Looking for a wolf-like dog breed but aren’t sure which one is perfect for your family? For thousands of years us humans have been fascinated with wolves. From the way they look to the way they hunt and care for their pack. We have long been in awe of their majestic nature, which is why plenty of folklore centers around them.
But unfortunately, they are wild creatures who are not suited to life as a domesticated pet. While you might not be able to get the real thing, there are many wolf-like breeds out there that can satisfy your wolfy interests. There are also a few wolf hybrids, but these breeds are tricky and ownership is typically regulated.
Here in this guide, we will talk you through everything you need to know about the wolf-dog connection. We also look at why it’s not a great idea to have one as a pet. We will then run you through 18 wolf doppelgangers, complete with pictures. This will help you see just how wolf-like these dog breeds are. So, let’s get close and personal with these beautiful wolf-like dogs.
- 1 Wolf-Dog History
- 2 18 Wolf-Like Dog Breeds
- 2.1 Siberian Husky
- 2.2 Alaskan Malamute
- 2.3 Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
- 2.4 Saarloos Wolfdog
- 2.5 Northern Inuit Dog / Utonagan
- 2.6 Tamaskan
- 2.7 Kugsha
- 2.8 German Shepherd
- 2.9 Swedish Vallhund
- 2.10 Samoyed
- 2.11 Canadian Eskimo Dog
- 2.12 Shikoku
- 2.13 Finnish Lapphund
- 2.14 Seppala Siberian Sleddog
- 2.15 Caucasian Shepherd
- 2.16 King Shepherd
- 2.17 Shiloh Shepherd
- 2.18 American Alsatian
- 3 A Wolfy Word of Warning
- 4 Wolf Hybrid Laws
- 5 Final Thoughts
It’s thought by many that domesticated dogs (canis lupus familiaris) are descendants of the gray wolf (canis lupus). And, over time, the gray wolf was simply domesticated by us humans. This was the general belief for a long time, but just like most things in life, it’s not as simple as that.
Recent research shows that rather than domesticated dogs being the great-great-great-great grandpups of wolves, they are more like long-lost cousins. So lost that they descend from an ancestor of the wolf (not the wolf himself) which were domesticated between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago. And a lot has changed since then.
It’s all a bit muddy, but what we do know is that domesticated dogs still share much of the same DNA as wolves. So much so, that we can pinpoint rough times and regions in their history, telling us their link to wolves.
We also know that their DNA is similar because they can mate and produce fertile wolf hybrids. And by breeding certain domesticated dog breeds together, you can re-activate specific genes to make them appear more wolf-like. You’ll see in the below list of wolf-like dogs which breeds are commonly mated to create the wolf-like appearance.
This is excellent news for those that are craving to be the owner of a domesticated dog inside a wolf body. So, just for you, we have found 18 of the very best wolf-like breeds for you to choose from.
18 Wolf-Like Dog Breeds
Let’s get to the bit that you’re here for, the wolf-like dogs! Here is our top list of dog breeds that look most like wolves. Some you would double-take in the forest, and some look like cute wolf dogs that are dainty enough to fit in your purse (maybe a big one though!)
A few of these guys are wolf hybrids, which is as a direct result of scientific experiments. But some rely on the re-activated wolfy lookalike gene that we mentioned above. Everything you need to know about them is explained in their section, including whether they are just wolf-like, or a wolf hybrid.
When thinking about wolf-like dogs, the Siberian Husky is the first wolf-like dog that everyone thinks of. The Siberian Husky is also the most popular dog breed on this list and one of the most common family dogs too. He is a vocal and funny canine who loves to be the center of attention. Huskies also love to be cuddled by his humans.
He originates from the cold lands of Siberia, where his purpose was to pull heavy sleds across vast icy expanses. Carrying both people and goods, this guy has stamina and strength. He has lots of energy, and if you welcome one of these guys into your life, you need to be an active family who can keep up with him.
Recently, breeders have mixed the Siberian Husky with a wolf to create what is known as the real Wolf Hybrid. Although this sounds intriguing, he is more like a wild animal than a domesticated dog. Because he has a high wolf content he is not suited to the majority of families. But still check him out because he is a beautiful creature!
The Alaskan Malamute is the Husky’s BIG brother, so big that he can be twice as heavy as the Husky. His larger body is covered in extra fluffy fur, so if you aren’t a fan of lots of dog hair, you might not want to invite this gorgeous boy into your home.
He is super cuddly and affectionate, so if you’ve ever fancied cuddling a wolf, this is probably your closest (and safest!) chance. He is like the Husky, but much calmer in the home, and much more like a gentle giant.
The Malamute originates from Alaska, and he was used by the Alaskan tribes to pull heavy carts between tribes. This freight boy has a lot of power and energy too, and he needs a strong leader. You need to teach him how to walk nicely on the leash if you are thinking about getting him.
The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog looks a lot like a wolf. Also known as the Czechoslovakian Vlack, he is a relatively new breed created in the 1950s by the Czech military. He was designed to be a blood-thirsty and vicious patrol dog in the Cold War. The result was much different, and although he is vigilant and suspicious of strangers, he is more cuddly and loving, similar to his domesticated parent.
He is a German Shepherd that’s mixed with a Carpathian wolf, and to be precise, he is around 6% wolf and 94% German Shepherd. This breed is not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club just yet, but he is proving to be a popular companion for very active families.
He is also used in search and rescue, herding, agility, tracking, drafting, and working dog sports too. This pooch is not for a first-time dog owner, and he needs 2 to 3 hours of exercise a day to be happy and healthy. But as long as you put in the hard work, this wolf hybrid is one of the closest creatures you can get to a pet wolf.
The Saarloos Wolfdog is another wolf doppelganger, and breeders and wolf experts think that the facial expressions of the Saarloos Wolfdog are almost identical to that of a wild wolf. A Dutch breeder created him in the 1930s, and he is also a mix of wild European wolves and German Shepherds.
The Saarloos is a kind pooch, but he is not overly cuddly with his humans. He retains his wild instincts and prefers the company of his four-legged pack. He is also similar to wolves in that he will avoid uncertain situations and avoid contact with unknown strangers.
The Saarloos Wolfdog is friendly with his humans and likes to sit at your feet in the evening – making him perfect for those who do not like lap dogs. Again, he is not for the first time owner, and he requires several hours of intense exercise to keep his body and mind happy.
Northern Inuit Dog / Utonagan
Many believe that these two dogs are different breeds, but there are the same; their names simply represent different places. You might recognize these dogs if you are a fan of the hit series, The Game of Thrones. Northern Inuits were used because they are the closest looking wolf-like dogs that were friendly enough to work on set safely with children around.
They are another new breed created in the 1980s, and it is thought that they are a mix of the Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and the German Shepherd. Owners compare their personality to that of the Husky, being energetic, friendly, and funny. If you are lucky enough to have one of these guys, they are a great companion for kids.
The Tamaskan is another easily mistaken wolf-dog, but there are no records of wolf blood in his line, unlike the Czech Vlak or the Saarloos. Instead, he is a Husky and Malamute cross with some other unknown sled dogs thrown into the mix. Tamaska means ‘Mighty wolf’ in many Northern American Indian languages.
Just like the Northern Inuit, he is very similar in his personality to the Husky. So, as long as you can handle his high energy, he would make an excellent fit for your family. He is more laidback, devoted, and trainable than the Husky, so much so that he is used as a working gun dog and therapy dog.
The Kugsha’s history is undocumented and surrounded by confusion. What we can ascertain is that he is an Alaskan Malamute mix, possibly with wolves, but it all depends on who you’re asking. If he is mixed with wolves, it was so long ago that he doesn’t count as a wolf hybrid.
He was initially called the American Husky, but this didn’t go down well with Husky lovers. So he is now called the Kugsha or the Amerindian Malamute.
In terms of weight and size, he finds himself in between the Husky and the Malamute. Although they are independent dogs who are not easily trainable (first-time dog owners be wary), he hates to be left alone. So, if you are thinking about welcoming this boy into the family fold, someone needs to be home for most of the day.
The German Shepherd is a well-known doggy in the canine world, and he is the 3rd most popular dog breed in America. His standard coat and colors aren’t similar to the wolf, but he has rarer colors such as pure white, pure black, and less commonly blue.
German Shepherds have the same wild looking face and frame, and he is used in many wolf crosses because of his trainability, human loyalty and re-activating wolf genes. Some people say that the longer-haired German Shepherds look quite a bit like a wolf you’d find in the wild.
He is an intensely energetic and intelligent dog who needs to be placed with a family that can spend a lot of time with him. It’s also essential to invest in plenty of toys and brain games to keep this boy’s smart brain stimulated. If you are looking for a wolf-like guard dog, this is the breed for you.
Have you ever wondered what a Corgi and a wolf mix would look like? Wonder no more, reader, because the Swedish Vallhund is precisely what their puppy would look like. This cute little wolf-like pooch stands up to 14 inches tall, and he is the shortest on this list. If you are after a mini wolf, look no further than this guy.
This Viking dog of ancient legend dates back some 1,200 years ago. He is a herding dog, just like the Corgi, and uses the same ankle-nipping technique. When he is not bossing bovine, he loves to play with his family. He loves every minute of life, and he always has a smile on his face. This cute and cuddly pooch makes a great addition to active families and those with children.
The Samoyed is a heavenly canine cloud that loves to cuddle. He is another ancient sled dog who can pull one and a half times his weight, as well as an extra special purpose. Which was to cuddle his human pack during the freezing nights to keep them warm, which is why their love of humans is so strong. This is also why he makes a great family companion today.
The Samoyed is very similar looking to the wolf, but his coat is much fluffier. If you aren’t a fan of the remnants of a white coat on your outfit or furniture, this boy is not for you because he is a heavy shedder. Thankfully, the sides of his mouth turn upwards to prevent drooling, so except for his hair, he is a clean pup.
Canadian Eskimo Dog
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world. It’s thought that there are less than 300 left in the world today. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on this wolf-like boy, know that you are in for a lot of love and cuddles. He is a sled dog by day, and a family hot water bottle by night.
He can weigh up to 105 pounds if not used as a working dog. This breed can be bigger than the giant Alaskan Malamute. You can often tell him apart from a Malamute simply by the color of his eyes because they are any color apart from blue. With his yellow eyes, he looks very wolf-like.
The Shikoku is a Japanese dog breed, who is also known as the Kochi Ken or the Japanese Wolfdog. This is because his head looks similar to a wolf’s head, and he used to live in the mountains of Japan hunting wild boar and other game.
He has similar face mask patterns to the Arctic sled dogs, and his coat is similar too. The main differences are his curly Akita-like tail and smaller pointy ears. He is now commonly found in family homes, completing his rounds as the family guard dog. He is alert and enthusiastic and happy to snuggle in the evening after a hard day’s work protecting his family.
The Finnish Lapphund is an obvious Nordic breed with his fluffy exterior and Spitz-like face. He is also wolf-like in his appearance, and his head and coat are very similar, albeit in a smaller stature. His breed has a strong startle reflex, which remains from his wild days. So be careful when you wake him, because he might jump and snap.
He is swift and agile, making him a fantastic agility course participant. This is great if you plan to show off how smart and obedient your pooch is. Finnish Lapphunds are very loving with their family, but wary of strangers. He prefers the quiet, cuddly life with his family, and doesn’t like to be the center of attention.
Seppala Siberian Sleddog
The Seppala Siberian Sleddog was once labeled the Siberian Husky. But after several decades of further breeding, he is now a separate breed altogether. Seppalas have longer legs and a leaner body, and his ears are taller and set closer together, giving him a wilder wolfy look. Many people refer to these guys as the working Huskies, and the Siberian Huskies are sometimes referred to as the show dogs.
Seppalas are very similar in personality to the Husky, but have a hard-working ethic. He is just as energetic and has the same exercise needs, but he is much calmer in the home. This is a big appeal of his, and many families find him more relaxing to be around.
The Caucasian Shepherd originates from Russia and is often referred to as the Russian Bear Dog. These furry beasts are a very furry wolf-like dog breed, and a large part of that is due to their long fluffy coat. They are hardy dogs, bred to stand up so some of the most punishing cold mountain weather conditions.
These dogs are largely used as guardian dogs and are protectors of their flock. They are used on farms and thrive best in cooler climates. Caucasian Shepherds need plenty of room to roam, and males can be both stubborn and protective. These pups are not recommended for first-time dog owners and will require firm leadership during puppyhood.
King Shepherds are a rarer breed, and they have similar genetic lines to the German Shepherd. Their parents are the German Shepherd and the Shiloh Shepherd. The King Shepherd was created to make a much larger version of the German Shepherd, and has proven to be popular.
Breed health was also a factor, as backyard breeding has become popular, producing genetic defects in purebred German Shepherds. Introducing the Shiloh Shepherd to create the King Shepherd was aimed at not only a larger, stronger breed, but a healthier one too with less genetic defects. The King Shepherd will almost always have long hair. This is a headstrong breed, that may even look more like a wolf than their German Shepherd parent.
Similar to the King Shepherd, the Shiloh Shepherd was originally bred to create a larger line of the German Shepherd. They accomplished this by mixing in the lines of an Alaskan Malamute. Later on, they actually introduced the Canadian White Shepherd and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (another dog on this list) to breed additional genetic diversity for health reasons.
The Shiloh Shepherd looks in many ways like a regular German Shepherd, just bigger. They can have longer or shorter coats, and are not officially recognized by the AKC. It’s worth noting that longer and fluffier coats are typically the norm. They should have plenty of room to roam, if you plan to bring one home. They are more docile and have lower energy levels than standard German Shepherds, making them a good fit for families.
The American Alsatian is also a derived dog breed from the German Shepherd. This is what many would consider the “American version” of the German Shepherd dog. These dogs are typically leaner and taller than normal German Shepherds. These pups can weigh upwards of 90-100 pounds when fully grown.
The American Alsatian breed was achieved by initially crossing the German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute. From there other breeds were introduced, including the Great Pyrenees, and the Anatolian Shepherd to name a few. This gave the Alsatian some added size. Alsatians can have shorter coats, but can also have longer coats as well, depending on their genetics. Their eyes tend to be amber in color, adding to their wolf-like appearance.
A Wolfy Word of Warning
Firstly, with the increasingly popular desire of welcoming a wolf-like dog into our homes, brings the rise of dodgy breeders. Dodgy breeders will claim to have domesticated wolves, rare wolf hybrids, or high content wolf dogs for sale. When in reality, they are probably just one of the wolf-like dogs listed above. So, don’t fall for their lies and pay above what you should.
Secondly, the famous Game of Thrones series has been blamed for popularizing the idea of a pet dire wolf, and people rushed out to get their hands on a wolf hybrid. The puppy stages seem ok, and then when they hit their adolescent stage, things changed. Families quickly realized they were nothing like domesticated dogs. Most families cannot cope with a wild animal, and they then surrender them to wolf hybrid sanctuaries.
If you are still convinced that you want a wolf hybrid rather than a wolf-like dog, please do some more research before you get one and add to the wolf hybrid sanctuary problem. They are not like domesticated dogs at all, and they are not suited to the vast majority of families. Don’t expect fluffy cuddles, walkies, or anyone to look after them while you go on vacation.
Wolf Hybrid Laws
Wolf hybrid laws vary from state to state and different countries around the world. Most of the dog breeds above are wolf-like dogs, not wolf hybrids. The only 2 breeds on this list that may count as hybrids are the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and the Saarloos Wolfdog.
You will need to discuss with your breeder whether your dog is an official wolf hybrid. They will advise you accordingly. Also, be sure to research your local hybrid laws yourself as to whether the selling, importation, or ownership of wolf hybrids is allowed in your place of residence.
So there you have it, the top 18 wolf-like dog breeds that look seriously similar to wolves. Remember, if you are thinking about welcoming one of these guys into your home, be sure to warn your neighbors that you have a new pet pooch. And reassure them that he is nothing to worry about.
Other than the two listed wolf hybrids in this list, who, after decades of breeding are now not so many hybrids, we do not advise getting a wolf hybrid as a pet. Instead, respect and be in awe of them in their natural environment. And admire your wolf-like domesticated doggo as he sleeps and drools on your lap.