The Dire Wolf Project
INTRODUCTION by Jennifer Stoeckl, NAAC President 2004-2011
The Dire Wolf Project has been under development since 1988 and we believe it is an important project to build a better understanding of how the bone and body structure of the extinct Dire Wolf may have affected its survival. Without a living representative of this mighty wolf, scientists can only speculate on the movement, heaviness, endurance, and eating needs of this mysterious creature. By recreating a replica of the Dire Wolf based on exact bone size and body structure that possesses a unique large breed companion dog temperament, scientists can study the Dire Wolf in more depth.
Along with an exact match of Dire Wolf bone and body structure, the Dire Wolf Project also aims to regulate American Alsatian breeders to advance the longevity of this unique breed of domesticated dog. By focusing on temperament and health before a Dire Wolf build, we wish to increase the breed's lifespan to match the length of life of wild wolves living in captivity. We can only accomplish this with 100% adherence to strict health and temperament policies which have been developed and maintained by the National American Alsatian Breeder's Association.
So far, the founder and a handful of enthusiasts have brought the American Alsatian to where it is today. However, we feel that after twenty-four years of breeding it is time to gain involvement from the scientific community to help bring the American Alsatian closer toward the Dire Wolf Project's goals. We are currently seen by some as a rogue group of supporters with a monetary agenda. While we do need to seek out great loving homes for our puppies, we are not in the business of mass producing the American Alsatian based on its connection to the Dire Wolf name. To date, only two American Alsatian breeders exist and only around 2,000 dogs have been produced throughout the lifetime of the program. In order to move forward, we do not wish to generate more breeders or more recognition from the dog world. What we hope, instead, is that our dogs are taken seriously by the scientific community as a close approximation (while we strive for exact proportions) to the bone and body structure of the Dire Wolf all the while, producing a well-mannered companion dog breed that can happily exist in our modern world. We will only be able to accomplish this with help from those who can scientifically measure and report on our progress toward the Dire Wolf build. It is for this reason alone that this website has been published.
Frequently Asked Questions
What breeds have gone into creating the American Alsatian?
As this breed continues to emerge, the American Alsatian grows ever closer to achieving the structure of the Dire Wolf. In order to accomplish this, the American Alsatian must continue to include other breeds into the recipe that will ultimately result in the exact dimensions of the largest canid ever to walk the earth. So far, the breeds that have given their genes to the American Alsatian have been the German Shepherd Dog, the Malamute, the English Mastiff, the Great Pyrenees, the Anatolian, and the Irish Wolfhound.
We have never, nor will we ever, breed in wolf blood of any percentage. Because the Dire Wolf and the Gray Wolf are two different species, we do not wish to mix recent Gray Wolf blood into a Dire Wolf dog, even though we are fully aware that the domesticated dog deviated from the Gray Wolf around 10,000 years ago. That includes any recognized wolfdog breeds such as the Czechoslovakian Vicak, the Saarloos Wolfdog, Alaskan Noble Companion Dog, Lupo Italiano, Kunming Wolfdog, or the Japanese Wolfdog. Also, wolfdogs, even those bred amongst themselves for over 50 years, tend to be either dog aggressive, skittish, independent, suspicious of strangers, and/or requiring strong human leadership. This unpredictability in a wolfdog's temperament is a trait that we do not wish to include in the American Alsatian. We further believe the wolf look can be achieved without resorting to breeding wolf into the lines.
Why is the breed named the American Alsatian?
In other words, why not reflect the Dire Wolf in the name of the breed?
The Dire Wolf is only one part of the whole that is the American Alsatian. We recognize that most people define a dog breed on looks alone, however, we believe that any animal is the sum total of all its parts, including health, temperament, and outward appearance. Naming the breed the Dire Dog, the Dirus Dog, the American Canis Dog, or any other combination of name related to the Dire Wolf itself would only perpetuate the myth that the American Alsatian is about looks alone. Above all, this breed is about great health wrapped in a companion dog temperament. The Dire Wolf concept of the breed is the last of the three important traits to be established. We have just begun the process of developing the wolfish look as all of our efforts for the previous twenty-four years were concentrated on refining the breed's health and temperament. To be sure, health and temperament traits will always need to be monitored and enhanced (such as striving for a longer and longer life span) as we move now toward focusing on refining the body structure of the Dire Wolf. The term American is to reflect this breed's origins and Alsatian is to harken back to a time, not long ago, when a certain type of domesticated wolf-looking dog was called the Alsatian Wolf Dog.
Why breed back the Dire Wolf's bone and body structure?
The Dire Wolf has become a mythical creature and many misbeliefs remain regarding its structure. However, the Dire Wolf was a very prominent carnivore in North and South America at one time. Paleontologists who study the Dire Wolf can only speculate on certain physical traits not revealed through skeletal remains. We would like to exactly replicate the Dire Wolf's bone and body structure in order to help solve part of the mystery still surrounding the Dire Wolf's legacy. When skin, fur, muscle, tendons, cartilage, and peering eyes look back from a body structure that mimics the great wolf, what will we see?
It is also the aim of this project to create a breed that is docile, loving, loyal, confident in character with low prey and play instincts. We further believe that the large bones and heavy weight of the Dire Wolf promote a companion dog temperament as with size and weight comes a slower response with less energy. The fleet of foot Gray Wolf was faster and caught quicker, smaller prey. According to experts, it was the overwhelming size and larger jaw that allowed the Dire Wolf to take down large prey that would otherwise not have been pursued by the smaller, lighter wolf.
Is the Dire Wolf your main focus with this breed?
The main focus of the American Alsatian incorporates three important aspects; to create a large breed family companion dog that exactly mimics the bone and body structure as well as the great health of the Dire Wolf. Although the Dire Wolf was indeed a wild carnivorous animal, it has been suggested that the Dire Wolf was a companion animal and there is evidence that the Dire Wolf, much like its Gray Wolf cousin, took care of its pack even when members were severely injured beyond hope of survival alone. In this way, we strive to develop the first large breed companion dog; a creature that has the massive structure and build of the Dire Wolf, the longevity of the largest canid to have ever lived, and the companion like temperament it may have possessed.
Is this project also going to breed back The Dire Wolf's wild predator instincts?
No. The Dire Wolf Project does not wish to reintroduce a massive wolf-like predator into America's wild kingdom. There is already enough controversy surrounding the Gray Wolf's reintroduction into America's wild parks. The American Alsatian has the temperament of a family companion dog. They have family loyalty, low prey and play instincts, and are confident yet slightly aloof to those outside their 'pack.'
* Prehistoric Predators. [DVD ASIN-B00120TJFE]. National Geographic. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
* Czechoslovakian Vicak. Dog Breed Info. Retrieved: 2011-06-01.