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Tamaskans, The wolf without the wolf.

Updated on November 19, 2012

What is a Tamaskan exactly?

The Tamaskan dog is a rare breed of dog that originally comes from Finland. The Tamaskan breed is an incredibly versatile breed that can excel in agility, obedience and working trials. What makes the breed so unique is that they have been bred to look like wolves and have a very lupine appearance without the unpredictability of a wolf. They are incredibly intelligent and have a very laid back temperament, which makes them the perfect dogs for a family of any size. They are social dogs and great with people, children, other dogs, as well as other family pets. However with any dog, there are those who are shy and have a high prey drive--though not obsolete, they are few and far between.

Though the breed is bred to be mostly healthy, there are only a few notable health issues which currently only affect a very small percentage of the breed to date. Approximately 10% of males suffer from cryptorchidism which is the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum. Usually with this the dog affected may have reduced fertility. Epilepsy, or unprovoked seizures affects roughly 1 out of 100 dogs registered worldwide. This condition is often an inherited condition. Some throughout the breed are carriers of degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, and typically onsets between 7 and 14 years of age. As with any large breed of dog, the Tamaskan is also at risk for hip dysplasia which is an abnormal formation of the hop socket that eventually causes crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.

The Tamaskan dog's origins trace to (but not limited to) Northern Inuit, Utongan, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, Saarloos wolfhound and other arctic breeds including Finnish racing huskies.

Males can weigh between 65-95 lbs and range between 25-33 inches in height. Females are a little smaller and range between 55-85 lbs and 24-28 inches in height.

Rare but so much drama

The breed itself is relatively new to the dog world with an age of approximately 10 years, and only 5 years old in the United States--however it has not been an easy road traveled for these beautiful dogs, or their owners.

The Tamaskan Dog Register or TDR is an international committee and is the official governing body and registration database for all Tamaskan dogs worldwide. They maintain the breeds pedigree and health records for all authentic, registered Tamaskans. The Tamaskan Dog Society of Great Britain (TDSGB), the National Tamaskan Club of America (NTCA), the National Tamaskan Club of Canada (NTCC), European Tamaskan (EuroTam), and the Tamaskan Dog Showing Club (TDSC) are all affiliated with the TDR.


Don't Misunderstand, not trying to bash

Since the breed is so incredibly new to the dog world, it hasn't been fully recognized by any dog breeding association. Especially the American Kennel Club (AKC), and may have some time to go before the breed is recognized. However with the onslaught of control, this may never truly happen.

As with any "pure" breed of dog, there is testing that is usually involved with the breeding process. Especially if you are planning to one day show the dog or breed the dog yourself. The reason for this is to keep the dogs as healthy and as strong as possible. This method of checks and balances ensures that the breed maintains certain health aspects and behavioral attributes. Is there anything truly wrong with this? No not at all.

The problems:

Since the Tamaskans inception in the United States the demand for this specific breed has increased 10 fold, and in turn has caused turmoil within it's official governing body, the TDR and its associates. Are they wrong? No, I don't feel that they are. However, in some aspects yes they are. This is why...Puppy Mills also known as Commercial Breeders. There I go, I said it.

There are currently only 7 fully registered breeders in the United States that breed Tamaskans. That's it, only 7. One located in North Carolina--The Tarheel Tamaskans. There however is another, Right Puppy Kennel--which sorry to say but is true, mass produce Tamaskans, Wolf Hybrids, and Shiba Inu's.

The Truth about Mass Production:

As with any mass production, whether it be cars or animals, lack of inspection and control creates issues. With animals however it works a little bit different. When you mass breed litters or back to back breed, a completely different issue arises. You end up with accidental pregnancies from another breed due to confinement in one area, incest (yes this happens in commercial breeding), defects, behavioral issues, health issues, and the list goes on.

This is what people do not always understand. Even when you shop for a pet at Petsmart, the likelihood that it came from a commercial breeder is a probability more so than a possibility. The only difference, there is a broker who solidifies the deals, instead of selling directly to the consumer.

What defines a breeder as a commercial breeder or puppy mill you may ask. Well the answer is simple, as well as the warning signs.

1.) A commercial breeder or puppy mill has on average 30 or more male and female adult dogs in which they use to breed none stop. The breeding usually occurs when the female first goes into heat, which on average is 5-6 months of age. From there she is bred every cycle, instead of every other or once a year.

2.) The breeder does not screen you when you inquire about possible adoption of a puppy.

3.) The breeder only accepts cash via paypal. You're probably thinking well paypal is secure, so what's the big deal? False! It's not as secure as you may think. People have found workarounds with Paypal's dispute process. Most have created two separate accounts. Once payment is received, they immediately transfer to another account so when you dispute, they aren't out any money.

4.) You are not allowed to see the whelping room (where the puppies are housed with the mothers) or the kennels in which they are bred.

5.) The breeder produces 10 or more litters per year.

6.) Produces false pedigree's.

7.) Incredibly hostile towards consumers.

8.) Offers lifetime guarantees on the animals or pushes specific items for you to give them. No breeder can guarantee a "lifetime" of no health issues. Animals can have issues from conception--as can humans. I spoke to a few AKC registered breeders about this, and I recommend you do the same should you have any questions about this.

9.) Can't give you veterinary proof of vaccinations for the puppies.

The list goes on, and on and on.


The Turmoil

Now because of commercial breeding practices with the breed, when you get a Tamaskan from an unregistered breeder, it's absolute chaos. You're probably asking why that is. Well I'm about to explain it.

There are a few owners of Tamaskans, myself included, that are not considered to be "authentic" Tamaskans because they came from Right Puppy Kennel. Sad, but a very true fact. Right Puppy Kennel is not registered with the TDR or any governing body with them, actually no governing body, ESPECIALLY so with the AKC. So the buyer beware is very very true here. Although operating legally within the state's legislature on commercial breeding---you genuinely do not know if you are getting a healthy Tamaskan, a mixed Tamaskan, or something completely different. Is the TDR wrong in saying so? No not at all. Does it make them any less Tamaskan because they aren't registered? No it doesn't.

However, to alleviate that speak to the representatives and ask them to go through the process of determining whether your Tamaskan is a Tamaskan. Though the process is a little stringent, it's not impossible to do--but the dogs and their owners should not be looked down upon because no one knew any better. That is where the TDR is wrong or anyone who looks down on an owner and it's dog because of it.

A pedigree with false pretense from Right Puppy Kennel
A pedigree with false pretense from Right Puppy Kennel


It's because of the image to the right that keeps the breed in constant turmoil. Honestly, it's quite sad that this is what has become of the breed itself. Although the Tamaskan dog is incredibly beautiful it's the war over control of the name that takes it toll. Any and all Tamaskans born outside of registered breeders or dogs, are called "American Tamaskans". What's the difference? I ask myself that everyday. Is there any difference? That is debatable. Are their guidelines set in place to determine what's authentic and what's not? Yes there is, but there is nothing truly stringent outside of registration. However, outside of temperament of the breed and whether you got it from a registered breeder, all you have to go off of is a look. Could a GSD mix be called a Tamaskan, probably. How about a Malamute/GSD/Inuit mix, possibly. All people truly have to go off of is solely a look and estimated sizes. It can make things pretty difficult honestly, especially when a lot of dogs have that specific "Tamaskan" look.

All it takes is an email or phone call to one of the TDR representatives to start the process. Just got to the TDR homepage and find your local contact.

Is there a possibility your dog won't be recognized? Yes there is, but it is no different than any other registry--even AKC. So why the huff puff you're probably asking. There is no control of the bloodline, defects, health issues, and again the list continues. However, it still doesn't make the discrimination or hatred toward these owners and their dogs okay.

If the owner is doing the health tests, and what is required to keep the dog healthy, does it make it a mutt? No, not at all. Should the dog be considered as a Tamaskan if bred outside of registered breeders? Yes, of course--and the validity only comes after inspection through the appropriate channels. Should the owners be talked down to or sent disheartening emails from TDR representatives or members? No not at all. As it only perpetuates a cycle--it does not end it. It's better and more professional to educate the "why" instead of discriminate with the "why not".

The Controversy and Finale

The TDR, its associates and the breed itself has been surrounded by rumors and controversy. The biggest one being is there truly wolf content being bred into the bloodlines. Can I say if it's fact or fiction--no I can't. Until the governing bodies can come to a solid conclusion on what constitutes an "authentic" Tamaskan, if it walks the walk and howls the howls--it is just that until DNA and testing proves otherwise.

For the breed to be so young, and so discriminated against by it's own founders, it can be pretty disheartening. If you adopt a boxer from the pound, does it make it any less boxer because it isn't registered with the AKC? No not at all. So why the difference with this breed? Especially since the breed comes from so many descendants and is still so young. Is it because of the rarity? Maybe. However, the opportunity should be given to all who own, regardless to be considered and registered after thorough testing.

If the discrimination and the hatred doesn't stop, the breed will die out and become nothing. If solidity isn't made, the cycle will continue. If the rumors and secrecy don't come to an end, the breed will never become more than what it is now. An absolute headache.

Even in the end, every dog deserves to be considered and the chance to be recognized. Backlash is expected from this, however, I love my Tamaskan and that will never change!

from Slyvaen's Tamaskan
from Slyvaen's Tamaskan

Where to adopt!!!

If you would love to own one of these beautiful dogs, and they are beautiful and amazing as I am an owner of one---please check out the following places. Please keep in mind that these breeders breed properly and have 1-2 litters a year. So inquire about the wait list. Remember, just because they are readily available does not mean go to the commercial breeder. Ultimately, what you get may not be what you pay for.


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