Origin: Czech Republic, Slovakia
Dog Breed Group: Pastoral (Herding Dog)
Life Span: 10-15 years
Weight: Male: 13.5-15.5, Female: 11.5-14.5
Height: Male: 16-17, Female: 15-16
Origin of Name: The Czechoslovakian Vlcak is a primitive dog breed that was developed in the 1950s using German Shepherd.
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More is known about the lineage of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog than most breeds because the dog was developed in the mid-20th century, and its early development was part of a carefully recorded scientific experiment. In 1955, the Czechoslovak government became interested in the possibility of breeding dogs and wolves. At the time, it was not definitively established that the dog was descended from the wolf, leading many scientists to believe that the dog was actually the dhole, coyote, or any other dog like one of three species of jackal was domesticated from. Czechoslovakian scientists theorized that if the wolf and the dog were the same species, the dog was almost certainly a descendant of the wolf. To be considered a single species, two populations must be able to interbreed independently and produce fertile offspring. There are many examples of two different species that can produce offspring, although these offspring are almost never fertile such as a mule (horse and donkey) or a lion (lion and tiger).
To test whether the dog and the wolf were the same species, a carefully planned breeding experiment was performed. Four Carpathian wolves (the most common wolf subspecies in Czechoslovakia) were initially captured and trained. The names of these wolves were Argo, Britta, Lejdi and Sarik. 40 to 50 German Shepherd Dogs were also selected from several major working lines, including the famous Z Pohranicni Straze Line. These wolves and dogs were extensively crossed. It was shown conclusively that the offspring of both a male dog/female wolf and a male wolf/female dog cross were fertile the vast majority of the time. The offspring of these crosses were kept together for the next ten years, and fertility continued. These wolf/dog hybrids exhibited a distinctive disposition and behavior. They were significantly more wolf-like than dog-like in appearance, although this probably had more to do with the fact that the German Shepherd, considered the most wolf-like of all dogs in terms of appearance, was the breed in use. selected for. Additionally, these dogs rarely barked and did not respond to human training as quickly or easily as most modern dog breeds. The breed is known as Vlcak in Czech and Vlciak in Slovak, both of which translate to Wolfdog or German Shepherd.
In 1965, the breeding experiment ended, but the Czechoslovakian government was not carried out with wolf/dog hybrids. The Czechoslovak army and police forces made extensive use of dogs, especially German Shepherds. These dogs, which were often very high birth weight, often suffered from serious health problems such as hip dysplasia, which shortened their life expectancy and rendered them useless as Working Dogs. It was believed that adding wolves' blood would improve the health and stamina of Working Dogs, and possibly enhance their senses and intelligence. By the late 1950s, the Czechoslovakian military was already experimenting with using the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a border patrol dog. Czechoslovakian trainers later tried to use the breed for many other tasks, such as search and rescue, police work, cart pulling, scent-tracing, hunting, personal and property protection, and drug sniffing.
The initial results of using the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog were so promising that a breeding program was established involving government and private breeders. Both Czech and Slovak breeders from across the country contributed to the large-scale breeding programme. The goal was to combine the wolf's beneficial qualities such as health and keen senses with the training and friendliness of the domestic dog. The results of this program were somewhat mixed. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog was often significantly healthier than many modern dog breeds, although it still exhibited (albeit at lower rates) most of their common genetically inherited conditions. The Czechoslovakian wolfdog also proved to be more trainable and responsive than the wolf, but was significantly more difficult to train than most domestic dogs. Czechoslovakian handlers found that the breed was capable of learning and performing most of the tasks required of it, but that the breed was significantly less obedient and responsive than other working breeds. In 1982, the Czechoslovak Kennel Club gave full recognition to the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and named it a national breed.