"Is my wolfy looking dog a tamaskan?" We have seen this question come across several times in the tamaskan community on Facebook as well as being personally asked through Instagram. This is a good question and sometimes the answer can be confusing. Hopefully this addresses the question fully.
A Tamaskan is a breed of dog. Just because it originates from mixed breeds or may look similar to a mixed dog does not make it less of a breed. If a chihuahua and a husky have a litter and some of the pups come out looking like Shiba Inus it does not make the puppies Shiba Inu. Tamaskans are even a recognized breed with the American Rare Breed Society.
It is important to know that tamaskans come from registered breeders, and therefore come from approved pairings and generally have multiple generations worth of tamaskan ancestors in their pedigree. The Tamaskan Dog Register (TDR) makes sure that dogs used for breeding fit the breed standard both in looks and temperament so that having a tamaskan dog means a specific type of dog that will also produce similar offspring. The TDR sets the rules for health testing needed before mating and require registered breeders to agree to follow certain breeding rules.
Other “American Tamaskan” dogs are not in fact tamaskans as they come from puppy mills who are aiming to profit from wolfy (and tamaskan) looking dogs, but they have not fully health tested their breeding dogs according to the TDR standards, nor do they follow the same guidelines to breeding (i.e. the age of breeding dogs, mating of closely related dogs). It is best to steer clear from these puppy mills as they are not concerned with the well being of their breeding dogs or any defects puppies may have.
To add confusion to all of this, the tamaskan is still a breed in development. This means the TDR sometimes approves out-cross dogs to be used for breeding. An out-cross is a non-tamaskan dog (which could be a purebred dog like a German Shepherd, Husky, Malamute, etc, or could be a mixed breed dog) that has been approved by the TDR to be used in mating with tamaskans. These dogs have desirable qualities to add to the tamaskan breed, and help with adding genetic diversity. Any offspring from an approved out-cross x tamaskan litter have conditional registrations because sometimes they do not have the qualities that fit the tamaskan dog breed standard. For instance, if an out-cross German Shepherd dog is mated with a tamaskan and some of the puppies are very aggressive and exhibit poor behavior, we would not want that offspring to be used for future tamaskan pairings even though it came from an approved litter.
Please know that if you do have a mixed breed dog that does look like a tamaskan you are welcome to be a part of the tamaskan community (and you might even be able to use your dog as an out-cross!), but your dog is not a tamaskan. It can be qualified as a look alike, but it has not been bred by tamaskan breeders nor has its parents been bred to create pups that fit the TDR breed standard. This is not because those with TDR registered dogs are purebred snobs, rather that they understand the hard work, effort, and dedication that goes into creating a new breed, and do not want others to think that a tamaskan is just any dog that looks wolfy.