Wolfdog Hybrids | A Complete Guide

Dec 22

A little more than a decade ago, the Daily Mail reported that five-year-old Kyle Holland was attacked while he slept by a German Shepherd-wolf hybrid and was partially eaten in the attack. The prosecutor charged the mother with manslaughter under the gross negligence theory because the woman was aware the dog was dangerous and could harm the boy, and the possible penalty for manslaughter is 15 years in prison.

Wolfdogs and wolf hybrids are common conversations among dog owners because there is still considerable confusion about the difference between these breeds. All dog owners need to be aware of some of the many dangers of owning these types of dogs and how dog bite cases could be more likely.

If you or your child suffers injuries, seek help from a dog bite lawyer immediately. 


Wolfdogs Vs. Wolf Hybrids. What’s The Difference?

Wolfdogs are considered canines that result from the mating of domestic dogs with a breed of wolf, including a gray, eastern, red, or Ethiopian wolf. The phrase wolf hybrid often relates to canines that result from this breeding.

A wolfdog, on the other hand, could be multiple generations removed from the pure wolf. It is possible for wolfdogs to be the offspring of wolf hybrids. 

Wolfdogs can be a mix of wolf DNA with many types of dogs. Breeders tend to favor certain breeds, including:

  • German shepherd
  • Siberian husky
  • Alaskan malamute
  • Akitas
  • Chow chows


Do Wolfdogs or Wolf Hybrids Make Good Pets?

The mixes can interbreed with any other species of dog, and the less wolf DNA a wolfdog has, the more doglike they become. They tend to lose wolf tendencies, though they might still appear to be wolf hybrids. 

Many people mistake other breeds for wolfdogs or wolf hybrids, such as German shepherds, because of their pointy ears and thick coat of fur. Some breeders may intentionally misrepresent the dogs in an effort to make a sale.

According to Canine Journal, wolfdogs and wolf hybrids do not crack the list of the dozen breeds that bite the most. They are, however, listed under the breeds that can be well-behaved when paired with a responsible owner.


Pros and Cons of Wolfdog Breeds

Many people are drawn to the statuesque nature and beauty of wolfdogs, and they do not take the time to learn about the hybrid breed and determine if this type of dog is right for them. 


Wolf hybrids have many attractive qualities for the right owner. They are courageous and intelligent animals who are highly alert. This makes them great guard dogs for your home or property. 

Wolfdogs have a strong pack identity, and once they see your family as their pack, they can have infallible loyalty. This includes being receptive to commands from their owners, as they are smart enough to learn many different commands. 

Wolf hybrids are great for an active lifestyle, and they can follow owners on many different hiking, skiing, or other expeditions. They are often sled dogs, either for commercial or recreational purposes. 


Possible cons

As with any dog breed, there are things to consider before you purchase or adopt. First, many people expect wolfdogs to act just like other dogs, but their genetic composition can cause them to have unpredictable and inconsistent behavioral patterns. Owners should immediately begin training wolfdogs – even when they are very young. 

Wolf hybrids also require extensive mental stimulation and physical activity. These are not dogs who should spend their days cooped up in the house while owners work. Getting less than three to four hours of exercise today can also cause health and behavioral issues. 

While many owners want their wolfdogs to be protective, these breeds can be overly protective and wary of strangers. This can become a problem without proper training, and these dogs can attack and cause serious injuries. 

Put simply, wolfdogs are controversial. More and more people want these dogs and learn they cannot provide the necessary care and training for them. Many shelters have a growing number of wolfdogs who needed to be rehomed because their owners did not properly research the hybrid breed. 


Indiana Law on Wolfdogs

Indiana Code § 15-20-1-5(3) defines a wolf hybrid as being an animal that is the offspring of a wolf and another animal or an animal that is the offspring of an animal that is the offspring of a wolf and another animal and another animal. An owner of a wolf hybrid must keep the animal in a building or secure enclosure or keep the animal under the reasonable control of an individual and on a leash not more than eight (8) feet in length.

Failure to comply with these laws constitutes a Class B infraction. The owner of a wolf hybrid commits a Class B misdemeanor if they recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally fail to comply with this law, and the wolf hybrid enters property other than the property of the owner and causes damage to livestock or the personal property of another individual.

An offense becomes a Class misdemeanor if a person has a previous conviction, and it can be a Level 5 felony if the dog owner knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly fails to comply with the law and the failure to comply results in death. It will be a Level 6 felony if the dog owner has more than one prior conviction for a violation or the dog owner knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly fails to comply with the law, and the failure to comply results in serious bodily injury.


Indiana Dog Bite Laws

Under Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3, when a dog, without provocation, bites a person who is acting peaceably and in a permissible location, the owner of the dog will be liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten. A dog owner will be liable for damages even if the dog has not previously behaved in a vicious manner or the owner has no knowledge of prior vicious behavior by the dog.

Indiana Code § 15-20-1-4 provides that a dog owner commits a Class C misdemeanor if they recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally fail to take reasonable steps to restrain a dog, a dog enters property other than the property of the dog’s owner, and as the result of the owner’s failure to restrain the dog, the dog bites or attacks another person without provocation, resulting in bodily injury to the other person. This crime becomes a Class B misdemeanor when a person has a previous conviction for this offense and a Class A misdemeanor if the person has been convicted of more than one time of this law and the violation results in serious bodily injury to a person.

An offense will be a Level 6 felony if the dog owner recklessly violates the law and the violation results in death. It is a Level 5 felony if the dog owner intentionally or knowingly violates the and the violation results in the death.


Types of Dog Bite Injuries

When people are bitten by dogs, the results can be horrifying. Dog bites can often be bloody and messy situations.

Some of the most common kinds of injuries people suffer include, but are not limited to:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Facial wounds
  • Torn tissue
  • Head injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Severed tendons
  • Avulsion
  • Broken bones
  • Dislocations
  • Amputations
  • Fractures 
  • Crush injuries
  • Psychological damage
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Multiple parties could be liable for dog bites, including dog owners, property owners, landlords, commercial property owners, or other possible parties. People should be aware that many dog bites involve the pets of friends or family members, so there is always a concern about placing financial hardship on these parties when a claim is filed.

In truth, homeowners insurance policies often cover the costs of dog bites, so dog owners rarely pay anything out of pocket for the actions of their animals. You will want to have an attorney handling all negotiations with an insurance company, however, because most insurers will be trying to pay as little as possible to resolve a dog bite claim.


Compensation for Dog Bites

Victims of dog bites can often be entitled to significant damages to cover the costs of their injuries. Many people will require intensive medical attention that could involve reconstructive surgery.

In most dog bite cases, people will be seeking to recover compensatory damages, which is the money that is supposed to restore a person to their original condition. Damages usually come in economic and noneconomic forms.

Economic damages will be those costs that people are actually paying, and there are usually receipts to back up these claims. Possible economic damages could include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage

Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, will be much more subjective. People could receive compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish


Contact Our Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in Indiana

If you were recently bitten by a wolfdog, wolf hybrid, or any other breed of dog in Indiana, you will want to be quick to seek legal representation so you can get assistance with every single step of your legal action. Blackburn Romey represents clients all over the state of Indiana and knows what it takes to help people recover fair and full compensation for dog bite claims, so we will be prepared to fight to help you get every last dollar that you need and deserve.

Our firm has multiple locations throughout the state, so you can visit our offices in Fort Wayne, Merrillville, South Bend, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, or Lafayette. Call (833) FOR-HELP or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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