Are there animals which are part dog and part wolf?

One day, one of my sisters asked me how Balto could be part dog and part wolf. I told her I didn’t think such animals existed, but my sisters seem to believe otherwise. Although I saw a few articles (including Wikipedia) which say that the “part wolf” element (along with some others) was fictionalized to make Balto a more interesting character, I can’t change anybody’s mind. Do part dog, part wolf animals exist? To me, the notion sounds about as unscientific as a half human, half monkey. The closest thing to such a creature might be the pye-dog, which many people might not consider “part wolf” and which I doubt would be a useful sled animal.

Scientifically, dogs and wolves are just different subspecies of the same species. They can interbreed with no problem. There are lots of part dog/part wolf animals in the world today. They are sometimes called “wolf hybrids” and “wolf dogs”.

I don’t know who this “Balto” character is, but just because he’s fictional doesn’t mean wolf/dog crossbreeds are imaginary.

Where I live, every trailer park has a few wolf/dog hybrids. It’s really not that uncommon.

Yes, wolves can breed with dogs and make half wolf, half dog puppies. Those puppies are not sterile, so they could go on to create other pups with various levels of “wolf-ness”.

These animals DO NOT make good pets.

Wolf-dog hybrids are not particularly rare, nor are other canine hybrids between species like wolves, coyotes, and dogs.

Yes, wolfdogs are quite common and have no problems interbreeding, although some countries have laws against keeping them. The most recognised breed is the Czechoslovak Wolfdog, to my knowledge, but there are many many more ; even some dogs that are generally not thought to be hybrids have a little wolf in them. For example, the Australian Cattle Dog (Blue/Red Heeler) is part dingo, which is technically a wolf.

edit ; and it’s unfair to say wolfdogs don’t make good pets. Most recognised wolf/dog crosses make perfectly good pets. The problem is that when they’re bred together wrong you can get inherently wild and vicious animals. If I remember right it depends a lot on whether the sire or dam was the wolf.

I would love to see a citation from anyplace reputable that says wolf/dog crosses make good pets. And no, I am not talking about breeds that may have traces of wild dog in their background. I am talking about taking a domesticated dog and breeding it with a wolf, and keeping the pups that result. They are considered unreliable, and more dangerous than dogs OR wolves, because they aren’t afraid of people, but do not respect them as dogs do either.

Cites:

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910317&slug=1272228

I googled “wolf dogs as pets” and those were my first results.

These animals DO NOT make good pets.

The original Balto was a Siberian Husky. In the movie version, he was changed to a wolf-dog hybrid.

As has been said, hybrids between wolves and dogs (and between other canids) are quite common. Domestic dogs are descended from wolves, and today are considered the same species.

All dogs are technically wolves. Both dingos and pye-dogs/pariah dogs are essentially feral forms of domestic dogs and are probably close to the ancestral form from which other domestic dogs are descended.

FWIW. it’s within the last 50 years or so that the conspecificity of dogs and wolves has achieved consensus. When I was a kid wolves were Canis lupus, dogs C. domesticus. Many of this sort of question date back to these older classification presumptions no longer accepted.

Linnaeus described most domestic animals as separate species from their wild progenitors, and that tradition was followed for a long time.

The Biological Species Concept has been the dominant one for much of the past 80 years. However, this concept only applies to wild populations. Since most domestic forms are fully interfertile with their wild ancestors, and are only kept separate by human intervention, it is now usual to consider them part of the ancestral species. (Properly speaking, even a subspecific designation might not be appropriate.)

If you’re talking only about first-generation wolfdogs, then fair enough. But the established breeds (which still have a full 50% wolf to them, not just traces) are considered perfectly suitable to being pets. They’re obviously not going to be as easily trained as a golden retriever or a lab, and they’re not at all suitable for a nervous or inexperienced dog owner, but the same could be said of pitbulls, kelpies, any kind of sheepdog, etc.

If you google the name of an established breed like the Saarloos Wolfhound or Czechoslovakian Wolfdog you’ll find lots of reputable citations in their favour and very few against them. They even used Saarloos Wolfdogs as guide dogs.

Sure, but 50 or so years ago it was not known, and not generally believed, that dogs were descended from wolves. I can remember reading stuff that claimed that dogs were probably more closely related to, and perhaps descended from, jackals (or some jackal-dog common ancestor) rather than wolves. It was not just that domesticated breeds were taken to be a different species from their ancestors. The ancestry itself was thought to be different.

Well, I was talking about first generation crosses, because that’s what the OP was discussing. The other breeds you mention are interesting, although my googling resulted in articles that cautioned against the average owner taking on a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.

Where I live, first generation wolf/dog crosses, like the one mentioned in the OP, are fairly commonly bought by morons. These animals are not suitable as pets. Obviously, a long-term breeding program by reputable people can result in dogs with wolf ancestry (and appearances) that retain the reliability of domestic dogs. After all, domestic dogs were once wolves (essentially). But breeding a wolf with a dog will make puppies that are unsuitable for the average home, and unsuitable for wolf rescues as well. These animals are not good pets, and should not be created.

Who’s this “they” of which you speak?

Yes. They’re called dogs.

Dogs genetically distinguishable from wolves separated somewhere between 15 and 30 thousand years ago. They are very different in behavior and in many other ways, such as intelligence, strength, and biting power (a wolf can chew through cyclone fencing with comparative ease, for example).

Dog x wolf crosses make no rational sense at all that I can see. Yes, the people who want to own them are morons.

I think the consensus for hundreds of years was that dogs were domesticated wolves. There have been speculations on and off that dogs might have substantial ancestry from other Canis species and you might have read an article or book advancing such a view, but that has never been the dominant view.

I’ll strongly disagree. It’s the moron part of the equation that hurts the dogs reputation, not the wolf part.

I’ve owned a first generation wolf-dog. I had personal knowledge of both parents. This was a very loving, well behaved animal. One of his siblings was bought and raised by one of the morons of which you speak, who thought the only way to raise a wolf cross was to beat them. An attitude I found common. Raised like any other dog, they will behave like any other dog. I’ve known quite a few of them.

I have multiple citations showing that these animals are unreliable and not fit to be pets. People occasionally keep tigers and chimps as pets without issues; that doesn’t mean those animals are good pets either. Do you have a citation from a reputable source that says first generation crosses of wolves and dogs make good pets? Your anecdote isn’t worth diddly. They are not dogs, they do not behave like dogs. They are dangerous animals. They should never be bred, and they should not be owned outside of a dedicated rescue staffed with well-trained caregivers in a secure environment.

And of course this also breaks down in practice at times, witness Wolf-Coyote hybrids, lineages that otherwise diverged some time ago, but now possibly seem to be recombining to form a new taxon in some areas. Whether that would have happened without human interference in terms of habitat alteration and other factors is unclear. But it points out how hazy species concepts can be, useful though they usually are.