Lek and Etoile

Initial Reflections and Observations on Training Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs.

by Siam Crown Kennel April 24th 2012

// Siam Crown is a K9 working dog kennel specializing in the breeding and training of FCI pedigree working line Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd Dogs. We also have a training and breeding program for Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. We have been active in the working dog field for over 25 years. We train dogs in Schutzhund, IPO, KNPV, as well as security dogs, guard dogs, protection dogs, SAR dogs and police dogs. Our breeding program produces FCI pedigree puppies with strong working drives and very stable temperaments. //

General Background

In 1955 an experimental program was commenced in Czechoslovakia by crossing a German Shepherd Dog and a Carpathian Wolf. The experiment confirmed that the offspring of both a male dog crossed to a wolf, and a male wolf with a female dog were viable. The intention was to create a dog that would be a perfect working dog, possessing greater endurance, greater intelligence, a better sense of smell and better protection skills then any other working dog. The designers of the program were of the view that the majority of offspring from the matings were compatible with their program objectives. In 1965 the initial experimental phase was completed, and a breeding program was set in place. This was under the auspices of the Czechoslovakian Army. The goal was to combine the endurance and intelligence of the wolf with the favorable temperament and working qualities of the German Shepherd Dog. The program commenced and breeding continued. In 1982, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (CSV), through the general committee of the breeder's associations of the CSSR was recognized as a national breed. In 1999 the FCI recognized the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a proper breed.

In a real sense the goals and objectives of the experiment were not met, and from that perspective it could be considered as a failure. The CSV did exhibit improved health, intelligence, scent capability and endurance. In fact, in the case of endurance it far exceeds that of any of the current working breeds. However the CSV also exhibited a lack of the positive types of drives necessary for serious protection and security work. While the CSV exhibits the ability to act in a defensive drive under threat (similar to a wolf), it is not easy to trigger them into positive and controlled aggression for personal or tactical protection work. The intelligence of the CSV is quite high, but for high level obedience and control this is not necessarily an advantage. The dog will consider the necessity of obedience or its level of interest or willingness to carryout a command. Ultimately the CSV was used for some border patrol work, often in groups. Scent work by the CSV was quite good under certain deployment circumstances. A number of the CSV were utilized in scent related work. Training in this area as we have seen from our own experience can be motivated by food rewards. Nonetheless due to the reasons stated above, the CSV were not deemed suitable as military working dogs. As a footnote to this, there have been several other Superdog programs that involved breeding wolves and dogs, the U.S. military also experimented with this. There have been no serious successes with these programs. There have been a number of breeders who have crossed wolves with dogs, and unfortunately done so with far less science and knowledge available to them than the various militaries that have tried it. Recently we saw someone trying to cross a CSV with a Malinois. This was done with virtually no consideration or understanding of the characteristics of the lines they were dealing with and with little clear purpose. To stabliize a breed in any event is generally considered to require at least 7 generations. At this juncture the CSV is a stable breed, and it seems at least in our opinion that further "experimentation" will not yield attractive results and should be avoided.

Within the last 15 to 20 years a number of breeders have become active in breeding and selling the CSV. The breed standards are published and setforth under FCI and a number of National Clubs. The concentration has been on appearance, health and in many cases mental stability, but not on working characteristics. As a result, while there have been a few individual CSV's that have exhibited capabilities in working sports, the majority have not been exposed to working sports or training related to it. This makes it virtually impossible to identify working lines as one might do with a Malinois, GSD or Dutch Shepherd. There may be characteristics within a certain breeders line that would lend themselves to working sports, and these characteristics may be overlooked by the breeder and the customer base. On a coordinated basis there is just no way to judge what volume of CSV's might have working potential or to what extent the breed has moved away from that potential. This is not completely unusual when dogs are geared more towards a market for shows and appearance. From our experience, and I must say that it is limited to a year and a half at the time of writing, most CSV breeders that we have met have limited knowledge of sports and protection training.

The forums we have seen, and the platforms for information exchange on the CSV concentrate primarily on appearance, purity of the breed, and health issues. There are some discussions on basic training, but they are generally at a very primary level. These comments are in no way meant to detract from the obvious passion and dedication to the CSV shown by many of the owners of the breed, nor are they intended to imply that all CSV must be put through some type of formalized training.