If you are up for an adventure in terms of taking care of a dog with its natural ancestry, then a wolf dog, along with the cost of owning one, might interest you.
Wolf dogs are hybrids that are produced with the aim of domesticating different types of wolves. However, given the wild nature of wolves and their categorization as protected wildlife, owning a wolf dog remains controversial.
This article ventures into the cost of wolf dog ownership, along with the financial preparation needed for its initial and annual maintenance, the best sources, and how to save money while taking care of one.
How Much Does a Wolf Dog Puppy Cost?
The rarity of a wolf dog makes it quite pricey compared to other common dog breeds. The price of wolf dogs usually ranges between $1,000 and $3,000. The price depends on factors such as the percentage of wolf bloodline, age, gender, location, and the breeder’s reputation.
Just to give a better perspective of the difficulty of producing wolf dogs that drive their high cost, domesticated dogs such as the German Shepherds or Alaskan Malamutes are bred with pure wolves.
Examples of these wolves include the gray wolf, eastern wolf, red wolf, and Ethiopian wolf. Handling them during mating is not easy. Containing them as breeding stock, and even the wolf dog litter, is another challenge in itself.
To add, there is just one type of wolf dog that is recognized by the American Kennel Club, which is the Czechoslovakian Vlcak. Meanwhile, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) also recognizes the Saarlos Wolfhound.
However, despite the recognition of some wolf dog breeds, ownership of these dogs is prohibited or restricted in most states in North America and regulated in some. This difficulty in ownership makes its price even steeper.
As mentioned, the price of wolf dogs also depends on the composition of the wolf bloodline in the wolf dog. See the breakdown below of the estimated cost of wolf dogs based on their wolf content:
|Breed Type||Price Range|
|High Content (80% or more wolf DNA)||$2,000 – $3,000|
|Mid Content (50%–80% wolf DNA)||$1,500 – $2,500|
|Low Content (50% or less wolf DNA)||$1,000 – $2,000|
Since these wolf dogs require special handling, some breeders may offer puppies that are already well-trained and are easier to handle. Expect these fully-trained pups to cost even more.
How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Wolf Dog From a Shelter?
Some wolf dog enthusiasts running on a tight budget may opt to save on the costs of acquiring one and concentrate their funds on the maintenance and care of their wolf dogs.
Adopting wolf dogs from a reliable rescue organization usually comes with an adoption fee of around $200 to $700. This would also depend on the wolf dog’s age, behavior, gender, health condition, and training status.
Most rescue centers ensure that wolf dogs under their care are already treated for their medical conditions and are socialized properly before being put up for adoption.
First-Time Expenses of Owning a Wolf Dog
The cost of owning a wolf dog does not stop with the acquisition of the pup. You also need to consider its maintenance and comfort as you bring it home for the first time.
In fact, most of these items need to be purchased in advance so that they are already prepared before picking up your dog from the breeder.
Here is a comprehensive list of first-time expenses when getting a wolf dog:
- Food and Treats: Wolves survive in the wild through hunting, and most of their food is high in protein and fats. Therefore, it would be good to incorporate a similar diet for your wolf dog. You can even introduce a raw diet for your dog early. Further, positive reinforcement training is also an integral part of your wolf dog’s behavioral development, and treats are an effective tool for this. Prepare $80 to $150 for high-quality food and treats.
- Bowls: Top-grade food and water bowls are better investments than cheap ones. Bowls made of sturdy materials, like ceramic or stainless steel, can last longer and are easier to clean. This can cost you around $10 to $40.
- Toys: Toys are very effective tools to manage the need for wolf dogs to be mentally stimulated and prevent them from resorting to destructive behavior. Set aside $30 to $100 for heavy-duty toys like ropes, balls, frisbees, and chew toys.
- Beds: Though wolves are not finicky when looking for a place to rest, remember that wolf dogs are more domesticated. Hence, it is good to provide them with a comfortable spot to rest, especially after a day of physical activities. A soft and convenient bed that a wolf dog can use until it grows to its full size can range between $50 and $300.
- Collars and Leashes: As you bring wolf dogs outside, you must always keep them on a leash and collar to manage their high prey drive. Wolf dogs are natural hunters due to their wolf bloodline. Hence, a budget of $15 to $50 for a good quality leash and collar set should prevent your wolf dog from getting into an accident.
- Crates and Carriers: A crate is an essential item that you would need to transport your wolf dog comfortably to any location. It can also double up as your dog’s secure location within your home. A large-sized carrier or crate with enough space for your fully grown wolf dogs to move around may cost around $60 to $500.
- Grooming Essentials: Like other double-coated dog breeds, wolf dogs go through heavy shedding twice a year. Having the right grooming tools is essential to manage this condition effectively. A complete grooming kit that includes brushes, shampoo, combs, hair and nail clippers, ear cleaners, toothbrushes, and toothpaste may hold you back by around $50 to $250.
- Initial Vet Visits: Wolf dogs are robust and are naturally built to survive rough environments. However, they would still need to undergo routine veterinary checks. Set aside $100 to $500 for every trip to the clinic. This ensures that they go through tests to check potential illnesses and treat them before they get worse.
- Initial Vaccine Shots: Wolf dogs are not exempted from getting the initial set of vaccinations that will protect them from the most common critical illnesses for dogs, such as parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, and kennel cough. Prepare about $50 to $300 to get your dog completely inoculated.
- Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications: Parasite infestation is a serious problem in dogs that can also hit your wolf dog if not prevented. Hence, it is best to set aside $40 to $300 for deworming, flea, and tick medications to keep your dog healthy.
- Neutering or Spaying: Since wolf dogs are very difficult to breed, they are suggested to undergo neutering or spaying to prevent them from experiencing common health problems in intact dogs. Depending on your vet’s fees, these surgeries may cost around $50 to $500.
- Microchipping: Microchipping is an effective identification method for lost dogs. All the relevant information about wolf dogs and their owners is embedded in the tiny chip and stored in a national database. You can have this implanted in your dog’s back for $40 to $60.
- Dog License: A dog license is a requirement to comply with state laws governing and regulating the ownership of wolf dogs in the United States. A registration fee of $10 to $20 will get you a dog license with a unique identification number. This will help animal control and shelters retrieve your dog if it goes missing.
- Other Essentials: Once you acquire a wolf dog, you must also ensure you can keep your environment clean and sanitized for your own health. Therefore, it is important to buy materials to keep your house spic and span, such as sanitizers, odor neutralizers, poop scoopers and bags, training pads, and lint removers. You need to budget around $30 to $80 for these items.
The list below summarizes the first-time expenses of owning a wolf dog puppy:
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$80 – $150|
|Bowls||$15 – $40|
|Toys||$30 – $100|
|Beds||$50 – $300|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$60 – $500|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $250|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$30 – $80|
|Total Initial Cost||$620 – $3,150|
Aside from these costs, a friend of mine who has been handling wolf dogs for about ten years now strictly suggests building a sturdy and well-thought-of enclosure for your dog before bringing it home.
The enclosure should be at least eight feet tall, made of strong material, and with a slanted inward overhang. This will keep your wolf dog secure, given its creative ability to escape and superb athleticism.
Depending on how large you plan your enclosure, you can allot about $1,000 to $3,000 to put this pen up. One must ensure, though, that the area has significant space for them to run freely.
Annual Cost of Owning a Wolf Dog
The lifespan of a wolf dog may be anywhere between 12 and 18 years. Hence, as you plan to own one, you must be committed to sustaining the costs of keeping your dog healthy and happy for this long.
The following table gives you an idea of how much you need to prepare to keep wolf dogs thriving on a yearly basis:
|Type of Expense||Yearly Estimate|
|Food and Treats||$900 – $1,500|
|Routine Veterinary Care||$200 – $600|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$150 – $500|
|Vaccinations||$100 – $250|
|Grooming Essentials||$200 – $600|
|Leashes and Collars||$50 – $100|
|Beds and Crates||$300 – $800|
|Toys||$100 – $300|
|Pet Insurance||$800 – $1,500|
|Other Essentials||$50 – $100|
|Yearly Total||$2,850 – $6,250|
|Average Monthly Cost||$237 – $520|
The overall costs of wolf dog maintenance may seem overwhelming if you view it from an annual or a lifetime perspective. However, if you concentrate on what you need to prepare for monthly, it becomes more manageable.
Other Potential Expenses to Consider
Setting aside a steady budget for your wolf dog’s initial and annual expenses should keep your finances in a healthy state.
However, note that there will always be unforeseen instances that might push you to spend unexpectedly for wolf dogs and might throw you off your budget.
You can check the list below to be aware of some of the unanticipated prospective spending when raising wolf dogs:
- Emergency medical expenses: No matter what breed or how healthy your dog is, there is no exception to possible medical emergencies. These emergencies may even include accidents that your dog can get into. You may set aside $1,000 to $5,000 to cover veterinary fees and emergency treatments.
- Professional training Services: The wolf dog’s wild ancestry makes this dog insanely difficult to train, except if you are an experienced trainer yourself. Socialization, obedience, leash, housebreaking, and crate training are all necessary to achieve the best behavior for wolf dogs and may cost about $2,000 to $5,000.
- Professional grooming services: Do not expect wolf dogs to sit relaxed as you clean their ears, clip their nails, brush their teeth, or give them a bath. Hence, some wolf dog owners prefer to employ the services of professional groomers to get these done without hassles. Normally, grooming costs about $40 to $80 for large dogs, but given the special handling needed for these canines, expect higher grooming rates for them.
- Daycare services: If you have a very busy lifestyle, you might need to reconsider getting a wolf dog since it needs a lot of attention. However, should there be times when you need to attend to something occasionally and can’t bring your dog with you, going for daycare services is your next best option for about $10 to $25 a day.
- Dog walkers: Another daily activity for your wolf dogs that must not be skipped is daily physical activities. This is necessary to ensure all those energies are consumed to avoid destructive or aggressive behavior. If there are instances that you are not able to do this yourself, hiring a dog walker costs about $15 to $40 for a 30-minute walking session.
Reviewing these potential expenses will make you realize that a lot of these are optional for the wolf dog owner. Hence, many of these can be avoided by preparing to do these tasks yourself, if at all possible.
Best Places to Find Wolf Dog Puppies for Sale and Adoption
The wolf dog’s rarity and controversies surrounding the breed do not seem to stop interested individuals from seeking them. Hence, reputable breeders of wolf dogs continue to breed these dogs actively.
To help you with this, here is a list of some of the most responsible breeders of wolf dogs in the country:
- Willow’s Wolfdogs – Willow’s Wolfdogs concentrate on low-content wolf dogs and implement the Puppy Culture program for the developmental and socialization skills of their puppies. Their entire breeding stock is also OFA tested for hip and elbow issues and is DNA tested for hereditary illnesses.
- Rare Breed Exotics – Based in California, Rare Breed Exotics focuses on the breeding of mid and high-content wolf dogs. This breeder takes pride in its well-socialized wolf dogs, who can live peacefully with their Tibetan Mastiffs and exotic cats in their home. They selectively breed only 1 to 2 litters per year, so getting into their waitlist early is best.
- Star Mountain Wolfdogs – Situated in Kentucky, Star Mountain Wolfdogs is a small family kennel that produces top-quality wolf dogs. All their puppies undergo early socialization with children, cats, and other dogs. Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) is also applied for the pups to support their transition to their new environments.
If your budget is a bit short for purchasing wolf dog puppies from a credible breeder, you can opt to adopt wolf dogs instead from a reliable rescue organization.
Here are some safe sources to find wolf dogs for adoption:
- Howling Woods Farm – Howling Woods focuses on rescuing and placing abandoned and surrendered wolf dogs. They follow certain requirements for those interested in adopting the breed from them, including a spacious and secure enclosure, the presence of other canine companions, and necessary dog licenses.
- Texas Wolfdog Project & Shelter – Founded in 2013, this all-volunteer Texas organization focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming wolf dogs into suitable homes or sanctuaries. They now have 13 enclosures and 25 animals under their care.
- Wolf Creek Dog Rescue – Wolf Creek Dog Rescue is a family-owned and operated dog rescue and wolf dog sanctuary that became a federally recognized non-profit organization in 2015. Since then, they have rescued, rehabilitated, and rehomed over 100 dogs, including wolf dogs.
Due to the difficulty in handling wolf dogs, expect that the requirements for adopting wolf dogs are much stricter than those of regular dogs. Wolf dogs, anyway, are really more fitted for experienced dog owners and handlers.
Money-Saving Tips for Wolf Dog Owners
With the high costs of owning a wolf dog, especially its upkeep, most owners will be interested in knowing how to save money without sacrificing the quality of life of their pets.
The money-saving tips below shall help you reduce your expenses of wolf dog ownership:
- Buy dog food in bulk. Wolf dogs are voracious eaters, and understandably, food is one of the biggest expenses of owning this breed. You can save more if you buy dog food in bulk since these are usually offered at a lower price. Some pet stores can even give an additional volume of food if you buy a certain amount. This also applies to raw meat sources if you practice raw feeding.
- Invest in high-quality items. With the strength of wolf dogs, they can easily destroy their stuff made of cheap materials, such as toys, bowls, carriers, beds, and even their enclosures. So instead of spending a lot on repurchasing their things or renovating their pens, always buy items made of very sturdy materials that can last long.
- Maintain a regular veterinary routine. Though wolf dogs are generally healthy dogs, partnering with your vet for the health care of your wolf dog is important, especially since they have the capability to live up to 18 years. It is important to detect health issues earlier and treat them with urgency before they get worse and more costly.
- Prepare homemade food and treats. If you have the privilege of time, preparing homemade food and treats for your wolf dog is a great bonding moment with your dog and a practical way to cut costs. This is also an effective method of providing a delicious and healthy alternative to your wolf dog’s diet.
The tips listed above are just a few examples that can help you become more economical yet still effective owners of wolf dogs. In your dog’s lifetime, you might discover more of these.
Are you prepared for the costs of owning a wolf dog? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!