DNA testing has revealed that all dogs should be regarded as the subspecies of wolves. Both belong to the same genus, Canis, but wolves are Canis Lupus and dogs, all dogs, are Canis Lupus familiaris. Dogs have been domesticated nearly 20,000 years ago, but the first ancestors of dogs may have split from the wolves-branch only 10,000 years ago. Many scientists think that all dogs may have been developed from one wolf-like species which includes Arabian wolves, Indian wolves, or the Gray Wolf. But the main reason why most Northern dog species resemble wolves is because they may have been crossed more or less frequently with the Gray or Timber wolf found in Asia and North America. This the main reason why Siberian huskies and other northern dog breeds show so many wolf-like characteristics including pack behavior and howling.
Let us find out which dog breeds resemble wolves the most…
1. Siberian husky
Siberian huskies look a lot like wolves but, in reality, they are smaller and have different markings. A study has shown that the Siberian’s brain capacity, muzzle strength, and bite power are all less than that of wolves. Huskies, like all dogs, come in heat twice a year while wolves come in heat once a year. No wolf has blue eyes, a characteristic seen in Huskies. Plus, a husky’s temperament is that of a thoroughly domesticated dog.
2. Alaskan malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is one of the few dog breeds that looks like a wolf and breeders endeavor to maintain these characteristics. Pat an Alaskan malamute and he will also ‘feel’ like a wolf to you. That is because of its long ‘guard hair’ and thick wooly undercoat. Like the wolf’s coat, the Alaskan’s thick double coat protects him from severe cold. Don’t be fooled by the Alaskan’s wolfish looks; he has been a part of human families for hundreds of years. They are much more relaxed than wolves and even milder compared to their Siberian husky cousins.
3. Tamaskan dog
The beautiful Tamaskan dog looks very much like a wolf in appearance and breeders make sure that this sledding dog retains its wolf-like characteristics. Tamaskans are Finnish dogs that are quite rare in America. They are known for their sweet, loyal, and protective nature. Tamaskans are happy dogs when you give them some work to do. They have the intelligence of wolves and that makes them rather easy to train.
4. Inuit or Qimmiq dogs
Inuit, like most Northern dog breeds, is a sledding dog. Robert Peary the great explorer took these dogs on his expeditions. Inuit or Qimmiq dogs look nothing like Siberian Huskies but they still manage to resemble wolves. They have the same brown eyes and gray-brown fur that wolves have and they do not bark but howl like wolves! This tends to frighten other dogs and humans too. The ancestors of the Inuit dogs may have come from and lived in Asia nearly 4000 years ago. They crossed over into North America with the sledding dogs in the region. Qimmiq dogs make excellent hunting partners and they are great at tracking seals under the ice. They may have even helped the Inuit tribes hunt polar bears.
5. Utonagan wolf dog
The Utonagan is a new breed of dog that looks a lot like wolves. They measure about 71 cm and weigh about 85 lb or 40 kg. The word Utonagan comes from a Chinook Indian legend of the ‘Spirit of the Wolf’. In the UK, it is illegal to keep dogs with wolf blood in them unless the owners have a special license. Utonagans are not wolf hybrids; they are simply dogs that look like wolves. These dogs are excellent diggers, so if you have a weak fence, your Utonagan might easily damage it.
6. Alsatians or German Shepherds
The Alsatian comes from the Alsace-Lorraine region along the French-German border. Alsatians are known by various names like Police dogs, Alsatian Wolf dog, Belgian Police dog, and so on. The German shepherds of today hardly have any ‘wolf’ in them. After all; they come from what breeds of dogs Max von Stephanitz crossed together in the late 1890s creating the fine sheepdog that we know as the German shepherd. Imagine creating a wolf-dog to guard sheep! Today, many wolf-lookalike dog breeds have some German Shepherd blood in them.
7. Canadian Eskimo dogs/Canadian Inuit dogs
The Canadian Eskimo dogs look a lot like Siberian Huskies. They weigh about 40 kilos or 88 lb and have a thick double coat that is suitable for working in extremely cold conditions. Today, the Canadian Eskimo dog breed is mainly used as a house pet. This is a loyal and alert dog that is known for its loud howling. In the early 1900s, there were more than 20,000 of these dogs but today, their numbers have decreased greatly. Training a Canadian Eskimo can be a challenge; his owner needs to be a ‘pack leader’. Without training, this dog can become unruly and destructive.
8. Saarloos wolfdog
The Saarloos wolfdog is a Dutch dog breed developed by a Dutch breeder named Leendert Saarloos, in 1935. He crossed a male German shepherd with a female European wolf. The resulting dogs were cautious, reserved, and entirely lacked the ferocity wolves are known for. The Saarloos dog breed is fairly large, muscular, athletic, and weighs up to 88 lb. They come in three different colors like wolf gray, red, and white. The Saarloos has a wolf-like head and a wolf-like expression as well. The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognizes only two wolfdogs namely the Saarloos and the Czechoslovakian wolfdog described below.
9. Czechoslovakian wolfdog
The Czech wolfdog is an accidental byproduct of breeding 48 working line German shepherds with Carpathian wolves. The breed was engineered to work in military operations conducted by the Czech Special Forces. They were also used for search and rescue operations, tracking, agility, obedience, hunting, and drafting. Temperament-wise, the Czechoslovakian wolfdog is quick, very lively, versatile, active, and courageous. Appearance-wise, they resemble wolves. They weigh between 40-46 kilos. In Italy, they are employed extensively as search and rescue dogs thanks to their stable temperament. However, handling and training the Czech wolfdog is a lot of work.
10. Kunming wolfdog
The Kunming wolfdog is the established wolfdog breed of China having German shepherd ancestry in them. Today, Kunmings are popular as guard dogs and also known to assist military personnel to perform a variety of tasks like detecting mines, as fire dogs, and for search and rescue operations. Many pet owners in China also keep Kunmings as house pets.