Canis Lupus Domesticus
As time goes, the Wolf has also been affected by both the natural changes and man's abuse. It's no secret that the Wolf is feared by most who don't understand it. Man has been known to kill what he fears.
The Wolf Dog isn't some new fangled breed. Wolf Dogs evolved on their own by a process that has been simplified as "flight distance". The animals that had less fear of man were considered to have a "lesser flight distance", hence they became separated from those with "greater flight distance". This theory of course was devised to explain the process of natural evolution in a simplified form. Wolves were domesticated by tribes 15,000 years ago.
The "lesser" animals began to breed with each other, enhancing the genes that allowed them to be closer to humans. As these genes altered the behavior, others altered appearances and slowly "Canis Lupus Familiaris" or the domestic Dog as we know it was born of the Wolf. The "greater" animals retained their DNA variation which is why it still exists in some visibly similar form. However, "Familiaris" has been hard at work in places you might not think of a Pooch existing.
Not being a scientist, the theories here are from information gathered not just from written sources but from people who have researched this for years. Much of it is also common sense.
The Wolf was employed as a working animal even before the appearance factors changed and long after, as teams of Wolves were used to pull wagons and move heavy objects long into the 19th century. By this time, "Familiaris" the family Dog was mingling and breeding with the "lessers" and the domino effect would soon become a key factor in the natural selection of DNA variation. TIME has shown us that nature's way of genetic mutation produces stronger offspring. Most certainly these "lessers" or offspring found their way back to the pack bringing variations and recombinations of DNA to not only their wild family, but their Coyote cousins as well. The "Eastern Grey Wolf" was born of Wolf / Coyote DNA mutation. The "Canis Lupus Columbianus" or B.C. Black Phase Wolf, scientifically proven to have inherited the Black gene from "Familiaris".
The Mexican Gray Wolf has also been said to have evolved from outside canine influenced genes.
In the early days of fur trading, trappers used Dog teams to travel extreme distances into unknown territory. These teams were physically used up by the end of a trapping season. Man's compassion for his working animals in those days was practical and not compassionate as the Disney movies would like us to believe. These Dogs were left behind to survive on their own. The Dog, Canis Lupus was forced to find the means to survive, and the Wolf, Canis Lupus would provide that as well as participate in the production of offspring altering the natural DNA due to MAN'S intervention. Wolf Dogs now roamed remote islands like Baffin, Ellesmere, and throughout the territories that remain today as Wolf indigenous lands. How has that DNA evolved, travelled, and selectively altered the WOLF?
All of this took place more than 100 years before people started to trap live animals for commercial fur farms here in the U.S.
By this time it is becoming expensive and difficult to operate these facilities and Government issues are also growing. The new fur traders begin to breed and turn the already diluted wild Wolf into even more of a domestic bred alteration by trying to achieve softer and more colorful fur. Norweigen Elkhounds were introduced along with other Spitz breeds which were close in appearance to preserve value.
As the commercial Fur trade took a huge hit in the 1970's - 80's, these farms began to sell breeding stock to private individuals who envisioned the Wolf as a pet.
The long road ahead would not only be severely political, but costly in so many ways that it has become a culture today more than a business. Along with this wide spread desire to co-exist with a Wolf has come a variety of people at extreme opposite ends of the agenda. This in conjunction with Wolf myths and folklore is a saga that can never be written with a closing chapter.
My assumption that you are here reading this is that you are learning? critiquing? comparing? or considering getting a Wolf Dog?
Today's Wolf dog can have a wide array of issues due to the "extremes" and lack of education by the vast majority of breeders. Commercial breeders want to profit. Wolf Dogs are not a profitable endeavor for most, therefore most who sell easily attainable year round pups are duping the buyers with Wolfie looking mixed breeds. Much of this erroneous breeding is deliberate, and much is the result of bad information from these breeders being passed down.
On the other extreme there are the breeders who have developed selectively bred lines that produce Wolf looks and managable behavior. These pups are usually expensive, usually whelped in springtime, however selective breeding is beginning to change this also, there is often a waiting list as well as a qualification requirement to purchase. These breeders understand genetics and the history of their animals in order to produce lines that will last into the future.
In between, there are breeders who know the difference between Wolf Dog appearance levels and acquire animals based on looks alone to breed. The gamble here is the lack of understanding of what "might" happen if crossing lineages not understood could throw recessive genes to produce any number of undesired results. Genetic Drift can cause a variety of things to skip one or more generations and then resurface. If it is a health or aggression issue, a pup won't show it until it's too late in most cases.
Today the selective bred tamed Wolf prevails in Zoos across the country, in classrooms as educational ambassadors, and often as the family companion. The Wolf Dog is today's watered down version of an exotic fantasy animal. Should it be considered exotic? There are over half a million Wolf Dogs in homes today. Many are exxagerated and many are poorly bred, but the idea that they are "wild animals" or even part, is like saying all Dogs are wild animals.
In the South east U.S. , the "Carolina Dog" , or American Dingo, still exists in a wild form. Of course the DNA of these canines has also been altered over the decades, but they continue to adapt. Carolina Dogs are excellent pet quality animals if raised domestically.
Artificial selection (or selective breeding) differs from natural selection in that heritable variations in a species are manipulated by humans through controlled breeding. The breeder attempts to isolate and propagate those genotypes that are responsible for an animal’s desired qualities in a suitable environment. These qualities are economically or aesthetically desirable to humans.
Wolf % ?
That issue in itself sums up the mass of mythology surrounding this issue. People have been selling the fantasy. However, again selective breeding can and has preserved the physical appearance of the Wolf and often a more concentrated version of canine behavior that might be more Wolflike, yet canine behavior is what it is in all levels and forms.
The mythology has caused huge problems for Wolf Dogs and the people who choose them. Laws made by people who do not have the slightest knowledge of DOGS or WOLVES have decided that the WOLF or % of WOLF in any capacity is dangerous? Statistically they are not even close, yet that "W" is a tough fairytale to shake.
I am not a breeder, nor have I intentionally bred anything. So let's see if I can get close to how it goes?
The evolved version of what we now consider a Wolf, is bred to a domestic Dog. This Dog is chosen for looks, temperament, disposition, possibly other attributes that one would want to refine.
Theoretically we have a Wolf and a Dog, resulting in a 50% Wolf Dog. BUT!!!! based upon the idea that the Wolf was actually not pure, and not knowing the DNA structure, and perhaps only aware of a few generations of the Dog's ancestry, the end result is a crap shoot.
Now, if we're good, both in selection of looks and behavior, and all goes as planned, it is quite possible to get what we set out to. Now we have a hypathetical litter of say 5 pups.
Will they all be the same %? Will they all look alike? Will they all act alike?
Theoretically you take the 50% and introduce an unrelated assumed Wolf, the results would be 75%. Remember this is a guideline not factual %.
The process continues selectively until the Dog appearances are bred out, yet the concept is to retain the Dog's temperament. Ahhhhh, here is where I get out of the boat, er off the bus.
So now we've brought the Wolf back to a high % by breeding back to high % and attempting to retain the lesser intense behavior through the Dog genes introduced. Some Dogs were again brought in to enhance coats or colors. Great Pyranese with Arctics and Wooly Malamutes and numerous Husky types are used to add or enhance features in selective breeding, HOWEVER the downfall of the Wolf Dog population is due to the abuse of Dog genetics and the lack of knowledge or irresponsible breeding which sadly remains more active than ever. It is the Dog that tends to make the Wolf Dog aggressive, noisy, and in constant need of human attention.
There are just a very few breeders throughout N.America that are creating the true American Wolf Dog. They didn't just start yesterday, it takes years of hard work and knowlege of genetics to produce healthy good looking well balanced Wolf Dogs. These animals are seldom if ever a part of our over run rescue network. If you are serious about Wolf Dogs, I urge you to learn from the best people you can, take your time and don't just run out and acquire a pup without research.