Wolf-Like Dog Breeds 10 Breeds That Look Like Wolves

Portrait of grey wolf in the forest

From their exquisite physical traits to their impressive hunting skills, wolves are fascinating animals that humans have always been interested in.

In fact, history shows that interest in wolves has had humans in a chokehold for centuries, leading to consistent yet mostly unsuccessful efforts to domesticate these beautiful, intelligent, and graceful animals. These efforts are not only shown in recent records but can also be traced as far back as 10,000 years ago.

Regardless of the futile efforts, human interest in domesticating wolves has unwavered, with many people secretly wishing they could somehow get to treat wolves like regular pets. While this may become possible in the foreseeable future, pet lovers have quickly found a more convenient alternative in wolf-like dogs.

With a dog that looks like a wolf and lacks the natural hunting instincts that they have, dog lovers can finally satisfy their wolf-domesticating interests to some extent. Are you interested in getting a wolf-like dog? Below are ten dog breeds that share a striking resemblance with wolves!

wolf howling in forest


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The History of Dogs and Wolves

Wolves and dogs may look like two different sides of a coin, but, in reality, they have a long history together. Although wolves have a naturally-wired instinct that enables them to be independent in the wild, while dogs are more docile and dependent on humans, surprisingly, they have a mutual ancestor.

It is safe to say that dogs are domesticated wolves. There are many dog breeds- pugs, german shepherds, Boston terriers, the list is almost endless- with varying physical features that make it impossible to link dogs to wolves. These differences are a result of thousands of years of evolution.

However, tracing the evolution through the thousands of years of its continuous occurrence can be very difficult, with years of research piling up to provide no definite answer as to how this evolution occurred. There are different theories on the relationship between dogs and wolves and how or when wolves became dogs.

Although these theories have various claims, with one theory even stating that humans kidnapped wolf pups and taught them to be socialized, they all seemed to agree that dogs are a direct descendant of the gray wolf. These genetic studies claim that dogs were domesticated from wolves between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago.

In 2008, an international team of scientists identified what they believe to be the world’s first known dog that lived about 31,700 years ago. The discovery of what was known as Palaeolithic dogs was pivotal in future wolf-dog relation studies. Recent studies have been created to reconstruct the genetic and evolutionary history of dogs.

Although you will think these recent studies will shed light on dog domestication, they have made the story even more confusing by claiming dogs may not be direct descendants of gray wolves but more of a distant cousin. These studies claim dogs may have come from a now extinct wolf ancestor that they share with the gray wolf.

Regardless of what the past and present studies claim, we can say that dogs and wolves share an intricate history.

How Are Wolf-like Dog Breeds Created?

Dogs, also known as Canis familiaris, and the gray wolf, also known as Canis lupus, belong to the same sizeable taxonomic family called Canidae. Although they are classified into different subspecies, dogs and wolves belong to the same genus. They have been proven to share about 99 percent of their DNA, making it possible for them to be interbred and produce wolf-dog hybrid litter.

Additionally, although dog evolution from wolves was triggered tens of thousands of years ago and has effectively diluted a dog’s wolf-like traits, it is possible to reactivate these traits through selective breeding. This genetic engineering process brings the dormant wolf gene back to life, successfully creating wolf-like dogs that share specific physiological attributes with their wolf ancestors.

This leads to the creation of wolf dogs. Through these two processes, breeders produce dog breeds that have a wolf’s striking physical features. 

Do Wolf-Like Dogs Make Great Pets?

Wolf-like dogs- a term that encompasses wolfdogs and wolf-hybrid breeds- are a dream come true for many dog and wolf-lovers. These dog breeds offer the best of both worlds and have quickly become accepted in many societies. But do wolf-like dogs make great pets?

Although wolf-hybrids- a group of dogs created by breeding dogs with pure wolves- are more difficult to adopt due to breeding and state regulations, wolf-like dogs are a more convenient version if you are looking to adopt a dog that looks like a wolf.  Don’t know what breeds bear a striking resemblance with wolves? We have compiled a list you can choose from!

Ten Dog Breeds That Look Like Wolves

Want to satisfy your Wolfy interests with a cute wolf-like dog that fits right in your family? Check out our list of ten dog breeds that look just like wolves.

1. Siberian Husky 

Unsurprisingly coming up first on our list is one of the most popular wolf-like breeds. They bear a striking resemblance to their wolf ancestors so strongly that it is easy to miss the differences between their physical features if you don’t know what to look for.

Siberian Huskies are ancestors of ancient Siberian wolves, specifically Taimyr Wolves. Chukchi people of the Chukchi Peninsula first created them in eastern Siberia as working and sled-racing dogs. Siberian Huskies are medium-sized dogs slightly smaller than wolves.

Like wolves, they have dense fur with an undercoat to protect them from the cold weather, similarly shaped heads, and slightly larger ears. Unlike wolves, huskies are affectionate and dependent on their humans. They are active, playful, and vocal, often showing off their howls, barks, and whines.

Siberian huskies are friendly with kids and make excellent family dogs. They live up to 14 years and are bound to fill your home with lots of love and affection.

2. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are often mistaken for Siberian Huskies. However, these dog breeds are larger and fluffier than their close cousins. Alaskan Malamutes are believed to originate from Kotzebue Sound of northwestern Alaska, where they were bred by a nomadic and native Inuit tribe called Mahlemut.

Because of their large size, they are used for activities that require strength and stamina, like hauling loads and hunting seals for food. This dog breed equally shares a distinct appearance with their wolf ancestors. They have a double fur coat, making them fluffier and adding to their formidable size. 

Alaskan Malamutes have broad chests, powerful shoulders, small erect ears, almond-shaped eyes that are often brown, and a furry tail that curls over their back. They come in different colors ranging from light red to black, and often have markings around their face.

Malamutes are devoted, loyal, friendly, and playful dogs and will make a great addition to your home.

3. Saarloos Wolfdog

Saarloos Wolfdogs are a result of the breeding of a Siberian grey wolf and a German Shepherd. They originate from the Netherlands and are said to have been created in 1935 as the only dog that reportedly has a more genetic association with the grey wolf than any breed.

It is easy to mistake a Saarloos Wolfdog for an actual wolf, especially since they share a similar muscular build and an almost identical graceful way of moving. Their coat is short and dense, their ears are medium-sized triangles, their head is wolf-like, and their eyes are almond-shaped and usually yellow.

Although Saarloos Wolfdogs were bred to be companion dogs, they are incredibly independent and not as cuddly as the Siberian huskies or Malamutes. They are proud, intelligent, active, and loyal to their human family, but they tend to be wary of people and other dogs they are unfamiliar with.

Samoyed white dog is sitting in the winter forest on a bench.

4. Samoyed

Samoyeds are walking loud clouds with a distinct resemblance to wolves. If you want a hint of wolf traits on a more cuddly pup, Samoyeds are the best options for you. However, be careful… These gorgeous dogs will cover your home in white fur. Samoyed dogs are medium-sized dogs with their trademark thick double-layer white coats, an upturned mouth that cements a permanent smile on their gorgeous face, and a plumed tail that often curves over their back.

Under all that fur, Sammies are sturdy dogs with a strong body that fits their working-dog function. They are incredibly gentle, affectionate, friendly to people and animals, active, and vocal. Samoyeds are fun dogs perfect for novice owners. They may be difficult to groom because of all that fur, but the rest of their wholesome features make up for this slight inconvenience.

5. Shikoku

Shikoku dogs are exquisite wolf-like dogs, which might explain why they are rare. Originating from Japan, this medium-sized dog’s most striking wolf-like feature is its head. Shikoku dogs have a short and thick double coat, a tail that curls over their back, erect ears, and almond-shaped eyes that are usually dark brown.

These dogs come in colors like red, red-sesame, and a lighter shade of black or black-sesame. Shikoku dogs are hunting dogs with a high energy level. They are inquisitive, intelligent, and protective of their family. Although they can be friendly, they require group training and socialization.

6. Northern Inuit Dog/Utonagan

Northern Inuit Dogs and Utanogans are the same, although many think they are different breeds. These dogs are a result of a 1980s breeding project in the Uk. Although they may look intimidating, thanks to their wolfish features, these dogs are undoubtedly one of the friendliest dog breeds you will ever have.

Northern Inuit Dogs are a hybrid dog breed that comes in different colors. They are medium-to-large dogs with a muscular build and a high prey drive. They are also superstars, as the breed was featured in HBO’s Game Of Thrones series. This wolf-like dog breed is loyal, kid-friendly, and overly trusting of strangers.

They are more than happy always to meet new people. It is essential to note that Northern Inuit Dogs are not great for first-time dog owners. They are highly dependent on their humans as they suffer from separation anxiety. 

7. Tamaskans

Tamaskans are large working dogs with excellent agility and strength. These tall, slender, and muscular dogs are intelligent, affectionate, and active, with a high energy level that often leaves their owners breathless. Tamaskans were bred solely to look like wolves.

They are mixed breed dogs with unknown origins other than the fact that they are Finnish dogs that were created in the 1980s. It is easy to think of Tamaskans as an exotic salad of Arctic breeds since they are a mixture of breeds like the Alaskan Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Siberian Husky, Labrador Husky (which is one of the many Husky mixes), and Siberian Husky.

They are also speculated to be related to the Czech Wolfhound, Utonagan, and Saarloos Wolfhound. Tamaskans have a wolf-like appearance with a thick but soft double-coat black-gray, wolf-gray, or red-gray. Their eyes are usually amber or brown.

Tamaskans are friendly, affectionate, intelligent and highly sociable. They are noble dogs and great family pets, incredibly loyal to their family. If you plan to adopt a Tamaskan, make sure you are always around, as they have separation anxiety and can get destructive when left alone.

Swedish Valhound standing by driftwood

8. Swedish Vallhund

Not a fan of large dogs? The Swedish Vallhund is a cute wolf-like lapdog that will tick all your boxes. Also known as the Swedish cow dog, the Swedish Vallhund is native to Sweden, where it is recognized and popular. Despite looking like a cross between a Corgi and a husky, the Swedish Vallhund was surprisingly bred to be a herding dog.

An ancient dog breed whose existence dates back to the 8th century, the Swedish Vallhund is said to be related to larger spitz dogs. The average Swedish Vallhund measures 12.9 inches at the withers in males and 12.2 inches in females. They have a long body, a wedge-shaped head, and erect ears.

They are born with various tail lengths, so there is no standard. Swedish Vallhunds have a double-layer coat with a short and coarse top coat, and a soft and dense undercoat. Their coats can be grey, greyish-brown, reddish-brown, or greenish-yellow with lighter harness markings. 

Although they are small, Swedish Vallhunds have big personalities. These fun-size dogs are cute, intelligent,  and cuddly.

9. Seppala Siberian Sleddog

Although they were once considered Siberian Huskies, Seppala Siberian Sleddogs are now considered a breed of their own due to their physical differences. Compared to a Siberian Husky, a Seppala Siberian Sleddog has longer legs, a leaner body, and longer ears that a set closer together.

Generally, a Seppala Siberian Sleddog has a lighter and longer build than Siberian Huskies, giving them a more active look. While Siberian Huskies are the show line, Seppala Siberian Sleddogs are the active lines. Although they have similar personalities, Seppala Siberian Sleddogs are more energetic and calmer.

They are strong-minded, confident, and require enough physical and mental stimulation to keep them distracted as they can get destructive when bored.

10. Kugsha

Kugsha is a rare working dog breed with a cloudy history. Also known as the Amerindian Malamute, the Kugsha Wolf dog has minimal information, especially since it is not officially recognized as a breed by any national or international Kennel Club. The Kugsha’s head shape, coat colors, and physique contributes significantly to its wolf-like resemblance.

Although they were developed to be weight pullers because of their strength, Kugsha dogs are also affectionate to their family, intelligent, playful, and extremely active. However, you might want to approach this breed with caution as they have touchy tempers. Overall, Kugshas are excellent pets with charming personalities.

A Wolf-Dog Companion

Wolf-like dog breeds come in different sizes and colors, but their resemblance to their wolf ancestors cannot be mistaken. These dogs are elegant, playful, charming, and most importantly, a more docile companion than any wolf.

The demand for wolf-like dogs is increasing significantly as more people are finally embracing the desire to own one or more of these exotic breeds. If you decide to adopt any of these wolf-like dog breeds, we recommend getting one from a reputable breeder. We also recommend familiarizing yourself with the wolf-dog laws in your location, if any.

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Jonas Muthoni