Woman, 60, Bitten by 'Wolf Hybrid' Dog on Face and Neck in Phoenix

A 60-year-old woman was bitten by a dog in Phoenix, Arizona that fire officials have described as a "wolf hybrid."

The dog, which is thought to be the woman's pet, bit her in the face and neck on Thursday night at a home in the city, the Phoenix Fire Department said, according to ABC 15.

Following the attack, the woman was taken to hospital in a stable condition where she is recovering.

Officials have yet to release information regarding exactly what happened during the incident, while the exact breed of the dog remains unknown.

Wolf-dog hybrids are animals that are part wolf (Canis lupus) and part domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris).

These hybrids are produced by breeding a wolf with certain types of domestic dog, such as German shepherds, Siberian huskies or Alaskan malamutes..

This interbreeding is possible because domesticated dogs are descended from wolves, so are very similar on a genetic level.

A grey wolf
Stock image: A grey wolf. There may be hundreds of thousands of wolf-dog hybrids being kept as pets in the United States. iStock

Many questions remain regarding how, where and when the first domesticated dogs emerged. Typically, this process is thought to have occurred between around 14,000 and 12,000 years ago, although some research has indicted that it may have taken place much earlier.

Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated by humans, sparking a relationship spanning thousands of years that continues to this day.

In the United States, many people own wolf-dog hybrids as a pet. One estimate puts the number of these hybrid animals in the country at more than 300,000, according to The University of California, Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.

But these hybrids are banned in many U.S. states and jurisdictions, and they are not a recognized breed. In addition, some animal welfare organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, consider them to be wild animals and oppose the breeding and possession of them.

While wolf-dog hybrids may make good pets in some cases, in others, their owners may not be able to manage them or properly provide for their needs, according to the International Wolf Center. While these animals contain genes from domesticated dogs, which have been selectively bred to live alongside humans, this sometimes does little temper the influence of the wild wolf genes.

As a result these hybrids can display instincts and behaviors that resemble those of wild wolves, which can become problematic when they are being kept in human environments. This can make it a challenge to care for them.

Even within a single litter of hybrid pups, the blend of wild and domestic genes can lead to a range of different behavior patterns, meaning the nature of these animals can be quite unpredictable.

Newsweek has contacted the Phoenix Fire Department for comment.