Are Wolf Hybrids Legal in Pennsylvania?

Wolf hybrids, also known as wolf dogs, are a cross between a gray wolf and a domestic dog. The breeds that are often chosen to cross with a wolf include German shepherds, Alaskan malamutes, huskies, and Akitas. This means that the attributes of a wolf dog can vary widely, depending on the domesticated dog involved in the breeding.

Some people may think it’s safe to create a wolf-dog hybrid. After all, even domesticated dogs are descendants of wolves. However, it took thousands of years to fully domesticate wolves to temper their wild nature and make them trustworthy companions. 

What Is a Wolf Dog?

Wolves and dogs share many similar physical and behavioral traits due to their evolutionary past. The two species are “interfertile,” which means they can breed together and produce healthy offspring. Although hybridization can happen naturally in the wild, the opportunity for domestic dogs and wild wolves to interbreed is rare. 

Wolves are highly territorial animals that protect their range from other canines, including coyotes, dogs, and other wolves. For that reason, most wolf hybrids are the result of careful and selective breeding. 

The term “wolf dog” or wolf hybrid typically refers to any animal with a significant amount of genetic material that can be traced back to wolves. Laws defining what a wolf dog is vary across states and even from one county to the next. However, in many cases, a hybrid must have more than 50% wolf DNA to be considered a hybrid. 

Wolves are considered to be exotic wildlife in Pennsylvania. Owning a direct wolf-dog hybrid (a dog with one parent that is a wolf) may require a permit.

In addition to obtaining a permit, there are other regulations and restrictions to consider if you want to own a wolf dog in Pennsylvania. 

  • Owners must show an ability to properly care for the animal, providing a fenced enclosure and enough room for exercise
  • Detailed information must be given about the hybrid’s parentage
  • Proof of legal purchase must be shown
  • Wolf dogs must be secured and under control at all times
  • All wolf dogs must be up to date with their rabies vaccines
  • Owners must comply with all state dog licensing requirements 
  • If a hybrid escapes, the owners must report it immediately 
  • Any release of a wolf dog into the wild must be reported

Owners are responsible for researching, understanding, and complying with all state and local regulations before buying a wolf hybrid.

If a wolf dog becomes aggressive or is deemed a threat to public safety, the Pennsylvania Game Commission retains the authority to seize and euthanize the animal. 

In addition to statewide laws, some specific restrictions may apply depending on the county or region you live in. For example, you can check on the local regulations in York, PA, by contacting the York County Office. Failure to comply with local and state regulations could result in confiscation of the hybrid and hefty fines. 

Wolf dogs may have a greater potential to harm humans and other animals. Because of their natural prey drive, a bite from a wolf dog can cause extreme harm. Owners also may need to secure liability insurance for their wolf dog, which could be difficult to obtain or expensive. 

Are You Thinking About Owning a Wolf Dog?

Wolf dogs can be highly dangerous. If you are considering adopting a wolf hybrid, do the research necessary to care for the animal properly and keep others safe. Failure to follow all recommended procedures could result in injuries to others, fatalities, and/or the euthanization of the animal. 

If you’ve been bitten by someone else’s wolf dog, consider reaching out to an attorney who is experienced in dog bite injury cases.

If you’ve been injured in a personal injury, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963