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Man’s best friend With traces of wolf A wolf is a wolf, and a dog is a dog. With 25 percent part wolf, the Saarloos wolfhound is a bit of both. The fear for the wolf places this breed into the center of discussion. Could it be harmful for us humans? It’s well known that all dogs in this world share the same heritage, the wolf. After a thousand years of breeding, today there are dog in all different shapes, looks and sizes. From the smallest of them all, the Chihuahua that could almost fit in your hand, to the Grand danois which reaches up to your hip. But one species has on the contrary, taken a turn backwards. Back to the roots. The Saarloos wolfhound has kept the character of the wolf. Today it is still a rare breed with only about 1500 individuals in the world. All throughout time Man has seen the wolf as a dangerous animal. It has created fear and its blood thirst has been portrayed in literature as well as on the screen.

and wolf involves harm for as well humans as for the dog itself. Things didn’t change until 2007. After many letters from Ninni Erlandsson to the Swedish Kennel club, the breed finally became official. – Because of EU regulations we can’t forbid a breed, and the fact that the Saarloos Wolfhond now s part of FCI also plays a role, Hans Rosenberg says, informant at the Swedish kennel club, SKK. In other words, the Saarloos wolfhound would probably still be forbidden if it wasn’t for persistent owners. SKK demands that there mustn’t be any trace of wolf within the last four generations. The last time wolf was crossed with wolf was in 1963, to prevent inbreeding.

Reserved animal

Uncontrollable child murderer

The fact that the Saarloos wolfhound has trace of wolf has made people curious as well as suspicious. Just judged by its looks, the similarities with the wolf are striking, and surely many also expects a dog with the same calibre.

Nini Erlandsson and her boyfriend Kim Storlöpare have had Saarloos wolfhounds for many years, and has faced a lot of tough comments and criticism.

This is not the case. Many forget that the wolf is in fact a very reserved animal. In the world of nature this is a way to survive, something which the Saarloos wolfhound has inherited. Leendert Saarloos tried in fact to erase this characteristic but failed. Saarloos wolfhound is a very cautious breed. Instead of getting into a fight it turns straight. It doesn’t care for big crowds, Kim Storlöpare explains.

Because the Saarloos wolfhound is part wolf, critical voices has put emphasis on the breed being unpredictable. Many people just don’t want to accept a breed that once was crossed with wolf.

– When browsing a forum on Internet, people told me that the Saarloos Wolfhond can’t function in the society of today, that it’s an uncontrollable child murderer, she explains. Per Arverius, doctoral within animal genetics is of a different opinion. – If you take the nicest wolf through selection, soon you have a branch of animals with a more calm behaviour. It’s impossible to judge a whole dog species based on a few percent wolf involvement, Per Arverius says.

Founded in the 1920’s

Saarloos wolfhound was created in the 1920’s by Leendert Saarloos in the Netherlands, thus the breed is very young. The goal was to create a breed with the same intelligence and resistance as with the wolf. He crossed a female wolf with a German shepherd, and thus these two animals became the ancestors for today’s official breed. But it wasn’t so easy. In the beginning Saarloos Wolfhound wasn’t recognised in the Dutch kennel club. It was said to lack the purity of a normal dog, and it would take until 1975 before official recognition in the Netherlands. In 1981 the international canine organisation FCI recognised Saarloos Wolfhond as an official breed, but in Sweden it wasn’t time just yet. The praxis of the Swedish kennel club has always been that crossbreeding between dog

– They are very reserved towards strangers. If a fierce situation comes up, it rather leaves than fight, he says. So can you say the Saarloos wolfhound is equal to the wolf? Hans Rosenberg says no. He is of the opinion that the Saarloos wolfhound is mainly a dog with some element of the wolf. A dog’s behaviour is mostly a factor related to the owner than with the dog itself. – You always have to be aware of what breed you are getting. Every dog is bred for a special purpose; therefore it’s important that you choose a dog which suits your particular demands. The Swedish kennel club doesn’t recommend the Saarloos Wolfhound to an owner who doesn’t have any past experience with dogs, Hans Rosenebrg says. He makes a comparison: – You can’t buy a Ferrari if you think it will act as a Fiat. You won’t be able to handle it. ADAM LÖPPE

Saarlos Wolfhond  

Wolfhond Sweden