Many dog lovers are drawn to the exotic looks and free nature of a wild animal such as the wolf. While most of us leave them alone and respect them from afar, some will not rest without a small piece living in their homes.
Wolf hybrid ownership appears on the rise and does not always involve the traditional crosses with Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, or German Shepherds.
The Great Dane wolf mix is an alternative cross that combines majesty and grace with cunning and beauty.
A Great Dane wolf hybrid is a large or giant-sized powerful wolfdog with semi-prick ears and large jaws.
The coat is shaggy and the tail somewhat bushy. Great Dane wolf mixes are variable in temperament, but most of them will be challenging for the average dog owner.
Their size, strength, high predatory urges, wariness of humans, and resistance to training and domestic residences can be very problematic.
Are you equipped to cope with a wolfdog?
The Great Dane wolf mix, like all wolf hybrids, takes a dedicated owner with a specific skill set. It has many more characteristics that warrant avoidance than qualities that recommend it as a pet.
The following lists assume a cross between a purebred wolf and a pedigree Great Dane that results in a 50:50 hybrid. A low content wolf hybrid is below 50% wolf and will have more dog-like qualities even if it looks like a wolf.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Get a Great Dane Wolf Mix
- Wary or fearful of people – this is an instinct that does not always respond satisfactorily to socialization attempts; some react out of fear aggressively
- High predatory drive – may chase and hunt cats, dogs, wildlife, children, and livestock
- No legal protections – suspicious farmers and ranchers may shoot your dog on sight in the interest of protecting their livestock
- Destructive – Great Dane wolves are wild animals that will try to escape any enclosure or your house; many cannot handle living inside; can destroy your furniture and other property like no other dog
- Aggressive towards other dogs
- Low trainability – not domesticated animals
- Large and powerful
- Will challenge your authority regularly
- May never completely trust you and you may not be able to trust the wolf hybrid
- May howl
- Vaccinations – unknown efficacy of canine vaccinations and therefore none are recognized, which fact is most relevant to rabies
- Must build a special enclosure – underground barrier as well and high fencing with coyote rollers; double gates with special latches and padlocks
- Illegal to own a wolf cross in many locations
Reasons Why You Should Get a Great Dane Wolf Mix
- Highly intelligent
- Interesting and challenging
- Exotic – can own a unique creature that is at least half wild
- Once tamed, can be loyal and affectionate
Appearance, Personality, Coat and Colors, Lifespan, and Traits of a Great Dane Wolf Mix
The Great Dane Wolf cross is a very rare mix. When people seek to acquire a wolf hybrid, they usually want a mix that looks much like a wolf.
Breeders do not use Danes often for fear the puppies will not appear wolf-like enough. Therefore, you can compare the looks of the two species separately and guess what the outcome might be.
Great Dane Breed Standard
Great Danes were originally wild hunting dogs developed in Germany. They also pulled carriages and guarded their owners’ large estates as it was mostly nobility that had them.
The giant dog’s ancestors came from Molossoid (Mastiff-like) dogs used in Greece during wartimes and in the Middle East for hunting.
Molossoid dogs were further developed and refined in England, like so many other breeds. It became the English Mastiff, or simply Mastiff, some of which hunters eventually crossed with Irish Wolfhounds to create a faster hunting dog with more stamina.
These designer dogs were more a type than a breed that could pursue deer and stand their own against wild hogs.
German breeders imported these long-legged hunting dogs around the 1600s and achieved the Great Dane’s evolution to its modern form by the 1800s. The Great Dane takes its appearance and hunting style from both Mastiff and sighthound characteristics.
Despite its size, a Great Dane is balanced and should move smoothly and apparently without effort. Your first impression should be of an elegant dog with regal bearing.
The head is at the same time massive and refined with a rectangular shape and pronounced stop. The top of the skull is flat while the muzzle is square. A Dane’s eyes are medium-sized and deepest beneath well-developed brows.
Her body is square (same height and length) to very slightly rectangular with a long arched neck that allows a proud head carriage. Her ears are medium-sized and high-set as they fold down close to the head. Many Great Danes in the US have cropped ears.
The back is level and relatively short with a broad chest and hips. The chest is also quite deep. A Dane’s croup slopes slightly into a highly set tail. The tail is wide at the base and tapers to a point.
A Great Dane should have a well-defined abdominal uptuck.
Ancient gray wolves have existed for 300,000 years or more.
Scientists studying fossil records now conclude that the ancient lupoid branch split into two about 20,000 years ago.
One became the modern gray wolf and the other the domesticated dog, dispelling theories that the pet dog is a direct descendant of the modern timber wolf.
Nevertheless, the two species share over 99% of the same DNA, and the similarities are as remarkable as the differences.
Wolf Physical Features
The gray or timber wolf is the subspecies commonly used in wolf mixes and includes the Arctic, Great Plains, Mexican, Eurasian, and Russian wolf, among others.
Gray wolves are 31 to 34 inches tall and 36 to 60 inches long. They tend to have a lower carriage than domesticated dogs, especially those like the Great Dane. Their weight ranges from 80 to 160 pounds.
Wolves have a signature canid profile with an elongated snout about the length of the back skull. However, their head tends to be 20% larger than a dog’s skull relative to their bodies.
Wolves have narrower chests and hips than dogs. Moreover, their chest cavities are not nearly as deep as many dogs. This combination of traits makes the wolf appear leggier than most dogs, and you will often see this in a hybrid.
A gray wolf has smaller eyes than a Great Dane, and they are set closer together and at a more oblique angle.
The wolf has a medium-length neck and a shaggy double coat that comes in shades of brown, gray, white, brown, or red. Many wolves are agouti, meaning single hairs have multiple bands of color such as brown, red, gray, and black, to help camouflage them in the woods.
Wolves have long tails that are up to two feet from base to tip. They carry them upwards when they run.
However, a wolf’s tail does not curl over the back as you see with Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and Akitas, all wolf-like dogs.
Appearance of Great Dane Wolf Mix
The best way to describe a Great Dane wolf hybrid is to compare it to an Irish Wolfhound with smaller eyes, larger teeth, and soft straight fur.
Your dog will have an elongated head with a strong muzzle that is not quite as deep as that of a Great Dane. The ears can be upright, lazy, or semi-prick.
Great Dane wolf dogs have a medium-long neck with a slight arch and are somewhat longer than they are tall. Their chest does not reach their elbows and their abdominal uptuck is mild.
A Great Dane wolf cross will have only a moderate or gradual slope from the forehead to the muzzle. Your dog’s eyes will be smaller than a Great Dane, almond-shaped, and somewhat slanted. They can range from rich brown to amber to yellow.
Your Dane mix’s tail will be brush-like and carried just above the level of the back when excited. You probably will not notice much if any curl.
Great Dane wolf crosses can range from 30 to 37 inches tall and will weigh from 100 to 160 pounds.
Your hybrid’s coat will be straight and of various lengths along the body. Great Dane wolf mixes have medium-long hair along the neck and across the backs of the shoulders. It will be shorter on the body and extra fine on the legs and face.
Many wolf hybrids have a ruff of longer hair around the cheeks and plenty of hair inside the ears.
You will not see plumage or feathering in the Great Dane wolf but are likely to note a thin or thick downy undercoat. The tail will usually be uniformly furred with medium-length bushy fur.
Your Great Dane wolf mix can exhibit a wide spectrum of possible coat colors. Light-colored dogs may even have blue eyes.
- Merle – since merle is a dominant coat color amongst domesticated dog breeds that carry the color, merle wolf hybrids are not unheard of; merle dogs have black spots near dark gray areas; harlequin is a type of merle that is a marbled pattern and includes white, black and gray
- Solid black
- Black with white markings – white markings are usually limited
- Sable – banded hairs of red, black, and brown
Great Dane Wolf Personality
The Great Dane wolf hybrid’s personality quirks are much of the reason why they are so challenging to own.
- Can be shy and skittish – greatly contrasts the purebred Great Dane
- Often dog aggressive – others bond naturally with other dogs
- Highly predatory – will pursue other animals with the intent to kill and eat them
- Can develop strong bonds with human handlers if low wolf content or if raised from pups; usually only bond to one person
Wolf Dane Traits
- Can be trained to a limited extent but are never domesticated
- Orientation is towards independent problem-solving, and your hybrid will not look to you for help as a dog would
- Alpha individuals will challenge you
- Late maturation – wolves reach sexual maturity at 18 months to two years old; wolf dogs may reach sexual maturity between 12 and 20 months old, still later than a purebred Great Dane; your wolfdog can even be docile to the age of 18 months and then appear to “suddenly” realize it is a wolf
- Socialization window earlier than purebreds; exceedingly difficult to socialize with people – must start at two weeks of age and continue through a lifetime; a wolf’s socialization window closes at 10 weeks old or sooner, but constant exposure to people is necessary to make any kind of relationship with humans possible
- Athletic – pack animals that can run for miles after prey
- Can become tame with hard work
- Lifespan – 11 to 14 years
You may think that socializing a wolf hybrid is useless, but your pet needs skills for visits to the veterinarian as an example. Having even a low level of comfort around people will allow your wolf-dog to live with a much lower stress level.
Great Dane Wolf Mix Puppies for Sale
It is best to go through a reputable wolf hybrid breeder and someone very familiar with such crosses to get your Great Dane wolf puppy. It will likely require a lot of work to find a Great Dane wolf. Great Danes are one of the rarest breeds you will find in a wolf hybrid.
If you happen to find what you think is a Great Dane wolf mix through a sanctuary, rescue, or shelter, you may still want to visit an expert to confirm that it is a wolf.
Professionals use phenotype (physical features) and genotypes (DNA testing) to identify wolves and wolfdogs. They may use DNA tests from different companies to determine not only whether a dog has wolf bloodlines but also how much. Wolf dogs can be classified as high, mid, or low content.
- Low content wolfdog – less than 50% wolf; the lower the wolf percentage, the more similar it will be in appearance and temperament to a dog
- Mid content – 50% to 75% wolf; some wolf and some dog temperamental qualities; obvious dog-like physical characteristics set them apart from high content wolfdogs
- Upper mid content – 75% to 85%
- High content – 85% plus
Like other hybrids, wolves can also be classified according to F generations. An F1 dog is the first purebred cross between a dog and a wolf. Subsequent generations can make a higher- or lower-content wolfdog.
Always be cautious with breeders who give you exact percentages of wolf blood in their litters of puppies. Wolf content is not an exact science as genes are not inherited in a linear straightforward manner.
At best, a known cross can give you an approximation of wolf content in the puppies. From there, you must judge by appearance, temperament, and perhaps DNA sequencing.
- F2 = F1 x F1; still 50% wolf
- F2b = F1 x purebred wolf (75% wolf) or purebred dog (25% wolf)
F levels can go on for several generations and involve several backcrosses. Great Dane wolf mixes might commonly include Great Dane German Shepherd or Great Dane Siberian Husky mixes crossed back to wolves to create a more wolf-like dog.
Grooming Your Great Dane Wolf Mix
Whether or not you can groom your adult wolfdog will depend on whether your early efforts at socialization are successful.
Wolf hybrids have varying tolerances for human proximity and contact regardless of socialization.
However, your best bet is to groom hand-raised puppies twice a week. Make sure you introduce your dog to both baths and brushing. You should not use shampoo every time you undergo one of these sessions.
If your wolf dog tolerates it, brush him twice a week and as often as possible during seasonal heavy shedding. Great Dane wolf mixes that are more dog-like should tolerate brushing and baths as well as monthly nail trims.
Great Dane Wolf Mix Health Problems
A Great Dane Wolf’s problems may not be as dramatic as purebred domesticated dogs, but they have several large-breed challenges.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Wobbler’s disease – spinal problem in the neck
- External parasites – fleas, ticks
- Internal parasites – worms
- Traumatic injuries
Great Dane Wolf Mix Food Requirements
It is more appropriate to feed your Great Dane wolf mix more like a wolf than a dog. Therefore, your pet should get two to four pounds of raw meat daily depending on activity level and weight.
While some owners feed wolfdogs raw turkey, beef, or chicken most days and raw bones weekly, zoos may feed their wolves whole prey (rabbits, chickens, or partial deer carcasses), vegetables, and a bit of kibble, according to Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
Consult with your veterinarian or a board-certified animal nutritionist about what kind of vitamin and mineral supplements you might need to add.
Great Dane Wolf Mix Exercise Requirements
Taking your wolf Great Dane hybrid for a traditional walk may be neither safe nor legal. Like grooming, you will need to assess how much contact and restraint your pet is willing to tolerate.
Then you must expend at least some effort to accustom your Great Dane wolf to such gear as muzzles or specialized leads.
Most of the time it is more practical to allow a wolfdog to exercise in a large yard or on a farm. Your Great Dane wolf mix will be the healthiest if he lives in a pack, but you must interact with him several times daily.
Since wolf mixes may not be as playful adults as dogs, your pet may not engage in games of fetch or the like.
Great Dane Wolf Mix Training
You must approach training your Great Dane wolf as you would any wild animal. You should always aim for mutual respect and exercise caution. Learn to read your pet’s moods and receptiveness to your presence.
Start training as early as possible. Taming your wolf and progression in training will be much smoother if you hand raise him. You can never win with force, but you can accomplish a lot with persistence and repetition.
One of your greatest challenges will be to keep it interesting for your wolfdog to learn. A hired professional trainer can become your best friend.
Great Dane Wolf Mix and Families
Wolf hybrids are not generally good family dogs. They look at small children as prey and may have trouble bonding with multiple family members. They do not generally make good watchdogs, and their howling may annoy your neighbors.
Wolf dogs have claustrophobic tendencies and often do not do well in crates or even inside the home. Many are very difficult to housetrain because of their powerful drive to mark.
Wolf Great Dane Mix and Other Pets
You cannot trust wolf crosses around other animals, especially smaller ones. They are suspicious of strange dogs, especially if they live in an established pack.
A wolf or wolfdog’s highly predatory drive cannot be tempered or modified by training or commands.
Unlike dogs that chase, corner, tree, or herd based on instructions and generations of breeding, wolves are programmed that any chase should result in a life-sustaining meal.
Add to that the Great Dane’s history as a hunting and catch the dog, and you might be well-advised to keep your hybrid with others of her kind.
Wolfdogs can learn to live with domesticated dogs their size if raised together from an early age.
It is critical to recognize that all animals are individuals, and no hard and fast rule applies to everyone. Some high content wolfdogs are affectionate and loving, and some low content ones are very wolf-like in demeanor.
As a rule, low-content wolfdogs make more reliable and easier pets. Purebred dogs, however, will almost always make safer and easier pets than a Great Dane wolf mix.
This video reveals a few pertinent facts. Note the wolf hybrid has a ruff around its cheeks. This is a characteristic difference between wolves and dogs. Observe how the wolfdog is significantly shorter than the adult Great Danes but about the same weight.
You can see the long hair on the wolfdog’s shoulders and the shaggy double coat throughout.
It is impossible to know which dog breed has contributed to the wolf hybrid, but the curled tail suggests husky or Malamute. Note the narrow face but dark eyes.
This wolfdog seems to have made a pack with the Great Danes. Finally, all dogs are feeding on raw prey.