarloos wolfdog

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The Saarloos wolfdog ( , ) is a dog breed originating from the crossing of a German Shepherd ( , ) with a Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus lupus). The offspring were then crossed with German Shepherds. It is now a recognized breed, and is recognized as a wolfdog due to the original cross it came from.


Leendert Saarloos (1884–1969) was a Dutch dog breeder who believed that the German Shepherd had become too domesticated and wanted to breed back the more natural properties in order to derive a better working dog. In 1935, he bred a male German Shepherd ( , ) to a female Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus lupus) from Siberia. He then bred the offspring back with German Shepherds to derive a dog with one quarter wolf blood. The result was a dog that was not useful as a working dog but as companion that is close to nature. The Dutch Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1975. To honour its creator, they named this dog the "Saarloos wolfdog". In 1981, the breed was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Genetic evidence

In 2015, a study found that the Saarloos wolfdog showed more genetic association with the grey wolf (Canis lupus) than any other breed, which is in agreement with the documented historical crossbreeding with grey wolves in this breed. In 2016, a major DNA study of domestic dogs found a deep division between the Saarloos wolfdog and all other dogs, highlighting its descent from the crossing of German Shepherds with captive wolves in the 1930s, then followed by a further split between dogs of Eastern Eurasian and Western Eurasian origin.


The Saarloos wolfdog is a strongly built dog whose build, coat and movement is wolf-like. The height is between in males and in females. It weighs up to . It is an athletic dog in build, with medium bone, and a strong and muscular body. They move lightly on their feet and have an elegant march. Its coat is short and dense, providing good protection from the weather. There are three colours: wolf-grey, red and white. Because the wolf-grey genes are dominant, this is the most common colour. Genes for white colour are recessive, making this uncommon although this colour is accepted. The Saarloos has wolf-like expressions, as well as a wolf-like head.


This breed needs thorough socialization before the twelfth week of age to ensure prosocial behavior.

Outcross program

The Dutch parent club for Saarloos wolfdogs researched possibilities to improve the breed's health by increasing genetic diversity. The first meetings with the Dutch kennel club were held in 2010. Following these meetings, Wageningen University and Research was asked to investigate the degree of interrelatedness of the population. The research was conducted by quantitative geneticist Dr. J.J. Windig and Dr. Ir M. Spies-Stoop. This study revealed that the population of Saarloos wolfdogs was very closely related. Without intervention, the degree of inbreeding would threaten the breed's survival. The scientists advised a controlled and extensive outcross program, to increase the breed's vitality, fertility and genetic variation. The Dutch kennel club approved the outcross program in 2012.Dutch breed club for Saarloos wolfdogs, plan of approach.
Two types of outcrosses are used in the outcross program. The first type is the use of so called 'look-alikes', which are dogs that resemble a Saarloos wolfdog, but that don't have a pedigree or that belong to a breed that isn't recognized by the FCI.Dutch breed club for Saarloos wolfdogs, evaluating look-alikes. The second type is the use of several FCI-recognized breeds. The breeds to be used are chosen by breed club members and agreed upon by majority vote. The procedure for both types of outcrosses is the same. The outcross is performed and the F1 generation is produced. The F1 is evaluated and fully health screened, and the best individuals are chosen to contribute to the next generation. This is done by breeding them back to purebred Saarloos wolfdogs, which produces the F2 generation. The F2 is again evaluated and health tested, and the best individuals are bred back to Saarloos wolfdogs to produce the F3 generation. The offspring of an F3 with a purebred Saarloos wolfdog (F4) will get an official pedigree and be recognized as a purebred. In order to maintain proper breed type, purebred breeding of Saarloos wolfdogs must continue alongside the outcross program.Dutch breed club for Saarloos wolfdogs, plan of approach.
As of January 2019, the following outcrosses have been performed:
  • White Swiss Shepherd (currently in the F2) White Swiss Shepherd outcross updates.
  • Siberian Husky (currently in the F1) Siberian Husky outcross updates.
  • Ibizan Hound (currently in the F1) Ibizan Hound outcross updates.
  • Norwegian Elkhound (currently in the F1) Norwegian Elk-Hound outcross updates.
  • Look-alike Northern Inuit Dog (currently in the F1) Look-alike outcross updates.

See also

  • Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
  • Northern Inuit Dog
  • Tamaskan Dog

External links

  • Category:FCI breeds
    Category:Wolf-dog hybrids
    Category:Dog breeds originating in the Netherlands
    Category:Dog breeds originating in Germany

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