Good news, GoT fans — the Czech wolfdog is basically a real-life direwolf
Calling all Game of Throne fans! If you thought having your own direwolf like Ghost or Nymeria was little more than a pipe dream, it's time you got to know the Czechoslovakian vlcak — aka the Czechoslovakian wolfdog. But is this breed really right for you, outside of your GoT obsession? Let's take a look.
The history of the Czech wolfdog
As dog histories go, this breed's is pretty fascinating. It all started back in 1955, when biologists in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, or CSSR, decided to see what would happen if they mated a German shepherd with a Carpathian wolf.
The resulting litter proved domestic dogs could be crossed with wolves, and so a formal plan was established in 1965 to combine the best qualities of the dog and wolf into one breed. Nearly two decades later, in 1982, the Czechoslovakian wolfdog was officially recognized as a national breed.
The appearance of the Czech wolfdog
To state the obvious, this dog looks a whole lot like a wolf. To be more specific, though, the Czech wolfdog is very similar in appearance to a wolf by way of its body shape, movement, coat texture and coloring. According to the breed standard, males should weigh at least 56 pounds and measure at least 25 1/2 inches at the withers, while females should weigh at least 44 pounds and measure at least 23 1/2 inches at the withers. Like German shepherds, the breed's body is longer than tall.
The Czech wolfdog presents in three coat colors: gray, silver-gray or yellow-gray. Its coat is straight and close, although it varies greatly between the summer and the winter — in the latter, the dog develops an immense undercoat with the topcoat, making for a thick ol' coat all over.
The temperament of the Czech wolfdog
Don't let the whole "wolf" part of wolfdog intimidate you. These dogs are actually quite docile. According to a poll by the American Kennel Club (AKC), 88 percent of owners agree the breed is good with children, 86 percent agree it's good with other pets and 86 percent agree it is easily trainable. In fact, being overly aggressive or overly shy is considered a disqualifying fault by the breed standards.
In general, the Czech wolfdog boasts a reputation for being fearless and courageous. A member of the working dog designation, it is lively, active and tough. It can also be reserved and suspicious around strangers, but is incredibly loyal to its master(s). These dogs possess great endurance, and it probably goes without saying they are highly intelligent.
Taking care of a Czech wolfdog
Grooming is an important part of tending to a Czech wolfdog. Their coat requires weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or hound glove, and occasional baths are always a solid bet. Their nails are strong and grow pretty darn fast, so you'll want to trim them regularly with nail clippers or a grinder. While you're at it, don't forget to monitor their ears for buildup and brush their teeth regularly.
Based on the breed's medium to high energy level, exercise can consist of something as simple as playing with the family in the backyard or going for a walk around the block. Even indoor games — who wouldn't want to pay hide-and-seek with a direwolf, er, wolfdog? — can do the trick. However, they do benefit from a high-quality dog food to suit their caloric needs and unique digestive systems.
Health considerations of a Czech wolfdog
Although this is a rather hardy and healthy breed in general, they are genetically predisposed to certain conditions not uncommon among larger breeds — think hip and/or elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, seizure disorders and lens luxation. Still, their lifespan typically runs 12 to 15 years.
Is a Czech wolfdog right for you?
While it would be undeniably cool to have a dog that straight-up makes you feel like Arya Stark, these dogs aren't for everyone, no matter how much you love Game of Thrones. Without proper training, the breed can be prone to destructive behavior. And, like many big dogs, they simply may not realize their own strength. They can also exhibit a high prey drive toward smaller animals. As such, they aren't recommended for first-time dog owners. However, if you have large-breed experience and want a dog that is fiercely loyal to you (it is just like a direwolf!), then the Czech wolfdog might just be the dog for you.
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