When NOT to Get an American Dirus

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, April 21, 2021
Essex (Triton/Darla)

Each dog breed that has branched off from an arm of the ancient gray wolf's ancestrial tree has been created for a specific purpose. When searching for the best dog breed to fit within your family dynamic, it is important to take note of the various reasons behind why your favorite breed was created and assess whether the breed's typical average performance matches with your needs. The American Dirus dog is no different. Over the last 30 years, the breeders within the Dire Wolf Project have specifically worked to create a calm, mellow companion dog temperament, but the specifics of the breed's temperament and appearance may not ultimately match with what your family needs. In this article, let's explore the reasons why a family would NOT want to consider an American Dirus Dog for their family. 

  1. American Dirus dogs are extra large in size, typcially weighing 115-130 lbs and standing 27-30 inches tall at the shoulders. While not the tallest or heaviest dogs on the planet, they are among the largest and so if you cannot physically manage a dog of that size, you should consider a different, smaller breed. Learn more about living with giant dogs here: http://direwolfdogs.com/giant-dog/
  2. American Dirus dogs are not outgoing or gregarious in nature. Instead, they are aloof to strangers. They are not fearful of new people, but they certainly are not a dog breed to boldly seek affection from everyone surrounding them. If you want a friendly, life-of-the-party dog breed that loves everyone and doesn't know a stranger, this is not the dog breed for you. Instead, this breed is devoted to their family first and they know the difference between people they know and love as opposed to others they don't know. Because of this trait, they do well with socialization training specific for our breed. Learn more about proper socialization for our breed, here: www.direwolfdogs.com/puppy-socialization
  3. American Dirus dogs have a double coat. Because of this important trait, they are able to adapt to many different climates, including extreme cold and extreme hot. A double-coated dog naturally adapts to the weather. When the temperatures begin to rise in the spring, the undercoat sheds out completely to allow the sun to reflect off the outercoat and the breezes to penetrate to the skin, cooling the dog. However, that means that high shedding must occur when the weather turns in order to achieve this natural canine miracle of nature. This excessive shedding may be necessary for our dogs to remain cool in the summer, but it can certainly be a nuisance to those who like to keep a clean house all year round. Fluffy white hair will be experienced all year long, but especially thick chunks of white down will be present each spring and early fall. With that said, a double coated dog has a thick coat all through the winter and will require grooming to help release this undercoat as the weather changes. If these are not traits that your family can handle, then the American Dirus dog is not the breed for you.
  4. American Dirus dogs are expensive. Each American Dirus dog breeder has an obligation to find only the best homes, weeding out anyone who does not see the great value that a fantastic dog can bring to the family. When the owner has to save their money and work hard to acquire their dog of their dreams, then they will not quickly discard it should unforseen circumstances arise in their life where they must find their dog a new home. Also, owners who can afford an expensive dog tend to also be able to afford excellent health care and appropriate food that allows their dog to remain heathier and longer-lived. We admire those families of lower financial means who can take the time they need to save up for the exact dog they want. This shows commitment and devotion to their beloved family pet that we, breeders, can be assured of. However, not everyone believes a great dog is worth the price tag we place on our dogs. If you feel queazy when you see how much our dogs sell for, then this breed is not for you. (*NOTE: Our DireWolf Dogs are no more expensive than many other giant dog breeds in America). 
  5. American Dirus dogs are a breed in progress and therefore the look of the breed is not consistent throughout yet. While we do have a standard in temperament and appearance, we have not yet achieved our ideal look in each and every dog bred into the project. That means that you can expect a higher variety of appearance and temperament, especially in lower generation puppies that are closer to a most recent cross. We do not believe in purebred breeding and always strive to utilize crossbreeding as necessary for the health and longevity of the dog breed. This also means that you may not experience the consistency in look from one litter to the next that you expect to find in highly inbred purebred dog breeds. We work to achieve consistency without high breed-wide inbreeding, but it takes time to perfect a new dog breed. We are very committed to breeding for great temperaments before outward appearance, so temperaments will be more stable from one litter to the next than outward appearance may be. If you want the ability to predict your new puppies features before they arrive, then this breed is not for you. 
  6. American Dirus dogs are not a purebred breed of dog, but instead are considered a strongbred dog breed. Not being a purebred dog breed means that we have no interest whatsoever of joining an all-breed dog registry, such as the AKC or UKC. Instead, we have an internal breed-wide registry and we recognize our dogs for their own merits, not based on some third party's assessment of what our dogs should be. The ones who have the most interest in improving the breed are the ones to register and recognize them. If you prefer a "recognized" dog breed from an all-breed dog showing registry, then this breed of dog is not for you.
  7. American Dirus dogs are sensitive to emotional changes in humans. This sensitive nature means that when chaos in the house happens, such as screaming children, yelling adults, or fighting dogs happen around this more emotional sensitive dog breed, they can become fearful over time and more withdrawn. If you family is chaotic and active or prone to screaming/yelling, then this dog breed is not for you.
  8. American Dirus dogs are rare and only a few are bred every year, making acquiring one more difficult. With a large waiting list and only two breeders at this time with around 70-80 puppies born at the most per year between them, the wait could be significantly more than you are willing to endure, especially if you are interested in a puppy sooner than 6 months time. The waiting list is somewhat mysterious, though, so it isn't a guarantee that you will have to wait longer than 6 months, but if you are not willing to wait if it should happen, then this breed is not for you.
  9. American Dirus dogs are calm and gentle and not generally interested in fetch, frisbee, agility, or other high-energy tasks. They do not have a high motivation factor or high prey/play drive. If you want a dog that runs with you on mile-long runs, will be able to win in agility trials, or easily picks up items when thrown or dropped, then this breed will have a much more difficult time learning such activities with any real skill. 
  10. American Dirus dogs train differently than an outgoing dog and require patience and lots of wait time. If you have had previous experience with higher energy or higher motivated dog breeds, you might be quite surprised at how different this dog breed is compared to those others. If you want a dog that enthusiastically trains with all positive training techniques and is a willing partner in the training game, you will be disappointed by the seemingly slow response time of this breed. Dogs in this breed are thinkers and desire time to think through problems in order to understand the task being asked. This takes patience and time to train an American Dirus puppy. If you want a quick-thinking dog that tries multiple times without tiring of the task at hand, then this dog is not for you. 

We want you to acquire the perfect companion for your family, so we desire to help you make sure that your expectations are similar to the reality that makes up our wonderful dogs. I hope this little article will help you understand some of the differences that can be experienced with this new type of breed, the large breed companion dog. 

We would like to send you a free gift for spending some time with us at the Dire Wolf Project.

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Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.