UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

Wolf-Dog Hybrid Test


Wolf-dog hybrids have been produced by crossing wolves, with wolf-like dog breeds such as Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, and Alaskan Malamute. Occasionally natural wolf-dog hybrids occur, usually when a female dog in estrus strays and is mated by a wild male wolf. Most states in the US ban wolf-dog hybrids as pets, due to the unpredictable temperament of these canids. It has been estimated that there are upwards of 300,000 wolf-dog hybrids in the US.

The VGL wolf-hybrid test consists of 2-3 types of assays (depending on whether animals are female or male) and analyses: Y-chromosome haplotype, wolf-specific DNA markers and population analysis of DNA markers. Below is a more detailed description.

  1. Males are tested with Y-chromosome markers and results compared to our database of known wolf and dog haplotypes. Results are reported as Dog, Wolf, Inconclusive (if found in both dogs and wolves) or Not-Applicable (if female).
  2. We test for 22 DNA STR (short tandem repeat) markers that have variants specific to wolves. Because of their close genetic relationship, dogs and wolves share most alleles in the markers used for this test. Wolf-specific alleles in our marker panel are also infrequent in wolves such that not all wolves possess these alleles. Although our test is powerful to detect hybridization, absence of wolf-specific alleles is not a guarantee that there is no wolf ancestry.
  3. Population analyses are done with 21 markers and 48 SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms). Genotype data is compared to a database for Alaskan Husky, Inuit dogs, German Shepherds and North American Wolves. The dog breeds were chosen because they are commonly used to produce hybrids in North America. Population assignment and admixture analyses determine the likelihood that the subject animal is a dog, wolf or hybrid.
  4. Results are reported as “Dog”, “Wolf” or “Hybrid”.

The dog-wolf hybrid test is powerful enough to detect hybrids within 3 generations. Because of the close genetic relationship among dogs and wolves, wolf ancestry beyond 3 generations may be undetectable by these tests.

The test does not provide an analysis of breeds contributing to the animal tested nor does it provide percentage of wolf ancestry.

Allow 10-15 business days for results.

Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Tel 530-752-2211, Email VGL