12 wolf dog breed lookalikes that will make you do a double take

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Stop monkeying around! As kids, we heard that screaming in the hallway as we tried — and failed — to hide our childish antics while doing homework or dragging our feet through an awkward chore. If only we knew then that we cringed for attention, we actually have our ancestors to blame. Humans are distantly related to monkeys, lemurs and great apes, but wait: there are even more bananas. According to the American Museum of Natural History, almost 99% of our DNA is identical to that of a chimpanzee, but you would probably never guess just by looking.

The same cannot be said for our canine companions who bear a striking resemblance to wolves in the wild. Some wolf-like dogs may even warrant a double take when you pass them on the street, but rest assured these jaw-dropping dog breeds are more closely related to the cute little Chihuahua than to their carnivorous cousins ​​who claim the woods.

Are dogs descended from wolves?

Although it’s commonly believed that all dogs are directly descended from the gray wolf we recognize today, genetic testing has revealed that domestic dogs are actually derived from a now-extinct relative of the gray wolf, says Jerry Klein, DVM, American Kennel Chief Veterinarian. Club (AKC). Still, dogs share 98.8% of their DNA with wolves, and that applies to all breeds of dogs, not just wolfdog lookalikes.

“While some dog breeds may look more wolf-like, they’re actually not ‘more related’ to wolves than other dog breeds,” Klein explains. “Domestic dogs are genetically more similar to each other than they are to wolves.”

Of course, one notable difference between dogs and wolves is adaptability to humans. Today’s dogs have evolved to read and respond to human body language and facial expressions. Like wolves, dogs thrive in packs, but not the fluffy, furry kind.

“Dogs lend themselves to human companionship as a pack,” Klein says. “Wolves are inherently fearful and shy around humans. Their pack is with other wolves.”

If you’re looking to expand your pack and are drawn to the athletic prowess and powerful grace of the wolf, these wolf-like dog breeds can offer the best of both worlds.

siberian husky

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Ranked as the AKC’s 16th most popular breed in 2020, the Siberian Husky’s athletic aesthetic and sharp eyes are well recognized as the quintessential wolfdog breed. In fact, the Siberian husky can be traced back to a wolf parent over 35,000 years ago. . Bred as working dogs and successful as sled dogs, Siberian huskies notably saved the day during an epidemic in the early 20th century, taking the reins as sled dogs who delivered the miraculous drug to more of 600 miles of land in Alaska. This breed is not one to stand still!

“This athletic breed requires a lot of exercise, so running with their owners or participating in certain dog sports will benefit them,” says Klein.

RELATED: 15 Energetic Dog Breeds For People With Active Lifestyles

irish greyhound

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Standing up to 3 feet tall and weighing up to 180 pounds, Irish wolfhounds are gentle giants who make excellent pets despite their dominant stature, although they do best with older children. Funny enough, Irish wolfhounds were originally bred to hunt wolves and were so successful in their endeavors that they were nearly extinct by the 1700s once the threat from predators subsided. Thankfully, they have been revitalized into the hearty dogs we welcome into our homes today.


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The dog breed’s equivalent of a marshmallow, these fluffy white wolf-like dogs are well adapted to winter conditions.

“Thanks to their double layers, the Sammies can withstand the coldest and harshest weather conditions,” says Klein. “The Samoyed is also known to have a characteristic ‘smile’ due to the upward curvature of its black lips.”

The best way to keep him smiling? Lots of outdoor activities! Don’t be surprised if you see a flash of white trail – these fast furry balls love to play chase and burn off energy.

Caucasian Shepherd (Caucasian Ovcharka)

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Don’t let their teddy bear appearance and hanging tongue fool you. Although great tender towards its people, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has protective tendencies for its home and its residents. The Caucasian Shepherd Club of America only recommends experienced dog owners with plenty of time to devote to socializing and training their pup. According to the club, crate training is a must, and positive reinforcement is effective in teaching desired behaviors.

Alaskan Malamute

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Another successful sled dog, the Alaskan Malamute, or “mals” as they are affectionately known, loves to be put to work. Adventurous and strong, muscular mals enjoy treks through various terrains and can be very useful companions if you allow them to carry your supplies. They don’t have to sit for long, but make sure they can sit long enough for daily grooming. Klein recommends using both a pin brush and a metal comb on their thick coats.

RELATED: Here’s What It’s Like To Have 15 Sled Dogs In The Sierra Nevada Mountains

Scottish hunting dog


Although they look a lot like the Irish Greyhound, the Scottish Greyhound is a different breed, historically known for hunting deer in the Scottish Highlands (as the name suggests). Large and responsible, the Scottish Greyhound has an imposing presence but a relatively calm demeanor. Although well-suited to families, Scottish Greyhounds with the best of intentions can knock small children over, so homes with older children are recommended. Their large size isn’t meant to be confined in a small apartment, so homes with fenced yards to roam freely are best.

RELATED: 11 big dog breeds that deserve a lot of love

belgian malinois

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“The Belgian Malinois has an intensity that requires constant activity and must be actively engaged with its owner, both mentally and physically,” Klein explains. “Daily walks are not enough for this breed, so it is important to introduce them to more energetic activities such as running, biking, hiking and even participating in canine sports such as agility, herding and tracking.”

Commonly mistaken for a German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is its own distinct breed, but both breeds are popular choices in the police and military.


American Eskimo

The American Eskimo is similar to its cloud-like counterpart in the Samoyed, but is much smaller, available in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard, weighing as little as six pounds. Tiny but full of energy, these puppies are perfect with children and can form a dynamic duo while being entertained.

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Formerly known as the Russian Greyhound, Borzoi dogs are named for their fast status – “borzoi” is a play on a Russian word meaning “fast”. Members of the Russian aristocracy bred the borzoi to hunt wolves and other game, and today’s borzoi do best in homes with large, fenced yards to roam free, though they do well in an apartment as long as there are sufficient opportunities for exercise. . In fact, the calm nature of this bounding breed may appeal to apartment dwellers.

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Swedish Vallhund

A relatively rare breed in America – although similar in appearance to the AKC’s 11th most popular breed in America, the Pembroke Welsh corgi – the Swedish Vallhund shares history with the Vikings for over 1,000 years and has been originally bred as a sheepdog for Swedish farmers. , according to the Swedish Vallhund Club of America. The versatile Vallhund is well suited to a variety of families and lifestyles, conducive to activity and training, and friendly with children and other animals.

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German shepherd

“German Shepherd dogs have always been one of the most popular breeds in the United States,” says Klein. “Currently, the German Shepherd is the third most popular dog breed in the United States”

Adored by many families, these pleasant people protect and often serve, a popular breed to work among the police or in the army. However, the average household will find these puppies to be playful pets who rarely leave their beloved’s side. German Shepherds are happiest with their people and should not be left alone for long periods of time.



The Tamaskan’s early ancestors were simply known as “wolf look-alikes” as breeders strove for what is now called the Tamaskan breed, although the breed is not currently recognized by the AKC. According to the Tamaskan Dog Register, “His proportions, shape and body movements resemble those of a wolf: balance between power, agility and endurance.” In fact, the name of the breed comes from “Tamascanmeaning “mighty wolf”.