It is common knowledge that pet dogs of today are descendants of wolves. While it's not as noticeable in the Chihuahua or the Yorkshire Terrier, there are many wolf-like dog breeds that share a number of features with their wild ancestors.
Some domestic dogs have been bred intentionally to look like wolves, while others look that way naturally. If you're thinking about adopting any of wolf dog breeds or wolf hybrids as pets, you'll have plenty to choose from; however, make sure you know exactly the type of dog you're adopting and don't end up with a story like this.
Below are 25 wolf dog breeds that share the most characteristics with wolves, either through appearance, behavior, or both.
Wolf Dog Breeds Under 40 lbs
1. Shiba Inu
A Japanese breed, these dogs made it to the US only about 60 years ago. Since then, their popularity has continued to increase. Bold and independent, they are a lot of fun to own, even if they are a little hard to train.
Pictured above, they are adaptable. Thriving in most any situation including in apartments and cities. This doesn’t mean they don’t need help. To keep from becoming destructive, they need plenty of exercise and interaction.
2. Lhasa Apso
Serving as a monastery watch dog in Tibet, these small dogs have more than just a bark to make them a desirable companion dog. They still retain strong muscles with a bold personality to match.
Popular in the show ring, pooches in this breed excel at physical activity. They show that you don’t have to go big to get a canine that still has a wild spirit. Aloof and independent, they don’t do well around other pets and children.
This “barkless” dog may sound more like a coyote than a wolf with its clear yodel, but it still harks back to its wolf ancestors. Although small, this African pooch has the agility and speed to run down its prey.
If you want to own this breed, make sure you are up to it. Like animals of the wild, it is independent. While intelligent, it will be hard to train. An escape artist, the Basenji can easily get itself out of any jam…or fence.
With a primitive nature and a strong prey drive, this canine is not for everyone. Still connected to its ancestors, these fur-babies are intuitive and cautious. While they are generally not aggressive, they are reserved, only giving respect to those that earn it.
Not for the casual owner, this is a breed for someone who is going to put in daily time and effort with their new four-legged family member. These wolf dog breeds need an experienced owner that is going to be able to give them the training and attention they need.
5. Tibetan Terrier
With feet like snowshoes and long bangs protecting the eyes, these wolf dog breeds are made for the snow and cold. Active and alert, they are ready for long walks and trips to survey new surroundings.
A rare breed, these dogs need a confident trainer. It is said that if you don’t train them, then they will train you. These dogs were not made for work. They are companions and need regular interaction with their humans.
Wolf Dog Breeds Weighing 41-60 Pounds
6. Chinese Shar-Pei
Wrinkly and awkward looking, this breed is still a favorite among dog lovers. While this pooch can be playful and affectionate with family, it generally does not like strangers. Preferring to be the Alpha in the pack, they don’t like other animals either.
Pictured above, this dog is not recommended for families with children. Aside from these issues, the Shar-Pei is intelligent and loyal and will pick up training quickly.
7. Siberian Husky
A popular breed, this dog has the wolf-like appearance that all the Spitz breeds possess. Not for first time dog owners, they are independent and energetic. They have endurance to spare and would make a great running partner.
While they are independent, they do need human companionship and can become loud and destructive if left alone too often. Like other popular breeds, this breed has fallen prey to unsafe breeding practices. Make sure yours comes from a reputable breeder.
8. Chow Chow
Referred to as cat-like in appearance and attitude, the Chow dog is still a canine (even though they look more like a bear). If you are interested in one of these fur-babies, it is important to note that they are barely domesticated.
In fact, these wolf dog breeds are known as the “Wild Dog of China”. These pups are still aggressive and territorial. They need strict pack leader training and socialization. Care should always be taken when approaching these beings, especially around the food bowl.
Genetic testing shows that this breed is more related to wolves than to its domesticated cousins. They are tough and brave not backing down from a fight even with bears and boars.
These hunting dogs can also happily take down smaller animals like squirrels, birds, and cats. Although highly desirable due to its wolf-like appearance, it is best that this animal is owned as a working dog. It is best for it to be well-trained and kept busy.
8. Afghan Hound
One of the oldest dog breeds in the world, the “Tazi” may not look like a wolf, but under its glamorous exterior lays the heart of one. Independent, this pup is able to think independently from his owner. This does make this breed harder to train.
Built for harsh conditions, the long silky hair was needed to protect against cold. With unusual toe pads, they had shock absorbers for the punishing terrain. The aloofness in this hound makes it more like a cat, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of loving and playing.
9. German Shepherd
This popular working dog can be very intimidating. You often see them at the side of police officers and guarding property. They ooze a quiet confidence even when at rest. That doesn’t mean that they can’t make excellent companion dogs.
Playful and intelligent, the German Shepherd are a popular family pet. Just keep in mind typical dog behavior if you own one of these pups. They like their space and alone time, but need daily exercise and human interaction.
10. Australian Shepherd
These beautiful pooches can have blue eyes, brown eyes, or a combination of both. With a haunting look, you can easily imagine them gazing over a clearing to survey their domain.
Playful and loving, they won’t make a good guard dogs, but they will make a great family pet for the right people. They can be destructive if bored and need daily “jobs” and exercise.
Still being used more as a hunting dog than a companion dog, this canine lives with the indigenous people in the Artic. With thick fur and small ears, everything about this breed is designed to withstand frigid temperatures.
Not protective or territorial, these pups retain the ability to work in a pack. They do not do well in hot temperatures, nor do they do well lying around the house. They need to be kept busy to keep from becoming destructive.
It should not be surprising that a dog with “wolf” in its name still looks and acts much like a wolf. Quick and agile, this canine still possess a high prey drive and is not recommended for homes with other animals.
These wolf dog breeds can be shy and timid, but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. Proper socialization must occur so the pup doesn’t become fearful – fear can lead to aggression.
13. Kunming wolfdog
Also known as the Kunming Wolfdog or the Chinese Wolfdog, these canines look very much like a German Shepherd. The difference is noted in the Kunming standing higher and having shorter fur.
These pups need a yard, daily exercise, and pack leader and socialization training to be a successful companion. Like other dogs on this list, they are not lapdogs and need jobs to perform to keep from becoming aggressive and destructive.
14. Lapponian Herder (Lapland Reindeer Dog)
Native to Finland, these awe inspiring animals are used to herd animals, including reindeer. They are also brave enough to stand up to their wolf cousins when protecting its charges.
While friendly and playful, these wolf dog breeds like to be the only furry (or feathered) family member in the house. With perfect posture and beautiful coloring, they are definitely a head turner.
15. Saarloos Wolfdog
Made by crossing a German Shepherd with a European wolf, this breed still has a distinctive wild dog look. While they have the long skinny legs of a coyote, this only makes them fast and agile.
They are used for herding and guarding livestock. With a wild instinct, training must start within the first few weeks to have a dog that is capable of following orders.
Similar to the Afghan Hound, this sleek, graceful animal may not remind you of a wolf. While they may look fragile, they are actually tough, strong warriors. A hunter, they can also be used as a guard dog.
This sighthound must never be off leash or unfenced. They will take off after anything that moves, leaving you in the dust. Created to hunt in mountains and rocky terrain, they can climb and jump well – you can’t just have any old fence to contain them.
Striking in all white, these cute fur-babies always look like they are smiling. Energetic and athletic, they are great for the active, outdoors family that can get this pup back to nature.
These wolf dog breeds are loving and friendly pets without an aggressive bone in their body. Like other working class breeds, they can be destructive if bored. Like their wolf ancestors, they love to howl and bark.
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Wolf Dog Breeds Over 70 Pounds
20. Seppala Siberian Sleddog
With the ice blue eyes of a Husky or Australian Shepherd, these wolf dog breeds (pictured above) are commanding in appearance. However, like those breeds, they can have brown or combination eyes as well.
It is a rare breed still existing in isolated areas of the Arctic Circle. Serious minded, these pooches work well in packs as long as the human as established himself as the Alpha wolf.
Also known as the Amerindian Malamute, these pooches make great guard dogs and working dogs. Considered a wolf hybrid, they are new to domestication. This means they are not recommended for homes with kids or other animals.
With intelligence that is visible early in life, it is easy to train these dogs to do whatever jobs you have for them. They can come in different colors, but they always retain the look of a wolf.
Created from wolf hybrids for the US Army, this breed was created to be a working breed. There are not many of these canines, but lovers of these giant animals are desperately trying to keep the breed pure.
A newer breed, it is not recognized by the AKC, but that doesn’t diminish its individuality. Although it does have a wolf-like appearance, it is not as aggressive as some of its doggy cousins.
23. Alaskan Malamute
The largest of the Artic sled dogs, you can easily see the wolf inside this stately creature. Their personality isn’t far off, either. Theses fur-babies still love to be dogs with digging, barking, howling, and chewing.
If bored, these wolf dog breeds can become aggressive or destructive. When this pup “talks”, you can easily imagine a pack in the woods using sound to work together and get that kill. The double-coated fur on this animal is great for the cold and snow, but they cannot be healthy in warm climates.
Coming into conception in 1980s New York, this breed is an offshoot of German Shepherds. They are made to be healthier, friendlier, and calmer. If the breed creator succeeded is for the owners to say.
What cannot be debated are their regal gait, traditional wolf-like appearance, and bold personality. While they were created to be a companion dog instead of a working dog, they still need to have daily activity.
With an appearance very close to the wolf, these pooches were thought to still contain quite a bit of genetic material from the wolf. With the advent of genetic testing, it was found that they were created from the Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, and Siberian Husky.
The main goal for creating this dog was to have a wolf-like appearance, and it did succeed. A “talking breed”, they make great companions.