Are Wolf Hybrids Legal in California?
David Muñoz | March 3, 2023 | California Law
Dogs are man’s best friend, and most of us know that modern dogs evolved from wolves. More adventurous dog owners may want to get a pet that’s a little closer to the original strain. But is it legal to own wolves as pets in California, and where’s the dividing line between wolf and dog?
Wolf hybrids, sometimes known as wolfdogs, can be legal pets under certain circumstances. Read on to learn more about the California laws governing wolf hybrid ownership.
What Are Wolfdogs?
Before we dive into the laws governing wolf hybrid ownership, let’s talk some about what wolfdogs are. Wolfdogs are high-content hybrids – meaning that a lot of their genetic material comes from wolves. Sometimes, pure wolves can breed with dogs like huskies or wolfhounds to create puppies that are part wild wolf and part domestic dog.
California regulates wolfdogs based on how far up their family tree the original wolf is. It’s important to note that any animal with a large amount of pure wolf DNA is going to make for a more demanding pet. Only experienced dog owners who have a lot of time and resources to devote to training and maintaining their animals should consider wolfdogs as pets.
Second-Generation Wolfdogs Are Legal
In California, you can keep certain wolfdogs as pets as long as their wolf ancestor is far enough up the family tree. In order to be a legal pet, a wolfdog has to be at least second generation. This means it’s the puppy of a domestic dog and a half-wolf/half-dog hybrid – in other words, no more than 25 percent pure wolf.
If your animal is half wolf or more, it is not legal to keep as a pet. Certain rehabilitation organizations or zoos can legally keep these animals. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that many of the “wolves” on display at zoos are, in fact, high-content wolf-dog hybrids.
Considerations for Keeping a Wolfdog
Before you run out and find the nearest wolfdog puppy you can legally keep, it’s important to think about what owning that animal will mean.
Wolfdogs are going to have a lot of the characteristics of their wild ancestor, including a greater tendency toward aggression. They may be more likely to bite someone, especially if they feel “their” territory (your home) is being threatened. You’ll need to be extra diligent in socializing them with both other animals and with people while they’re still very young.
Many wolfdogs may have more energy and need a higher activity level than your average lab. If they aren’t kept entertained, they can start destroying things – up to and including your furniture, walls, and doors. And training these animals can be more challenging, since they tend to be a lot more headstrong than a normal domestic dog.
Wolfdogs can make excellent pets if trained and socialized properly, but it’s going to take a lot of work to get them there. You need to be prepared for that before you buy a wolfdog puppy.
Getting a Wolf Hybrid
If you do plan to get a wolfdog, it’s absolutely essential that you research thoroughly before settling on a breeder. You need to know for certain that your puppy is at most 25 percent wolf. And unfortunately, there are some less reputable breeders who may sell you an animal that’s got more wolf DNA than is legal for California pets.
You also want to make sure that your puppy was bred and raised in safe and humane conditions. A good breeder should work on socializing the puppies from day one, and they should make sure their puppies only go to capable owners.
Avoid a Dog Bite Lawsuit
There’s a certain appeal to the idea of owning a wolfdog, and while they are beautiful animals, owning them comes with some caveats. In California, wolf hybrids can only be kept as pets if they are second-generation or more. And it’s important to think about all the responsibilities involved with owning a wolfdog before you buy one.
If you’ve been bitten by a wolfdog or other pet, you could be entitled to compensation. Schedule a free consultation with our San Diego dog bite lawyers to discuss your case.
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