Breed Information

The Saarlooswolfhond has a broad powerful neck. The moderately broad head is slightly arched between the ears. The erect ears are large like the German Shepherds. The muzzle has a definite taper to the solid dark nose. It has long legs, with feet that turn slightly outward. The tail is densely feathered and low set. The coat is harsh and not too long with a dense undercoat. Coat colors include agouti, wolf-gray and wolf-brown with limited white markings.

Other name: Saarloos Wolf Dog

Country of origin: Netherlands, Germany

Breed History

In 1921, Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos started crossbreeding a German Shepherd Dog male to a female Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus lupus). He aimed for an improved version of the German Shepherd Dog which would be immune to distemper, and succeeded insofar that the Saarlooswolfdog we know is a strong imposing dog, but it kept its wolflike characteristics; it is cautious, reserved and lacks the ferocity to attack; it is not the dog that Leendert Saarloos hoped to get. His theory was also proven wrong, as nearly all the first generation hybrids succumbed to distemper. 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 honor its creator they changed the name to "Saarlooswolfdog". In 1981 the breed was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). In the past, some Saarlooswolfdogs were trained as guide dogs for the blind and rescue dogs. They are very rare and purebreds can cost up to $2,000.

Breed Characteristics

This dog is only for the lover of the old canine ways, as it retains in a limited state some of the wolf-like and /or ancient canine ways - including an intense pack instinct, tendency towards shyness, and a need to roam or at least have adequate space. They need to be taken for daily pack walks to satisfy their insticts. They are exceptionally strong-willed and do not take well to obedience or schutzhund work. They are still pack-oriented and need a strong leader and a social atmosphere. Not recommended as a child companion. They are not suitable for kennel life. Seclusion intensifies anti-social behavior, and the dogs panic if locked in an enclosure. Owners must establish the dominant alpha position, be willing to spend a great deal of time with them, and train with patience, understanding canine behavior. The breed is quiet, seldom barking, alerting homeowners in other ways. They do well in packs, with a leader emerging and keeping order. That leader MUST be the human. The club's publication notes that most owners of the breed have at least two to provide the necessary "pack.". Problems can occur, however, if a dog who does not understand the established order is introduced to the pack. When introducing a new dog into the pack, it is important to first walk the dogs separately to drain excess energy, and then walk them together to help them secure the new order. Be sure you make the dogs heel beside you, rather than walking out in front, as the pack leader always goes first.


24-29½ inches (60-75 cm.)


79-90 pounds (36-41 kg.)

Health Problems

The Saarlooswolfhond Association is very strict in its requirements against hip dysplasia, spondylosis of the spine and other health and temperament problems. Casual breeding is discouraged.

Living Conditions

The Saarlooswolfhond is not recommended for apartment life. They will do best with acreage. Well-suited for cold climates and can live outdoors.


This breed needs a lot of daily exercise and adequate space. They need to be taken on a daily, long, brisk walk or jog.

Life Expectancy: About 10-12 years.


The weather resistant coat of the Saarlooswolfhond should be combed and brushed regularly. Bathe only when necessary as it removes the natural oils in the skin.