A wolfdog (also called a wolf hybrid) is a canid hybrid resulting from the breeding of a domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) to one of four other Canis sub-species, the gray (Canis lupus), eastern timber (Canis lycaon), red (Canis rufus), and Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis).
Wolf and Wolfdog Pet Names
These suggested names for pet wolfdogs are derived from foreign words from Native American languages, Latin, Spanish, and Japanese. Some mean "wolf," and others have an association with the animal or themes in nature.
- Achak: In a Native American language (Algonquin), it means "spirit"
- Kiowa: Native American tribe
- Lobo: Spanish word for wolf
- Luna: Latin word for moon. Wolves are associated with howling at the moon
- Mishka: Russian word for "teddy bear"; a famous online meme is "Mishka the Talking Husky"
- Okwaho: Iroquois word meaning "wolf"
- Okami: Japanese word for wolf
- Two Socks or Four Socks: Derivation or reference to a wolf in the movie Dances with Wolves
- Taima: "Thunder" in the Native American Algonquin language
- Tutanka: Native America Lakota word meaning "big beast"
- Waya: Means "wolf" in Native American Cherokee language
Some potential names that are derived from places: Alaska, Kodiak, Tacoma
Potential names that are derived from items in nature: Cloud, Newt, Pug, Shadow, Willow
Names of real-life wolfdogs: Deogee Shawna White Wolf, Koara, Kota, Nahina Natani, Nakomi, Nannu, Priscilla, Sasha Marie, Sun of Malikye, Tukkie
Wolfdogs as Pets
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, wolves do not make good pets. The idea of owning a wolf or a wolf-dog cross is appealing to some people who profess a great love and respect for wolves. They want to share their lives and homes with a wild spirit. Perhaps they even believe that by perpetuating the genes of wild wolves that they are doing the species a favor.
The reality is that owning one of these animals is often very different than you would expect. While wolf puppies might be every bit as cute as dog puppies, they will grow up to be wolves, not dogs, no matter how much they are treated like dogs.
It is both understandable and surprising that people want to take a bit of that wildness home in the form of a wolf and dog mix—or wolfdog—which some consider representing the best of both worlds: a dog’s friendly companionship paired with a wolf’s good looks and untamed nature.
Wolfdogs are perhaps the most misunderstood—and, many would argue, mismanaged—animals in America. Advocates say they can be wonderful pets, while opponents argue that they’re unpredictable, untrainable, and inherently dangerous. They’re permitted in some places, forbidden in others and are showing up on breed ban lists, along with pitbull mixes and other so-called "dangerous breeds." As of 2021, it is illegal to own a wolfdog in Alaska, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.
Experts have determined that wolves and dogs share more than 99 percent of their DNA, but those few strands make a big difference. Like a wild animal, a wolf must be self-sufficient, capable of finding and killing prey, fending off enemies, and preserving its life—essentially the opposite of what you want in an animal that is sharing your home.
Wolfdogs may display any or all of these behaviors to one degree or another:
- Wolfdogs have a high level of curiosity and will investigate everything in the home.
- A drive to roam. A wolf’s genes tell it to hit the road, get out of any enclosure, and defend its territory. Wolves also mark their territory with urine more frequently and copiously than dogs.
- A propensity toward den-building and digging. They can destroy your lawn (and furniture) in the same exercise and can also dig several feet down to escape from an enclosure.
- A strong predatory instinct. Pet wolfdogs often make short work of cats and small dogs, and may also attack bigger animals. Unfortunately, that drive can also be directed at humans; children are especially vulnerable.
Get A Dog: Wolves Are Not Good Pets. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Questions and Answers about Gray Wolf Biology. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Dohner, Janet V. The Encyclopedia of Animal Predators: Learn about Each Predator’s Traits and Behaviors; Identify the Tracks and Signs of More Than 50 Predators; Protect Your Livestock, Poultry, and Pets. Storey Publishing, LLC, 2017
Ostrander, Elaine A. The Genetics of the Dog. CABI, 2012