Whether they transform into shirtless teen heartthrobs or star in a popular epic fantasy series based on books, wolves hold us in dire fascination. Dire, get it? Their majestic presence creeps into our bedtime stories, film, and art. Could it be the fact that we’ve always their not-too distant cousins them in our homes that keeps us in their thrall?
Regardless of the why of it, our love for all things lupine is here to stay. For dog owners — present and aspiring, there is a way they can embrace it. Yes, we’re talking about dogs that look like wolves. And if, unlike Red Riding Hood, you don’t mind a wolfish pooch in your bed, here are the breeds to adopt:
As its name would indicate, a wolfdog happens when breeders cross wolves with dogs. And, sure, that’s been happening in diverse parts of the world. However, what might make one wolfdog different from another is their genetic load.
Generally, we can divide the wolfdog breed into three main levels:
- Those who only share 1-3% of their genes with wolves
- Hybrids with 50-75% of genes common with their wolfish parents
- More than 75% of genes are similar to wolves
In the US, dog owners keep about 300,000-500,000 wolfdogs as pets. Some states do place a limit on how much wolf genes a hybrid can possess — but that’s about it. Although, we should mention that possession is prohibited in many other countries.
What’s more, the jury’s still debating on whether the hybrids constitute a separate breed or not. And then there are the fraudsters who will sell you a dog that only physically resembles a wolf and isn’t really a wolfdog!
Aside from their genetic likenesses, you’ll also find the wolfdogs to look very much of the wolfish persuasion. They’re incredibly healthy and have a temperament that leans more towards their wolf-like side. For instance, some won’t bark but grunt or howl instead. Get to know the wolfdog much better here.
They’re big, floofy, and have striking appearances. Siberian Huskies look so unique that they are easily one of the canine breeds out there. You won’t have to look farther than their stunning eyes, upright ears, and compact bodies. In those features, lies the evidence of their wolfish ancestry.
Does that leave any room for dog-like traits? Sure, there’s the way they will act all goofy with you. And how their playful and friendly side always comes out, which leaves no doubt that these big goofs are dogs.
Siberian Huskies make perfect canine companions for people who can match their athletic and energetic natures. Additionally, keep your erstwhile-sleigh dog busy all the time or they will find ways to make you regret it!
Kughsas come to us with an enigmatic history. Nobody really has proof as to where they sprung up first. Some experts on all things canine even say that the malamute is just a wolfdog. It got a rebranding, so breeders could get around laws that ban the production of wolf hybrids.
This hybrid breed is also called the Amerindian malamute. Like its smaller cousin, the Siberian Husky, this malamute loves to run. They bring equally unending stamina to staying active.
And just like most wolf hybrids — and other big pooches — a malamute can assert itself and display its independent streak at anytime. Therefore, only adopt a Kughsa if you’re confident of your dog-handling skills!
As you’d expect , these malamutes originate from Alaska. They can survive for a dozen or so years. Their powerful forms made their ancestors capable of hauling heavy freight over extended distances. Even today, a malamute of this breed can easily amass 45 kg in weight.
Surprisingly, though, they are very friendly creatures. In fact, they won’t bark the roof off in your home — another trait besides their lupine appearance that makes them so popular! Even so, we’d not recommend this dog for families with other, smaller pets. The said pets will soon become literal fodder for the malamute’s developed prey drive.
Malamutes are intelligent and loyal dogs. You’ll find them to be independent and incredibly resourceful, too. Furthermore, their two-inches-long and thick double coats enable them to survive in harsh conditions.
Physical similarities with wolves are clearly evident. They include:
- Facial markings
- Coat shades, such as gray and white, black and red, and sable and white
- Upright ears
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog resembles its namesake a lot. Dog experts also know it by other names, such as the Czechoslovakian Vlack. It may surprise you that this breed is relatively new to the world. The Vlack is the result of a meeting between 94% of German Shepherd and 6% of Carpathian wolf genes.
Back in the 1950s — to be exact — the Czech military wanted their patrol dogs to be blood-thirsty and vicious patrol. However, what the Cold War wanted and what they got were two very different things. Instead of viciousness, they created a canine that was vigilant. And the Czech military didn’t succeed in producing a blood-thirsty canine but one that’s suspicious of strangers. Since this pooch also carries the genes of his domesticated parent, he’s also cuddly and loving.
In addition to being your floofy pillow, the Vlack makes a useful work dog. They’re great at:
- Search and resecue
- Doggy sports
But this also means that you must provide them with 2 to 3 hours of exercise each day. So, only adopt a Vlack if you can give them an active lifestyle.
A lupine doppelganger, the Sarloos sports facial expressions that remind wolf experts of wolves! When, in the 1930s, a Dutch breeder mixed wild European wolves with German Shepherds, the Sarloos sprang into existence.
Due to the wild instincts ingrained within the Saarloos, they will be kind to humans but maintain a distance. Instead, they prefer more of the four-legged kind of company. But those aren’t the only wolfish traits the Saarloos have. Wariness of strangers and in uncertain situations are two other things they took from the wolfish parent.00
So, while your Saarloos Wolfdog won’t make an ideal lap dog, they will be great as canine companions. Since their stubborn streak makes them difficult to handle, don’t bring one home if you’re a first time owner. Finally, to keep your Sarloos happy, interested, and healthy, give them several hours of intense exercise every day.
The Sammy smile is a thing to witness! And we only see it because the Samoyede people in Siberia needed a working dog. Once it arrived, Samoyed became an expert at:
- Keeping their humans warm at night
A look and you’d think you’re facing a majestic white wolf. But then these pooches hit you with Sammy smile and your dog-loving heart melts. Mostly, these talkative pooches won’t be afraid to tell you what’s on their mind. Communication takes place in the form of bellows, barks, and howls.
They’re big and lovable to most families, including children. In fact, Samoyeds adore kids. Also, they usually have a favorite human that they will dote on.
This breed produces highly intelligent canine individuals. They’re also ambitious, which is why you must keep them busy by plying them with challenges and exercise regularly. Failing to do either can result in destructive behavior.
A Finnish wolf lookalike, the Tamaskan brings the Husky breeds to mind. Like them, they possess a tenacious disposition and make capable working dogs. Intelligent and agile, they take on physical challenges with ease. Give them something to do and the Tamaskan will get it done! Almost as if they’re deliberately being contrary, these pooches will act laid-back. They won’t try to dominate as the other working dog breeds do.
Mellow they might be, but Tamaskans don’t like being on their own. A span of 3-4 hours can lead to destructive behavior.
If you’re looking for wolfish features, how about:
- Tall and lanky form
- Long legs
- Yellow eyes
- A signature wolf-shaped head
A beautiful breed that loves to cuddle and deliver as many kisses as you demand. Tamaskans are also wonderful when dealing with other pets and children.
When a Shikoku bounds into your life, they bring with themselves much energy. Even though they present a more petite form, these Japanese dogs can bring down wild boars! Furthermore, they don’t lose a scent even in the harshest of conditions. Shikokus can weigh between 35-55 pounds and stand 17-22 inches tall.
Kochi-ken is another name for Shikokus since they are the result of the manipulations of the Kochi Prefecture. Their wolf-like traits are easily discernible when one looks at them. However, they also possess the persistence, enthusiasm, and endurance of our living room-canines.
Once the pastures in the UK had produced German shepherds as working dogs, the latter’s fame only increased! Currently, they occupy the second spot on AKC’s list of most well-known dog breeds.
But what makes the German shepherd so popular? Well, there isn’t just one reason for that but many, such as:
- They possess high intelligence
- German shepherds charm you with their confidence
- These canines will win you over with their loyalty
- They are hardworking when guarding your flocks
- German shepherds are gentle around family pets
Aside from making wonderful canine companions, they also possess the grace and poise of their lupine ancestors. Only adopt a German shepherd if you have the space for a 26-inches-tall and 90 pounder of a pooch.
Northern Inuit Dog
The Northern Inuit dog may not be as large as a German Shepherd. However, it does possess the latter’s genetic material in its DNA. During the 1980s, canine enthusiasts wanted a wolfish breed with the tempering of dog-like nature. Thus, they mixed German Shepherd DNA with a malamute’s and a Siberian husky’s.
The resulting canine makes a loyal, great, family pet. While they don’t possess the patience a dog needs to deal with kids, the Northern Inuit dog does well with singles and older children.
Certainly, they have loyal and loving natures. Even so, you’d have to get them to training lessons for best results. Furthermore, the need for assertive leadership makes the Northern Inuit unsuited to novice dog ownership.
Finally, these pups can experience extreme separation anxiety. Therefore, try not to leave them by themselves for too long a time. It’s also why they won’t make good kennel dogs.
Alaskan Klee Kai
At first furry contact, you might mistake the very adorable Alaskan Klee Kai for the Pomsky. And, while, both dogs owe their origins to the practice of miniaturization, they belong to different breeds. Breeders combined various canine bloodlines to produce the Alaskan Klee Kai-sized dog without dwarfism. Even in adulthood, these little pooches won’t weigh more than 22 pounds.
Similar to Huskies, the Alaskan Klee Kai can sport a wide range of colors. Mostly, though, you’ll find their coats to be multicolored. The features that make them seem wolfish include:
- Wolf-like facial markings
- Large, erect ears
- Smaller wolf-shaped head
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a dog for the family. That’s because they win little hearts over with playful attitudes and high energy levels. Aside from these traits, the Kais are also fiercely loyal — even as much that they don’t do well around strangers. If you see your canine companion acting reserved, it is safe to assume someone they don’t know might be around! When that doesn’t clue you in, their whining and howling sure will.
The two ways through which you can stave off this behavior is by getting them training and socialization. What’s more, unlike most wolf-like canines, the Alaskan Klee Kais are a good choice for even newbie owners. That’s because they are very adaptable.
Alaskan Noble Companion Dog
If you have the space to house a 60-110 pounder, then the Alaskan Noble Companion Dog would be a good choice. Sure, they may look wolf-like. However, they’re also loyal and active pets. Other traits they bring with them include curiosity, anxiety, and alertness.
Surprisingly, Alaskan nobles are hybrids who are produced because of the popularity of wolf-like features and stunning appearances. These canines contain dollops of genetic material from three different breeds:
- Siberian Husky
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
Other than that, if a breeder tells you their Alaskan noble contains lupine genetic material too, don’t put much stock in that claim!
Now, while they do look quite wolf-like, we don’t know much about the Alaskan nobles. Therefore, you may have to test their suitability as family pets yourself. Reports do say that they behave affectionately and are playful. We also know that the nobles can be laid back. On the flip side, evidence of apprehension — escalating to aggression — towards kids and strangers also exists. Therefore, test before you adopt. That said, early socialization might turn things around.
Beyond that, the one thing that’s for certain is that you cannot doubt the loyalty of Alaskan nobles. Since they also love exploring and need mental stimulation, you’d have your work cut out for you. Thus, don’t adopt an Alaskan noble if you cannot arrange for daily exercise sessions.
Finally, these pooches can experience high separation anxiety. We’d recommend people with full-time jobs not to expose them to their lifestyle.
Canadian Eskimo Dog
Quimmiq is another name for the Canadian Eskimo Dog. It traveled from Siberia to North America about a thousand years ago. And while this canine might be one of the oldest breeds still alive, there are only 300 individuals left. What’s more, the invention of the snowmobile made the purpose of their existence obsolete. So, you might never meet one but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know more about this wolf-like breed.
Canadian Eskimo pooches are intensely loyal. Since they were originally sled pullers, a hardworking and active temperament is a given. So is the fur coat they wear, which protects them from the cold and makes them unsuitable for hot climates. Thus, don’t go looking for a Canadian Eskimo if you live close to the equator.
West Siberian Laika
They look hardy because the West Siberian laikas arrived at the scene to hunt in the Siberian forests. For that purpose, this canine breed produces confident and eager individuals. Unlike the Canadian Eskimo dogs, the laikas remain popular in their native country. The locals still prize them for their strong urge to hunt. But that’s also why, you can’t make a laika into a suitable house pet.
Wolf-like physical attributes of laikas include:
- The tell-tale triangular erect ears
- A wedge-shaped head
- Strong, long forelegs
- Large size — almost equal to that of a Czechoslovakian wolfdog
- A plume-like tail that curls over itself
Surprisingly, this next breed produces smaller-sized and lightweight — about 48-55 pounds — individuals. A Norwegian elkhound, though, isn’t as delicate as it seems to be. That’s because hunting elks and bears requires resilience and hardiness. And these dogs have it in spades!
You’ll find the following lupine characteristics in Norwegian elkhounds:
- A silver gray coat
- Wedge shaped head
- The requisite triangular, erect ears
- Curled tails
However, they’re thicker bodied, making them more like malamutes than wolves.
It may be time for some surprises that genetics brings us! This study in 2004 involved research of the DNA of 85 different dog breeds. Some of them were heavier on the wolf DNA than others. These canine breeds have far-reaching roots than others.
More importantly, the breeds that are more like wolves aren’t the ones you’d expect to see on our list. That’s right. No huskies, akitas, and salukis had DNA enriched with wolf genes. Because nature likes to keep us guessing, the truly wolfish dog breeds are small and eastern!
At the top of that genes-based list, you’ll find the Shih Tzu — a most unexpected and not at all wolfish dog. The next slot goes to another unlikely contender, i.e., the Pekingese. And if that wasn’t enough, next up are the Tibetan Terriers and Lhasa Apsos. In other words, should you want to be pals with an honest-to-god wolf-like dog, look towards those species. Their Doggy DNA says they are closely related to wolves than most other types.
I have my wolf-lookalike pooch. What will it eat?
Captive wolves at nature preserves thrive on eating diets akin to their wilder and free counterparts. Your wolf-like dog shouldn’t be any different. Normally, the former go after the following natural prey:
So, if those meats are easily accessible and affordable for you, that’s what to feed to your wolf-like canine. But if they aren’t, your fur baby will still benefit from raw meat. Beware that they will likely go through pound after pound of that stuff! In fact, they will gorge on several pounds of raw meat daily. You can also sustain them with turkey and chicken.
That said, the more wolfishness that is in the mix, the more feral your dog will be. So, don’t forget to add some bones to their daily diets. Not only will chewing them be a non-issue, the raw, whole bones will also be good for them.
Other than raw meat and bone, wolf dogs also like munching on fresh grass and other vegetation. Therefore, make sure they have access to both. And since we’re talking about veggies, let us not forget that wolf dogs also enjoy fruit. Although, you may want to get the vet in on the decision about which fruits will be good for your pooch.
Should I be worrying over health issues when it comes to my wolf-dog?
Only in two cases. Firstly, if you’re feeding them an unhealthy diet, they could develop joint issues. Secondly, as they get older, joint pain results from regular wear and tear.
For their mental health, provide your wolf-dog with lots of exercise daily. Without it, they’ll give in to depression or indulge in destructive behaviors.
Sure, most of us won’t ever live with a full-blown wolf. But these dog breeds do present excellent alternatives to us. They have the majestic appearance part down pat. In addition to that, they won’t eat you alive like their wilder cousins. Just give them loads of love, raw meat, and exercise, and these pooches will love you back!