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    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog: A Military Experiment Gone Right

    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog: A Military Experiment Gone Right | PawSafe

    Courageous, fearless, and strong-willed, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Czechoslovakian Vlcak (CSV), is not a dog for the fainthearted or inexperienced. A wolfdog derived from mixing the German Shepherd with the Carpathian Wolf, it is one of the dogs that looks the most like a real wolf.

    Although there is very little wolf left in the CSV, they are still tough and physical dogs. They require experienced handling to manage their superior energy and stamina. 

    If you’re looking for a companion with lupine features, make sure to thoroughly research the CSV before getting a puppy.

    History of the Czechoslovakian Vclak

    The origins of the CSV read like the plot of a science-fiction thriller.  

    In fact, the Vlcak or CSV is a result of a biological experiment that started in 1955. 

    The idea was to combine the Carpathian Wolf with the German Shepherd and create an animal with the stamina, hardiness, and superior senses of a wolf, but with the trainability and obedience of a dog. 

    The project started under Karel Hartl, and by the 1970s, the dogs were working in border patrol units. 

    The dogs were stringently tested to produce the best working hybrids behind the iron curtain for the army.

    In total, four wolves were introduced into the lines. These were Brita, Argo, Sarik, and Lady. After them, no more wolves were introduced, and the studbook was closed.

    This makes the average Czechoslovakian Wolfdog today about 94 % German Shepherd and 6 % wolf. 

    What Are the Physical Features of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog?

    Height

    Weight

    Lifespan

    Color

    Nose

    Eyes

    Bitches a minimum 23 ½ Inches

    Dogs a minimum of 25½

    Bitches a minimum 44 pounds

    Dogs a minimum of 57 pounds

    12 - 15 years

    Yellowish to silver or dark gray coloring Usually has a lighter marks and lighter underparts

    Black and oval

    Dark-rimmed and amber.


    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog male must weigh a minimum of 57 pounds and stand at least 25 ½ inches tall. Females must weigh at least 44 pounds and be at a minimum of 23 ½ inches tall. 

    This means that, in general, they are perhaps a bit bigger than the average Siberian Husky but a little smaller than the Alaskan Malamute.

    This is a firm, powerful dog with a rectangular frame. They tend to be lean and athletic, with streamlined, pointed features that resemble those of their Carpathian Wolf ancestors. 

    They also retain the wolf’s ability to trot gracefully and light-footed over long distances.

    Their colors are usually a yellowish-grey to silver or dark grey, and they have a typical light mask. Their coat is straight and smooth. 

    The CSVs eyes are amber and dark-rimmed, and other eye colors are considered a fault by the breed standard. Their face is pointed and sharp, with erect ears and an oval, black nose.  

    General Care of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

    Hypoallergenic

    Shedding

    Exercise

    Housing

    Temperament

    Trainability

    No

    Moderate to heavy shedding.

    High energy dog. Minimum of one to two hours of daily exercise

    Needs a secure yard. Prefers to sleep indoors with its pack.

    Intelligent, easily bored. High prey drive. Protective of family and wary of strangers. Highly intelligent.

    Difficult to train. Not for novice or inexperienced owners.


    Energy

    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a high energy dog that will find an outlet whether you provide him one or not. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared for plenty of physical activities to channel his excess energy productively. 

    Housing

    This is a dog that does well in cold climates. It needs a secure yard, and while it can withstand harsh winter temperatures, it prefers to be indoors with its owner, as they are pack animals. 

    Because they can be destructive when bored, it is best to introduce them to a crate early on and keep them mentally stimulated. The house should also be wolfdog-proofed!

    Food & Diet Requirements

    Raw food diets or the BARF diet are often recommended for wolfdogs like the Vlcak. Although they may also do well on high-quality pellets with a high percentage of meat protein in it. 

    Consult your vet about your dog’s diet to ensure their nutritional requirements are being met for their age, size, and overall health.  

    Grooming

    Since the CVS has a thick double coat, it needs regular brushing. Unfortunately, since Vlcaks are often wary of strangers, you may have to do all your wolfdog grooming yourself. 

    This will include learning to “blow out” their coat when they are shedding. 

    As they are stubborn dogs who won’t be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, it’s best to desensitize them to all aspects of grooming from as young as possible. 

    They may also struggle in hot climates. So beware of weather above 70°F and make sure you can help your dog cool down if needed.

    Nails should be clipped regularly, with a good clipper or grinder, and ear infections can be prevented by cleaning out the inside of the ears regularly. 

    Good dental health is also essential as a build-up of plaque can affect your dog’s heart and lungs. 

    Health

    Exercise

    This is an active breed in both mind and body. 

    Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs’ owners need to be prepared for a dog with exceptional stamina and loads of excess energy to burn off. 

    Ideally, the CSV should have a minimum of one to two hours of moderate to vigorous activity a day. As they can be hard to train, the best activities involve covering long distances without too many repetitive commands. This can include hiking, cani cross, or bikejoring. 

    This dog also has a notoriously high prey drive, so it should stay on a leash whenever it may encounter smaller animals. A no-pull harness can help avoid damage to its throat. 

    Similarly, when traveling with your CSV, restraints are essential to prevent them from jumping out of the vehicle at inopportune moments.

    Concerns    

    Severe Health Problems

    Mild to Moderate Health problems

    Rare Health Problems

    Hip and elbow dysplasia

    Degenerative Myelopathy

    Glaucoma and lens Luxation

    Pituitary Dwarfism

    Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

    Heart issues

    Seizures


    There are generally very few diseases in the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, and breeders are required to strictly screen their dogs for possible congenital defects or diseases.

    Cases of hip and elbow dysplasia still occur, although CVS breeders are generally careful to test their animals for this. 

    Like the Northern Inuit Dog, there have been cases of degenerative myelopathy. This is a tragic disease that causes paralysis in the lower portion of the dog’s body. 

    Prospective owners should ask to see the parent’s DNA tests to check whether the parents are carriers for this disease.

    Vlcaks are also required by the Czechoslovakian Vclak Organisation to have their dogs CERF tested. This is where a board-certified ophthalmologist checks for any eye disorders, especially those that may be hereditary.

    There have also been recorded cases of pituitary dwarfism. However, DNA testing on any breeding dogs should avoid this being passed onto puppies.

    In rare cases, CSVs have been reported with seizures, lens luxation, cardiac problems, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). In EPI, the pancreas does not release enough enzymes to digest food, leading to malnourishment.  

    Although these dogs were significantly inbred in the early days of their creation, nowadays, any kind of inbreeding or line breeding is frowned upon, considerably reducing the number of medical issues in the CSV. 

    What is the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog’s Life Expectancy?

    The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a hardy and healthy breed with a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years.

    The Trainability of a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog: Temperament and Intelligence

    The CSV is a highly intelligent dog. Unfortunately, unlike German Shepherds, they often don’t feel the need to use their intelligence to please people.  

    Instead, they sometimes prefer to put their active minds and agile bodies to work solving the problems they choose to solve. 

    These problems may include: “How do I get over this six-foot fence to get hold of the neighbor’s cat?”. Or “How do I dig up all of my mom’s new flower bed before she comes home?”. Or “How do I get out of my crate to rip apart the new couch?”

    It’s important to note that intelligence does not mean easy to train. 

    Vlcaks can be incredibly destructive when young and are easily bored. 

    Owners report even their motivations and drives remain inconsistent. So, one day they may be perfectly willing to do some training for treats, but the next, they will only work for a squeaky toy.

    They are strong-willed and cannot be persuaded to do something they do not want to do. CSVs also hate repetition and are easily distracted in new environments. This means it will be difficult to involve them in most dog sports that require unerring attention and repetitive tasks. 

    Nevertheless, the AKC reports that they are a versatile breed that can excel in many sports. However, training will take consistency and patience.

    These dogs are slow to mature, both physically and emotionally. For this reason, gentle discipline, positive reinforcement, and routine should take precedence above training. 

    It is better to focus on teaching your dog not to scale the backyard wall than to expect it to participate in Schutzhund (IPO) trials.

    They are naturally wary and aloof with strangers and protective guard dogs. Simultaneously, Vlcaks are closely bonded to their owners, provided they were raised correctly. This means, like most wolfdogs, they are susceptible to separation anxiety.

    Even though most Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs only have a low percentage of wolf in them, it is enough to make them unpredictable and potentially dangerous. 

    Although they are rare in the USA, 14 people were killed by this breed between 1979 and 1998. Thus, they are considered the 9th most dangerous breed.

    This certainly does not mean that every Vlcak is a killer. Dogs are individuals. It only means that they are best left to experienced owners who know how to handle any aggressive tendencies.

    Sociability with Other Pets

    Every dog should be socialized from a young age. Unfortunately, with the CSV, they have both a significant prey drive and a tendency toward dog aggression that might not ever be fully controlled. 

    Their aggression with other dogs extends particularly towards dogs of the same size and sex. This is a dominant and independent breed. For the sake of safety, they should be kept only in male/female combinations. 

    Even when adequately socialized, owners should be aware of the CSVs genetic background. An old saying goes that when a dog is placed under stress, they reach into their ancestry for an answer about to respond. 

    In the CSV, the wolf genome still lurks, and so special precautions should always be taken so that it is never the wolf that answers.

    Suitable Home

    This is not a breed that is suitable for most homes. While they are generally loyal and devoted to their families, they are also intensely physical, rambunctious, and easily bored. 

    Their mouthiness and inability to be gentle often makes them unsuitable to be around young children, even if they love the children in their home. 

    Owners report frequent bruising and even black eyes because of the juvenile CSV’s love of roughhousing. 

    They also need tons of exercise and mental stimulation and quickly become destructive when they grow bored. 

    Their athletic bodies and quick minds will find any weakness in your fence, making escapes a frequent problem.

    Altogether, this means these dogs are only suited to active, experienced owners who are passionate about the breed and can accommodate their many needs.

    How Much Does a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Cost?

    The average price for this breed is between $800 and $1200. 

    However, many are bought by owners who are soon overwhelmed by these dogs, and they often end up in shelters. Therefore, if you are sure this is the breed for you, it’s best to contact a rescue agency

    Are Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs Legal in the USA?

    Laws regarding wolf hybrids differ from country to country and from state to state in the USA. 

    Some states restrict wolfdogs depending on the amount of wolf in them. In contrast, other states prohibit and target dogs that even look like wolves.

    Sometimes a permit is needed, and laws may also change between counties and cities. Therefore, before buying a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, it is best to check your local county and city ordinances.

    Conclusion

    The CSV is undoubtedly not a do for inexperienced owners. Even professional trainers may struggle with the dominant and independent natures. 

    Prospective buyers of this breed should investigate whether it is legal in their state or country. They should also be sure they are committed enough to handle some of this breed’s more challenging behaviors.

    When properly raised, the bond formed with a CSV can be unlike any other, so long as they respect that a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is not an average canine.

     

     

    References

    “Addison’s Disease in Dogs - Overview.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/addisons-disease-in-dogs-overview#:%7E:text=non%2Dspecific.%22-,Clinical%20signs%20of%20Addison’s%20
    disease%20are%20usually%20vague%20and%20non,symptoms%20may%20wax%20and%20wane. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

    “Breed Standard – The Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America.” The Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America, czechoslovakianvlcak.org/standard. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

    “Czechoslovakian Wolfdog Breed Information: History, Health, Pictures, and More.” EasyPet MD, www.easypetmd.com/doginfo/czechoslovakian-wolfdog#:%7E:text=The%20Czechoslovakian%20Military%20and%20police,them%20useless%20as%20working%20dogs. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

    Daniel, Chris. “BEFORE YOU BUY THAT CUTE PUPPY- DO YOUR HOMEWORK!” ACVO Public, 24 Oct. 2018, www.acvo.org/tips-treatments-tricks/lh3rhnxtdhbfnl2we8e4f8rxtz9z22#:%7E:text=The%20Companion%20Animal%20
    Eye%20Registry,are%20considered%20inherited%20in%20origin.

    “Degenerative Myelopathy - Disease Basics.” Canine Genetic Diseases, www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/dm/basicdm.htm. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

    Fritscher, Lisa. “State Laws on Wolf Hybrids.” Animals - Mom.Com, 19 Nov. 2020, animals.mom.com/state-laws-wolf-hybrids-7141.html.

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