Though their founding history is fairly recent, the Czechoslovakian Vlcak is a purebred. The breed was originally an experimental cross of German Shepherds and Carpathian Wolfdogs in 1955 to create an attack dog. Still a fairly rare breed, Vlcaks nowadays often spend their time as family dogs or working dogs.
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak has many other names: Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Ceskoslovensky Vlciak, Ceskoslovensky Vlcak, Vlcak, Czech Wolfdog, Slovak Wolfdog, and CSV. Although these are purebred dogs, you may still find them in shelters, including breed-specific rescues. Please opt to adopt whenever possible if you are considering adding a dog into your home!
The Vlcak is not a good dog for novice pet parents. Their high energy, wolf ancestry, cleverness, and desire to work make them more challenging, and pet parents must show authority to demonstrate themselves as “pack leader.” They need lots of exercise, which may make apartment dwellings more difficult unless they can go outside for lots of play time and walks; large backyards would be ideal. They are loving and loyal, so they are well-suited to families, but their prey drive warrants caution for mixing them with smaller animals. Fellow dogs, however, should be just fine as companions.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Working DogsHeight:24 to 26 inchesWeight:44 to 57 poundsLife Span:12 to 16 years
More About This Breed
- The Czechoslovakian Vlcak’s coloration is quite wolf-like: yellow-gray to silver-gray, with a light mask.
- The coat of the Vlcak is straight and coarse, and thickest during winter. Because of the heavy shedding twice a year, the Vlcak needs minimal bathing and generally keeps itself clean. You can brush occasionally, as needed.
- Vlcaks require lots of exercise — at least two hours per day, combining walks, play, obedience training, and exploration — otherwise, you will get a restless, unhappy, disobedient dog.
- Due to their hunting ancestry, Vlcaks do not typically do well with small animals in the home.
- Vlcaks can be highly playful and quite lively, making great playmates for families of all ages. They often play well with children.
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak was a breeding experiment in then-CSSR, between 1955 and 1965, to create an attack dog breed, harnessing the best characteristics of both Carpathian Wolves and German Shepherds. Specifically, the experiment involved 40 German Shepherds and four wolves.
In 1965, the experiment was deemed a success, and a breeding plan was devised. 1983 was the last use of pureblood wolves into the population. Since then, Vlcaks have only been bred with other Vlcaks.
These dogs were widely used as military working dogs or attack dogs in the beginning, and they still make good working dogs today. However, they also make good family dogs, with proper training.
While backyard breeding of Vlcaks has been common since the beginning, truly pedigreed examples of this breed are more rare. Purportedly, less than 1000 truly pedigreed Vlcaks exist today, with less than 200 residing in the United States. Confusingly, the Vlcak ranks #1 for most popular breed in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as being popular in Italy. This dichotomy of information is likely due to the popularity of backyard breeding without official certification.
In 2011, the American Kennel Club changed the Vlcak’s group designation from “Herding Dogs” to “Working Dogs,” per the request of the Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America.
Czechoslovakian Vlcaks are at the top end of “medium,” bordering on the “large” category. Males are considerably larger than females.
Breed standards state that males should measure at least 25.5 inches tall, and at least 57 pounds, while females should measure at least 23.5 inches tall and at least 44 pounds.
The ancestry of both German Shepherd and wild Carpathian Wolf brings an interesting blend of characteristics to the Vlcak. The pack mentality of the wolf, as well as the loving nature of the German Shepherd, results in a dog that is extremely loyal to their family and rather affectionate.
However, the Vlcak’s high energy lends more to a working dog, rather than a cuddly lap dog. They will be happiest given a job to do, with clear instruction and authority. Vlcaks require lots of exercise — at least two hours per day, combining walks, play, obedience training, and exploration — otherwise, you will get a restless, unhappy, disobedient dog.
Vlcaks have great potential to carry out jobs, guard families/livestock, and participate in the military, but they require very firm training and authority from as young an age as possible. It is essential the Vlcak sees you as pack leader, and it makes them happier to know their place in your family. Indeed, not showing dominance will actually make them confused and not allow them to be their best selves.
Due to their hunting ancestry, Vlcaks do not typically do well with small animals in the home. It’s good to be mindful of this when walking them or letting them play outside, too. Remember, they are descended from wolves. This is clear not only in their appearance, but also their personality.
Vlcaks can be highly playful and quite lively, making great playmates for families of all ages. Their spunky energy may be a bit much for seniors on their own, but they do often play well with children.
As with all dogs, but especially in the case of the Vlcak, early training and socialization are essential to bring out the best in your dog, ensuring both of your happiness. Most difficulty with introducing Vlcaks into new environments can be traced to weak training, command, or authority from the human. Vlcaks require firm authority to know their place in the “pack.”
Czechoslovakian Vlcaks are generally very healthy, hardy dogs, probably thanks in large part to the wild, ancient ancestry of the wolf.
However, there have been a few health conditions noted in some of the population. Conditions to watch out for include:
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- degenerative myelopathy
- eye issues
As with all dogs, yearly check-ups with the vet are important to maintain ideal health.
As Vlcaks are quite energetic, they require ample daily exercise — at least two hours. A good mix of walks, play, exploration, and obedience training is recommended.
They do not enjoy being left alone. Instead, they love being around the family as much as possible, participating in daily activities. An ideal setting for a Vlcak would include a large backyard. Remember that Vlcaks are descended from wolves, so be prepared for that when they encounter smaller animals, both indoors and outdoors.
Teeth should be cleaned at least twice a week to maintain dental health. Ears should be checked every week or so, and be sure to remove any debris you see. Make sure to trim your dog’s nails as needed. They should not click against the floor. Your groomer can help you with this.
An ideal Czechoslovakian Vlcak diet should be formulated for a medium to large breed with high energy.
As with all dogs, the Vlcak’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your Vlcak’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs, including weight, energy, and health, to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak’s coloration is quite wolf-like: yellow-gray to silver-gray, with a light mask.
Because Czechoslovakian Vlcaks are double-coated, their appearance can vary greatly between summer and winter. The coat of the Vlcak is straight and coarse, and thickest during winter.
Because of the heavy shedding twice a year, the Vlcak needs minimal bathing and generally keeps itself clean. You can brush occasionally, as needed. The wolf-like coat of this dog means it is pretty self-sufficient, as nature has designed.
Vlcaks prefer cooler temperatures and can actually enjoy rain and snow. They do not tend to do as well in hot climates, with their extremely thick, wolfish coats.
Children And Other Pets
Czechoslovakian Vlcaks tend to do very well with children due to their playful, loyal, loving nature. They can be quite affectionate and protective of children and families, too.
Of course, as with any breed, it is important to teach children how to interact properly with these dogs — to be gentle and kind, not to put their hands inside the dogs’ mouths, etc. These dogs are high energy and are more likely to want to play than cuddle, though if their exercise needs are met, they can do both.
Vlcaks can do very well with other dogs, and indeed, they enjoy being social and part of a pack. However, be prepared for them to establish a dominance hierarchy with the other dogs.
It is not recommended to introduce Vlcaks into households with small animals, and even cats can be difficult for them to coexist with. Remember, they are descended from wolves.
Early, firm training and socialization are key to bringing out your Vlcak’s best qualities, as well as establishing yourself as their leader.
Rescues specifically for Czechoslovakian Vlcak dogs might be hard to come by, as this is a rare breed. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue
Also, the Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America will sometimes list adoptable dogs when they are available. You can check them out here!
You can also check out FunkyPaw’s adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and zip code!
- The Czechoslovakian Vlcak Club of America