Kunming Wolfdog: A Cousin to the German Shepherd

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Today I’m introducing The Kunming Wolfdog, also known as The Chinese Wolfdog. It’s a large breed hybrid that originated in China. As a type of shepherd dog, it shares a lot of the same characteristics of its German cousin.

Much like me, the Kunming is a workaholic. So I’m excited to share more about this rare, but beautiful dog, whom I have something in common with.

Origin and Breeding Purpose

The Kunming Wolfdog was created in the 1950s in Yunnan, a province in China. The capital of which is Kunming. Hence the name of the dog. It’s still a fairly new breed which is hard to find outside of its country of origin.

By looking at the photo above, you can see that the Kunming Wolfdog looks just like a German Shepherd, yet it has “wolf” in the name. Why is this?

Very poor records were kept while designing this dog. The little documentation that we do have says that breeders crossed the German Shepherd with several kinds of wolfdogs.

However, the appearance of this dog has me wondering if this is true at all. The Kunming may just have more German Shepherd in him than it does wolf.

Either way, Chinese soldiers, and policemen needed a dog that they could rely on to do things such as detecting mines, and assisting in search and rescue missions, so they set out to make a new breed.

Once the program had ninety mixed dogs, each one was intensively trained. They were all evaluated, and only the 20 best specimens were kept to continue breeding.

Today, the Kunming is still used in military and police services. Sometimes they’re found serving as watchdogs or estate guardians.

Club Recognition

In 1988, The Chinese Public Security Bureau accepted the Kunming Dog. It’s now recognized as an official breed.

In the United States, the Kunming Dog hasn’t been acknowledged by the AKC or UKC. This is likely due to the simple fact that they’re still very rare.

You can always register your Chinese Wolfdog in the U.S. with the Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA), or the Continental Kennel Club (CKC).

Appearance of the Kunming Wolfdog

So how do you recognize one of these dogs?

Breeders of the Kunming Wolfdog have worked hard to establish specific standards for the appearance of this dog.

Their large, wedge-shaped head, similar to the German Shepherd’s, sits on their thick neck. They have round eyes with long black muzzles. Big triangular ears set high on the head.

The Kunming Wolfdog’s athletic body is rectangular, and longer than it is tall. Its skin is loose.

Their tail is long and bushy. When this dog is excited or on alert he’ll carry it curled high. Otherwise, it’ll be low behind his back like wolf ancestors.

Their feet are funny because they are surprisingly tiny like a cat’s.

Watch these video-slides to see how beautiful the Kunming Wolfdog is.

Coat Type, Color, and Grooming Requirements

The color of the Kunming coat is very thick like that of the German Shepherd, but the fur is a bit shorter. Colors range from a light tan, almost white, to a deep rust shade. Black should be evident on its back, face, and muzzle.

During the winter, the Kunming Wolfdog carries a double layered coat to keep him warm.

And to stay cool during the summer months, he’ll shed the outer layer.

Despite this, grooming is quite easy. When he’s double coated, you’ll want to brush him twice a week. Once he begins shedding, it’s important to do it more often to avoid any matting. A comb and brush with a firm bristle will be the best tools to use.

What Size Is Kunming Wolfdog?

The Kunming is taller, yet a bit smaller than the German Shepherd.

Their height ranges from 25 – 27 inches (64 – 68 cm). With the weight being 66 – 84 pounds (30 – 38 kg).

What Type of Temperament Does the Kunming Wolfdog Have?

This breed possesses similar behavioral traits to their German Shepherd ancestors.

These include being intelligent, energetic, curious, self-assured, and inquisitive.

Don’t let the fact that the Kunming has “wolf” in the name intimidate you. Welcomed strangers find that they’re easy-going and quite approachable. Yet, they are always on alert and very powerful. So suspicious intruders should think twice before coming near.

This breed is loyal and loving, so they make a great family dog. Though, they’re known to bond closer with a select family member.

Training Your Wolfdog

The first step in training the Chinese Wolfdog is to evaluate yourself.

In order to own this breed, you should be an experienced dog owner. You’ll need to achieve pack leader status. The wolfdog needs to know its place within its family. He’s intelligent enough to understand his role when it’s clearly shown to him through consistent training.

Since Kunming Wolfdog was bred to learn and be trained, there’s nothing it can’t do. They are happy to work hard for you. In fact, you may find it that it’s hard to keep them from working!

Most Kunming Wolfdogs can train for hours without a break, but some are a bit more lively and stubborn. For these, training can be more of a challenge. So keep learning sessions to a maximum of 30 minutes each, which can be broken up and done several times a day.

Teach them at a young age, how to behave on a leash. This is essential for preventing behavioral problems in the future.

Socializing them early with children, and other animals will help establish a well-rounded dog.

They always seem to be up for a good challenge. Your Chinese Wolfdog will excel by participating in obedience or agility dog sports. Consider flyball, weight pulling, and Schutzhund competitions.

Exercising With Your Kunming

Since this is a dog with high energy, they do best with an active family.

The Kunming makes the perfect jogging buddy. They crave the strenuous activity and will even run alongside you when you ride your bicycle. Please note, to avoid injury to your pup, you should wait to jog with him until he has fully developed at the age of one year.

Provide your dog with at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Ideally, two hours of exercise broken up into different sessions throughout the day.

Walking is okay. Better yet, if you can take him off leash and allow him the freedom to run around, you’ll give him the opportunity to burn off his built-up energy.

Exercising the mind is just as important as the body. Kunming Wolfdogs are always thinking. They love toys that are interactive and require problem-solving.

Always remember, a bored Kunming can be a destructive dog.

Suitable Living Conditions

If you have small children and you feel like you must have a Chinese Wolfdog, then you should get a puppy. This way you can socialize the pup, which will aid in avoiding any unfortunate incidents. The same goes for other animals in the house.

Apartment living is fine as long they have items to keep their minds busy when they’re alone. And of course, as long as they get outside physical exercise, daily.

Despite being a guard dog, they leave the barking to a minimum. So they’re usually okay to have in places with noise restrictions.

Ideally, though, a home with a large yard that the dog can safely run around in is best.

Feeding Your Chinese Wolfdog

An active dog burns a lot of calories. A high-quality dog food for dogs with high energy is ideal. It’ll be packed with enough protein to power your dog throughout the length of its busy day.

Total daily food intake should be split up into two or three feedings. 3 – 4 cups of food per day, is average.

However, your dog’s weight, his age, and energy level can affect the amount he should consume. The food you buy should have a guide that you can use to help determine the proper feeding regimen. If unsure, ask your veterinarian for help.

Chinese Wolfdog Health Problems

With a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, the Kunming is very healthy and has yet to be linked to any inherent diseases.

Since they’re closely related to the German Shepherds, it’s likely that these cousins could experience some of the same health issues.

These can include:

  • Bloat (avoid exercise 20 minutes before and after feeding to prevent this)
  • Epilepsy
  • Panosteitis
  • Eye problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin problems
  • Heart diseases
  • Blood disorders
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

Kunming Wolfdog vs. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

A wolfdog is a breed that was created by crossing a dog (Canis lupus familiaris) with a wolf (Canis lupus lupus).

The most popular, and similar breed to the Chinese Wolfdog is the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.

Both breeds are active, intelligent and used as rescue dogs. Other similarities include their size and tracking ability.

The biggest difference is probably in the appearance. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog looks more like a wolf. Whereas, the Kunming Wolfdog tends to resemble the German Shepherd more.

Portrait of a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog snow and trees in the background

Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

Other Wolflike Dogs

If you’d like to see more wolf-looking dogs, here are some that may be of interest to you:

Are There ANY Kunming Dogs for Sale?

If you’re convinced that you need to go out and purchase a Chinese Wolfdog, you may be in for quite the feat! I searched online through dozens of websites, and I didn’t find any breeders at all.

You can try your luck at wolfdog rescues like these:

With 6 to 8 puppies per litter, I know they’re out there somewhere. I just haven’t had any luck. I suspect the ones that are available in the United States cost quite a bit since they’re a rare delicacy here.

Conclusion: A Well Kept Secret

Over 60 years ago the Chinese developed this beautiful, smart, and powerful breed. It’s a shame that few people know of its existence.

Once the word gets out, and people begin to request these dogs, they’ll hopefully become easier to find around the world.

Do you know any Kunming Wolfdog breeders? Share their info with us in the comments below!

1 reply on “Kunming Wolfdog: A Cousin to the German Shepherd”

  • Jonathan says:

    Oddly enough, I came into possession of a Kunming Wolfdog after a wildfire burned through a town near me. The owners surrendered her to a volunteer organization that put her in foster care as a puppy. She went through 2 foster homes and everyone thought she was an almost feral-minded GSD. That was until the original owner found us and asked about her well-being. I told them that I grew up with GSDs that were from working dog, police dog, and show dog lines. The person on the other end of the line grew ‘quiet’ and then told me the truth. They got her from someone that had Chinese Wolfdogs and had a litter of 7 puppies.

    Everything ‘clicked’ as I researched their phenotype. Her ears, wedge-shaped head, smaller paws, a ‘gay-tail’ that made me wonder if she was a mix whenever she went into “alert mode.” She stands taller than my standard GSD girl but doesn’t have the same ‘stance’ with more of an upright flat-back and has a really ‘different’ personality. Training had to be broken up into spurts along with strenuous activity. She’s a silent girl who ‘grunts’ more than she barks but when she barks “Holy Mother of God” you’d think it was a GSD on steroids. She is very silent when receiving love and doesn’t whine like every GSD I have ever owned.

    Anyhow, Kunming Wolf Dogs are ‘out there’ as you said but no breeders to speak of. Accidental litter and a wildfire was all that it took to give a sweet girl a forever-home in my case. Thank you for writing this article. A lot of it does make sense.

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