Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

After initially breeding working line German Shepherds with Carpathian grey wolves, a plan was worked out to create a breed that would have the temperament, pack mentality, and trainability of the German Shepherd and the strength, physical build and stamina of the Carpathian wolf.

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About Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is a wolf-dog breed that began as an experiment conducted in Czechoslovakia in 1955.

After initially breeding working line German Shepherds with Carpathian grey wolves, a plan was worked out to create a breed that would have the temperament, pack mentality, and trainability of the German Shepherd and the strength, physical build and stamina of the Carpathian wolf. The breed were originally used as Border patrol dogs but were later also used in search and rescue, Schutzhund sport, tracking, herding, agility, obedience, hunting, and drafting in Europe and the United States.

It was officially recognized as a national breed in Czechoslovakia in 1982, and was officially recognised as a breed by Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1989.

Ali (Al Pacino Steelmaker)

It occurred to me already in 1955 that something should be done to make the service dog healthier and more efficient. I wondered why not a wolf that no one cares about in the wild survives all the trouble it has with humans. They have been chasing him in the wild for several centuries, and yet he still remains in that Europe. His health must be fine if he lives in the mountains and survives everywhere.


Karel Hartl "father" of Czechoslovakian wolfdog

In 1955, Karel Hartl began to consider crossing a Carpathian grey wolf with a German Shepherd as a scientific experiment in the military kennels in Czechoslovakia. A few years later, however, the idea was born to establish a new breed. The first hybrids of a female wolf named Brita and a male German Shepherd named Cézar were born on 26 May 1958 in Libějovice.

Ing. Karel Hartl

Karel Hartl is the “father” of the Czechoslovakian wolfdog breed. It was his idea to breed a new breed by crossing a wolf and a German shepherd. He had a dominant share in the creation of the breed in terms of genetics and breeding practice. Karel Hartl is also the author of the standard.

He got his first dog at the age of seven and took care of it for fourteen years.
In the early 1950s, he was appointed commander of the training center for dog handlers in Doupov, Karlovy Vary, and was sent to a cynological course at the training facility of the USSR Border Troops in Alma-Atta.

In the 1960s, he led cynology in the army, the border guard and in the civilian interest organization Svazarm. Here, among other things, he advocated that the Czechoslovak championship in the training of service dogs be made available to competitors from abroad, so that Czechoslovak cynology could be compared internationally. The breeding of the German shepherd breed was intensively influenced by the imports of many high-quality dogs from abroad, as well as by the establishment of a network of breeding stations “from the Border Guard”, which produced a number of top dogs for service and civilian sports. He was the initiator of the creation and co-author of the first post-war book on dog training Dog training.

He retired in 1982 (with the rank of colonel). He continued to actively work with dogs, he was the owner of the breeding stations Věrný and Z Polonin. He promoted the recognition of the Czechoslovak wolfdog breed in the FCI (1989). He was a judge for the exterior of many dog breeds, and wrote books, the last one “Ing. Karel Hartl, Czechoslovak wolfdog, the Czech and Slovak national dog breed”, published in 2015 at the age of 91. He is a member of the cynological club Praha Břevnov. He owned the last female German shepherd until he was 86 years old. Now, with his health in mind, he bought a small spitz.

Puppies of the first generation

Puppies of the first generation resembled the wolf in appearance and behavior. Their upbringing was difficult; training was possible, but the results hardly matched the effort. In adulthood, they were again bred with German Shepherds, decreasing the proportion of wolf blood to 6.25% in the fourth generation. Most individuals of the third and fourth generations were able to attend a normal course and could be placed in service performance. Compared with dogs they had better navigational skills, night vision, hearing, and sense of smell. In tests of endurance, hybrids finished the entire 100 km route without being exhausted.

1965 major attention at the World Dog Show in Brno

A lecture by Hartl, “Results of crossing wolves with dogs”, brought major attention at the World Dog Show held in June 1965 in Brno and in Prague at the annual meeting of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the International Cynologic Congress. In the following year, Ing. Hartl compiled a draft standard of a new dog breed. Mating of the wolf Brita with the German Shepherd Kurt then created the basis of a second line. A third line was made by joining the wolf Argowith the female German Shepherd Astra from the SNB. In 1977, a third-generation hybrid female named Xela of the border guards was covered by the wolf Sarika; he also mated with the female Orta of the border guards.


We began to select individuals who had suitable prerequisites for service. For example, for tracking or for night patrols. Their orientation reflex and caution at night were excellent. Sometimes it happened to soldiers on night duty that their dog fell asleep. The wolf, he never sleeps, he’s up all night. The soldiers found out and wanted crossbreeds for night duty because they knew they would make a perfect watch.

1970, most breeding dogs were moved to the Slovak military kennels

However, the breed-in-foundation repeatedly refused recognition, and in the 1970s, most breeding dogs were moved to the Slovak military kennels near Malacky, under the supervision of Vice commander Major František Rosík. In 1971–1981, litters were born only in Slovakia. In 1982, the Club of Czechoslovak Wolfdog Breeders (Klub chovatelů československého vlčáka) was founded in Brno, with authority over the entire territory of former Czechoslovakia.

Military training camp

The last addition of wolf blood

In 1982, the breed was again presented for recognition by František Rosík through the Club of Czechoslovak Wolfdog Breeders (now divided into Czech and Slovak Breed Club), and this time, it was recognized by the Czechoslovak breeders’ associations as a national breed. The last addition of wolf blood took place in 1983. The wolf Lejdy of Zoo in Hluboká nad Vltavou gave birth to the last line of the new breed, the father of the puppies being the German Shepherd Bojar von Shottenhof. Since that time, breeding has been carried out only in closed populations and the developed breed referred to as Czechoslovak Wolfdogs.


We had a she-wolf and that was the first step. We chose a dog that would be suitable for her, a choleric-sanguine dog to assert himself. When we let him go to the she-wolf, she grabbed him by the neck, tore off a piece of his skin, and the dog pulled his tail between his legs and ran towards the exit. I took another dog that was more choleric, a big wolf-gray dog, and let them sniff through the wire fence. Then we released him to her and she jumped at him again, but instead of running away, he retaliated. He took her by the neck, shook her. She remained standing and he covered her.

1989 recognized as FCI standard

In 1989, it became provisionally recognized as FCI standard no. 332, group 1, section 1. It won the title of “World Champion” at the World Dog Show in Brno in 1990. Ten years later, in 1999, the breed confirmed its viability and met all the criteria of the FCI, earning full recognition of the Czechoslovak Wolfdog breed.

In 2012, the breed numbered 168 adult females and 170 adult males officially registered in the Czech Republic. As of January 2014, the most puppies each year are registered in Italy (up to two hundred), in the Czech Republic (about 100), and in Slovakia (about 50). The breed is growing in popularity in the UK too, with a number of Czechoslovak Wolfdogs working in Search and Rescue, supported by a dedicated Breed Club.

2012 - Ali, age of 2 years


Strong social relationship

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog develops a very strong social relationship; not only with its owner, but with the whole family. It can easily learn to live with other domestic animals that belong to the family; however, difficulties can occur in encounters with strange animals. It is vital to subdue the Czechoslovak Wolfdog’s passion for hunting when it is a puppy to avoid aggressive behavior towards smaller animals as an adult. The puppy should never be isolated in the kennel; it must be socialized and get used to different surroundings. Female Czechoslovak Wolfdogs tend to be more easily controllable, but both sexes often experience a stormy adolescence.


The first connection turned out in such a way that we couldn’t go to her, because no soldier wanted to go in there. Everyone was quite afraid of her because no one knew what to expect from her. It was a wild animal. So only ten days later we found out how many wolves there are and what their gender is. We had to push the female into the other kennel and only then we could look at them. The first litter, they were pure wolves. It didn’t show at all that the father was a German shepherd.

Behavior of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is strictly purposeful

The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is very playful, temperamental, and learns easily. However, it does not train spontaneously; the behavior of the Czechoslovak Wolfdog is strictly purposeful: it is necessary to find motivation for training. The most frequent cause of failure is usually that the dog is tired with long useless repetitions of the same exercise, which results in the loss of motivation. These dogs have admirable senses and are very good at following trails. They are very independent and can cooperate in the pack with a special purposefulness. If required, they can easily shift their activity to the night hours.

Barking is unnatural for them

Sometimes problems can occur during their training when barking is required. Czechoslovak Wolfdogs have a much wider range of means of expressing themselves and barking is unnatural for them; they try to communicate with their masters in other ways (mainly through body language, but also with quiet noises such as growls, grunts and whining). Generally, teaching the Czechoslovak Wolfdog stable and reliable performance takes a bit longer than teaching traditional specialized breeds. The Czechoslovak Wolfdog has been successfully employed as a Search And Rescue (SAR) dog in Italy, although handling one requires much more work than other breeds.


Ali (Al Pacino Steelmaker)

The lowest shoulder height is 65 cm (26 in) for a male and 60 cm (24 in) for a female, and there is no upper limit. The body frame is rectangular, with the ratio of the height to length being 9:10 or less. The minimum weight is 26 kg (57 lb) for males and 20 kg (44 lb) for females. The expression of the head must indicate the sex. Amber eyes set obliquely and short upright ears in a triangular shape are its characteristic features. The set of teeth is complete (42) and very strong; both scissors-shaped and pliers-shaped dentition are acceptable. The spine is straight, strong in movement, with a short loin. The chest is large and flat rather than barrel-shaped. The belly is strong and drawn in. The back is short and slightly sloped; the tail is high set, and when freely lowered reaches the tarsi. The forelimbs are straight and narrow-set, with the paws slightly turned out, with a long radius and metacarpus. The hind limbs are muscular, with a long calf and instep.

The coat colour is yellow-grey to silver-grey, with a light mask. The hair is straight, close, and very thick. The Czechoslovak Wolfdog is a typical tenacious canterer; its movement is light and harmonious, and its stride is long.


The hybrids showed that they have very good olfactory abilities, the wolf needed them to live. They were excellent trackers. They were great on the trail, but only if they were hungry. We couldn’t use that for service like that, because we didn’t know when we would need it, and it had to be fed. The trace command was no command for them. Because the clue to hitchhiking was hunger for them. If the hybrid went to make a trail with the mindset that he was hungry, then he went very well.


The Czechoslovakian wolfdog is a very active dog, distrustful of strangers, suitable for exhibitions and service training. However, we will not hide the fact that training is more difficult than for a German shepherd, and orthodox trainers rarely purchase this breed. The so-called “purposive behavior” prevails in the “ČV” as the Czechoslovakian wolfdog is sometimes called, which means that you will ask him to mindlessly repeat the exercise in vain. Surely this is not a dog that will bring you a stick fifty times in a row.

Letter to civilian breeders by Karel Hartl.

Dear comrade – Madame comrade!

You are getting a dog from an experimental crossing between a German shepherd and a Carpathian wolf. It is therefore an animal with somewhat different characteristics than normal dogs. Since this is an experiment whose success is based primarily on observing the characteristics of a large number of individuals that come from this crossing, I ask you to pay particular attention to the following questions:

  1. Manifestations of active or passive defense during growth.
  2. Which stimuli have the greatest effect on the dog.
  3. What characteristics does the dog have in terms of tracking.
  4. How he goes through growth compared to purebred dogs.
  5. In what characteristics and exterior features does it differ from a purebred German shepherd.


At the age of 1 year, please give us a short answer to the above questions.

Experience so far shows that these animals develop conditioned reflexes very quickly and that they develop strong contact with one person. They also develop a passive defensive reaction very quickly if they are treated roughly. It is difficult for them to get used to another person, they are very voracious until the end of growth.

Commander Karel Hartl
In Prague on February 10, 1970

Text translated by David.

Ability to act independently

However, it stands out for its great endurance, resistance to adverse weather and the ability to act independently. Loyalty to master and pack is almost exemplary. If you are not able to fully devote yourself to the dog and do not assume that you will be able to care for it throughout its entire, relatively long life, do not get this breed. Wolfdogs have a hard time getting used to a new owner and suffer much from this change.

The Czechoslovak wolfdog is a popular show dog, and its popularity has recently been increasing, especially abroad. When we see this handsome, elegant, dynamic creature with a wolfish expression in motion, it is no wonder.


As soon as one used violence, one betrayed his trust, and that was the end. He immediately became sluggish and passive. They were very strong impulse reactions that were difficult to get rid of.

Strong pack instinct

Czechoslovakian wolfdogs have a strong pack instinct left after wolves, if they live together, they form a pack and pack behavior prevails among them. As a rule, a dog and a female form a strong partnership for life. Males of this breed behave very “gallantly” towards females, but sometimes a dog living permanently in a pair with a female refuses to cover other females.

An abandoned dog can make his loneliness known very loudly and call you or his absent canine partner with a far-reaching howl. Hearing a pack howl is an uplifting experience, but the neighbors don’t always appreciate it.


David Zeman
David ZemanAuthor
Read More
When I decided in 2010 to buy this wonderful Czechoslovakian wolfdog breed, I had no idea how my life would change. I have loved and trained dogs since I was young, but this breed is incredible! Instead of me being the coach, he taught me. From the first moment we met and after I got him home as a little 6-week-old puppy.

When I decided to write this article about the Czechoslovakian wolfdog and translate it into other languages, since most of the literature and articles are originally in the Czech and Slovak languages, I wanted to introduce you to this wonderful breed and how much effort went into its breeding.

The moment I finished this article it was clear that I would have to write in the next article about the life with them.

Please be patient... 14 years together create many events and experiences...


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