Utonagan was derived from Ut! ô’naqan, a word that means Spirit of the Wolf in the Kathlamet dialect. Utonagan is a breed of dog that looks very similar to a wolf. The wolf has always been viewed as a ferocious and bloodthirsty animal. However, it cannot be denied that this scorned and maligned creature enthralls and mystifies people. Myths and stories about wolves abound.
Throughout the years, children have been captivated by the encounter of Little Red Riding Hood with the wolf. Because dogs were speculated to have descended from wolves, it has been a vision of man to create a wolf dog. People during the ancient times have allowed their bitches to be mated by wolves. Modern man was able to create wolf-hybrids. The Saarlooswolfhound, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, the Lupo Italian are only some of the breeds with a significant amount of wolf content. Ownership of these dogs though necessitates a Dangerous Animal License.
The Utonagan is a wolf look alike. From the build, the thick double coat, the coat coloring and even the typical wolf mask, an Utonagan is every inch a wolf. This large breed has the spirit of a wolf but has no wolf content as it was developed from Siberian Husky, German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute. With the strong willed temperament of the Malamute and the superior guarding instinct of the GSD, creating a breed with a well balanced temperament and one that would not manifest aggression would be a tall order. However, breeders were successful in creating a breed that has the magnificent looks of the wolf without the feral and lupine temperament of the wolf and without the unwanted traits of its ancestors. An Utonagan was developed primarily to be a companion dog. However, with the working dog ancestry, the Utonagan can be trained for other purposes. The dog has excelled as PAT (Pets as therapy) dogs and utilized to pull sleds as well. This breed is acclaimed for its superb temperament… the quintessential pet!
The Utonagan was specifically developed to look like a wolf. The breeder’s goal was achieved. An Utonagan sure does have a head turning gorgeous appearance. The well muscled but slender build of a wolf, the thick double coat, the coloring and even the typical wolf mask are exhibited by this wolf look-alike. The Utonagan though does not have the wildness of a wolf. The Utonagan does not have the feared ferocious and blood thirsty nature of the powerful carnivore.
An Utonagan has a long large head, a skull that tapers forward and a not too prominent stop. The dog has a broad muzzle, a black or dark brown nose and firm lips that close tightly. Jaws are well developed. Teeth meet in a scissor bite. Almond shaped eyes’ color ranges from brown, amber and yellow. Large ears with slightly rounded tips are proportionate to the size of the head. The inside of the ears are well covered with hair.
Slightly curved well muscled neck is fairly long and appears to be bigger than its actual size because of the heavy mane. The chest is rather narrow but streamlined, the shoulders sloping. The dog has well muscular loins and well sprung ribs. An Utonagan has a very bushy tail that reaches over the hocks. An excited or trotting Utonagan carries its tail straight and high. This strong breed has a ground covering effortless gait. The long legs are built for travel. The well muscled hind quarters provide the dog with excellent push and leverage.
This breed has a dense double coat. The straight guard hair is somewhat harsh to the touch, the undercoat soft and thick. The neck and the tail are covered with longer and thicker hair. The thick weatherproof coat allows the dog to endure extremely cold temperatures but it changes appearance and becomes less dense in summer. This breed has he impressive coat coloring of a wolf’s coat. The coat can be a solid white or a solid black. The white coat can have silver, brown or black markings. The fur can also be cream, silver gray or brown.
Who wouldn’t be enticed to keep a large dog with the stunning looks of a wolf especially if obtaining a Dangerous Animals License is not necessary? The Utonagan is a wolf-lookalike but as mentioned before, the breed has no wolf content. An Utonagan is acclaimed for its beautiful temperament. This dog loves the company of people but bonds more closely with the children. The dog tolerates other dogs in the family as well as cats and other smaller pets. The Utonagan is a very friendly breed. Don’t depend on this dog to be your watchdog. Sure, the dog would announce the arrival of strangers but that would be all. An Utonagan would even meet the stranger enthusiastically (with sloppy licking if allowed). The dog has a high level of intelligence thus training will not be a trouble at all. The dog does not have the willfulness of its Alaskan Malamute ancestor. This dog is very biddable. However a prospective owner of this dog should be aware that it does not like to be left alone. The dog is big and reaching for food on the dining table or in the kitchen counter will be an easy task.
An Utonagan does not require too much maintenance. The breed sheds little hair throughout the year. A weekly brushing would be enough to remove dead hair. However, the dog sheds heavily twice a year thus arm yourself with a good vacuum cleaner and a grooming kit as a more intensive grooming routine will be necessary. This breed is definitely not for apartments. This large dog has high exercise requirement. A house with a large yard would be most suitable. The yard must be well secured with a high fence as this dog apart from being good diggers also has the inclination to escape from confinement. The thick coat keeps the dog warm in cold temperatures but the coat can be a concern in summer. The dog must not be walked or exercised in very hot weather. The Utonagan is a large breed but the dog should not be fed large amounts of food as it has the tendency to be obese and to suffer from bloat.
The Utonagan is a British breed. The objective for the breeding of this man made breed is to create a breed that will resemble a wolf as close as possible. Wolves are hated and feared. These creatures of the wild have devoured not only domesticated animals but humans as well. However, it cannot be denied that these magnificent animals have always fascinated people. This is probably the reason why wolf hybrids and so called wolf hybrids are introduced and advertised every now and then.
It was believed that during the ancient times, the wolves were domesticated. Wolves are ferocious animals but among themselves, wolves are gentle and respectful of the pack order. Present days dogs are believed to have descended from wolves. Edwina (Eddie) Harrison, a breeder of dogs had a vision of recreating a breed similar to the ancient domesticated wolves. The breeding program was started in the 1980s. Selected breeds were imported to Great Britain to be the foundation stock for the development of a breed that will closely resemble a timber wolf. Four dogs of unknown ancestry were imported from San Francisco in 1987. Another female was obtained from Alaska. These dogs were bred and the progeny were bred to Germen Shepherd Dogs, Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky. The dogs were named Northern Inuit and sold as wolf dogs. These large magnificent looking dogs have started gaining recognition as sled racing dogs. These lovely dogs have lovely temperaments as well. Intelligent, obedient and friendly, the dogs make ideal home companions.
The Utonagan and the Northern Inuit were developed from the same foundation stock. Breeders have formed the Northern Inuit Society but because of dissenting opinions on the development of the breed, some breeders split and formed a new group. Dogs under this group take on the name Utoganan, a name that was found by breeder Lyn Barraclough in a Native American Mythology book. The name is interpreted as “Spirit of the Wolf”.
Utongan breeding has been going on for about 15 years. However, in dog generation this period is not considered to be very long. The Utonagan is still on its developing stage thus the breed does not have the uniformed appearance of pedigreed breeds. The Utonagan is not yet recognized by any kennel club. The Utonagan Club was organized in June 2006. One of the objectives of the club is to work for the recognition of this wonderful wolf lookalike breed.