If you see a dog that looks absolutely stunning like a wild wolf, yet is trotting along or playing happily with a human, then you are almost certainly looking at a Tamaskan, sometimes known as a Tam.
If you are interested in learning more about this powerful, highly intelligent and active dog, keep reading for a complete guide to the Tamaskan dog breed.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Overview
A relatively recent breed in the world of dogs, the Tamaskan was bred to provide the stunning appearance of the wild wolf with the tractable, intelligent and obedient characteristics of many of our most popular working dogs. The result is an incredibly versatile and very loyal and friendly dog with a great character and beautiful wild looks.
Although this is still a rare dog, with not that many Tamaskans worldwide, the breed is growing in popularity and there are now breeders across Europe and the USA and further afield.
Tamaskans, bred from sled-dogs and other intelligent working dogs, require a lot of physical and mental stimulation and socialization and training so are well suited to active families with plenty of time to devote to them. Tams love affection and attention and will respond very well to your positive training methods and plenty of activity.
It is important to remember that these are large and powerful dogs, and that without the exercise and company that they require, and without good socialization and training, they can begin to exhibit problem behaviors. Because of this, it’s recommended that they are paired with experienced and active dog owners.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Vital Stats
Height: 24” to 28’’
Weight: 51 lbs to 99 lbs
Lifespan: 14 – 15 years
Origin: United Kingdom
Alternative Name: Tam
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – History
The Tamaskan history is pretty short compared with some other dog breeds as they’ve only been around since around the 2000s.
At this time, British breeders mother and daughter Lynn Hardey (Blustag) and Jennie Saxby (Blufawn) imported five huskies from Northern Inuit stock in the USA.
These huskies were selectively bred, creating the Utonagan on the way, with bloodlines from Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds, Finnish racing huskies and possibly the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog added in, to create in 2006 the Tamaskan – a new breed that resembled a wolf in appearance, but with the intelligence, obedience and temperament of a domesticated dog.
By 2006 lines had been exported to the USA, The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and France and the Tamaskan Dog Register was created, along with The Tamaskan Dog Society in the UK and the National Tamaskan Club of America. DNA testing was introduced for all breeding stock.
Sadly, over the last couple of decades, there have been a catalog of issues and split-factions amongst the breeders and the founders of the Tamaskan Dog Register, based largely on pedigree issues and which bloodlines have been used to breed the dogs. DNA testing is now used to verify bloodlines in all Tamaskans, and a wide range of health tests are regularly carried out.
Tamaskans are becoming increasingly popular due to their beautiful looks, great temperament, and good health. There are now Tamaskans in Croatia, Italy, Hawaii, Norway, Canada, Australia, Bulgaria, Mexico, Poland and Singapore.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Appearance and Size
The Tamaskan dog breed is relatively large, standing between 24 and 28 inches at the shoulder and weighing in between 55 and 88 pounds. They are shaped like a Siberian Husky, but with a stronger build. The males are larger, more heavy set and more muscular and sculpted than the females, who have a distinctly “feminine” look.
The first thing you’ll notice about a Tamaskan is the wolf look. Bred specifically and successfully to look like a wolf, the shape and coloring is very lupine. The long black nose and triangular ears beautifully balance the almond-shaped eyes which range in shade from amber to brown.
The thick double coat is great to keep the Tam warm in the winter and when out at work and is colored like a timber wolf with mixes of gray, brown, black and white. Technically there are four color labels for the breed: Wolf Gray, Red Gray, Black Gray and White Gold.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Personality
As well as the particularly wolfy looks, the Tamaskan personality is a very distinctive feature. Despite their wild appearance they are active, intelligent, gentle and social dogs who will generally get on well with children and other animals.
In fact, far from being a “lone wolf” this dog thrives on being part of a “pack” and develops an intensely loyal relationship with the family. Because of this, they will not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time and are prone to developing separation anxiety which manifests as excessive barking, whining or howling and possibly destructive behaviors when alone.
A sweet and affectionate pet, this dog is friendly and extroverted. With good socialization as a pup the dog will be delighted to spend time with people of all ages as well as other dogs. The younger dog may be somewhat boisterous, but as he ages, he’ll settle down to be calm and quiet in the house, and you’re likely to find your pet trying to get on your knee for a cuddle.
Because the innate temperament of the dog is due to the bloodlines it is bred from, it is important to ask the breeder to meet at least one of the parents and to tell you about the character of both. If you are confident that you have good temperament in the bloodlines, then the rest is down to the socialization and training you provide.
Exposing your Tamaskan puppy to a very wide range of people, sights, sounds, and activities will help your dog feel comfortable and confident in various situations and help them grow up into a well-behaved and happy dog. Inviting a range of visitors and enrolling your dog in puppy classes will all help with socializing.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Grooming
For the most part, Tamaskans are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their thick double coat, composed of a dense undercoat and coarse outer coat, produces natural oils that keep it clean and well-conditioned and shouldn’t be interfered with by bathing too often. A weekly hair brush should be ample, with a bath only if very muddy or if they start to smell.
However, twice a year your Tamaskan will go through the molting process. At this time there will be a lot of hair shed everywhere. A daily brush will help to keep this under control.
Besides their coat, your grooming regime will include:
- Nails – If your Tamaskan is getting enough exercise, then nail clipping should not be necessary as they will be worn down on the ground. If they are getting a bit long though, and you can hear them clicking on the ground, you should take them to a qualified professional to be trimmed.
- Teeth – a regular toothbrush will prevent tartar and bacteria from building up and avoid bad breath or gum disease. Dog chews are also helpful for maintaining healthy teeth.
- Ears – keep an eye on your Tamaskan’s ears for any signs of infection. You can wipe the outer ear with a damp cotton ball too, but don’t put anything in the inner ear.
- Skin – during your cuddles, strokes and brushing, look out for any rashes, sores or inflammation on the skin and feet.
- Eyes – eyes should be clear with no redness or discharge.
Regularly handling, stroking, brushing and inspecting your Tamaskan from a young age, especially the feet and the mouth, will accustom your pet to the grooming regime. Keep it positive with lots of praise and rewards and keep the interventions fairly short. Making an effort to do this regularly will make future trips to the vet or the dog groomer go much more smoothly!
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Feeding
Tamaskans are individuals, and just as you may not eat the same amount or have the same food preferences as your neighbor, your Tamaskan will have individual food preferences and needs depending on his age and activity level.
Whilst some Tamaskans may have a sensitive stomach and only be able to tolerate certain brands, most Tamaskans will be happy with any commercial large dog food diet, fed in two meals per day.
Being an active breed, it would be recommended to select a commercial dog food dense in nutrients and calories and low on cereals – a formula created with active or working breeds in mind is ideal.
In addition, your Tamaskan puppy will have different nutritional needs than an adult or an older dog, so don’t forget to alter your food for your pet’s age. Most dog food companies offer special formulations for different ages.
It’s a good idea, though, to remember that you get what you pay for. Cheaper dog food will be lower quality and more likely to be bulked out with nutritionally poor cereals, so you’ll need more of it for the same nutritional value.
Check with a vet before changing the food that you offer your pet, and they will be able to tell you whether you are feeding your dog the optimal nutrition and amount for their age and activity level. There are a couple of checks that you can do for yourself though to ensure that you are neither underfeeding or overfeeding your pet:
- Look down at your dog – you should be able to see a waist. If you can’t see one, you may be overfeeding.
- Rub your thumbs down your dog’s back with your fingers spread down around the sides. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs through the fat, then you are overfeeding (or under-exercising) but if you can see the ribs easily then your dog is not getting enough to eat.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Exercise and Training
Exercise and training are extremely important for a Tamaskan. Being an active and energetic breed, descended from huskies and working dogs, they have a lot of energy and require a great deal of activity. In addition, as intelligent animals, they need mental stimulation and good training to avoid potential problem behaviors.
For exercise your Tamaskan will love long walks or jogs or maybe even open-water swimming. Ideally, they should be getting between sixty and ninety minutes of quality exercise every day and walking around eighteen miles per week.
It’s recommended that Tamaskans get a lot of socialization early in their life so that they are confident in different situations. A socialization program will involve walking in busy places, at night, in woods, near farm animals, around schools at home-time where there is lots of noise and bustle, traveling on trains and buses and being around sirens and heavy machinery.
A puppy socialization class is a great way to establish a good working relationship with your dog, while your Tamaskan also gets to spend time with other people and dogs. These will also often involve obedience training classes. In addition, you should also accustom your Tamaskan to spending short periods of time alone to help reduce the likelihood of separation anxiety.
Because of the dog-types that make up this intelligent breed, your Tamaskan will also respond very well to further training, whether for work or for pursuits such as flyball, mushing, agility training, field trials or canine freestyle. These dogs love to have a job to do and will be at their happiest when doing tasks with and for you.
While they respond very well to training, they do have a stubborn streak, so patience and a positive attitude will be very important for you. You need to assert yourself as pack leader but use treats and praise as motivation for your Tamaskan. A consistent approach is vital, so make sure the rest of the family are on board with your training program too.
Tamaskan Dog Breeds – Health
Overall, Tamaskans represent a healthy breed, partly because their parent breeds have had few major health issues. A couple of health issues have been reported in a small proportion of animals and with so few animals and DNA testing in place, where possible animals exhibiting health problems are not used for breeding.
The health problems to watch out for are cryptorchidism (undescended testes) affecting around 10% of males, epilepsy (numbers have been around 1 in 100), several dogs appear to be carriers of canine degenerative myelopathy and as with any large dog breed, hip dysplasia is a risk. It’s important to find a reputable breeder who will show you health clearance for both parents.
Of course, even though Tams are generally healthy, it is important to register with a vet and get a regular check-up and arrange an appointment if there is anything you are worried about. Tamaskans are likely to have a lifespan of around 14-15 years.
Frequently Asked Questions about The Tamaskan Dog Breeds
This will be a question that a lot of people ask you as a Tam owner. Because they look so much like wild wolves, people assume that they have hidden aggression and hunting tendencies. In fact, they have been selectively bred for their friendly, affectionate and gentle temperament.
Tamaskans are affectionate and loyal family pets. If they have not been well socialized or trained, they may show fear or be aloof when introduced to strangers (both canine and human) but with good socialization and patience and support this is not a problem.
As a working dog bred from husky stock, Tamaskans require a good deal of exercise. At least an hour’s walk or jog every day is a minimum, although puppies cannot go so far and the need for exercise will reduce as the dog ages.
Most Tamaskans would be happy with more exercise and would relish the opportunity for sports like flyball or agility.
Tamaskans are great to train. They are highly intelligent and want to please. They are never happier than when completing a task for a human they love and respect. Because they are so large and powerful, it is very important to get obedience training early on and teach your dog their place in your pack and how to behave nicely around people.
They do have a stubborn and independent streak, so patience, perseverance and a lot of positive rewards and praise will be needed to train your dog, with regular recaps throughout adulthood. With good training though, your Tamaskan will have good recall, and be able to complete a wide variety of interesting tasks and tricks.
If they have been well socialized as puppies with children and with other animals then they are gentle, tolerant and content with children and with a wide range of other animal species. Tamaskans can be great family pets and are very loyal and would make a brilliant companion for children and other dogs.
Tamaskan breeders have a code of conduct which covers breeding practices and ethics and health testing. Your breeder should be able to give you a lot of information about the bloodlines in your pup, as well as the health checks carried out on the parents and the socialization that has already taken place.
A good breeder should also be interested in you. You will want to build a relationship with the breeder as they will be able to support and mentor you throughout your dog’s lifetime, and they will want to have some idea of your living conditions and how much time you have available. They will want to be convinced that they are sending their pup to a good home.
Avoid breeders who have many dogs of different breeds or any hints that the breeder is part of a commercial facility. A breeder with multiple litters for sale at once will not be able to provide the one-to-one attention that is needed to socialize a puppy or to spot potential health problems.
You should be able to see the litter with their mother and ideally this should be in the breeder’s home where you can see that they are being socialized in a loving family environment. You should also expect the puppy to have had relevant vaccinations and microchip installed before it is homed.
Tamaskans are bred from dogs who are happiest when living and working with others. They build up strong family ties and are fiercely loyal. One result of this is that they are very prone to separation anxiety and cannot be left alone for long periods of time. Doing so will result in a bored and anxious dog exhibiting unhappy noises and destructive behaviors.
While it is possible to accustom your dog to being alone for up to four hours at a time, more than this would not be good for your dog, so if you do work full time and want to keep a Tamaskan, it would be important to enter your dog into a reputable dog-daycare where they can be with other people and dogs while you are away at work.
Final Thoughts: Is a Tamaskan Dog the Right Fit For Your Family?
So that concludes our whistle-stop tour of this most alluring of dog breeds. The Tamaskan not only has the wild and rugged wolf looks, but it combines these in a most winning way with an affectionate and loyal temperament, making them fantastic pets for an active family.
If you have the time, energy and patience to give this dog breed the training and socialization, and most of all, the exercise that it needs; if you are looking for an intelligent, gentle and steadfast companion that looks as though it has just stepped in from the tundra, then the Tamaskan may just be the dog for you.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.