No one can contest the natural beauty of a wolf in the wild. Spanning the ages, wolves have been an important part of many inspired tales. And, they are the ancestors of the beloved dog you have now.
The ancestor of every existing dog breed, it’s important to note that actual wolves are wild animals and should not be a pet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that same wolf-like beauty in a domesticated dog breed. Resembling their ancestors, there are many wolf-like dog breeds that you will also fall in love with and enjoy as a pet.
The Evolution of Wolves and Dogs
Every modern dog is a direct descendant of a wolf. Domestication may have actually happened twice and produced groups of dogs that are descended from two common but unique ancestors. Wolves began their adaptation to humans well before humans began to settle down and practice agriculture. The relationship between humans and dogs has been evolving for years resulting in new behaviors and breeds. Since dogs are a part of everyday life for many people, so it’s important to know where they have evolved from.
So, What Exactly Did Modern Dog Breeds Evolve From?
The genetic connection can be traced back 35,000 years ago to the wild wolf that roamed the woods. It’s hard to imagine that the wolf from long ago has a connection to our beloved, modern-day dogs. Scientists at one time believed that modern dogs were descendants of gray wolves, but genetic studies have revealed that wolves and dogs actually share an ancestor in common instead of having a direct lineage.
That common ancestor that connects wolves and dogs is a prehistoric wolf that once lived in Asia or Europe between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, several subsets of prehistoric wolves became extinct. This occurred at the same period of time as the saber-toothed tigers, mammoths, and giant sloths also became extinct.
Have Wolves Changed Through the Years?
All over the world, numerous species have evolved from wolves. You will find some species are larger than others while some are faster. Some of the species are more powerful and clever while others a more likely to travel in packs. Wolf DNA has been tweaked through natural selection over the last 30,000 years and can be found in almost every environment.
Types of Wolf Dogs
First known for their work in sheep pastures, German shepherds are working dogs that are also called Alsatians in Great Britain. The German shepherd is a herding breed that is also well-known as military and police dogs.
The most second popular breed in the United States, the German shepherd is a loyal, confident, and intelligent breed, plus they make great companions. Standing at up to 26 inches high, a German shepherd can weigh up to 90 pounds. These hardworking dogs are gentle pets and great with kids while retaining all the poise and grace of their wolf ancestors.
The Samoyed may be small in size, but they bear a strong resemblance to an Arctic wolf with their upright, rounded ears and white, thick coats. Unbothered by extreme cold, this breed has its start in Siberia where they herded reindeer and pulled sleds. This enthusiastic breed gained the adoration of Queen Alexandra and become popular around the world, and they now reign supreme as today’s most expensive dog breed.
Super intelligent and highly social, Samoyeds love a little mischief. While challenging to train, these dogs are cheerful, affectionate, and friendly making them great companions. Standing 23 inches high, Samoyeds can weigh 65 pounds, but they are tireless workers once they are trained.
It’s no coincidence that the Czechoslovakian Vlcak has a wolf-like appearance. The Czechoslovakian Vlcaks started as an experiment by crossing a Carpathian wolf and a German shepherd in the 1950s. it was intended to mix the best quality of a domesticated dog with the best characteristics of a wolf, which eventually resulted in the Czechoslovakian vlcak or Czechoslovakian wolfdog.
In the beginning, the Czechoslovakian vlcak were used as border patrol dogs, but they were soon found to be useful for other types of work, thanks to their independent nature and intelligence. These dogs happily do everything from search and rescue to herding.
Weighing up to 50 pounds, this dog’s energy can make him challenging to train. But the Czechoslovakian Vlcak do best with tons of stimulation and experienced owners.
The Alaskan Malamute is a heavier breed than the Siberian Husky, but they share the same kind of work. While huskies are known as racees, the Alaskan Malamute is known as freighters meaning that they can haul a heavy load for a long distance. Plus, they are formidable enough to even distract a moose.
The Alaskan Malamutes is a very loyal, affectionate, and dignified breed that stands 25 inches high and weighs up to 85 pounds. With their strong shoulder and broad chest, this breed also has a dense coat that that may cause them to shed. Even though they have an impressive size, a well-trained Alaskan malamute is very gentle with children.
Known as small Viking dogs, the Swedish Vallhund started their careers herding livestock or riding on the prows of a longship many years ago. Today’s Swedish Vallhund is more comfortable on a couch or in the backyard, but their low build, face, and coat remind everyone of the breed’s wolf ancestors.
These petite dogs are also called Swedish cattle dogs and vastgotaspets. Standing 12 inches high and weighs up to 35 pounds, this breed is very energetic, happy, and enthusiastic as well as easy to train.
When you think of a dog that looks like a wolf, the Siberian Husky quickly comes to mind. This high-energy, hard-working breed is well-known for pulling dog sleds for incredible distances and at high speeds. This breed is known for carrying lifesaving supplies across the dead of winter in Alaska.
Today, Siberian Huskies are known as clever and mischievous companions that shed and bark a lot. These are medium-sized dogs that weigh up to 60 pounds and stand up to 23 inches high. These loyal and dramatic dogs are known for their popularity making them the 14th most popular dog breed in the United States.
Known as one of the older breeds in existence, Swedish Lapphunds are hunting dogs that stood by their people in what is now known as Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. This breed is a beloved companion and herding dog that almost faced extinction around the mid-1900s. Now known as the national breed of Sweden, this beautiful breed is still very rare to find.
Thought to be a descendant from Arctic wolves, the Swedish Lapphund has a petit stature and thick coat and stands at 20 inches high while weight up to 45 pounds. This breed of medium-sized dogs is playful, clever, and energetic. Plus, they are naturally hard-working and eager to please as well as stubborn and independent at times as well.
Northern Inuit Dog
The Northern Inuit dog is the only wolf-like dog on our list that is not yet recognized by the AKC. That could be due to its relatively new entrance to the wolf-dog’s family tree. The history of the breed only goes back to the ’80s but it features a real wolf lookalike appearance that is the result of a cross between breeds like Siberian Huskies, German Shepherd, and Malamute with a North American wolf-dog hybrid.
Featuring an outgoing and friendly demeanor, this medium-sized dog resembles a Malamute or Husky with its fluffy tail and thick coat. Described as a good family pet, the Northern Inuit has a great willingness to please and to work.
A Japanese breed that has a wolf-like appearance, the Shikoku is a little smaller than other dogs on this list. This medium-sized dog is very energetic and weighs up to 55 pounds.
While the Shikoku has a petite size, the Shikoku was bred to hunt wild boar in the mountainous area of Japan. They are very persistent and enthusiastic, plus their endurance makes them ideal for tracking in harsh environments.
Featuring ancient origins, the Yakutian Laika wasn’t recognized as a breed by the Russian Cynological Federation until 2004. This regal breed has been known as a sled dog, reindeer herder, hunter, and family pet over the years as well as used for mail delivery in the 1800s.
Originating in the Siberian Yakutia region, the Yakutian Laika has striking eyes and thick coats that are reminiscent of wolf ancestry. These are working dogs that stand 22 inches high and can weigh 55 pounds. Friendly and gentle, this breed makes for an energetic family pet that requires a lot of stimulation, so make sure he has plenty of toys.
Today, the Belgian Tervuren is known as a hard-working dog that once began as a herding dog. This breed is now used as service dogs, search and rescue dogs, and police and military dogs as well as even actors. With their striking appearance, they have earned many spots playing a wolf in movies.
This elegant medium-sized breed stands 26 inches high and weighs 75 pounds. With a hard-working nature, this intelligent and confident dog can be a bit of a challenge during training and also requires a lot of activity. The Belgian Teruven enjoys working, and their affection and humor make them an ideal company.
What Does a Wolf-Like Dog Eat?
Dogs that look like wolves and captive wolves prefer eating similarly to wolves that live in the wild. A wild wolf is able to survive on meals of bison, elk, and moose as well as other natural prey. As a matter of fact, wolf-like dogs and captive wolves can benefit from and are capable of eating several pounds of raw meat.
Typically, the higher degree of a wolf in a wolf-like dog, the more feral a wolf-like dog will act. Aggressive behavior will depend on how many generations your wolf-like dog is from the first breeding.
Usually, typical dog food isn’t something a wolf-like dog will thrive on. Instead, they need should eat several pounds of raw meat each day, although it is safe to give them turkey and chicken. Also, you don’t have to worry about whole bones. These breeds also love fruit and other vegetation in their diet as well.
Does the Typical Wolf-Like Dog Have Health Problems?
Requiring a lot of exercises, wolf-dogs may become depressed and destructive without it. These dogs can also have some issues with joint pain when they grow older, particularly if they have had an unhealthy diet all their lives.
Does the Wolf have a Spiritual Meaning?
Besides being a popular spirit animal, the wolf also features a significant symbolic meaning. Symbolizing a strong connection between your intuition and instincts, the wolf totem also represents loyalty, communication, and high intelligence.
What Does the Symbol of a Wolf Represent?
Symbols of loyalty and guardianship, wolves made firm and quick emotional attachments. Because of their lives in the wild, the wolf needs to be able to trust their own instincts, which helps to teach humans to trust their minds and hearts as well as having control over their lives.
How Are Wolves Viewed by Different Cultures?
All over the world, different cultures view the wolf differently. In the Native American cultures, you will see the wolf representing inspiration and power. Specifically, the Ojibwe believe that the spirit of a wolfman created the Great Plains for both animals and humans. In comparison, the Hopi honors the wolf katsina, which is a spiritual being that serves as the guardian of the sacred dancers.