From the earliest moments of human history, wolves have captured our fascination. Most researchers say wolves don’t bond with people like most domesticated breeds do. Plus, studies show they don’t follow human social cues in the same way and behave differently than what we expect from our canine pets. But if you’re a fan of these majestic, powerful animals, there are several breeds to choose from that not only look similar to wolves but are also excellent companions.
Heavy-boned and super-strong, the Alaskan malamute is a large, athletic pack dog with vast endurance. They love the snow and colder weather. Mals need lots of physical activity to stay healthy and happy. They tend to be independent, yet they’re always up for playtime or a cuddle with their favorite humans. Malamutes are also protective of their home and their family and can be strong-willed, so training is essential. Their luxurious double coat needs frequent brushing, and like most wolf-like breeds, they shed twice a year — heavily.
Smaller than the malamute but similar in appearance, the Siberian husky is a high-energy canine that was bred to perform in a pack. They’re a gentle, sociable breed that may welcome strangers into their home rather than run them off. This breed has an intense work ethic and does best when they have a purpose in their household. Siberian huskies love to run, and they’re fast, reaching speeds of up to 28 mph. Like other snow breeds, they prefer cold weather over high temperatures. Expect heavy shedding twice each year.
These playful dogs have a muscular, compact body covered with a beautiful white or cream-colored double coat. Picture a smaller version of Jon Snow’s dire wolf, “Ghost,” in Game of Thrones. Fans say the Samoyed’s most endearing feature is its expressive face and famous “smile.” They require a lot of physical activity and attention. A bored Samoyed will eventually lean toward troublesome behavior like digging, chewing, or running off. Overall, these dogs are energetic, playful companions and love human attention.
If you’re fond of the wolf-like breeds but need a smaller dog to fit your lifestyle, consider the Swedish Vallhund, or as some people call them, Viking dogs. Physically, they look like a cross between a wolf and a corgi. Their powerful, short legs and robust body makes them ideal companions for long walks, obedience or agility training, and high-energy games of fetch. Vallhunds are smart, have a sense of humor, and they’re talkers. They produce a unique vocalization — a combination of barks, howls, and yips that fans have dubbed the “argle bargle.”
When it comes to loyalty, the Alaskan Klee Kai may be small in stature, but they look very similar to their wolf kin in the wild. These small-sized, playful companions tend to be standoffish with strangers but adore their human families. They have an intense curiosity for everything around them, but unfortunately, they also have a high prey drive. The Klee Kai will chase after any small animal that crosses its path. Although they need daily physical activity, at the end of the day, they’re content to lay on your lap and enjoy a quiet evening.
Some breeds came about through attempts to produce the perfect wolf-like dog. The Utonagan, a medium to large-size canine, was created by English breeders who mixed Siberian huskies, malamutes, and German shepherds. This led to the breed’s wide variety of coat variations, similar to wolves in the wild. Easily trainable and affectionate, these dogs are a great choice for inexperienced, first-time dog owners. They’re average shedders but require frequent brushings to cut back on the amount of fur that ends up on your sofa and floors.
The German shepherd is a great choice for those seeking a loyal, protective, intelligent dog that resembles a wolf. It’s no surprise that this breed is one of the top picks for pets, as well as professional hero work. With proper socialization and training, the German shepherd is a superior companion and protector, as well as a great family dog. They require a moderate level of physical activity to keep their minds and bodies healthy.
One of the newer breeds, the Saarloos wolfdog, has Dutch origins that began in the 1930s. A breeder cross-bred a male German shepherd with a female European wolf to create a higher-level working dog. The result was a large, strong-willed, powerful worker and companion dog that closely resembles a wolf. This wolfdog may seem reserved at times, but they’re highly intelligent and aren’t aggressive. Still, they need lots of mental and physical stimulation and a firm hand and may not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner.
While their face and coat may resemble a wolf’s, the Norwegian elkhound has a unique tail that curls tightly over their backs. This ancient breed has been around for six millennia, sailing across the seas with Vikings, herding flocks, tracking the scent of giant elk and moose, and even fighting off wolves and bears. These are hardy, muscular dogs while also being quick and agile. Don’t expect them to be outwardly friendly or sociable. They’re sensitive dogs that save their love and affection for their human family bonds.
While wolf lovers may want a dog that looks like a wolf, most would prefer to have a pet that exhibits all those doggo behaviors we love so much. The medium to large-sized Tamaskan breed provides both. Developed in the 1980s, the Tamaskan is believed to have originated through the breeding of Siberian huskies, malamutes, and German shepherds, though the documentation is a bit sparse. If you’re into training dogs, this intelligent canine is all that you’ve dreamed of. Though their appearance exudes powerful confidence, they’re quite loving and gentle.
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