There are a lot of big dog breeds out there, but wolf-dog hybrids make even Huskies look small! While wolf dog breeds have long been controversial, all modern dogs are descendants of wolves if you go way back in the lineage of how domesticated dogs came to be.
According to Wolf.org, "Wolf-dog hybrid—hybrid for short—is a term used to describe an animal that is part wolf and part domestic dog. Dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, and wolves, Canis lupus, share an evolutionary past and thus share many physical and behavioral traits."
Because wolves and dogs are so similar, they're able to mate with each other, producing a hybrid species—a mix between the two.
"Wolves and dogs are interfertile, meaning they can breed and produce viable offspring," according to Wolf.org. "In other words, wolves can interbreed with dogs, and their offspring are capable of producing offspring themselves. Although hybrids can occur naturally in the wild, they are rare because the territorial nature of wolves leads them to protect their home ranges from intruding canines such as dogs, coyotes, and other wolves."
These hybrids, of course, come with their own set of specific needs. First of all, they get big—like, anywhere from 26 to 34 inches high and ranging between 60 and 120 pounds. Second, they're known to be high-maintenance—in terms of shedding, a need for attention and exercise, and more.
While wolf dog breeds aren't for everyone, some pet owners can cater to the specific needs of these gentle giants. Before committing to owning a wolf-dog, be sure to do your research and even consult a veterinarian or trainer for tips. And for those who maybe don't want a hybrid but still prefer a dog with a wolf-like appearance, here are 15 dog breeds that are close descendants of the wolf.
15 Wolf Dog Breeds
1. Saarloos Wolfdog
The Saarloos Wolfdog is one of the more wolf-dominant hybrid dog breeds. While its temperament can display both gentle, German Shepherd-like behaviors as well as a more instinctual, wolf side, owning a Saarloos is best for adult dog owners (AKA no kids) with a lot of experience. After all, the Saarloos came to be by the cross-breeding of the German Shepherd with the Eurasian Grey Wolf, making it one of the most similar breeds to wolves in terms of DNA.
2. Native American Indian Dog
Indigenous to the U.S., the first thing you'll notice about any Native American Indian Dog is that they are very athletic-looking and strong. Historically, they have been used as working dogs, helping humans out with search-and-rescues, hunting, and more. This dog breed is a great choice for families with young kids, but be sure you understand just how much exercise these dogs need. Any underexercising could potentially lead to destructive behaviors.
3. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky scores high for interacting well with families, young children, and of course, with other dogs, too. Personality-wise, they're a hoot, too. With fiercely loyal and inquisitive natures, Huskies are very wolf-like and often have strong prey drives and a natural penchant for getting into some trouble. They have to be exercised well, groomed often, and require a decent amount of space to roam around in. Of course, they're known to be runners, so make sure you've got a secure, sturdy fence (they can jump pretty high, too, FYI).
4. Northern Inuit Dog
Another German Shepherd, Husky, and Malamute mix, the Northern Inuit Dog isn't the most well-known—especially since the breed is not officially recognized by the AKC. Still, the NI is an affectionate breed that takes to its family but tends to be wary around strangers. These beauties—which can range between 55 and 110 pounds—are very high maintenance when it comes to grooming.
5. American Alsatian
A relatively newer breed, the American Alsatian has been around since 1988. These pups must be socialized well from a young age and though they can take a while to warm up to strangers, they're not exactly the best guard dogs.
6. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is recognized by the American Kennel Club as a highly intelligent, loyal, and active breed. A medium-sized dog, anywhere from 44 to 57 pounds when fully grown, the Czech Vlcak looks very wolf-like physically and is known for its keen eyesight. Though they've been known to be affectionate with their family, this breed is not usually recommended for those with small children.
The Tamaskan Dog very much looks like a traditional wolf as you'd picture it but this breed has only been around since the 1980s. With a reputation of being loyal, affectionate companions, the Tamaskan makes a great four-legged friend but does require a lot of priming and pruning. After all, these dogs have double coats—that means a lot of shedding and a lot of mandatory grooming. They also may experience separation anxiety so, as with all of these breeds, Tamaskans shouldn't have pet owners that are gone all day.
8. German Shepherd-Husky Mix
The German Shepherd Husky Mix contains all the best parts of both popular breeds. Strong and agile, these dogs are very, very smart and if not stimulated and challenged often, will resort to destructive behaviors like chewing furniture, destroying walls, or ripping up the couch. They're also exceptional escape artists, so it's important to have a securely fenced-in yard, or else you run the risk of chasing them around the neighborhood all night and day! And thankfully, unlike some of the other breeds on this list, German Husky mixes tend to do well with families with small kids.
A herding dog, the Samoyed might just be one of the fluffiest dogs you'll ever see. These big, white balls of fluff are certainly super high-maintenance because of their thick double coats, but they're also big cuddlers who love being affectionate with their humans.
Hailing from ancient Japan, the Shikoku dog breed has been around for a very long time and physically resembles the Akita more than a wolf. Fun fact, though: Both breeds are considered wolf dogs! The Shikoku is known to be good with families and young children, affectionate, and usually compatible with other dogs.
Also known as the Alaskan Malamute, the Kugsha is massive and also... mysterious. Not much information is even known about Malamutes and different theories abound about their origins. Most likely though, based on their looks, they're very similar to Huskies and as such, they share the Huskies' high intelligence, love for exercise, and even their meticulous work ethic.
Undoubtedly the smallest furry friend on this list, the Pomsky is an adorable, cuddly cross between a Siberian Husky and Pomeranian. Yup, Pomeranian. With key characteristics from both breeds—a bit of a skittish nature when someone's at the door (a la the Pom) and a moderate need for exercise and a penchant for destructive behavior via the Husky—the Pomsky is the best of both worlds. Often seen with light eyes and the thick coat of a Husky, these minis only weigh in at 35-40 pounds max.
A mix between the German Shepherd, Malamute, and Siberian Husky, the Utonagan has been historically bred as a sleddog. Known for their strength and high energy levels, these pups need a lot of exercise and of course, a lot of space to do it.
Akitas can get rather large, with the males growing to 100-130 pounds and females to 70-100 pounds. With double coats and thick, strong muscles, the Akita is native to Japan and to this day, remains a symbol of a long, happy, and healthy life.
15. Swedish Vallhund
Despite the Swedish Vallhund's Corgi-esque appearance (they're distant cousins, apparently) this energetic pup is not just a herder, but also a wolf dog breed. Usually gray, black, or red in color—like the wolf—the Swedish Vallhund is also great with families, kids, and other dogs.
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