Saarloos Wolfdog (Saarlooswolfhond)

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
wolf-gray; from light to dark shaded brown-tipped game-colour
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Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • forms strong bonds with its master     
  • good guardian
  • intelligent
  • a one-person dog
  • not for family with small children
  • requires a lot of daily exercises
  • doesn't suit for living in a small apartment


The Saarloos Wolfdog is an extremely powerful and large breed, which was produced by a Dutch breeder in the first half of the XX century. It’s characterised with somewhat primitive demeanour and therefore it’s ill-suited for the role of a sweet and biddable family dog. Moreover the dog’s rarity makes its acquirement rather difficult.

The development of the Saarloos Wolfdog was initiated by the genetic scientist and dog enthusiast Leendert Sarloos in the 20s of the XX century. This breeder was a passionate fancier of the German Shepherd Dog but he was dissatisfied with its trainability and insufficient immunity to such a formidable dog’s disease as distemper. Sarloos assumed that the ability of most modern breeds to fight virus agents was substantially moderated in comparison with their wild relatives. In 30s of the XX he resorted to the assistance of a Dutch zoo, which supplied him with a European wolf for breeding program.

Unfortunately the first breeding attempt failed because the wolf was infected with distemper and eventually died. This sad accident provided concrete evidence that the Saarloos’ theory about invulnerability of dog’s ancient forefathers to virulent diseases was fundamentally wrong. Another bitch of the wolf was granted to the breeder and in the spring of 1936 it was mated with the German Shepherd Dog and produced the first litter. Nonetheless all the puppies caught awful dog plague, which always has fatal outcome for a canine. Despite such disastrous failures in the beginning of its program Leendert Sarloos stuck to its initial goal of creating enhanced version of the German Shepherd Dog.

Finally the hybrid of a wolf and a dog was invented in the Saarloos’ van de Kilstroom kennel and was named the Europese Wolfhond. Its creator was convinced in the superior intelligence of his dog so he gave several of its specimens to a Seeing Eye guide school in Dordrecht. However they couldn’t become decent guide dogs because they were endowed with inborn shyness of wild animals and therefore were too easily frightened by urban noise and crowded areas. The very same reason didn’t allow it to make an effective police dog.

Sarloos passed away in 1969 and with his death the further existence of the Saarloos Wolfdog was seriously threatened. The dog’s lovers were deeply concerned with this situation and have petitioned the Raad van Beheer for recognition of Saarloos’ dogs. The breed was given formal acceptance by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975 and was renamed in honour of its primary developer. It was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1981. The Saarloos Wolfdog’s population concentrated exclusively in its country of origin and the dog’s enthusiast will have to pay up to 2 thousands dollars for its puppy.

The Saarloos Wolfdog is a smart and strong-headed breed, which took the significant part of its specific traits from its wolf’s ancestor. If you intend to keep it as a family pet then extensive and early socialisation is a must for the puppy of this breed. It usually displays unwavering loyalty to the alpha human in the household and prefers to keep distance with other family members. This dog isn’t recommended for families with small children as it won’t patiently endure any amount of rough-housing.

The Saarloos Wolfhound is extremely distrustful of strange people. Even a properly socialised specimen will act reservedly and standoffishly in the presence of an unfamiliar person. Shyness and fearfulness can also turn into possible behavioural issues, which will prevent it from being an agreeable member of a human society. Unlike other dogs the Saarloos Wolfdog won’t bark if it has spotted something suspicious so it shouldn’t be tasked with the work of a watchdog. At the same time the wolf-like appearance is commonly quite enough to drive off any criminal-minded individual. The breed is noted for a strong territorial instinct so it can be turned into an excellent guard dog.

The Saarloos Wolfdog is a highly pack-oriented breed and will be absolutely happy to share its existence with a few of other canines. However, it can demonstrate aggressiveness towards unfamiliar dogs so an extra caution is the essential requirement when two strange dogs meet for the first time. The dog is an avid hunter and will chase every average-sized animal, which was too unlucky to fall under its eye. It’s usually fine with a home cat if they have been introduced to each other in an early age.
Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• spondulosis of the spine.

The Saarloos Wolfdog needs very minimal maintenance. Periodic brushing will help to distribute natural oils, which cover its coat and skin and will timely remove dead hairs. This breed should be bathed rather infrequently and only with mild dog’s shampoo. The dog sheds averagely all the year round but shedding process intensifies when seasons change. More thorough and often combing is much recommended in order to shorten the shedding period.

The Saarloos Wolfdog has mixed reputation as far as it concerns its trainability. On the one hand this breed is well-known for its outstanding intelligence and ability to concentrate on the task at hand. On the other hand this incredibly strong-willed dog will recognise commands only from a strong, firm and consistent handler with well-expressed traits of a leader.

Apart from its natural stubbornness this breed is not characterised with permanent willingness to oblige so the success of the training session greatly depends on the dog’s mood. In its training only methods based on reward will bring desirable results.

The Saarloos Wolfdog is essentially a primitive breed, which inherited almost inexhaustible supply of energy from a wolf. That’s why this breed won’t be fully satisfied with even long walk and should be provided with acreage of safely fenced area to run and play. With its dense all-weather coat this dog can happily live in any type of climate.

However the Saarloos Wolfdog shouldn’t be kept as a yard dog as it needs constant contact with a human being in order to avoid serious behavioural problems in its adulthood. It’s worth to underline that the combination of extensive exercise requirements and difficult character make this dog unsuitable for inexperienced dog’s owner.