The American Blue Bay Shepherd is an extraordinary new wolfdog breed. It is a mix of the very rare old-world Blue German Shepherd dog and the equally rare blue wolfdog. It retains a distinctive wolfish appearance but thrives as an active companion animal.
Unlike other wolfdogs, the American Blue Bay Shepherd seems neither overly timid nor aggressive. Although they are a breed-in-progress, and there is some variation in their temperaments.
The current most famous Blue Bay Shepherd, Kurgan, has his own youtube channel with over 200 000 subscribers. Kurgan has served as an ambassador for his breed, showing an even-tempered, bold, and active dog.
Kurgan also reveals strong social skills and is likely an excellent example of what foundation breeder, Vicki Spencer, hopes to achieve with her dogs.
History of the American Blue Bay Shepherd: Where Do They Come From?
The American Blue Bay Shepherd is not a recognized breed. However, it is about two decades in the making.
The only legitimate breeder of the American Blue Bay Shepherd is Vicki Spencer of Southern Breeze Ranch.
Like the breeders of the Saarloos and Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs, Vicki set out to breed dogs with the health and good looks of a wolf and the loyalty and biddable nature of the German Shepherd.
She also specifically wanted the distinctive blue coats and pale eyes, which are extremely rare in both German Shepherds and wolves.
She found her blue wolves in the Eastern Timber Wolf, the only type known to have a blue coat, and proceeded to breed blue wolf dogs.
After many years of searching, she eventually located a breeder in France who bred Old German Shepherd Dogs. There she found the scarce blue coloring she was looking for.
Old in this context does not refer to age, but rather the older type of German Shepherd. These are large, square dogs who do not have the sloping backs and over-angulated hind legs German Shepherd seen in show lines today.
She also chose friendly dogs and did not have the strong GSD guarding instinct to avoid aggression issues in her new breed.
Finally, the first official American Blue Bay Shepherd litter was born in 2011.
The name Blue Bay was chosen because of both the dogs’ coloring and her home in Palm Bay, Florida.
Since then, Vicki has continued to develop this breed, and they are still a breed-in-progress. She has bred them away from the stigma of being Wolfdogs, as only F6 generation wolf dogs are allowed in her breeding program, and no new wolf blood will be added.
There are some Blue Bay Shepherds who have as much as 12 -16 % wolf DNA. However, Vicki tries to keep the percentage down to 6%.
What are the Physical Features of the American Blue Bay Shepherd?
|Physical Features of the American Blue Bay Shepherd|
|Height||Unspecified but around 30 inches tall|
|Weight||Females usually weigh 70-85 pounds but have weighed up to 100 pounds.
Males usually weigh between 85 – 105 pounds. But can go up to 130 pounds.
|Lifespan||Too early to know.|
|Color||Blue or Slate Grey|
|Nose||Black or Blue|
|Eyes||Amber through yellow. May have green tints.|
The distinctive blue-grey coloring of the Blue Bay Shepherd is caused by a dilute gene. That is the D locus gene that causes a diluted or washed-out pigment in black dogs. This gives the blue dogs their slate grey, charcoal, or blue-grey coloring.
Wherever the wolf content is high, this dilute gene will cause the blue coloring to fade as the wolfdog ages. In these cases, they will turn silver or white the older they get. The Blue Bay, however, should retain its blue coat throughout its life.
Along with the blue coloring comes the striking pale yellow or amber eyes, sometimes with a green hint. These are slanted and almond-shaped, as with wolves.
They are large to giant dogs. While females are significantly smaller, they have been known to weigh as much as 100 pounds, while males have reached 130 pounds. In general, this makes them about the size of an Alaskan Malamute, if not considerably larger.
Vicki sacrifices appearance for temperament and character. So while she breeds for the long legs and graceful ranginess of a wolfdog, many of her dogs look more like German Shepherds. Primarily, if they show the sweet, reliable temperament and health that she aims for.
Although there is some variation in appearance and size, the American Blue Bay is remarkably consistent for such a new breed.
General Care of the American Blue Bay Shepherd
|American Blue Bay Shepherd’s General Care|
|Shedding||Needs regular brushing and a seasonal blowout.|
|Exercise||Enjoys an active lifestyle. Should have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.|
|Housing||Suited to be an indoor companion. Should have a well-fenced yard to romp.|
|Temperament||Temperament can vary. Usually very sweet, loving, active, and intelligent.|
|Trainability||Moderately to highly trainable.|
The Blue Bay Shepherd is bred to be a companion dog rather than a working dog, and so it is okay with the odd day spent inside.
However, they do need a relatively active lifestyle.
These appear to be pack and people-orientated dogs that enjoy being part of the family inside. Their moderate-to-high energy needs mean that they should have a well-fenced yard to enjoy.Food & Diet Requirements
The Blue Bay Shepherd should be fed quality, a high-protein kibble that supports his joints and bones. A vet can help you pick food out based on his age, size, and other dietary requirements.
If you choose a raw diet, be sure to consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your American Blue Bay is getting all the nutrients they need.
Both the Blue Bay’s parent breeds, the German Shepherd and the wolfdog, have thick double coats that will shed twice a year heavily.
A blowout and daily brushing to remove the dead hair will minimize the problem.
For the rest of the year, a regular brush once to three times a week with a good pet grooming glove or slicker brush will help prevent the undercoat from matting. It will also spread the dog’s natural oils through the fur for a nice sheen.
If the Blue Bay is active on hard ground, its nails should wear down naturally. But it’s still good to invest in a nail grinder or clipper to keep them neat and trim. This way, they won’t be at risk of overgrowing or splitting and cracking.
Ears should be kept dry and clean to prevent infections since these are common in German Shepherds. Teeth should also be kept free of plaque as this may cause health concerns later in life.
While the Blue Bay is not bred to be a working dog, it is an active breed. It will do best with regular hikes and long walks. It may also enjoy several sports such as skijoring, agility, obedience, or cani cross.
A no-pull harness will keep their throats safe from damage. Also, be sure that they are well-secured when traveling, as they may have a high prey drive and could shoot out of a car to chase something at a moment’s notice.
|Severe Health Problems||Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
|Mild to Moderate Health problems||Pituitary Dwarfism
|Rare Health Problems||Cancer
Since the first litter was born in 2011, it is too early to know if there are any major health problems in the American Blue Bay Shepherd. In general, dogs with wolf blood are a little healthier than many established breeds and often have a long life expectancy.
However, the Blue Bay Shepherd does face two potential obstacles. The first is a possibly small gene pool. With only one official breeder, there simply may not be that much foundational stock to draw from.
Breeding for a specific color also narrows the choices. This means that Southern Breeze Ranch will have their work cut out to avoid inbreeding and the health issues that come with it.
Potential owners should ask to see the dog’s bloodlines and health screens before purchasing.
The second potential — but unconfirmed — source of health concerns often come from German Shepherd lines. While the Old German Shepherd tends to have fewer joint problems because of its more natural shape, hip and elbow dysplasia cannot yet be ruled out.
Other hereditary diseases have been passed on from the German Shepherd to wolfdogs like the Saarloos and Czechoslovakian. These include:
- Eye abnormalities
- Pituitary dwarfism
- Degenerative Myelopathy.
Like any large breed, the American Blue Bay could also be prone to bloat. Feeding should be monitored to prevent them from overeating too fast. A slow feeder bowl can help with this.
Meals can even be split into two smaller meals a day and should not be given 30 minutes before or after exercise.
What is the American Blue Bay Shepherd’s Life Expectancy?
With the first certified litter being born in 2011, it is too soon to know how long a Blue Bay Shepherd might live.
The Trainability of a Blue Bay Shepherd: Temperament and Intelligence
It is unclear exactly how trainable the Blue Bay is. Current reports show a variation in temperament and personality.
Some dogs, especially females or those with higher wolf content, seem a little timid, but not excessively.
Like many large dogs, they may take up to three years to mature, and some owners report them being destructive during this time.
On the other hand, Kurgan shows us a bold, savvy, and self-confident dog who appears to navigate meeting new people and other dogs on hikes with ease.
One personality trait which seems consistent is a general sweetness and loving nature.
It’s also essential to note that the German Shepherd lines in the Blue Bay do not seem to be working dogs. They were chosen to have little guarding instinct, and together with the wolfdog, Blue Bay is unlikely to be a good guard dog.
However, their imposing size may be deterrent enough to most intruders.
The little wolf DNA they have may cause them to be both sensitive and independent, making training harder than for a typical German Shepherd.
However, their intelligence is not in question, and patience together with positive training techniques may yield a very well-trained dog.
Trainability aside, these seem to be good companions to the right homes.
Are Blue Bay Shepherds Aggressive?
As this is still a breed-in-progress, it is difficult to say definitively that there is no aggression at all in the Blue Bay.
After all, an individual in any breed can develop aggression under the right circumstances.
Any dog, but particularly a large and powerful one like the Blue Bay Shepherd, needs to be socialized and trained from a young age. Pro-social interaction from a young age can avoid all kinds of trouble later on.
Nevertheless, there is no evidence of aggressive behavior in American Blue Bay Shepherd at the time of writing. And, Southern Breeze Ranch appears to be breeding specifically for non-aggressive behavior.
Sociability with Other Pets
While they should be socialized from a young age, owners report that the American Blue Bay does well with other dogs and cats if they are raised with them. They may have a strong prey drive, however, and so this should be watched for.
Suitable Home: Are Blue Bay Shepherds Good Pets?
The American Blue Bay Shepherd seems to make an excellent dog for a relatively active and outdoorsy home that enjoys getting out in nature.
They are devoted animals and should preferably not be left alone for long periods, as they may be prone to separation anxiety.
Because of their size, a home without small children may be preferable. However, Vicki Spencer seems to place her dogs in the homes best suited to them, and contacting her might help you decide if there is a Blue Bay for you.
How Much Does an American Blue Bay Shepherd Cost?
These are pricey dogs, and since there is only one breeder globally, there is a one to a two-year waiting list. Buyers report paying between $ 2000 and $ 3500 a puppy.
Sometimes breeders impersonating Vicki will offer dogs for much less, but it is important to remember that there is currently only one breeder in the world.
Also, be sure to check your state and local county laws regarding wolfdogs, as they may be prohibited.
Although the American Blue Bay Shepherd is a breed in progress, it is a promising one. The dog’s gorgeous appearance is perhaps the first thing to stand out, but digging deeper reveals a pet that is more dog-like than wolf. They are devoted family members and seem mostly without the behavior problems that are often associated with wolfdogs. As this breed develops further, it is clear they are something worth keeping an eye on.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.