The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog comes from a German Shepherd-wolf hybrid. These dogs can be over 25 inches tall and weigh at least 40 pounds. They are wolf-like in temperament. So, these dogs need lots of stimulation and need to see the purpose in each task.
Read on to learn more about this truly unique breed. Including Czechoslovakian Wolfdog prices and Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppies.
What’s in This Guide
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog at a Glance
- In-depth Breed Review
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Training And Care
- Pros And Cons of Getting a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
Breed at a Glance
- Popularity: Not ranked
- Purpose: Working dog
- Weight: 44-57 pounds
- Temperament: Independent
Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Breed Review: Contents
- History and Original Purpose
- Fun Facts About Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Appearance
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Temperament
- Training and Exercising Your Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Health and Care
- Do They Make Good Family Pets?
- Rescuing a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
- Finding a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Puppy
- Raising a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Puppy
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Products and Accessories
History and Original Purpose of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs began by crossing German Shepherd dogs and Carpathian (Eurasian) wolves.
In the 1950s, Ing. (an academic title roughly translated to “engineer”) Karel Hartl led a Czech military breeding program. The project tried to cross the trainability of German Shepherds with the strength of wolves.
The project spanned several years. This is because it took three years to find a male German Shepherd that could mate with a wolf!
Researchers documented the project, even photographing the first successful mating!
The first and second generations of this hybrid could not be effectively trained. However, their offspring were trained for various military tasks.
The American Kennel Club lists the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a working dog.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs as Pets
The new dogs soon found their way into civilian homes. They began to steadily grow in popularity.
From 1982 until the country’s end in 1990, the breed was the national animal of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
The breed remains popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As well as nearby countries like Italy and Germany.
Fun Facts About Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is formally known as the Czechoslovakian Vlcak. This is the name used by breed registries. Translated, the name means Czechoslovakian German Shepherd.
The pronunciation of “Vlcak” is vul-chARk (more or less). It’s not an easy word to wrap your tongue around if you’re not used to West Slavic languages. Vlcaks are more commonly referred to as CSV, or as “wolfdogs” in English-speaking countries!
Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Appearance
These Wolfdogs look more like wolves than German Shepherds.
They have an outdoorsy look, with a thick wind- and waterproof gray coat. Their large ears are erect and their amber eyes are narrow. For many, having a pet that looks like a wild animal is a large part of the appeal.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Temperament
They are specifically bred for stamina. So they need a good outlet for their energy. Otherwise, they can get bored, frustrated and destructive.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs need strong leadership, structure, and clear purpose in tasks. This can be hard for new dog owners to give.
Because these dogs need lots of physical and mental stimulation, it is important to find the time to train them. Plus, they need regular activity in their life. This can be anything from daily runs to being part of a dog sled team.
Czech Wolfdogs were made by mixing a high energy domestic dog and wolves. Owning a wild animal hybrid is controversial and potentially dangerous.
Mixing wild and domestic animals reintroduces feral DNA to tamed animals. Thus, their behavior can be unpredictable and unsuitable for a home environment.
Before buying a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, think carefully if it’s the right fit for you. Decide whether you can give the right training and environment for them.
Despite their rarity, wolf hybrids caused 14 deaths between 1979 and 1998. Because some owners deliberately mislabel their dogs, the true figure is thought to be even higher.
Training and Exercising Your Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
As intelligent and energetic wolf hybrids, Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs need special training. As with any breed, it is important to train and socialize dogs while they are young.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Health and Care
Before adopting, it is important to be aware of health issues that can affect your dog’s quality of life.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog began with four wolves and a great many more German Shepherd dogs. So today’s Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs are genetically more similar to German Shepherds than wolves.
German Shepherds come from a very small gene pool. So the health problems of the first German Shepherds became the health problems of the whole breed. These issues have also been passed on to Czech Wolfdogs.
The following are conditions which the Canine Health Information Centre associates with the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball-and-socket joint at the hip doesn’t form correctly. This causes the top of the thigh bone to sit too loosely in the socket.
Because the two bones don’t meet correctly, they rub when the dog moves. This causes more damage over time.
Hip dysplasia is common in many larger dog breeds, including German Shepherds. Hip dysplasia is partly genetic. So, Czech Wolfdogs inherited this from their German Shepherd relatives.
Czech Wolfdogs should have their hips tested before mating takes place. Your breeder should be happy to discuss the results with you before you commit to bringing home a puppy.
Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is the incorrect formation of a joint, the elbow joint. It can lead to lameness and arthritis.
Several factors can cause elbow dysplasia. But genetics is the primary determinate. As with hip dysplasia, German Shepherd dogs have passed on their unlucky genes to Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs.
To prevent escalation of the problem in the Vlcak population, all breeders should have their dogs’ elbows checking before breeding. Plus, only dogs with healthy elbows should become parents.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive deterioration of the spinal cord causing lameness in the hind legs. The condition is ultimately fatal.
The issue is similar to ALS in humans, and like ALS it is currently incurable.
The cause of Degenerative Myelopathy in dogs is unknown. However, carrying two copies of a faulty gene called SOD1 is associated with an increased risk of developing it. This gene is prevalent among both German Shepherds and Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs.
Dogs can be screened for the faulty gene. Plus, no two dogs carrying it should be mated together. A reputable breeder will be happy to share the results for both a puppy’s parents.
A 2014 study by Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that 21% of seemingly healthy Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs used for breeding carry a defective gene. This gene, the LHX3 mutation, causes pituitary dwarfism.
Like other genetic issues, it’s likely that Czech Wolfdogs inherited the faulty gene from German Shepherds.
Modern DNA testing for pituitary dwarfism is widely available. A reputable breeder will know the carrier status of their puppies parents.
The Canine Health Information Center recommends screening Czech Wolfdogs for dental problems, cardiac irregularities, and autoimmune thyroiditis.
Plus, all dogs used for breeding should have had their eyes regularly checked for signs of genetic eye conditions. This should be done by a vet registered with the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.
Summary of Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Health
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs are prone to many issues and come from a small gene pool. But, their DNA doesn’t show much evidence of inbreeding.
Do Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs Make Good Family Pets?
Most people keep dogs as companions rather than work dogs. So it’s important to channel their energy productively.
For Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs, this means dedicating a lot of time to train and socialize them. As a wolf hybrid, the Czech Wolfdogs is a high-risk breed for bites and should not be treated like a domesticated breed. It’s important for these dogs to know how to behave in domestic and public settings.
So, how are they likely to get along with other members of your family?
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs and Other Pets
Vlcaks have a high prey drive, which means they don’t get along with smaller pets. In particular, males tend not to get along well with other dogs.
If you already have pets at home, this is probably not the breed you want to add to the mix.
Are Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs Good With Kids?
Czech Wolfdogs are not suitable for homes with children. Unlike fully domesticated dogs, they are unpredictable.
Because they are quite a new breed there aren’t many reliable sources on their behavior.
Rescuing a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
Finding a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Puppy
As of early 2018, approximately 200 Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs live in the United States. Naturally, such a small population makes avoiding inbreeding a challenge.
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America lists only three recognized breeders in the US: one each in California, Texas, and Michigan. In fairness, very few homes are suitable for this unique mix.
The rarity of Czech Wolfdogs and the shortage of breeders make finding a Vlcak puppy a waiting game.
Actually, breeders of Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppies vet prospective owners long before the puppies are even conceived. Indeed, all you can do is show interest and be willing to travel not just to pick up your pup, but for an interview beforehand.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Price
Unfortunately, well-reared Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppies are rare. This means that they are not cheap.
Breeders may also need to recoup some of the cost of the extensive health screening needed before mating Vlcaks. Since the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog population is scattered, it could also be necessary to recover the cost of transporting parent dogs for mating.
A Czech Wolfdog puppy could easily set you back several thousand dollars.
Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs and the Law
If you’re tempted to buy a Czechoslovakian Vlcak, it’s important to address the legality of owning one where you live. The law varies widely across regions.
In fact, most American states ban wolf hybrids outright while others permit them with restrictions. For instance, only dogs more than five generations removed from their most recent wolf ancestor. In some states, the laws vary by county.
Indeed, because wolfdog ownership is a recent development, the law is constantly changing as legislators decide their positions.
Raising a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Puppy
Caring for a vulnerable Czechoslovakian Wolfdog puppy is a big responsibility.
There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training.
If you like the Vlcak, you might also love these more common wolf-like dogs:
Pros and Cons of Getting A Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
- The high cost of adopting and caring for a Vlcak
- Temperament and needs differ from fully domesticated dogs
- Requires dedicated training, socialization, and mental and physical stimulation.
- Energetic and strong
- Majestic, wolf-like appearance.
This article was revised and updated for 2019.
References and Resources
- American Kennel Club
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Club, Great Britain
- Duffy D et al. 2008. “Breed Differences in Canine Aggression.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 “Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats.” Wiley Blackwell.
- O’Neill et al. 2013. “Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England.” The Veterinary Journal.
- Schalamon et al. 2006. “Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years.” Pediatrics.