Let's talk Saarloos Wolfdogs

As the closest dog breed to the wolf, you could be forgiven for being a little wary of the Saarloos Wolfdog. And yet these beautiful animals – a mix of the Eurasian Grey Wolf and the German Shepherd – are not known for being aggressive. In fact, Saarloos Wolfdogs are often quite shy, and tend to crave security, so they do best with an owner who can really commit to them – especially as they also require a lot of exercise. Developed in the Netherlands during the 1930s, the aim with the Saarloos Wolfdog was to combine the best of the wolf and the dog, and most agree they succeeded.

Official name: Saarloos Wolfdog

Other names: Saarlooswolfdog, Saarlooswolfhond, Saarloos Wolfhond

Origins: The Netherlands

Black and white portrait of a Saarloos Wolfdog
 Drooling tendencies   Warm weather?  
 Shedding level  Medium Suited to apartment living?   Very low
 *Energy Level High (more than three hours a day) *Friendly pet?
 Compatibility with other pets  Medium *Can stay alone?  Very low

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Saarloos Wolfdog
65 - 75 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
36 - 41 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
60 - 70 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
30 - 35 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years


Get to know the Saarloos Wolfdog

All you need to know about the breed

With their striking wolf-like appearance, the Saarloos Wolfdog certainly cuts an impressive figure in the canine world. Very similar in their looks, they both share the same intensely beautiful eyes, an agile physique and that thick lustrous coat. Lively and energetic, Saarloos Wolfdogs also move with the same natural grace and fluidity. Put it this way, they’ll definitely get a double-take at the dog park.

A relatively recent breed, the story of the Saarloos Wolfdog began in the 1930s when a Dutch breeder decided to cross the Eurasian Grey Wolf with a German Shepherd. He then bred the offspring back with German Shepherds resulting in a dog that is around one quarter wolf. To put that into context, a recent study found that the DNA of the Saarloos Wolfdog is between 18% and 33% wolf compared to the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog at only 11% to 12%.

Despite their lupine ancestry, however, the Saarloos Wolfdog is usually devoted to their owner – though, equally, their wolf-like reserve means they can be suspicious of strangers. But rather than show any sign of aggression, their instinct is to flee. Indeed, a very gentle, intuitive breed, Saarloos Wolfdogs can also make good therapy dogs.


2 facts about Saarloos Wolfdogs

1. All the better to see you with…

As well as looking very much like a wolf, the Saarloos Wolfdog shares some of the same heightened senses. For example, wolfdogs typically see better than other dogs, especially at night, as their eyes are better at absorbing light than the average hound. In addition, the Saarloos Wolfdog has an excellent sense of hearing and smell.

2. Member of the pack

The Saarloos Wolfdog also retains some of their wolf ancestors’ instincts – and, in-particular, that famous pack mentality. For this reason, they require an experienced owner who can establish themselves as pack leader right from the offset. They also do well in a household with other dogs – though be careful with other smaller pets due to their natural prey drive.


History of the breed

One of the few successful crosses between a dog and a wolf, the Saarloos Wolfdog originated in the Netherlands. There, a dog-loving Dutchman named Leendert Saarloos felt that German Shepherds were losing some of their original qualities. So, in 1932, he crossed a male German Shepherd with a Siberian she-wolf, and then crossed the offspring with German Shepherds again. The result was this new hybrid, which he named the Europese Wolfhond, though they were later renamed the Saarloos Wolfdog in his honour.

At the time, however, Leendert Saarloos was reportedly a little disappointed with his new dog breed, as he had hoped they’d be rather less timid. He also faced huge challenges getting them recognised by the official bodies. In fact, it was only after he passed away that the Saarloos Wolfdog was accepted by the Dutch Kennel Club in 1975, then by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1981 and, eventually, by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 2006.

Today, while popular in the Netherlands, and becoming more known in the United States, the Saarloos Wolfdog is very rare elsewhere. As a result, they remain quite hard to come by and can be very expensive. In fact, their gene pool is so small that there have been efforts recently to increase their genetic diversity with an outcross programme using similar types of dogs.

Black and white portrait of a Saarloos Wolfdog


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Saarloos Wolfdogs

1. Head

Wedge-shaped head with long muzzle, prominent ears and amber/brown eyes.

2. Body

Long, muscular body is relatively slender with broad, bushy tail.

3. Coat

Thick double-coat can range from wolf grey to a forest brown or creamy sable.

Saarloos Wolfdog stood on a rock looking back


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Saarloos Wolfdog
Saarloos Wolfdog stood to the side on snow


Caring for your Saarloos Wolfdog

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Despite having a thick, lustrous double-coat, which changes with the seasons, the Saarloos Wolfdog is fairly easy when it comes to grooming. Ideally, they just need a light brush once or twice a week. This will need to increase, however, during the Saarloos Wolfdog’s twice-yearly shedding periods. Over-bathing can reduce the natural oils in their coat, which helps to keep them waterproof, so baths should be kept to a minimum. But teeth should be brushed daily (or at least weekly…), nails trimmed as required and ears checked regularly. Exercise-wise, the Saarloos Wolfdog is a large-breed dog whose ancestors would have roamed for miles, so they should have at least three hours of activity built into their day. This should also include the chance to run in an open space as well as long walks and games at home. In terms of training, the Saarloos Wolfdog is very intuitive and a quick learner, but because of their sensitive nature, they will need plenty of encouragement and praise. Early socialisation is important for this shy breed, to help build confidence, and puppy-training classes are also strongly recommended.


All about Saarloos Wolfdogs

The answer to that question is a yes – but with the provisor that Saarloos Wolfdogs do best with a committed owner, as they are very much a pack animal. They form deeply strong bonds with their people. The Saarloos Wolfdog is also good with kids, once trained, though little ones should always be supervised with any breed of dog. One other thing to bear in mind is that the Saarloos Wolfdog does require plenty of outdoor activity (couch potatoes need not apply...).

As a large and energetic breed of dog, the Saarloos Wolfhound should be fed a high-quality bespoke food that is specially tailored to their lifestyle. Although they are active dogs, it’s important to stick to the guidelines on the packet, as over-feeding them could lead to obesity. Equally, be sure to avoid human snacks, tempting though it may be, and instead reward your Saarloos Wolfdog with kibble from their daily allowance.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/