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The Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound (Dutch: Saarlooswolfhond) is an established breed of dog originating from wolfdog hybrid crosses.

Saarloos wolfdog
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Saarloos wolfdog
Other namesSaarloos wolfhound
Classification / standards
FCI Group 1 Herding dogs, Section 1 Sheepdogs #311 standard
UKC Herding Dogs wolf/dog hybrids standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)



In 1935, Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos (1884–1969) started cross-breeding a German Shepherd male to a female European wolf (Canis lupus lupus), which he obtained from Diergaarde Blijdorp, the Rotterdam Zoo. Although he was passionate about the German Shepherd, he found most dogs to be too domesticated and wanted to breed in more natural properties in order to get better working dogs.[1] The result was not entirely what Saarloos had hoped for. This breed is cautious, reserved and lacks the ferocity to attack. Until Leendert Saarloos died in 1969, he was in full control over the breeding of his "European wolfdog". The Dutch Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1975. To honour its creator, they changed the name to "Saarloos Wolfdog". In 1981, the breed was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). In the past, some Saarloos wolfdogs were trained as guide dogs for the blind and as rescue dogs, but most dogs of this breed are currently simply kept as companions.


In 2015, a study found that the Saarloos wolfdog showed more genetic association with the gray wolf than any other breed, which is in agreement with the documented historical crossbreeding with gray wolves in this breed.[2] In 2016, a major DNA study of domestic dogs found a deep division between the Saarloos wolfdog and all other dogs, highlighting its descent from the crossing of German Shepherds with captive wolves in the 1930s, then followed by a further split between dogs of Eastern Eurasian and Western Eurasian origin.[3]

Size and appearanceEdit

The Saarloos wolfdog is a fairly large dog, up to 76 cm (30 in) at the shoulder and weighing up to 45 kg (100 lb). It is an athletic dog in build, with medium bone, and a strong and muscular body. They move lightly on their feet and have an elegant march. Its coat is short and dense, providing good protection from the weather. There are three colours: wolf-grey, red and white. Because the wolf-grey genes are dominant, this is the most common colour. Genes for white colour are recessive, making this uncommon although this colour is accepted. The Saarloos has wolf-like expressions, as well as a wolf-like head.


This breed needs thorough socialization before the twelfth week of age to ensure prosocial behavior.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Saarlooswolfhond (PDF), FCI, retrieved 25 September 2014
  2. ^ Skoglund, P. (2015). "Ancient wolf genome reveals an early divergence of domestic dog ancestors and admixture into high-latitude breeds". Current Biology. 25 (11): 1515–9. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.019. PMID 26004765.
  3. ^ Frantz, L. A. F.; Mullin, V. E.; Pionnier-Capitan, M.; Lebrasseur, O.; Ollivier, M.; Perri, A.; Linderholm, A.; Mattiangeli, V.; Teasdale, M. D.; Dimopoulos, E. A.; Tresset, A.; Duffraisse, M.; McCormick, F.; Bartosiewicz, L.; Gal, E.; Nyerges, E. A.; Sablin, M. V.; Brehard, S.; Mashkour, M.; b l Escu, A.; Gillet, B.; Hughes, S.; Chassaing, O.; Hitte, C.; Vigne, J.-D.; Dobney, K.; Hanni, C.; Bradley, D. G.; Larson, G. (2016). "Genomic and archaeological evidence suggest a dual origin of domestic dogs". Science. 352 (6290): 1228. doi:10.1126/science.aaf3161. PMID 27257259.
  4. ^ Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther (2001). The Complete Encyclopedia of Dogs. The Netherlands: Robo International. p. 73. ISBN 9780785819998.

External linksEdit