There’s nothing more wildly striking than wolf-like dogs with grizzled thick coats and piercing eyes. While wolves and wolf hybrids can come with behavior problems and legal issues, wolfdogs and dogs that look like wolves have become increasingly popular.
Some of these are easily recognizable as our most popular breeds, such as the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, and Samoyed. Others are rare, like the Greenland Dog, or surprisingly small, like the Klee Kai. Others are actual wolfdogs like the Saarloos Wolfdog or Shikoku.
Regardless of heritage, we’ve rounded up 31 of the most wolf-like breeds in the world. But first, where do they come from?
The first official case of a wolf being crossed with a dog happened in 18th Century England. But it only started to become common to breed dogs to wolves around the 1960s.
In most cases, Gray, Timber, or Red Wolves are crossed with German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, or Siberian Huskies to get the desired “look.”
First-generation, or F1, wolf dogs have one wolf parent and one dog parent. F2 generations are bred from two F1 generation dogs, and F3 are produced from F2 generation wolfdogs, and so on.
The trouble with wolfdogs is that they tend to have serious behavioral problems. They are more independent than dogs and seek less help from humans. They are also sensitive, shy, and more prone to aggression. Often wolf dogs are illegal and need special fencing to be kept in a yard.
Thus, it is better to get a wolfdog with a low content of wolf blood, or even better, a dog who has a wolfish look but is really a dog.
What is the Difference Between a Wolfdog and a Wolf-Like Dog?
Wolfdogs are essentially hybrids who have some actual wolf DNA in their bloodline. Those who have been bred to be good pets have been bred away from their wolf genetics to behave more like dogs.
For instance, the Czechoslovakian Wolf Dog only has 6.25 % actual wolf DNA still left but still has a very wolfish appearance. Similarly, the Tamaskan originally had some wolf in its bloodline but is increasingly being bred away from that heritage to make a better companion.
On the other hand, plenty of dogs have no wolf in them but still have a robust wolfish appearance. This includes basal breeds like the Alaskan Malamute or other breeds like the German Shepherd or Siberian Husky. These are simply wolf-like dogs or dogs who look like wolves.
While wolfdogs have wolves bred into their foundational stock, most of them have very little wolf left in their heritage. This is to avoid some of the legal and behavioral problems of a high wolf content dog.
When wolves are first bred to dogs, they create wolf hybrids. These are often produced just to be sold as exotic pets. Sadly, real wolf hybrids frequently need to be rehomed or end up in sanctuaries or euthanized.
They often have a wild nature with destructive tendencies that are too much for the average owner or even an experienced dog trainer to handle.
For this reason, if you want a pet with the magnificent looks of a wolf, it’s better to get a dog or wolfdog that has been bred away from its wild nature.
So what dogs look like wolves but are safe and behave like dogs? Here’s the list.