Our four-legged doggie friends are descended from wild wolves, and the reality is that cute pups aren’t actually so far removed from their wild cousins. While it’s not safe or ethical to keep a wolf as a pet, there are still lots of breeds of dogs that look like wolves - and they’ll satisfy your need for a wolf-like pet!
From the Siberian Husky to the German Shepherd, domestic dogs that look like wolves are often large in build and fiercely independent in character. They are a handful, but tame their wild side and these pups will grow into loyal, fun-loving dogs that will guard you ferociously in times of need.
In this article, we explore the relationship between wolves and wolf-dog breeds, listing the best dogs that look like wolves, for your inspiration!
The Connection Between Dogs and Wolves
Dogs are descended from wolves — of that, we’re sure. However, the relationship between dogs and wolves and the exact point in the past when they separated remains unclear.
What is certain is that humans selectively bred wild wolves in an effort to domesticate them. The species of wolves that were domesticated, however, may no longer be with us; they have been bred out or become extinct.
Modern wolves and domestic dogs both belong to the same family of animals; they are members of the Canidae family, a group of canines that also includes animals such as foxes and jackals.
However, they are different species. The Latin name for the wild wolf species is Canis lupus, and the name for domesticated dogs (regardless of breed) is Canis lupus familiaris. Technically, the domesticated dog can be considered a subspecies of the wolf, and the two are still genetically similar enough to be able to reproduce and produce wolf-dog hybrids.
It’s thought that humans domesticated the wolf tens of thousands of years ago (at least 15,000 years ago and possibly as far back as 30,000 years). Ultimately, while wolves and dogs are genetically similar, millennia of domestication has led to two very different species. You might still have wolf-like, blue eyes dogs with wolf characteristics, but compared to a wild wolf, these breeds are still incredibly tame.
It’s never a good idea to have a wolf pet (in fact, it’s usually illegal), but you can explore the wild side of domesticated breeds with dogs breeds that look like wolves!
Dogs that Look Like Wolves
Dogs that look like wolves have a distinct set of physical characteristics that make them remarkably wolf-like in character. Remember, these dogs aren’t just wolf-like in appearance; they often have wolf-like personality traits, too.
Dogs that look like wolves have the following common characteristics:
- Blue eyes
- Pointy wolf-like ears
- Large, muscular bodies
- Athletic appearance
- Thick (often double) coats
- Bushy tails
Dogs that look like wolves often originate from the Arctic, where harsh conditions made it necessary to nurture their wild side rather than fully domesticating them. Wolf-like dogs make for excellent working dogs (you’ll see them pulling sleds in wintertime), but they have become incredibly popular in domestic settings in recent years. Popular wolf-like dogs include the following breeds:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Siberian Husky
- German Shepherd
- Canadian Eskimo Dog
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
Let’s take a look at these wolf-like dog breeds in a little more detail, so you can find your perfect dog.
#1 Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is an Arctic breed that was bred to work in cold climes, pulling sleds and fending off predators. This big wolf-like dog is uncannily wolf-like in appearance. They have distinctive, pointy ears, a bushy tail, and grey, black, or white coats that are designed to fend off the cold weather.
These are powerful dogs, often reaching heights of 28 inches and weighing well over 100 pounds. They are independent, but they are also loyal and loving when they get to know their owner.
#2 Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a classic wolf-like dog that was bred for the cold climates and working life of the Arctic. The Siberian Husky is revered for its piercing blue gaze and steely, wolf-like face, but underneath the bravado, they are really just big softies who want to play!
The classic Siberian Husky pulls sleds and chases off the real wolves, but they are increasingly popular as domestic dogs (specifically for their wolf-like looks). Siberian Huskies are full of energy, so you’ll need plenty of time and space if you’re bringing them to live in the city.
When it comes to white dogs that look like wolves, you can’t get much better than the Samoyed. This unique breed is revered for its fluffy, white coat and famously wolf-like face (although their fluffy curls often hide their features!).
The Samoyed originated in Siberia, where that white coat came in handy when this breed was hunting through the tundra. Samoyeds are beautiful, but while they are well known for their ‘Sammie Smile,’ this dog takes experience to handle. They are independent, hard workers, and they are loyal!
The Kugsha isn’t such a well-known breed of dog, but there are few others that look so wolf-like in appearance as this.
Kugshas are part wolf, as this breed was bred with wolves to produce a hybrid. They are commonly used as working dogs due to their powerful muscles and athletic prowess.
The Kugsha can easily be mistaken for a wolf, given their large frame, pointy ears, and wolf-like facial features. Not for the first-time owner, but if you have sleds that need pulling, then the Kugsha is for you!
The Tamaskan is a large dog that looks like a wolf. These enormous creatures can stand up to 30 inches tall and weigh well over 100 pounds. Tamaskans look wild on the outside, and they are hard-working dogs with a powerful frame that can be put to good use pulling sleds or chasing off predators.
The Tamaskan is a cross between various breeds of wolf-like dogs, including Huskies and Malamutes, resulting in a unique breed that’s particularly wolfy in outlook. Despite this, they are incredibly lovable and playful — a wolf on the outside but a real softie on the inside!
#6 German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is one of the most well-known breeds of dogs in the world, and they are highly regarded for their work ethic and wolf-like tendencies.
German Shepherds are large dogs. If you’re looking for small dogs that look like wolves, the German Shepherd is not for you! However, their intelligence and keen senses ensure they are often trained for military work, search and rescue, and as working dogs.
German Shepherds have a wolf-like face and build, but they are usually brown, tan, and black in color, rather than having traditional wolf-colored coatings (if you’re looking for black dogs that look like wolves, a German Shepherd is for you!).
#7 Canadian Eskimo Dog
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is one of the rarest breeds of dog in the world. This unique dog is thought to only number in the few hundreds, and they are very difficult to find anywhere outside of the Canadian Arctic these days.
Canadian Eskimo Dogs are enormous purebreds, and they can weigh well over 100 pounds. They are well suited to pulling sleds, and where they are found, they are generally still employed as hard-working dogs.
#8 Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is as much a wolf as it is a dog because this unique breed is a hybrid German Shepherd-Wolf mix. The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog was specifically bred during the Cold War by the Czechoslovak military, who was intent on creating a wolf hybrid that would be vicious and unrelenting.
German Shepherds were crossed with the Carpathian Wolf, but while the result was a wolf-like dog, they were only wolf-like in appearance. The breed remains docile, calm, and remarkably intelligent. They have found their place in the world as search and rescue dogs.
Dogs that Look like Wolves: The Last Howl
All dog breeds are cousins of the wild wolf, but some are more wolf-like than others. Whether it’s a German Shepherd, a Samoyed, or a Siberian Husky, wolfdog breeds have retained the distinctive features of their wolf ancestors, and much of their character.
These dogs might be domesticated, but they are independent, they are strong and powerful, and they are always a challenge to train and handle. But tame their wolf-like tendencies, and you’ll have the best wolf-like pal for life.
If you’re looking for inspiration, then why not bookmark our guide to dogs that look like wolves for future reading?