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The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog has a robust yet elegant body.
The close resemblance to the wolf can be noted in many respects with these pedigree dogs. On one hand, the typical reserved behaviour around anything new and unfamiliar, coupled with an innate flight instinct, and on the other, pronounced hunting behaviour constantly exemplified by great courage and fearlessness characterise the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
“Big bad wolf” or loyal companion?
Above all, its quick reactions, extreme performance and excellent sense of smell make the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog predestined to work as a service dog for the military or police. Thus, the Czechoslovakian army's desire for tough working and utility dogs marked the beginning of the first breeding attempts. The Wolfdog should combine positive characteristics of German Shepherds with essential wolf features to become a more capable border watchdog. The army hoped to gain new strength through these dogs that were to be as similar as possible to wolves. However, the shyness and fearfulness of some of these hybrid dogs proved to be problematic and ultimately unfit for service.
Pronounced pack behaviour
Although healthy mistrust and a certain guardedness are nowadays expressly desired according to the FCI standard, responsible breeding, consistent training and comprehensive socialisation have managed to steer these fundamental characteristics in a positive and socially acceptable direction. Under the specified prerequisites, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog can become a fearless companion that proves very teachable and obedient in training. Their loyalty to their owner evokes the wolf's pronounced pack behaviour and is helpful in this respect. Their above-average intelligence makes them grateful model pupils even when it comes to demanding exercises. These intelligent pedigree dogs are thoroughly capable of critically questioning the tasks they are given, so they should be purposeful.
For whom is the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog suitable?
A high level of experience, patience and intuition is certainly required in order to offer these temperamental Wolfdogs the appropriate training and activity that they require. Only experienced dog owners will succeed in catering to their particular needs. According to their nature, these dogs must be thoroughly physically and mentally stimulated in order to become even-tempered and satisfied companions.
Are they feasible family dogs?
Cautious and early socialisation minimises these naturally shy dogs' fear of unfamiliar humans, animals and situations. When appropriately trained and socialised, it's feasible for a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog to make a good family dog. Especially when around children, the patient and loving side of these incredibly loyal dogs comes to the fore.
The mistrust with which the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog meets strangers can be reciprocal for certain encounters. The fairy tale of the “big bad wolf”, which is fixed in the memory of many, doesn't help here! Even as a loyal companion dog, its close relation to the wolf cannot be denied. The wolf-like qualities are evident in the physique, wedge-shaped head, grey coat and strong muscles.
Elegant and powerful with thick fur
The entire body appears powerful and elegant. The robust and weather-resistant stock hair is yellow- to silver-grey in colour, whilst a dark-grey shade is occasionally possible. White markings on the chest and base of the neck are typical characteristics with Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs of all colours. A peculiarity shared with the wolf is how the fur adapts according to the season. The fur is very different in the winter and summer. In winter, the undercoat covers the whole body, forming a dense coat along with the top hair. It reaches from the ears across the stomach and down to the toes!
Understanding behaviour through looks alone
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog has a slightly arched forehead with a moderately pronounced stop and typical characteristics depending on the sex. There is a clear differentiation between males and females. The narrow, slanting and generally amber-coloured eyes lend the Wolfdog its typically intense expression. Its triangular prick ears are medium-sized and reveal both its wolf-like heritage and types of body language – the Wolfdog is capable of expressing itself in many ways through gestures. This breed are very restrained when it comes to barking – however their howling could seriously test your neighbours' patience.
The history of this interesting breed dates back to a highly audacious biological experiment in the middle of the 1950s. In the then Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic, the biologist Karel Hartl crossed German Shepherds with Carpathian wolves. The army gave him the order to do so, since it was on the lookout for primal service dogs that were more suitable to the extreme weather conditions in Czechoslovakia's high border regions. Hartl initially didn't intend to create a new official dog breed through his experiments and was primarily focused on scientific interest and the discoveries regarding the fertility and anatomic peculiarities of the two subjects.
Brita: She-wolf and primordial mother
In the CSR's border protection facilities, the breeding attempts between 24 carefully selected shepherd dogs and four Carpathian wolves were to take place. Three arduous years passed until the first litter was born on 26 May 1958. The she-wolf Brita – nowadays the primordial mother of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog breed – had refused to mate up until then and attacked all the stud dogs chosen for her. Mating only came to pass when the aggressive and extremely dominant male shepherd dog Cézar z Březového háje happened to enter the she-wolf's enclosure.
The rise and fall of Wolf-dog mongrels
Hartl continued to pair wolf-dog hybrids from the first generation with German Shepherds and developed four breeding lines over the course of the years, in which he repeatedly crossed wolf-dog mongrels. The last wolf cross-breeding took place in 1983.
Although the first generations were to some extent trainable, the hybrids were still too reserved and aggressive to be deployed with the army. Only from around the fifth generation onwards could a few dogs be deployed for service, however, only after comprehensive and early socialisation which allowed them to bond closely with humans. This time commitment was probably too great for the army and it withdrew from its request for a new service dog breed. As a result, breeding of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog almost ground to a halt in 1971.
The path towards recognition
After the army stepped back from its role as initiator, breeding efforts for the Wolfdog came to a standstill. Only ten years later did interested breeders and cynologists form a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Club in 1982, thereby recommencing breeding. The CSR's cynological umbrella association quickly recognised the results as a new national breed. In 1989, the FCI initially followed with provisional recognition. Ten years later in 1999, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog gained definitive recognition. Since then, it has been listed under the FCI standard number 332 in group 1 (sheepdogs and cattle dogs), section 1 (sheepdogs).
A rare breed
Although breeders from a broad range of countries have nowadays accepted the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, the breed is still quite rare. The reasons for this are presumably that other breeds seem more suitable as utility dogs and that keeping a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a family dog is in comparison more demanding. Despite its versatility and many positive attributes such as great intelligence, incredible endurance and unconditional loyalty to their owner, training these dogs requires lots of time and skill. As a result, you should only purchase a dog of this breed after careful deliberation.
High demands on the owner
If the wolf-like appearance and behaviour appeal to you, you should first ask yourself If you can meet the requirements of these special dogs. Do you already have experience of keeping dogs? Do you have enough free time to dedicate to training your dog? Where would it live? Do you have a large, fenced property in which this energetic dog can move around freely? Do you have enough money to allow you to keep one of these dogs? The costs of food, good liability insurance and of course veterinary bills shouldn't be underestimated.
Purchasing a puppy
Only start the search for a suitable breeder when you can answer “yes” to all these questions. However, it will still take a while until you can take a little puppy home with you. Since females of this breed generally only produce one litter per year – just like she-wolves – the wait for a new arrival can be lengthy. Use this time to reflect on the purchase, get to know the breeder better and make all the necessary preparations in your home. After all, you won't just need lots of food and dog accessories, but you'll have to make your home “puppy-safe”. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is extremely temperamental and even puppies are more than happy to test their limits. Hence, you're best off putting away objects dear to you that could be broken before your dog enters your home.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs require plenty of activity and training
An individual who is out of the house for several hours each day and likes to put their feet up after work is certainly not a suitable owner for the active and sensitive Wolfdog. Along with plenty of physical and mental activity that you must offer your dog on a daily basis, training the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is what demands most time and consistency. Insufficient training, pointless violence or neglect can have dangerous consequences with this pedigree breed. Although they are by nature docile and would not attack humans for no reason, they are very self-confident and powerful dogs that would rebel and take the reins themselves should they be handled incorrectly.
Can the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog be kept outdoors?
If you own a well-fenced property, the robust Wolfdog can be kept outside. However, since it likes company and doesn't enjoy spending too long alone, a second dog would certainly do it good in this case. In addition, they need to be able to retreat to a dry protected refuge in poor weather conditions. Spending a lot of time outdoors and running free around your property of course does not replace the need for shared walks and outdoor excursions that you should undergo on a daily basis with your dog. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog requires a strong connection to its “pack leader” and should definitely not be left alone for too long.
Prove you’re a suitable pack leader
In order to avoid such situations, it's important that you show your dog from an early age who has the final say. You should prove that you are a suitable pack leader. Authority, self-confidence, experience and patience are indispensable qualities needed if you wish to train your dog. Get these sensitive dogs used to new environments, people, noises or other animals from an early stage – but with caution. Show them something new every day – even if it's just a child on rollerblades or a tractor in a field. Make them experience safety with you as the pack leader and they should feel the need to intervene themselves.
Training and socialisation is key - but don't forget grooming!
Good training and comprehensive socialisation are of enormous importance for these dogs, but they aren't the be-all and end-all. After all, like all dogs, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog needs appropriate healthcare and a balanced diet in order to maintain its robust health and energetic lifestyle. Regular grooming, deworming and annual vaccinations should be fundamental for every dog owner. Moulting certainly proves a big challenge with these dogs, taking place twice a year. This involves the fur changing between summer and winter. Apart from the hair lost during the moulting period, these pedigree dogs bring surprisingly little dirt into the home. It's generally not necessary to bathe the tough stock hair.
What does the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog eat?
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog isn't very demanding when it comes to food and generally tolerates all good dog foods, regardless of whether it be wet or dry, self-cooked or BARF. Food should contain all necessary nutrients that your dog requires. This can depend on its age, size, activity level and other circumstances. For instance, if your dog is still young and does lots of sport, it will need more substantial food than an elderly dog living indoors. Looking at the ingredients can provide accurate information on your dog's individual needs, as can discussing with your vet. Plenty of meat (70-90%), vegetables (20%) and valuable fats (e.g. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil) are the fundamental ingredients that should be found in every food. Grain and sugar should have little to no place at all.
At a maximum of 45cm in height and up to 10kg in weight, clever Medium Poodles are just the right size for many dog lovers, since they can always be involved as loyal everyday companions.