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          German   Shepherd   Or   Wolf ??

All dogs are "wolfdogs". The only difference between them (besides appearance and temperament) is the number of generations away from a "pure" wolf the individual canine is. The original German Shepherd studbook, Zuchtbuch fur Deutche Schaferhunde (SZ), shows several pure wolves were used to "create" the breed and this was less than 100 years ago!   Similar events can be uncovered for Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Belgian Shepherd types, and many rarer-breed "dogs". German Shepherds were recently the most popular KC breed. Imagine that -- a 'wolfdog' is the most popular working/companion dog!

I think a key question to be answered is: When does a 'wolf become a dog??

l. Since the wolf and the dog are the same species, is there really such an entity as a wolf "HYBRID", as it is generally acknowledged that all dogs and wolves are descended from an extinct animal in pre-historic times named 'Canis Lupus' (Dog Wolf).
2. Since all dogs are descended from wolves, are not all dogs 'wolfdogs'? - the only difference between them (besides appearance and temperament) being the number of generations away from a 'pure' wolf the individual is.
3. Are we really not just talking about 'recent' wolf crosses (the onus being on us to define 'recent'' .
Many (but not all!) of the dogs we have today resulted from the PRIMARY domestication of the Old World Southern Wolf, a smaller, less pack-oriented animal than the Northern Wolf, the wolf we are most familiar with today and which most of the 'recent' wolf crosses have used.   I say MANY dogs, but not all because many of the Northern breeds are the result of a SECONDARY domestication of the result of the primary with the Northern Wolves as 'recent' as 90 years ago (documented in the German Shepherd breed). The primary happened thousands of years ago, but it is a mistake to think that that was the LAST time wolves were used in dog breeds.

I present the following research for your perusal:

The original German Shepherd studbook, Zuchtbuch fur Deutche Schaferhunde (SZ), shows several pure wolves were used to 'create' the breed.

Captain Von Stephanitz, of the German infantry, bought sheep-herding dogs (many of them field trial winners) from all over Europe in the late 1800's and early 1900's and bred them together to create his 'ultimate service dog'. He started a registry and stud book. His favourite dog, Hektor, he gave the first          # (SZ 1).   Hektor was 1/4th wolf. He was bred to every decent bitch around, and all the dogs originally imported to the UK & America were proudly traced back to him.  Shortly thereafter, the German Shepherd Dog's (GSD) name was changed to Alsatian Wolf Dog. Their popularity soared for a while, then fell tremendously as the media sensationalised every trivial remotely negative event that occurred associated with a canine with the word 'wolf' in it. There were arguments left and right - " Was the Alsatian Wolfdog (GSD) the best working/most capable/most intelligent dog that ever walked the face of the earth OR was Alsatian Wolfdog (GSD) the unpredictable/livestock eating/human attacking beast from hell?? Sound familiar? Well, we know how that one turned out. The name was eventually changed back in 1977 to German Shepherd Dog, and over the last few years things have calmed down, and the GSD soon reached it peak at the top of the 'most popular dog' list .
In the first decade of 1900, Von Stephanitz wrote a book (in German) about his loyal hard working dogs called "The German Shepherd in Word and Picture".   In this book  he documents the above heritage and pleas to the breeders not "to add more wolf blood" into his dogs as he had ALREADY found the IDEAL combination. In 1923, an American version was translated VERBATIM. Not many copies were printed and few still exist. has a pricey (about $350) original and more may (?) be found by doing rare book searches. In 1932, an 8th Enlarged and 'Revised' (read 'Sanitised' !) version was financed by English speaking 'interests'. All references to the positive wolf heritage were removed and most GSD fanciers have been denying RECENT wolf heritage ever since.

Herr Strebel is quoted in "The Alsatian Wolf-Dog", by G. Horowitz as saying that he "has seen how easily a wolf can step into the pedigree of Alsatians without causing all those terrible phenomena that are considered to be the results of crossing with a wolf". He gives an example of a hybrid wolf (whose granddam was a wolf) who "absolutely had the temperament of a Sheepdog; who was obedient and faithful, and the pet of the house" (page 14, "Concerning the Wolf Cross"). He goes on to state that this is a striking example of how quickly all trace of wolf's blood is lost in a 'domesticated' breed.
In 1912, Monsieur Henry Sodenkamp wrote in the Belgian Journal, Chasse et Peche (The Chase and Hunt), that it is the French opinion that "THE WOLF LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE ALSATIAN". (The breed was partially created in Alsace, France).

Mores Plieningen, SZ #159, who was bred to the first Stud dog, Horand Von Grafath (previously known as Hektor) and whose blood is said to be in the pedigree of every GSD in the world today, was the granddaughter of a wolf at the Stuttgart Zoo/Gardens. Their son, Hektor Von Schwaben, SZ #13, figured heavily in the early GSD line. (Captain Von Stephanitz bought Hektor Liksrhein and renamed him Horand Von Grafath, after his kennel name.)

In the original German Shepherd studbook, Zuchtbuch fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SZ), within the 2 pages of entries from SZ #41 to SZ #76, there are 4 WOLF Crosses.".

Note: OWNS the actual Volume I and II of the GSD Stud books.

From the foregoing, and assuming that all present day dogs are mainly descended from an original 18 dogs in Stephanitz Kennels, it must be assumed that all German Shepherd dogs are from one third to one quarter  RECENT wolf!!!, and TOTALLY 'Ancient Wolf' by heritage.

I personally find no problem with the forgoing, as a German Shepherd Dog enthusiast - I have seen and heard of many PURE Wolves being kept as pets, and treated as dogs - particularly Canadian Timber Wolves,
and my wife has much experience of Alaskan Wolves being kept by the 'Inuits' (Alaskan Indians) and also first crosses with Wolves and Huskies during her recent 20 years residency in Alaska, in spite of American laws banning the keeping of such animals.

Copyright : John J. Haddleton, 1996 - 2003

IIt is an infringement of International Copyright Laws to reproduce in full, or in part any of the above without my express permission in writing
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