The Saarlooswolfhond (or Saarlooswolfdog)
The Saarlooswolfhond(Dutch for “Saarloos Wolf dog”) was originally bred in 1921, by Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos who crossbred a male German Shepherd Dog “Gerhard van de Fransenum” with a female Eurasian Wolf “Fleur”. His aim was to produce a “super” German Shepherd Dog which was immune to distemper. At that time it was known as the European Wolf-dog. He had full control over both the breeding program and the Wolf-dogs themselves until he died in 1969. The new breed was recognised by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975 and was renamed Saarlooswolfhond (wolf dog) in honour of Leendert Saarloos. Saarlooswolfdogs were in the past trained as guide dogs for the blind. About 300 blind people have had Saarlooswolfdogs as guide dogs.
Attempts have been made to introduce them to rescue and police work, but the strong wolf traits, reserve, caution, flight and lack of ferocity particularly in regard to police work, made the majority of these wolf-dogs unsuitable candidates. Today’s Saarlooswolfdog is a strong imposing dog, and is also a very rare breed. Purebreds can cost up to $2,000.
The Saarlooswolfdog is a not a breed for novice dog owners, due to its size and strength. It is a bold and daring and powerful dog. It’s wolf-like appearance and typical wolf-gait make it a striking animal. This is not a dog for first time owners or anyone with little time to spare; It needs a lot of exercise, as it doesn’t tire easily. Apartment and urban life are not appropriate for this breed. The animal needs a strong alpha leader; a dominant position that must be established by the owner from the start, and also a social atmosphere. Owners are well advised to have at least two of the breed because the animals are still pack-oriented. In this situation the alpha dog will soon become obvious and in leading its pack will also establish order. If isolated this will intensify any anti-social behaviour, and if locked in an enclosed space these dogs panic.
The breed is very intelligent. A great deal of patience is required for successful training because the breed doesn’t take well to obedience or schutzhund work and is extremely strong willed. But they are also very reliable dogs, with a tendency to become especially attached to one person, and are extremely loyal to their owner. It is possible to train them as Show Dogs as exemplified by the Saarloos male who won Group 1 at the Working Dog Show in Finland in 1998. They rarely bark, using a variety of alternative ways to alert their owner. It is recommended not to have a Saarlooswolfhond around children or other animals, because they still have a strong drive to kill prey.