-The Wolf Dunn-'s Wolf Tales Breed Showcase / Saarloos Wolfhond, History and Standard

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Saarloos Wolfhond
Breed History || Companion Animals || Standard

Saarloos Wolfhond, 
© Historical Aspects

This breed is named after its creator Leendert Saarloos and was recognized as a new canine breed by the "Raad van Beheer op Kynologisch Gebied" in the Netherlands in 1975 and by the F.C.I. in 1981. Leendert Saarloos had great interest in genetics but above all he was a man of practical experience. He crossed the female European wolf "Fleur" from the Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, with the German Shepherd male "Gerhard van de Fransenum".

Over the years, he selected for health and character from the wolf / dog progeny, breeding the offspring back to the German Shepherds. Despite setbacks, he persisted, seeking the advice of a Dutch geneticist, professor L. Hagendoorn. Saarloos had some successes in using these "European Wolfdogs" as dog guides for the blind, having the cautiousness and the fast reaction of the wolf, and the devotion and fidelity of the dog. About 300 blind persons have had a Sarloos Wolfhond as guides. He also tried to encourage their use as police and rescue dogs. Some specimens showed talent, but most of them lacked the ferocity for attacking.

He fought a continual battle against the wild wolf characteristics of caution, reserve and flight in his breeding program. He had full control over the breeding program and the wolfdogs until he died in 1969. He died before his dream of a recognized breed was realized. Other owners of the wolfdogs managed finally to atain recognition from the Dutch Kennel Club for these dogs in 1975. They honored the father of the breed by changing the name to Saarloos Wolfhond.

The Saarloos Wolfhond - Today

The Association is very strict in its requirements against hip dysplasia, spondylosis of the spine and other health and temperament problems. Causual breeding is discouraged. The breeder often keep a grip on the puppies after giving them new homes, by co-owning them.

Saarloos wolfhonds are very strongwilled and do not take easily to obedience or schutzhund work. They are pack-oriented and need a strong alpha leader and a social atmosphere. Owners must establish the dominant alpha positions, be calm and willing to spend time, effort and patience in training. It is important to use a high degree of positive reinforcement.

They do usually well with other dogs and in packs, with a leader emerging and keeping order. It is an advantage to have other dogs when getting a Saarloos puppy. The breed is quiet, seldom barking, alerting homeowners in other ways. They dislike to be left alone and have to be trained from the start to accept it, otherwise they might make big efforts to get out of the house or enclosure. They are suited as family dogs for experienced people because of their reliable and devoted character. They are not the right choice if you are eager to have, for example, an obedience or agility star. But they can perform very well when they are on known ground. It's harder to get them to do it in competition with strange people and surroundings. You can also train them to be Show dogs, the Saarloos male who won Group 1 at the Working Dog Show in Finland in 1998 gives us a good example of this.

Most dogs gain selfconfidence through life experiences, which is why young dogs are much more shy than older ones. Adult dogs can actually be not reserved at all. Usually young females are more reserved than young males. Their appearance and very typical gait like that of the wolf, make Saarloos Wolfhonds impressive.

Saarloos Wolfhond, 
© Breed Standard

Appearance   The Saarloos Wolfdog is a powerful, wolfish coarse-haired dog. The male stands 65 to 75 cms (24 - 28 inches); the female stands 60 to 70 cms (22 - 26 inches). Although the oval bone is powerful, it must be coarse. The Saarloos Wolfhond's build is harmonious, the legs are long without giving the dog a long-legged impression. There is a clear difference in appearance and air between the male and female. The Saarloos Wolfdog should give the impression of an alert, cautious and affectionate dog with a reserved attitude towards persons and circumstances unknown to it. There should however, be no signs of nervousness. One of the striking characteristics of the Saarloos Wolfdog is an independence of action.

Head   The head must give a wolf-like impression and its size must be in harmony with the body. The skull is broad and smooth witha light curvature between the ears and it is gradually wedge-shaped towards the eyes. The sides are also smooth without recesses. The occiput must not show clearly. The change to a powerful well-filled muzzle consists of a light stop. The length from the point of the nose to the stop is more or less similar to the length from the occiput to the stop. The muzzle should not be pointed. The nose is broad and firm and according to the colour of the coat, black or liver coloured. The lips are well-closed and do not hang over. The Saarloos Wolfdog has a complete and powerful set of scissor-shaped incisors.

Eyes   The eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped and slightly inclining, preferably yellow. The expression is alert and at the same time reserved.

Ears   The ears are erect, medium-sized and end slightly pointing from a wide base. They are fleshy, well-haired on the inside and slightly inclining.

Neck   The neck is dry, muscular and gradually passes to the rump.

Rump   The rump is slightly longer than the height of the dog (measured at the withers). The back is straight and strong, the loins powerful and muscular, and the croup is not too narrow and inclines normal. The brisket is broad with well-vaulted ribs and does not reach under the elbows.

Tail   The tail is jointed rather deep and carried in the shape of a sabre when in rest and does not show much movement. The Saarloos Wolfdog can carry its tail in an upward position when in action and when showing dominant behaviour.

Scapula   The shoulder blades are long, slantingly positioned and well joined. The forehand is well-hooked with straight legs and an elastic metatarsus. A slightly outwards position of the forefeet is allowed.

Backhand   The backhand is normally hooked, powerful and muscular and it may be slightly cow-heeled.

Feet   The feet are slightly oval, well-closed with slightly bent toes and firm elastic pads.

Gait   The gait of the Saarloos Wolfdog is light and loose and flexible but cautious, so that a quick change of speed is possible. The gait is very typical and resembles that of the wolf.

Coat   The Saarloos Wolfdog is a coarse-haired dog with very dense wooly undercoat and firm guard hairs, which form an obvious collar around the neck.

Colour   The occuring colours range from light to dark shaded black wild-type (the so called wolf-grey), from a light to dark shaded brown wild-type (the so called wood-brown), and very light cream to white. Other colours are not allowed. Wolf-grey dogs must have black noses, the wood-brown ones liver-coloured noses, and the white dogs preferably black noses, although a flesh-tinted nose is allowed in such a dog.

Faults   Flap or lop-ears and a stiff curl in the tail are considered serious faults.

Written by Torine Sørensen who co-owns with her husband Leif the only Saarloos Wolfhond kennel, Kennel Yoi-inu, in the nordic countries.

Kennel Yoi-Inu
Oppdretter av Saarloos Wolfhond
Hjemme side adr. http://home.c2i.net/leifn/
E-mail ( leifn@c2i.net ).

Source of the article:
Leendert Saarloos Stichting (Nederlands), breed portrait in the German magazine Der Hund, Internet articles, plus the author's personal experiences with the breed since 1989, breeding and owning five Saarloos Wolfdogs.

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