Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs remain a rare dog breed in the UK and Ireland.
The breed can trace its roots back to an experiment in Czechoslovakia in 1955.
These dogs were created by breeding a German Shepherd with a Carpathian wolves.
The idea was to create a breed that would have the temperament, pack mentality, and trainability of the German Shepherd and the strength, physical build and stamina of the Carpathian wolf.
They’re part of the AKC foundation stock in the USA, while the UKC recognises the breed as part of their herding group.
In a bid to learn more about the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, we spoke to Nube Villaneuva about her wolfdog WilloW.
Based in the Republic of Ireland, WilloW (@willowrussell.wolfdog) is an 18 month old Czechoslovakian Wolfdog who likes to explore the Irish coastline.
You can follow our dogs Copper and Skye on Instagram here (@lifewithkleekai).
1) How did you first hear about the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog?
I grew up in Asturias (north of Spain) where my grandparents had a big farm and always kept German Shepherds as guard dogs. One time my grandfather got a wolfdog. She looked like the other dogs at first sight. But she was more energetic, had long legs and her fur had a different feeling. I’ve always said that if I were to buy a dog, it would have to be a German Shepherd. I never expected to come across WilloW or a Wolfdog in my life. I have been living with depression for a few years now. At one point I could feel myself getting worse and it was then when unexpectedly a friend was to have his first litter of Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs in Co. Donegal. WilloW became an anchor to life, something to take care of and to make me get outside.
2) For those unsure, are they legal in the UK and Ireland?
They are legal, but there aren’t many, especially in Ireland. There is cattle and sheep everywhere and they have a strong wolf instinct. It is very difficult to get insurance for them, because although they are a dog breed, insurance companies see them as wolf hybrids. They have around 30% wolf DNA, although it varies among individuals. I think this has changed in the UK recently as there are more, but you would need to check it out.
These dogs are more common in Eastern Europe countries (were they were originated), Italy (where there was a big issue recently – breeders were crossing them with wolves to get a higher wolf content on them. The higher the wolf content the more expensive the pup is) and Spain.
3) Are Czechoslovakian wolf dogs good pets?
They can be great pets, like any other [canine]. The problem people face is the lack of information and experience (even when it comes to vets or dog trainers in some cases). They are dogs for an experienced dog owner, and even then, it would be a huge challenge. They require a lot of CONSISTENCY and as pups they will challenge you constantly. They are a one-person-dog, they decide who is the alpha. I was told that females are as dominant as the most dominant common male dog.
They can die of broken heart syndrome so it is a big decision and compromise to get one.
4) What is their temperament like?
I like to compare it to a cat, domesticated, but not tamed. Through training and life experience everything changes. As pups, they are very cautious, very afraid of everything new, including people. Their inner wolf is still very dominant – wolves are timid and fearful creatures. Their senses are very strong and they are very curious of everything that moves around them (they see everything! A new object in the room, something moved around. It’s incredible!).
Like wolves they don’t bark, although they can be very vocal. They use their mouth for everything even to communicate through nipping/biting. If provoked they won’t turn down a challenge (even if it is just eye contact). They have great stamina and as adults they can walk many kilometers per day with just 10 mins break every few hours. They can suffer from severe separation anxiety and become very destructive. But they love their pack members and would follow them to the end of the world.
5) Can you give us an insight into WilloW’s personality?
WilloW is still a pup, he is just turned 18 months. He has a very strong personality and he will let his opinion be known at all times one way or another. He was very bad as a pup for nipping/biting (their baby teeth are like saws and needles), but he has come a long way since, He loves napping but he needs exercise and he will force you to take him out for walks and play with him if he must – he can be very stubborn. He is always nearby even when off the leash.
He is like any other teaneger, he has a good heart, but he also has rebellious and cheeky moments. We decided not to neuter him for many reasons, but the two main ones were: New studies show it doesn’t improve their behaviour (those behaviours that involve choice can even worsen) and the second was because it can interfere with their growth and increase the chances to develop hip dysplasia in the future (let’s not forget they are a mix of German Shepherd and Carpathian Wolf).
Unfortunately due to rent/housing crisis here in Ireland, it has been almost impossible to accommodate him. We are surrounded by neighbours and some of them (who are no longer around) had no patience for a noisy pup which only made his separation anxiety get worse.
Nowadays he can’t be left alone, as he begins crying, howling very loud and eventually starts destroying everything. For this reason he spends quite some time at the dog kennels. I call it “Summer Camp” because he is free to play around and he loves it there. When we cross dogs in the street most owners are cautious or afraid of WilloW because of his size and don’t allow their dogs to interact with WilloW.
6) Have there been any good or bad surprises in terms of owning one?
Of course! It has forced me to become stronger and more stable mentally. I have become more confident of our capabilities (as educators and WilloW’s). This is the type of creature that will break you down and it is up to you whether you give up or get up stronger!
He has made me very proud. I suppose the joy is like with any other pet, being there every day. There has been some bad incidents at the beginning, their personality is more wolf than dog at times and things can go very wrong if you can’t dominate the situation. I suppose a part from nips, bruises and the usual disagreement, there was this one time.
I was lying in bed and he decided he wanted to play. I thankfully was under the duvet when he decided to take a dive jump on me trying to dig me out (like a fox in the snow). He landed right on my diaphragm. That day I could barely move, never mind eating nor holding down anything. Doctors were seriously concerned about the possibility that he might had ripped something inside me. It took me a week to recover from the event. Let’s keep in mind that WilloW was just under 40kg and I’m just over 50kg. In the end it was all just a big silly accident.
The biggest surprise was probably how fast he grew up: he simply exploded and became huge. I haven’t felt such joy for a long time that watching him grow [brought me].
7) Do Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs require special training?
They don’t require special training as such, but loads of consistency throughout their whole life. Socialisation is incredibly important with this breed from a very young age: people, animals, fast moving objects/people (their prey drive is incredibly strong). Mouthing is a big part of the training. Teaching them a different way of communication is vital as their baby teeth are sharp and they have large pronounced fangs. Thinking ahead from the very first day – it’s essential to set strong boundaries from the very beginning. We also need to teach people how to approach him as most people forget this is a Wolfdog, not a Jack Russell and he might need extra space and time to welcome someone. We always say – “you are welcome to pet him if he approaches you”.
8) Are Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs smart?
They are not only smart, they are intelligent. They observe everything around them and if motivated they can learn whatever you challenge them with. WilloW understands spoken and sign language commands and we have five questions to communicate his needs – toilet, water, food and love. When you ask the questions he tells you either yes or no.
When he was only four months, he learnt to jump over the XL dog gate (110cm). As if this wasn’t enough, within that same day he learnt to push open the door and then jump over the gate before destroying it so he would not have to keep dealing with such an obstacle.
9) How much exercise does a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog need?
They require a lot of movement or stimulation. You’ll get a Wolfdog more tired with smelling/tracking exercises than by just walking. They are short distance runners but only require small breaks to keep going. WilloW normally gets a big walk of over an hour and a smaller walk of an hour or less.
10) Do they have a high prey drive (like Huskies and some Spitz breeds)?
Yes! People think of Huskies as Wolves, and now that feels funny. People don’t realise that a dog will normally have no more than 10% wolf DNA, were CzW have around 30% (they are considered low wolf content among hybrids). People need to understand this breed originated as a military experiment in 1950s (about 70 years ago) and they were not made available to the public for a long time. (Russians have created their own wolfdog in the 2000s and it is still only for military use). Their sense of smell is six times stronger and the other senses are also enhanced.
Whatever moves fast: runners, children, bicycles, skates, etc. Sheep and cats are a big thing for us. They need socialisation and to be taught how to behave around everything they might encounter throughout their lives.
11) Are Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs good off leash?
They are as good as any other dog. It all depends on the time and effort you put into it.
12) What diet does a Czechoslovakian wolfdog require?
This has been our biggest dilemma from the very start. My research mentioned how they can live on dry dog food, but how they do so much better on a BARF diet. I believe most people have them on BARF diet in the end. Sadly this doesn’t suit our life style. WilloW’s breeder feeds them a mix of normal dry dog food, rice, meat and inneries (organs). We tried normal dry food but he wasn’t doing very well. Now he is on a grain free diet (dry dog food and BARF nuggets on a 2:1 ratio) and he is responding great.
13) Can a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog live in hot weather?
Yes, you can find them in Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain (anywhere in Europe), but I know of a few pups that have gone to South America, like Brazil. They can overheat quite fast, but as long as there is some shade, water and cool breeze, they will be fine.
14) How much does a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog cost to own per year?
It really depends on the Wolfdog, they can vary from one another. The biggest expense is their food. WilloW can eat 1.5Kg a day. I would imagine females being smaller would require less food. It then depends on what type of diet the dog is on. At the moment WilloW eats (at least) €200 per month, so that is a lot in a year!
Then of course you need to add vet visits, injections, anti flea and tick treatment, worming tablets… the usual.
15) Are there many breeders in Ireland and/or UK?
To be honest I am only aware of two breeders; one in Ireland and the other in Spain. And I have only come across another CzW in Ireland which wasn’t related to WilloW. I believe in the UK, you might find a few more breeders for what I can observe on Instagram.
16) How much does it cost to buy a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppy?
You really want to get one form an official Kennel or Breeding Station in my opinion. The price will vary depending on the breeder and the amount of trophies the parents have earned, of course. If the pup requires to travel you need to add those expenses to the base price which in my experience starts at €1,000.
17) What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog?
I would advise them to really think about it. To understand they are a tiny puppy only for three months, they grow very fast and they get very big! I would advise to read some of Nicole Wilde’s books for starters and then to get in contact with breeders and owners (nowadays this is very easy through social media). Ask every single doubt no matter how small or stupid one might think this is.
18) What other Instagram accounts give a good insight into these dogs?
Instagram has been a massive pool of knowledge, comparisons, and support in my case. I began WilloW’s profile to track his growth and development; as well as window to share experiences with other CzW owners. Of course people only share the good moments on social media, but I have come in contact with many profiles such as:
Patrikwolman – (Ireland) He is WilloW’s breeder, but his profile isn’t very active. He has Phoebe’s Wolfs Breeding Station here in Co. Donegal.
Ankariaeducacioncanina – (Spain) She became a dog trainer through her experience raising her CzW and runs Chandrakant Sanctuary to help rehome CzW.
Andressaintmichelle – (Spain) He runs Butterfly Circus Kennel, another great breeder with exceptionally well trained CzWs.
The.johnson.bottrill.clan – (UK) they have a gorgeous CzW and loads of followers.
Sandiegowolf – (USA) they own a high content Wolfdog as well as a CzW.
To be honest I think you can ask any profile, these are just the first ones to come to my mind. Having a CzW is a big challenge and we all have faced similar difficulties along the way, I think everyone would be happy to answer your/anyone’s questions.