The Hierran Wolfdog: Everything You Need to Know

The Hierran Wolfdog, also known as the Lobito Herreño, is a rare, wolf-like pastoral dog found in the Spanish Canary Islands.

In this article, we will talk about the Hierran Wolfdog and explain the breed’s history, physical traits, personality, and health.

History and Origins of the Hierran Wolfdog

The Hierran Wolfdog’s Ancestry

Originally from the Canary Islands, specifically the island of El Hierro, the Hierran Wolfdog was traditionally used to help shepherds manage their flocks and protect them from predators. 

The true origins of the Hierran Wolfdog are unknown, with experts debating whether they descended from wild wolves or were developed by crossing wolves with dogs brought to the island by early Basque fishermen.

Dog and Wolf Hybrids 

It is interesting to note that the Hierran Wolfdog is not the only breed that has been developed through crossbreeding domesticated dogs with wolves.

Other breeds, such as the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and the Saarloos Wolfdog, have also been developed through similar methods. They are known for their strength, intelligence, and loyalty.

Breed Recognition & Popularity 

The Hierran Wolfhound is rare and unknown outside its native Canary Islands. The breed is not recognized by major kennel clubs nor by the Real Sociedad Canina de España.

However, in 2021, it was listed in the Spanish Club’s “grupo étnico canino” alongside two other native breeds – the Podenco Orito Español and the Carea Castellano-Manchego.

Physical Characteristics of the Hierran Wolfdog

The Hierran Wolfdog is a large and strong dog with striking physical characteristics that set it apart from other breeds. Here are some of the most notable traits of the breed. 

Size and Weight

The Hierran Wolfdog is a medium breed, typically weighing between 40 and 48 pounds and standing around 20 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are generally smaller than males. 

Coat and Colors

The Hierran Wolfdog’s coat is short, thick, and dense (typically more profuse during winters). The coat is typically grey, reddish, white, or cream. Some breed members have pale masks.  

The Hierran Wolfdog’s thick fur also makes the breed prone to shedding, so regular grooming is essential to keep the coat healthy and shiny. Brushing once or twice a week is vital to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Distinctive Features

The Hierran Wolfdog has a strong and muscular build, with a well-defined head and broad chest. It also has sharp, pointed ears and piercing eyes that give the dog an intense expression.

One of the most distinctive features of the Hierran Wolfdog is its howl. Breed members have a unique and haunting howl that is similar to that of a wolf. This can be a beautiful sound to hear, but it can also be quite loud and may not be suitable for all living situations.

Personality and Temperament

The Hierran Wolfdog is affectionate and loyal. It is known for its devotion to its family and will go to great lengths to protect it. Breed members are highly intelligent and enjoy mental stimulation. They are also quite active and require regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

Playfulness & Curiosity

One of the most endearing traits of the Hierran Wolfdog is its playfulness. They love to play with their owners and enjoy a good and challenging game of fetch or tug-of-war.

Breed members are also quite curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of interactive dog toys and activities to keep their minds occupied.

Socialization and Training

Like all dogs, the Hierran Wolfdog requires socialization and training to ensure they become well-adjusted and obedient pets. Start training early and be consistent with your expectations, and you’ll have a loyal and well-behaved companion for life.

Hierran Wolfdogs are intelligent, eager to please, and respond well to positive reinforcement techniques. However, it is important to establish yourself as the pack leader early on, as they can be quite strong-willed and will test their boundaries if they sense weakness.

Compatibility with Other Pets and Children

The Hierran Wolfdog can be friendly and affectionate with children and other pets if properly socialized. However, be aware that they are energetic and may unintentionally knock over smaller children or animals in their excitement to play.

It’s important to supervise interactions between your Hierran Wolfdog and other pets or kids, especially if they are not familiar with each other. With proper socialization and training, breed members make wonderful family pets and loyal companions.

Health and Lifespan of the Hierran Wolfdog

Common Health Issues

The Hierran Wolfdog is susceptible to: 

  • Hip Dysplasia: A congenital malformation of the hip’s ball and socket resulting in lameness and early arthritis 
  • Elbow Dysplasia: A group of orthopedic malformations of the elbow joint causing pain and front leg lameness 
  • Eye Problems: The breed is prone to eye issues like cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Maintaining your Hierran Wolfdog’s health requires a combination of regular checkups, preventative care, and a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite control treatments, and keep an eye out for any signs of illness or discomfort.

Expected Lifespan

The Hierran Wolfdog typically lives between 12 and 14 years. Some members of the breed live much longer when properly cared for and receiving optimal preventative care. 


The Hierran Wolfdog is a unique and fascinating breed and with proper care and attention, it can be an incredibly loyal and loving companion for years to come.

By understanding the Hierran Wolfdog’s origins, physical characteristics, personality and temperament, and health and lifespan, you can make an informed decision about whether this breed is right for you. 

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