The Saarlooswolfhond is an established breed of wolf-dog hybrid originally developed by Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos in 1921, who sought to improve trainability and boost immunity to distemper in German Shepherds. His results were mixed, and although neither trainability improved nor susceptibility to distemper lessened, the breed was recognized in 1975, six years after Saarloos's death. Today, the Saarlooswolfhond is a rare breed not often seen outside the Netherlands. In the past, he was trained to use as a guide dog for the blind, and is also used to hunt small game.
The Sarlooswolfhond looks very much like his wolf ancestors, with an athletic build, tall pointed ears, and a dense, weather-resistant coat that needs regular brushing. He should only be bathed as needed, to avoid stripping the natural oils from the skin. He tends to do best in cooler environments, and he requires plenty of daily exercise.
The Saarlooswolfhond requires a passionate and dedicated owner, so he is only recommended for those who are very experienced. Because he is still very pack-oriented, many owners choose to keep at least two Saarloos to provide the necessary pack. He is very intelligent, but generally does not take well to obedience training. He doesn’t like to be isolated and tends to panic if locked in an enclosed space, so a rural setting with plenty of acreage is preferred. When comfortable with his master and surroundings, he makes a devoted companion.
Howlingly fierce heritage aside, the Sarlooswolfhond is prone to hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health — not to mention your family’s budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Sarlooswolfhonds are prone to include joint conditions such as hip dysplasia; eye problems such as glaucoma; spinal problems such as degenerative disc disease; stomach problems such as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat); and rarely, pituitary dwarfism.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Sarlooswolfhond inherits anything more than a pack mentality, you’re covered.