Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wolf-hybrid mauling in Lincoln Park

A 5-year-old Lincoln Park boy was found dead after allegedly being mauled in his bedroom overnight by what most media outlets are calling a wolf-hybrid mix.
(read the Associated Press' version of the story)
I think the local media are jumping the gun on calling this dog a wolf-hybrid mix simply because the story would be more interesting if that was really the case. This makes me ashamed for others in my profession who are distorting a story for the sake of sensationalism.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting the family had two dogs, a 35-pound black and white Labrador mix and a 90-pound husky and German shepherd mix.
Neighbors have speculated that the husky-shepherd mix might be a wolf hybrid.
I am not ridiculing the Free Press’ reporting — their headline is “Lincoln Park boy may have been killed by dog” and they clearly state the dog breeds that have been identified. Thank you, ethical journalists.
Now, I want to make a few points:

1) Owners of huskies, German shepherds, akitas and malamutes have as great a responsibility on their hands as do the owners of the most often maligned breeds — pit bulls and rottweilers. Huskies, akitas and malamutes all share a high prey drive. Huskies and malamutes need daily vigorous exercise. As guard dogs, German shepherds also require an experienced owner. Just because these breeds are pretty or handsome and some, like huskies, have a really good reputation from all those cartoons they’ve been featured in, doesn’t mean they’re suddenly comparable to owning a lab. Read an earlier blog about an akita mauling that happened this year.

2) Don’t own a wolf-hybrid unless you have special qualifications, a special habitat and are licensed and approved to own the animal by whatever local, state or federal laws may apply. Regular readers of this blog may recall recent posts about the co-evolution of humans and dogs and how dogs have been physically and behaviorally different from wolves for about 10,000 years. So, don’t look at your dog and assume that if you brought a wolf puppy or a wolf-hybrid puppy into your home that the puppy would grow up to be just like your dog. Wolves are wild animals. They are starkly different from dogs — more independent and aloof with a prey drive that isn’t comparable to what you’d find in any dog breed. Unless you own a wildlife preserve and are qualified to manage wild animals, you should not own a wolf or wolf hybrid.

3) To all you owners of huskies, malamutes and even akitas, how many times have you been told how much your dog resembles a wolf? Probably a lot, I’d guess. These dogs, particularly malamutes, do closely resemble wolves. My assumption, then, is that the neighbors of this dog did what so many people do when they see a large husky mix — they remarked on how much the dog looked like a wolf. And that’s how this story got its roots in sensationalism.

Sadly, a 5-year-old boy is dead. I wonder how it is that this mauling happened overnight in the boy’s bedroom and the parents never heard a thing — no growling or snarling, no screams for help? No noisy commotion?
The death is being treated as a homicide and both dogs are being held at a shelter. No charges have been filed in the case.
Once again, I encourage all dog owners to not leave their children unsupervised around dogs. Small, precautionary practices can prevent huge amounts of grief.


  1. I am a proud Akita owner, but also work with rescue and study animal behaviour. So, for me I see many flaws with this story. As you state, very sad that a loss of life as occured but while many of the facts are still unknown, even how the child actually died. The parents must be held accountable. The responsiblity to your child and your animal is always held in the hands of the adult. Its easy to pass the buck and say it was a vicious dog, euthanize the dog and move on. However, how did the dog become vicious? To many unknowns here...

  2. Kudos to you for being a proud and responsible Akita owner! Akitas are beautiful dogs and great dogs in the right hands, as are so many powerful breeds. Glad to hear you study dog behavior; I feel that as dog owners, there is no more useful tool in our toolbox than understanding our dogs!

    As for the mauling death, I am trying to follow up on this story today and did place calls to the Lincoln Police Department yesterday. I hope to post later today with the most up to date information on this story.

  3. Thanks for covering the story.
    The one animal in this article is probably a low content wolfdog.

    The autopsy results are in.

    There's a comment in this article that says both dogs were euthanized.

    More info in the comments in this other blog too.

    There's still many unanswered questions...i'm still looking to find if any neglect charges will be filed.

  4. Maybe this is out of the subject but I'm trying to find out from what mix does my dog comes from? He looks pretty much like a malamute but the thing is that his tail is not curly up his back it is fluffy and laid down just like wolves and has one brown eye and another blue eye. Plz can anyone tell me what is he?

  5. He might be a Siberian Husky mix. A husky's tail may curl over its back in certain situations, but it should never be a tight curl and is most often carried down, like a normal tail. Huskies also commonly have different color eyes, like you described. Here is a link to the AKC breed standard for a Husky and I've copied and pasted the description of what the tail should be like.

    AKC tail description for a Husky:
    "The well furred tail of fox-brush shape is set on just below the level of the topline, and is usually carried over the back in a graceful sickle curve when the dog is at attention. When carried up, the tail does not curl to either side of the body, nor does it snap flat against the back. A trailing tail is normal for the dog when in repose. Hair on the tail is of medium length and approximately the same length on top, sides and bottom, giving the appearance of a round brush. Faults--A snapped or tightly curled tail; highly plumed tail; tail set too low or too high."

    AKC Husky Breed Standard link:

    In another note, wolf-mixes tend to be very independent, avoid eye contact with humans, aren't much for human affection and can become so unruly and independent that it becomes difficult to keep them indoors. If your dog is behaving like a dog, it's probably a dog and not a wolf-hybrid.

  6. No not at all he's very cool he likes humans a lot and loves to be around them. Abt the tail, it doesn't curl up at all. It is just like wolves, I'm not saying that he's wolf or anything I just wana know the right breed. I wish I could send u a pic s or anything. I'm in Lebanon and here the vets r not that professional and they will tell u that it is a husky. So stating the obvious! Anyway when I google " malamute wolf mix" in images I get just like my dog but with the curled up tail, mine has furry tail always laid back only when I take him outside or when he's excited nd it goes straight up, never curly to the back. Sorry for bothering with that but I'm dying to know the right breed nd in Lebanon the vets r not that good, they r but not as much as Europe or USA

  7. The Wolf Hybrid dog is still alive. Strange how the courts will not "euthanize" a person that admittedly kills another person. They go to jail for the most part. But, a starving dog doesn't reason to kill as humans do; and so must this dog die? This is the question. Anyone advocating for this dog, or want to advocate for this dog. As I said, he's still alive infoknit1@gmail.com