Wolf-type dogs have a special place in our hearts. Wolf-like dog breeds are large, beautiful, powerful animals that possess a “cool-factor” that some people can’t resist. There is just something about owning such an impressive animal that appeals to certain people.
When looking for wolf-like dog breeds to have as a pet, there are quite a few breeds to consider. Wolf hybrids are available, too, and there are many combinations from which to choose. For those of us who prefer to go with a tried and true domestic dog, there are lots of breeds that have that cool wolf look without the wolf disposition.
Some domestic dogs have been bred intentionally to look like wolves while others just look that way naturally. You need to know the difference between all of these breeds and do some research. You may want a dog that looks cool, but you need to select a breed that's going to fit with your lifestyle as well.
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Wolf-Like Dog Breeds: Know the Difference and Choose Wisely
Wolf-dog hybrids are bred with certain characteristics in mind. The idea is to end up with a wolf hybrid that has a good combination of wolf and domestic dog looks and disposition. These are carefully cultivated hybrids that have actually become named breeds.
- Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs became a recognized dog breed in 1982. They are the result of a cross between German Shepherd dogs and Carpathian Wolves. Generally, these are slightly smaller wolf-dog hybrids that grow to 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 44 and 54 pounds but they can be larger. They look very much like wolves.
- More on them on Wikipedia
- The Saarlooswolfhond or Saarloos Wolf Dog became a breed in 1975. This Dutch dog breed is the result of crossing German Shepherds with Canadian Timber Wolves. They are 24 to 30 inches tall, weigh 80 to 90 pounds and look very much like wolves. You may have to go to the Netherlands to get one, if you decide you want one of these wolf-like dog breeds. They are very rare.
- More on them on Wikipedia
- Wolador dogs are a cross between Timber Wolves and Labrador Retrievers. These are large dogs that mature to 100 to 175 pounds. They tend to have black, black/tan, brown or red Labrador Retriever-type coats.
- Wolamutes are Malamute X Timber or Gray Wolf hybrids. They are large animals, commonly weighing between 115 and 175 pounds. Wolamutes can look very wolf-like or could look more like a Malamute.
- More on them on Wikipedia
Wolf-dog hybrids might or might not be registered breeds with set breeding standards that are strictly adhered to. Be extremely cautious if you decide to get one of these animals. Inherited characteristics will vary, depending on the breeds crossed.
Try to find a reputable breeder that can give you some assurance of what the puppy will grow into. A good breeder will also share important information with you about how to care for the dog as far as training, grooming and vaccinations.
Some wolf-like dog breeds have special requirements beyond the obvious. For example, wolf-dog hybrids may have a serious reaction to a vaccination containing leptospira bacterin. A reputable dog breeder will be able to explain this type of information to you.
Legal restrictions regarding wolf-dog hybrids
Check local ordinances before deciding to make a wolf hybrid a part of your life. Many locations have very strict laws about these animals. They may not be allowed in your area, especially if you live within city limits.
In some locations a wolf hybrid can be kept as long as it is in a sturdy enclosure. Some states will allow you to keep a wolf-hybrid with a special permit. There are states where a wolf-hybrid is considered to be a wild game animal and, it is against the law to keep or sell them.
Other Wolf-dog Considerations
Wolf-dog hybrids have serious space and exercise requirements that most people can’t manage. Unless you have a very large yard, sturdy enclosure and plenty of time, a wolf-like domestic dog is the better way to satisfy your desire to own wolf-like dog breeds.
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Tamaskan dogs look very much like wolves but they were bred from domestic Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and German Shepherds. They are sleek-looking medium to large dogs that grow to a height of 24 to 28 inches and weigh 50 to 99 pounds.
Their coat can be black/gray, red/gray or wolf/gray. These are a great option for people who love the wolf look but do not love the idea of having a dog that is at least 50% wolf.
Utonagans are domestic dogs that look very much like wolves. The breed originated in 1987 with 5 rescued homeless dogs. As the Utonagan breeding program progressed, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies were added to the mix.
“Utonagan” is a Chinook word that means “Spirit of the Wol,f” but these dogs are decidedly un-wolflike in every way except their appearance. These are smart, friendly, domestic dogs. They are medium to large dogs that grow to a height of 23 to 28 inches and weigh 55 to 90 pounds.
Northern Inuit Dogs
Northern Inuit dogs look so much like wolves they were cast as Direwolves on the set of the HBO series Game of Thrones. The original dogs used to create this breed were wolf-dog hybrids that were bred by Inuit people. These original dogs were then mixed with German Shepherds, Malamutes and Siberian Huskies.
Technically, there was some wolf in these dogs back in the early 1980’s but no wolf blood has been added since. They are considered domestic dogs and bred like any other purebred dogs, although they are not a registered breed yet. These are medium-sized wolf lookalikes that grow to a height of 23 to 30 inches.
Alaskan Malamutes are wolf-like in appearance primarily because the breed originated with Arctic wolves, 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. It is safe to say these dogs are no longer wolf-like in behavior. They are registered, purebred, domestic dogs.
These are friendly, affectionate, intelligent, loyal dogs that do best in cooler climates due to their thick coats. They are medium-large dogs that grow to between 22 and 26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 70 and 95 pounds.
Huskies are domestic dogs with a decidedly wolf-like appearance. There are two different types of huskies, a registered breed and an unregistered breed. Siberian Huskies are a registered breed recognized by the AKC and CKC. They are shown in conformation show rings and used as sled or working dogs.
Alaskan Huskies are not a recognized purebred dog. They are used primarily as working or sled dogs. They look very similar to each other except Siberian Huskies commonly have blue eyes and Alaskan Huskies have a slightly more lean look. Huskies, in general, weigh somewhere between 35 and 60 pounds.
Alaskan Amerindian Huskies are a cross between Alaskans and Siberians.
All of these wolf-like breeds have pros and cons. Some are dogs for families with children while others are not. They generally need regular exercise with a brisk daily walk and off-leash play in the yard.
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Some of the smaller types can live in an apartment, as long as you take the dog out for a brisk walk every day and have a dog park nearby so he can have some off-leash play time every few days. While these dogs do not require a fastidious grooming regime, they do shed and must be brushed weekly.
Some breeds shed profusely during the spring and again in the fall and will require daily brushing during that time. These are not easy dogs to keep, but keeping them can be very rewarding. Make sure you do your researching before bringing wolf-like dog breeds into your home.