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    The Kugsha: The Rare American Working Wolfdog

    The Kugsha: The Rare American Working Wolfdog | PawSafe

    The Kugsha Wolf dog, or Amerindian Malamute, was first called the American Husky. 

    Very little is known about the Kugsha dog, except that it seems to hail from three wolf hybrid breeders in Pennsylvania. Owners say that Kugsha puppies are incredibly intelligent with a longer attention span than the average young dog.

    This can make them easy to train, and they are known for being exceptionally loyal and protective guardians. Nevertheless, their wild and primitive instincts can make them a disaster in the wrong home.

    History

    The origins of the Kugsha are murky. It seems to be both a rare and new breed. They are reported to have first been bred by Wolfen Kennels in Pennsylvania, and Malamutes, Huskies, and wolves probably went into their foundation stock. 

    Originally, they were created as hardy working dogs in the 1980s, meant to haul sleds over rugged terrain. 

    When the initial name of “American Husky” did not go over well, it was changed to Amerindian Malamute and eventually “Kugsha.” 

    Kugsha is an acronym of the first letters of the three original wolf dog breeders. These are; Kulwind (KU), Gordon Smith (GS), and Habben (HA).

    The lack of information about the Kugsha might be by design. A single website dedicated to the breed warns potential owners away from them, as they seem to have few typical dog-like characteristics. 

    Described as primitive and demanding, it is likely that the Kugsha are high content wolf hybrids. This means that many of them might have parents or grandparents who are wolves and can give them unpredictable temperaments. 

    What Are the Physical Features of a Kugsha?

    waptake-kugsha
    Photo above of Nootka GreatBear Oklavik of Greystone, a male Kugsha, courtesy of Janet McDonald.

     

    Height

    Weight

    Lifespan

    Color

    Nose

    Eyes

    20 - 27 inches

    May be over 100 pounds.

     

    14 - 16 years

    Fawn, Gray, White, Brown, (possible wolf agouti colors)

    Black, but may have a pink “snow nose” in winter

    Hazel, brown, or pale amber


    The Kugsha is described as a large dog, with one owner reporting to have a male named Nootkabear who tipped the scales at 325 pounds

    This claim is unverified as no pictures of the dog can be found at this time.  

    It is unlikely that the average Kugsha would reach this size, though. The Kugsha’s Husky and Malamute ancestry would probably make it a bit larger than your average Siberian Husky and perhaps as large or smaller than your regular Malamute.

    Verified images of this breed are rare, but those that exist show dogs with either the typical grey, white, or red markings of Huskies and Malamutes, perhaps with some of the agouti coloring typical in wolves. 

    A video claiming to be of the Amerindian Malamute shows a dog with the more common square features of a normal Malamute. 

    In other pictures, one can see either a more typical wolfdog or a husky-type dog with distinct pointed features and long legs that might indicate wolf heritage. 

    The difference in appearance is likely because this might still be a breed-in-progress, with no clear breed standard at this point.

    Therefore, the Kugsha could display any of its parent breeds’ features and could look either more wolfish or more like a spitz-type dog.

    Whatever their looks, the one feature that remains constant is their dense, weatherproof coat. This is a dog suited to harsh weather and cold climates. 

    It is not a hypoallergenic dog, and you can expect heavy seasonal shedding. 

    General Care of Kugsha

    Hypoallergenic

    Shedding

    Exercise

    Housing

    Temperament

    Trainability

    No

    Moderate to Heavy Shedding

    Minimal one to two hours a day of vigorous exercise.

    Not a dog for small spaces. Can live outside in cold, but should be closely monitored when its warm

    Hyper-intelligent and independent. Should not be allowed near young children. Needs to be close to its pack and is protective.

    This is a trainable dog with the right owner who understands wolf dogs and hybrids.

     

    Energy

      The Kugsha is a high-energy and demanding breed. It does best if it has a heavy-duty task to fulfill, such as hauling weights or sleds over challenging terrain.

      Housing

        This wolf dog is created to withstand harsh weather and could do well outside, even in cold climates. 

        However, their pack mentality means that they have an overwhelming need to be close to their owners, and they should never be left alone for long periods. 

        They may be susceptible to destructive behaviors related to separation anxiety.

        These dogs cannot be kept in small spaces like an apartment.

        Food & Diet Requirements

          As a primitive breed with wolf ancestry, the Kugsha will need high-quality pellets with high protein content, such as Orijen. They may have particularly sensitive stomachs and struggle to digest the more common store-bought pellets. 

          They also need food specifically designed for their age, weight and any allergies they may have. Speak to your vet about the best dietary plan for your Kugsha.

          They may do well on the raw food diet, provided a veterinary nutritionist correctly formulates it to avoid any deficiencies. 

          Grooming

            Like the Tamaskan, the Kugsha has a dense, rough double coat that will need frequent brushing and a seasonal blow out when shedding.

            This dog will need a lot of coat maintenance, mainly when the weather turns warmer. Always make sure your Kugsha is never exposed to temperatures that are too warm

            A Kugsha’s semi-wild nature also means that it is unlikely to accept anything being done to it that it doesn’t like. So, just like socialization, the Kugsha needs to be introduced to grooming elements from a very young age. 

            This includes clipping nails with a grinder or clipper and regularly cleaning out ears to avoid ear infections.

            Health

            Exercise

              The Kugsha is a primitive working breed. This means that while it may not like the kind of intensive training involved in protection or service work, it thrives on the labor involved in pulling a heavy sled over rough terrain. 

              The result is that the Kugsha is a highly active dog and demands mental stimulation and vigorous daily exercise. 

              This is not the breed for someone who only has time to go for a short walk or two a day. 

              Sledding, running, hiking, and bikejoring or the best options to keep your Kugsha in tip top shape.

              Since this dog is a puller; that is, it was born to pull sleds, it might be naturally inclined to pull on its collar and damage its trachea. Therefore, a no-pull harness is advised. 

              Concerns

              Severe Health Problems

              Mild to Moderate Health problems

              Occasional Health Problems

              Hip and elbow dysplasia

              Patellar Luxation

              Bloat

              Osteoarthritis

              Parvo

              Canine Distemper

              Obesity


              Like any large dog, a wolf dog like the Kugsha is susceptible to certain diseases. Without proper vaccinations, it can easily contract viruses like parvo or canine distemper. 

              Since this is an outdoorsy breed, special care needs to be taken to avoid parasites like ticks or worms. A strict tick, flea, and deworming regimen must be followed to prevent heart worm, Lyme disease, or other parasite born ailments.

              Large breed dogs also need to be watched and screened for joint and skeletal defects such as hip or elbow dysplasia. They may also develop osteoarthritis as they grow older. 

              Without proper exercise, they can become obese, putting extra strain on their hearts and joints.

              What is a Kugsha’s Life Expectancy?

              Most wolf dogs are relatively healthy animals with a long life expectancy of between twelve and fourteen years. However, this mostly depends on how healthy parents were and how well the animal is cared for. 

              The Trainability of a Kugsha: Temperament and Intelligence

              Kugsha owners report that they are both exceptionally intelligent and sensitive dogs. However, they do not do well with normal master/dog relationships where the owner might try to dominate the dog. 

              These wolf dogs prefer a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. They are eager to please in the right hands and can be trained. But, they should never be scolded, bullied, or hit. 

              These are animals that thrive on positive reinforcement with a lot of praise treats.

              They are aloof with strangers and protective of their pack. Although socialization should start early, they should never be left off-leash around strangers or animals they do not know. 

              Although these dogs are not considered biters, their unpredictable wild natures could make them reactive in situations where they are uncomfortable. 

              This is a demanding breed that should never be left alone without its pack for an extended period. They are hyper-attached and can quickly become destructive or develop separation anxiety.

              For this reason, a Kugsha needs to be intensively socialized from a young age and should be exercised vigorously to avoid boredom. 

              Place training may also help with separation anxiety.

              Are Wolf Dogs Dangerous?

              It is difficult to say how dangerous a Kugsha might be. Primarily, it will depend on how much wolf-content is in the dog and on the individual dog.

              Many wolf dogs are shy and terrible guard dogs. On the other hand, dogs with a high percentage of wolf in them can be far more unpredictable. This is why they are illegal in various states and countries.

              Their Husky and Malamute heritage might make them friendly with people. But, it should be remembered that Malamutes are also sometimes aggressive with other dogs and animals. This could easily be passed on to Kugsha.

              As for the wolf-content in a Kugsha, this is more problematic. The numbers of annual wolf dog attacks don’t seem very high, but they are quite fatal when they do attack. Wolf dogs are number six underdog bite fatalities by breed.

              Considering that wolf dogs are much rarer than Pit Bulls, for instance, these are not statistics to be sniffed at. Wolf hybrids have an incredible bite force and are best left to people who specialize in wolf dog behavior.

              Do Wolf Dogs Bark?

              In general, wolf dogs are not barkers. It is not that they can’t bark, but it rarely happens. The Kugsha may be prone to prolonged episodes of howling, though, so Kugsha owners may want to invest in some noise-canceling earphones.

              Sociability with Other Pets

              A Kugsha enjoys having a pack, but ideally, these should be dogs roughly the same size and of the opposite gender. Their instinct to hunt and kill prey may make them unsuitable around smaller animals, tiny dogs, cats, or chickens. 

              Even when socialized from a young age, this may never be a dog you can comfortably bring to the dog park. They may chase smaller dogs or rise to any challenge presented to them by another, dominant breed.

              Suitable Home

              A suitable home for a Kugsha is one with extensive experience with both primitive breeds and wolf dogs. They will do better in colder climates.

              Because of their high prey drive, these are not appropriate or safe dogs for homes with small children. High-pitched noises and running about could activate their prey drive. 

              In fact, 82% of people attacked by wolfdogs between 1981 and 2014 were children.

              It’s preferable not to keep them enclosed in urban areas, as they may be accomplished escape artists and should not be allowed in places with many people and other animals. 

              An isolated, well-fenced rural home is best. They should also never travel in a vehicle without being properly secured to prevent them from jumping out. 

              Mostly, they need access to plenty of space with devoted owners who have the time to manage their needs.

              How Much Do Kugsha Wolf Dogs Cost?

              This is a rare breed, and it can be a struggle to find a reputable breeder. Those who breed them likely keep them out away from those looking for a companion dog. 

              As such, it’s hard to establish the exact cost of a Kugsha puppy. Still, you can expect to pay upward of $1000.

              Conclusion

              There is no doubt the Kugsha is a unique and beautiful breed of dog.

              However, their rarity might make them difficult to find, and their wild natures might make them challenging pets. 

              However, Kugsha owners report a brilliant, intuitive, and empathetic dog that would do anything for its family. 

              Therefore, provided the right breeder is found, and you have the resources and experience to handle a wolf dog, the Kugsha might be worth further research.

              References

              “Dangerous Dog Alert: Wolf Hybrids More Likely To Bite.” Keller & Keller, www.2keller.com/library/dangerous-dog-alert-wolf-hybrids-more-likely-to-bite.cfm. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

              “Do Wolf dogs Have Health Problems.” Timber Wolf dog, timberwolfdog.com/do-wolfdogs-have-health-problems.

              Macdonald, Janet. “About.” Kugsha, www.kugsha.com/about.html. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

              “The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds.” The Active Times, www.theactivetimes.com/healthy-living/most-dangerous-dog-breeds.

              “The Most Dangerous Dog Breeds.” The Active Times, www.theactivetimes.com/healthy-living/most-dangerous-dog-breeds.

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