8 Wolf-Like Dog Breeds: Looking Like Wild Wolves!

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Breeds By Ben Team 8 min read September 19, 2019 27 Comments

wolf-like breed

As someone who has spent the bulk of his life caring for non-domestic animals, I certainly get the appeal of wolves and other wild canines.

Were it legal (and in the animals’ best interest) to do so, I’d already have a pack of African wild dogs living in my home (though I’m sure my Rottie – not to mention my wife – would strongly reject this idea).

But unfortunately for those who like wolves, 175-pound apex predators are not exactly well-suited for life in the suburbs. While wolves are not vicious animals, they are too intelligent, wary, independent, and predatory to be considered good pets for the average animal lover.

While we all may dream of having our own direwolf that we share a spiritual connection with, most people will have to settle for a domestic dog that looks simply like a wolf.

Fortunately, there are a handful that do superficially resemble wolves, without representing the danger and difficulty that a pet wolf would.

The Wolf-Dog Connection

I’m guessing that you clicked on this article because you want a dog that looks like a wolf, and you aren’t interested in a biology lesson about canine evolution and taxonomy. But, it’s important to note that dogs and wolves are closely related species, who share common ancestors.

For a long time, domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) were considered the direct descendants of gray wolves (Canis lupus). However, recent research has muddied the waters a bit, and it appears that your beagle is more likely to be a cousin of gray wolves, as they evolved directly from a now-extinct ancestor of living wolves.

No matter the precise phylogeny of the group, dogs and wolves are very closely related critters, who exhibit a number of similarities. In many ways, dogs are akin to wolf puppies, given their juvenile facial features, a predilection for play and vocal ways.

Domestic dogs still possess much of the DNA that made them wolves in the first place, but most of these wolf-like traits have been “switched off.” This means two things:

1) Dogs and wolves can interbreed and produce fertile wolf-dog hybrids.

2) Some of these wolf-like traits can be “re-activated” through selective breeding efforts, which will make them resemble their wolf-like ancestors. This doesn’t make them wolves; it just makes them look like wolves.

Before we get started looking at wolf-like breeds, check out this photo of an actual wolf to help calibrate your eye.

wolf

Eight of the Most Wolf-Like Breeds 

The eight breeds below all resemble wolves to varying degrees. Some are the product of dog-wolf hybridization, but others are simply dogs who’ve been selectively bred to resemble wolves.

1. Kugsha

wolf-like dog

Photo courtesy of 101dogbreeds.com

Kughsas – also known as Amerindian malamutes – are a hybrid breed with an enigmatic history.

Accounts of their precise origin vary from source to source, and none appear especially authoritative. However, they look like big huskies and exhibit the drive, love for running, and stamina that huskies do, but, like many other wolf hybrids, they have quite an independent streak and assertive personalities.

Some report (although without much in the way of citations or documentation) that the breed name came about as a way to get around laws banning wolf hybrids.

2. Siberian Husky

wolf like breed

The Siberian husky is a familiar and lovely breed, who is well-suited for homes that are prepared to accommodate a heavily shedding, high-energy dog who loves to play, roam, and explore.

Accordingly, they are great for active families, runners, and bikers (that’s Lance-Armstrong-style bikers, not Jax-Teller-style bikers).

3. Alaskan Malamute

dog looks live a wolf

Although not as popular as the husky, the Alaskan malamute is another familiar breed, which you may encounter from time to time. Handsome, fluffy and bigger than the husky, the malamute was also developed as a sled-pulling breed (and for hunting polar bears, of all things).

Malamutes are pretty, lovable, and very trainable when compared with some of the other dogs on this list. Like huskies, they have high energy levels, playful personalities and the ability to coat your entire home in a layer of their fur.

4. German Shepherds

wolf-like dog breed

German shepherds possess a distinct wolf-like aesthetic, but some clearly resemble wolves more than others do.

For example, German shepherds with long hair tend to look more like wolves, and the larger, bulkier individuals also project a more wolf-like image than the small, lean ones do.

German shepherds are sometimes clad in very wolf-like colors, including lots of gray, white and black, which helps further strengthen the resemblance. Both German shepherds and (less commonly) wild wolves occasionally exhibit jet-black coats, which is also pretty neat.

Like many of the other breeds on this list, German shepherds are shedding machines, but they’re also loving, loyal, bright, and protective, so it is easy to understand their popularity.

5. Saarloos Wolfdog

dog resembles wolf

Photo courtesy of Pets4homes.co.uk

The Saarloos wolfdog line was initially developed by Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos in the 1930s. Although they were originally created by crossing European wolves with German shepherds, they have been recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (the world’s leading international dog registry) as a distinct breed since 1981.

One of the breeds that is most distantly related to other domestic dogs, and likely the most wolf-like breed in the world, Saarloos wolfdogs not only have a wolf-like build, their facial expressions are said to closely mimic those of wolves.

These dogs are said to be loving and smart, but, like most other wolf-hybrids, not particularly interested in pleasing their non-fur parent.

6. Utonagan / Northern Inuit Dog

dog that looks like wolf

Photo courtesy of Nisociety.com

The Utonagan and Northern Inuit Dog are names applied to one or more breeds of domestic dogs who’ve been bred to look like wolves. There isn’t a ton of fantastic information available about them, and several sources contradict each other. Adding to the confusion, the term “Utonagan” means “Northern Inuit.”

However, they appear to have been created by mixing husky, malamute, and German shepherd lines. They were apparently created in the early 1980s, so they aren’t terribly common. However, those who are familiar with the breed describe them as fairly husky-like in terms of personality and temperament.

Fun Fact: The direwolves from HBO’s series Game of Thrones are Northern Inuit dogs.

7. Tamaskan

wolf-like breed 2

Photo courtesy of Petguide.com

Tamaskans are another breed that was reportedly produced by crossing – wait for it – malamutes and huskies, as well as a few other sled dogs. They may also have wolves in their recent family trees. Tamaskans aren’t recognized by any of the major breed registries, but there are a number of breed clubs around the world dedicated to these wolf-like dogs.

Tamaskans are pretty similar to huskies in terms of temperament and abilities, and they reportedly make good pets for families that can handle high-energy pooches. Tamaskans – like some wild wolves – occur in both grey and black color forms.

8. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

dog that looks like a wolf

Photo courtesy of Pedigreedatabase.com

Another wolf-hybrid that is recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale, Czechoslovakian wolf dogs were initially developed for the Czech military. However, they’ve been used for search-and-rescue, tracking and herding work in subsequent years.

Because this breed was deliberately created as part of a scientific study, their history is a little better documented than some other wolf-hybrids and mixed breeds.

Czechoslovakian wolfdogs are said to be trainable, although they aren’t border collies, and they require a dedicated owner, who is willing to spend plenty of time working with their pooch.

A Few Words of Caution

While there aren’t many laws preventing people from owning huskies or malamutes, some of the other breeds on this list are the target of bans and special regulations. This is especially true of those breeds and hybrids that directly descend from wolves.

Different jurisdictions enforce these rules and regulations in different ways, but hard-ass municipalities may not only fine you for owning a wolf-hybrid, they may confiscate and euthanize your pet as well. Accordingly, you’ll always want to check out the local legal environment before adding a wolf-like dog to your family.

It is also important to understand that many of these wolf-like breeds are very challenging to manage. For one, these dogs are on the big size, you’ll need to pony up cash for larger-than-average dog crates and beds to match.

Many of them have incredible exercise requirements, and they get bored (and therefore destructive) very easily.

Even huskies and malamutes – two of the more suitable pet breeds detailed above – are a handful, and many owners are disappointed with their aloof demeanor. They’re lovely dogs for those who understand their nature, but they can be difficult to train, and they are often maddeningly stubborn.

So, be sure that you do your homework before running out and buying a wolf-like breed. You don’t want to go to all of the effort and expense of adding one to your family, only to find that they drive you crazy.

dog looks like wolf

Just remember: No matter how much you love the aesthetic of wolves, you probably wouldn’t care for their personality very much at all. If wolves made good companions, we’d never have developed dogs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a dog that looks a heckuva lot like a wolf.

Any of the breeds listed above should fit the bill, just be sure to pick the one that has a personality and temperament that is compatible with your own.

Have you ever owned a wolf-like dog? Tell us about the breed (particularly if you owned one of the less-common varieties – we know what huskies are like) and your experiences in general. We’d love to hear all about them.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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28 Comments

Chuck Taylor

Well I have a Gerberian Shepsky (GSD/Husky) that many people have said looks like a wolf. So many in fact that my wife purchased a DNA kit and sent it off to be checked. Zero Wolf but 50% GSD and 50% Husky… right down the middle. And he has a somewhat split personality. I have read up on both breeds on the Net and sometimes he is a lot like a Husky and other times a lot like a GSD and other times just his own way. He is not aggressive but he is wary of strangers.
For the most part he is a good, friendly and loving dog.

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Alys

Chuck Taylor – Did you get an expensive DNA kit or a Walmart $39 one? I ask because I have a similar situation. We own a supossed pure bred Husky (no papers) that is not like our other pure bred husky. Yes, similar but we swear dog 2 has wolf – if not a lot of wolf in him. I would like to test but not spend $200. Reading here and other articles it seems almost unlikely he has wolf. But dang if he does not look and have chatacters of. Even our vet assumes he does. For example he is under weight (though fed well) and our vet says, “I am not to concerned because the male wolf does not start gaining weight until after 2”. He is actually just under 2. But he has an awesome personality. Stubborn like the Husky but not as much as our other Husky (who will NEVER come if called (even if she wants to) just to spite you). The dogs history getting to us is intersting, I won’t bore uou but truth be told we are not sure what he is. Gorgeous and great personality though (lover!!!). Our other Husky does too though.

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Tina W. Juergens

Hello, Ben
Yes, you are Right J . I want a dog looks like a wolf. I checked out eight of the most wolf-like breeds and it is just awesome. I like “Siberian Husky” the most – it’s so cute! After going through your review on Siberian Huskies, I have come to know they are highly energetic dogs and they love to play and explore. “Alaskan Malamutes” are the most handsome among the big wolf-like dogs. Thank you for all of your hard work! You’ve covered many of wolf-like dog breeds I’ve often wondered about. Hope to see more great stuff from you soon.

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Omar Torres

My dad owned two siberian huskies that he got fairly big but only grew up with the girl dog and I was a baby and she was friendly towards me

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george

I have a dog that looks almost exactly like a brown wolf, as far as stature, coat, and posture go. He even howls, and he never barks. But he acts like a snuggly puppy with zero prey drive and his mask is gray where a brown wolf’s would be black. But it’s exactly the same shape as most brown wolves’ masks. People usually ask me if he’s a wolf. His actual breed is unknown.

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Shirley

We gained ownership of this mistreated matted malnourished scrappy 1 year old. We had no idea what she was .She now is in full glory looks beautiful full fluffy Maine browns greys and white and very large powerful muscular neck& chest oh she howls when the phone rings or a child cries and loud bark no need for door bell three feilds down she is a 130lb and the local german germanshepard looks like a pup stood next to her .she very good at herding children and protective of her people and property.very aggressive defender no unwanted visitors here but we would like some visitors lol

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Kay

I had a very beautiful timber wolf German shepherd mix who I didn’t raise from a pup. But still was very friendly a d patientbwith my son..at that time only 4 and he would ride on her and play.. she never once bit him .she did have fee wild tendencies like going to catch her a live chicken. From my neighbors coop. I had bail her out many times. I’m not sure how old she was when she jumped out the back of her owner’s truck and into our yard but she lived happy with us for 8 more years. Until we learned she was already so far gone with heartworms that we had to let it take its course. She was never aggressive to me…my child or anyone as long she knew we felt ok around them. Greatest dog …wolf or not…that we ever had. RIP Frenchie

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Barbara

We’re can I get a hybrid wolf puppy.

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Victoria

I have one for sale if you are interested

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Connie

A friend of mine has a Czech wolf dog,female 18months old.
He went fishing and while there she ran away…..this was 5 days ago. I live near the fishing spot and have seen her a few times. I called the owner but she doesn’t go to him,she keeps running. How do we go about getting her? Is there a special method? If anyone can help us please……thank you

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Kalikiano Kalei

Regrettably, there isn’t really much you can do. Rule # 1 with most husky-type dogs is NEVER let them off a lead when away from home. Rule #2 is ALWAYS keep dogs of this type in a secure, enclosed and escape-proof yard. Husky type dogs that were acquired as puppies will still take a few years to bond to you well enough to return to you and obey some commands (but only if trained) and even then their nature is a bit capricious, stubborn and independent. Once they are off-lead they tend to wander and run and have a very poor sense of how to return to wherever ‘home’ is. 18 months is still a ‘youngster’, so I fear you will have much difficulty getting your pup back. Good luck, however.

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De Rocha

Ive never owned a wolf dog. But, I knew one. Huskey, shephard and timber wolf mix. He looked exactly like a timber wolf but with brown eyes. He was sweet, playful, like a big puppy. And gentle. He could be some what stubborn, though. And no chain, not even cable, could hold him for long

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Jasmine

This was helpful, now I know why my huskies are always howling back and forth in the middle of the night!

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Betty

I’d like to know if my dog is part Wolf

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Carolyn Howe

Great article! Mostly, I was thrilled to know of others having a hankering for African wild dogs in their life.
I had wished to chronical their lives in Tanzania. Anyway, thanks.

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Carolyn Howe

Great article! Mostly, I was thrilled to know of others having a hankering for African wild dogs in their life.
I had wished to chronical their lives in Tanzania. Anyway, thanks.

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Ben Team

Glad you liked the article, Carolyn. And yeah — African wild dogs are super cool. 🙂

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Ray

You missed tShiba inu which should be first on the list

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Karin Holdridge

Loved your descriptions and plain speaking humor. Very informative. Thank you.

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shirl

Check out the native american indian dog.

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julian

that interesting, the one that looks most like the grey wolf is the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

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B Henry

Top of the list should be the American Alsatian, a new breed being developed in the Dire Wolf Project.

Schwartz Kennels:
http://www.schwarzdogs.com/

Dire Wolf Project on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/direwolfproject/photos/?ref=page_internal

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Laura Clark

Really enjoyed the piece on wolf-like breeds, very informative.

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Lisa Brandon

Perfect!

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Linda acosta

My husband and I own two pomskys, the new pomeranian/husky designer breed. They topped out at 35 and 45 pounds, look like Alaskan malamute dog you show but with short hair. They have the best temperment ever, loveable, are very intelligent and very trainable with voice and repetition. They love to go on 5 mile hikes with my husband on trails and in the mountains. Both were rattlesnake aversion trained and have saved my husband 4 times from going ahead where a snake was coiled on the side of the trail. They stop and pull him backwards. We just love our boys and they return that affection with lots of pup kisses and tail wagging.

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Ben Team

That’s great, Linda!
I’m actually quite interested in hearing more about the rattlesnake aversion training.
If you have the time and inclination, drop me an email at Ben(at)K9ofMine.com.
Thanks for reading!

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Levi Merkel

I have a german shepherd- grey wolf mix. Hes 10 months old now and is almost 80 pounds. I love him to death but hes the worst dog ive ever met!! It was easier to raise a baby (human). Also the smartest dog ive ever met. I have to take him on 2 walks per day minimum just so he doesn’t rip apart my whole house when he gets bored. I just wanna warn everyone that reads this. DO ALOT OF HOMEWORK ON WOLF DOG HYBRIDS BEFORE YOU GET ONE BECAUSE THEY ARE A HANDFULL!! and thats putting it lightly.

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Ben Rooks

You left off my two favorite breeds – Samoyed and Keeshond. Kees have the wolf/spitz aesthetic, but were bred to live on barges, so have minimal exercise needs. They shed a fair amount, but no one is perfect. Bred as companions, they look like wolves with smiles!

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