Image credit: Elżbieta Wojtko

Saarloos Wolfdog - Breed Profile:

Origin: Netherlands
Colors: Black, tan, red, white, silver, or blue
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Regular
Grooming: Once a week
Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
Noise: Not a barker

The history of the breed began in the early 1920s. Leendert Saarloos, a Dutch breeder, crossed a male German Shepherd with a female MacKenzie Valley Wolf that was kept in captivity. The aim was to produce dogs that would be highly resistant to diseases like distemper. This worked. Saarloos managed to produce strong, hardy dogs that retained a lot of physical traits of the wolf. The new breed was recognized by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975. The Saarloos Wolfdog is also known as the Saarloos Wolfhound.

Physical characteristics

As the breed name suggests, the Saarloos Wolfdog has a lot of wolf-like physical traits. It's athletic, large, powerful, and well-balanced. The body is medium boned, slightly longer than tall. The back is straight and massive. The musculature is strong. The muzzle is wide. The skull is flat. The nose is either black or liver depending on the coat color. The eyes are almond shaped, usually yellow. The pointed ears are held erect. The tail is held low.
The average height is 24 to 29 inches. The weight is up to 90 pounds.


Saarloos Wolfdogs require a passionate and dedicated owner who fully understands the dog's needs and who can satisfy them. This includes having two or more SWs so they live in a true pack. These dogs are very pack-oriented. They are likely to panic and show anti-social behavior if isolated or locked in an enclosed area. SWs aren't suited for urban life and, ideally, should live outside instead of being confined in a house. The yard should be spacious and well-fenced. Daily walks, physical and mental exercise are a must. The owner should make sure he or she displays firm and confident leadership at all times. SWs are very intelligent, independent and stubborn. They tend to be shy and reserved with strangers. It is vital to socialize the dog well as early as possible.
This breed is not a good choice for families with kids as well as for novice dog owners. An unhappy SW is very likely to develop serious behavior problems. The same applies to an SW that is allowed to take the leadership over. This breed should never be treated like a "domesticated" wolf. The wild blood is still recent in these dogs, and this fact should never be ignored. Even though a great work has been done to eliminate dangerous traits, this is going to be a never-ending process as it seems.

Coat and grooming

The short coat is dense and coarse. It usually comes in the agouti pattern (grizzled light and dark hairs) with limited white markings. The main color can be black, tan, red, white, silver, or blue. Once a week grooming should be sufficient to keep the coat in a good condition. Bathing is not generally recommended as it removes the natural protective oils from the hair and skin.


This is a generally healthy breed with an expected lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

See also Dog Breeds That Look Like Wolves