The Seven Best Dogs That Look Like Wolves

Updated on January 1, 2020
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

An Alaskan Malamute Siberian Husky cross: like a wolf
An Alaskan Malamute Siberian Husky cross: like a wolf | Source

These seven dog breeds have wolf-like markings, but they still have predictable temperaments like most dogs. While it is possible to go out and buy a wolf or wolf hybrid (some hybrid breeds, such as the Lupo Italiano, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, and Kunming Wolf Dog, have actually been crossed with wolves for generations), doing so is not recommended.

There are a lot of problems with keeping wolves and wolf hybrids in a household. Some become difficult to deal with as they become older, some cannot be trusted with kids and small animals, and some are even illegal to own in certain cities and other areas.

In my opinion, if you desire a wolflike dog, the best choice is to own a breed that looks like a wolf, but is actually a dog. Take a look at these seven great choices before you make your decision.

The Seven Best Dogs That Look Like Wolves

  1. Tamaskan
  2. Northern Inuit
  3. Alaskan Malamute
  4. Siberian Husky
  5. Canadian Eskimo Dog
  6. Utonagan
  7. Finnish Lapphund

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Tamaskan dog.The Tamaskan, a dog breed developed to look like a wolf.
The Tamaskan dog.
The Tamaskan dog. | Source
The Tamaskan, a dog breed developed to look like a wolf.
The Tamaskan, a dog breed developed to look like a wolf. | Source

1. Tamaskan

This rare dog breed from Finland has actually been bred to look like a wolf. The Tamaskan is smaller than a timber wolf, usually weighing about 30 to 40 kilograms (around 65 to 90 pounds). However, their grey coats, non-blue eyes, and straight tails together create a strong wolflike appearance.

As is the case with many rare breeds, there is still not much information on common Tamaskan health problems. One in 10 males of this breed is likely to be a cryptorchid (have an undescended testicle, which means the dog should be neutered). Additionally, as is the case with all large breeds, Tamaskans might be prone to hip dysplasia.

These dogs have only been around since about 2006, so their life expectancy is still not known. They may be shy, but many of them are intelligent, obedient, and agile. Tamaskans are known for their search-and-rescue abilities and are also good sled dogs.

Although some fanciers claim Tamaskans are good with small animals, these dogs sometimes have a strong prey drive and should not be left alone with other small pets. They are also known to be diggers and are likely to have behavioral problems if not given something to do.

There are still only about 400 Tamaskan dogs around the world, but they are gaining in popularity and may very well be available in your area.

The Northern Inuit, a breed of dog but meant to look like a wolf.
The Northern Inuit, a breed of dog but meant to look like a wolf.

2. Northern Inuit

Like the Tamaskan, the northern Inuit dog is a relatively new breed designed to look like a wolf. It looks so wolflike that the North Carolina State wolfpack uses one as its official live mascot. The breed was developed in the UK from Siberian huskies, German shepherds, Alaskan malamutes and some of the Inuit breeds.

Northern Inuits are medium sized, weighing around 25 to 40 kilos (about 55 to 85 pounds) with a double coat and a straight tail.

Since the breed is relatively new, no reliable data about its life expectancy is available. They are probably prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and epilepsy, like many of the northern breeds, but there is still not enough information to be sure.

Northern Inuits, like Siberian huskies, were bred to be friendly but are sometimes stubborn.

They are good with kids but do not like to be left alone. If they are not given sufficient stimulation (a play companion will often help), they will probably dig holes in the yard and maybe even escape.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A full-grown Alaskan malamute.Some Alaskan malamutes have markings and colors similar to those of a wolf.An adult Alaskan malamute, one of the dog breeds that looks like a wolf.
A full-grown Alaskan malamute.
A full-grown Alaskan malamute.
Some Alaskan malamutes have markings and colors similar to those of a wolf.
Some Alaskan malamutes have markings and colors similar to those of a wolf. | Source
An adult Alaskan malamute, one of the dog breeds that looks like a wolf.
An adult Alaskan malamute, one of the dog breeds that looks like a wolf. | Source

3. Alaskan Malamute

This great dog is similar to a timber wolf in both size and coloring. Most Alaskan malamutes weigh about 35 to 40 kilos (around 75 to 85 pounds), but some can get as large as 45 kilos (around 100 pounds).

Alaskan malamutes have a double coat, often part white and part sable or gray. Their eyes are brown and their tails are fluffy and usually carried up.

Like the other sled dogs, these dogs have some eye problems like retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts. Like a lot of other big dogs, they are prone to hip dysplasia.

Alaskan malamutes usually live about 11 years. They are well known for their ability to resist training, so make sure to take him to obedience classes and socialize him from a young age. Like Siberians, Alaskan malamutes have a lot of energy—too much for most people. While most people cannot run them on a sled, there are several alternative exercises available for them. They are strong, so they do well in bikejoring, skijoring, and weight-pulling.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Siberian husky is a popular dog breed with well-known markings.Some Siberian huskies look more like wolves than others.
The Siberian husky is a popular dog breed with well-known markings.
The Siberian husky is a popular dog breed with well-known markings. | Source
Some Siberian huskies look more like wolves than others.
Some Siberian huskies look more like wolves than others. | Source

4. Siberian Husky

This breed of dog is now so popular that many people will recognize a Siberian husky when they see one on the street. Some Siberian huskies look more wolflike than others.

Huskies were bred by the Chukchi tribes in Siberia to pull their sleds over long distances. They have been a domesticated breed for thousands of years but have not changed much from their wolf ancestors and still have a thick double coat, a heavily furred tail, and erect ears. Siberian Huskies are smaller than most wolves, usually only about 25 kilos (55 pounds) and sometimes even a lot less.

This breed does not typically have too many health problems, though some huskies have sled-dog problems like retinal atrophy (PRA) and epilepsy. Hip dysplasia is almost never found in Siberians, and the normal life expectancy is usually 12 years or more.

If a Siberian Husky is the wolflike dog you want, be careful to avoid some of the common behavioral problems. They are not big dogs, but they require a lot of exercise, and families that do not provide it end up with a dog that digs holes, tears up fences, and runs off when given the chance.

They look like wolves, and sometimes they act like it!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Canadian Eskimo dog.The Canadian Eskimo dog, another sled dog that looks like a wolf.
The Canadian Eskimo dog.
The Canadian Eskimo dog. | Source
The Canadian Eskimo dog, another sled dog that looks like a wolf.
The Canadian Eskimo dog, another sled dog that looks like a wolf. | Source

5. Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is another tribal sled dog that has probably been bred with wolves. The dogs weigh between 30 and 40 kilos (roughly between 65 and 90 pounds) and have a thick coat like that of the Siberian Husky. They have the powerful, athletic build of the Alaskan Malamute and are very similar to wolves.

Like a Siberian, they can be pets, but they need a lot of exercise. Walking just won´t do it—they are used to pulling sleds, pulling carts, and skijoring. In Canada, they were originally used as sled dogs and for hunting polar bears.

With their thick coats, Canadian Eskimo dogs are prone to heatstroke. They usually live for about 12 years.

Like many sled dogs, they have a strong prey drive and are not a suitable dog to get if you have small animals.

The breed is very rare, even in Canada, and if not for a breeding program that has been in place since 1972, the dogs would probably be extinct. Part of the reason for the breed’s decline is the fact that snowmobiles replaced the need for sled dogs. Over the years, they have been crossed with Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, and maybe other breeds. Some of these dogs were used in the development of the Northern Inuit Dog.

A Utonagan dog looks similar to a wolf.
A Utonagan dog looks similar to a wolf.

6. Utonagan

This is another dog breed that was developed in Great Britain just to look like a wolf. Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, and German shepherds were used to develop the Utonagan.

The name is Native American, a Chinook phrase that means “Spirit of the Wolf.”

These dogs are said to live for up to 15 years and have few health problems.

Fanciers claim that the dogs are good tempered even with cats, but there are still so few of them around that most of these claims cannot be verified statistically.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Finnish lapphund is one of the dog breeds that looks similar to a wolf.Some Finnish lapphunds have markings similar to those of a wolf.
The Finnish lapphund is one of the dog breeds that looks similar to a wolf.
The Finnish lapphund is one of the dog breeds that looks similar to a wolf. | Source
Some Finnish lapphunds have markings similar to those of a wolf.
Some Finnish lapphunds have markings similar to those of a wolf. | Source

7. Finnish Lapphund

This wolflike dog is actually a shepherd used for herding reindeer by the Sami, a people of Finland.

They are a spitz, popular in Finland but not seen in many other countries outside of Scandinavia. A Finnish lapphund only weighs about 17 to 18 kilograms (about 35 to 40 pounds) and has a long thick coat and a wolflike face.

Some of them are black or brown, but some others have a sable coat. The tail is often carried over the back but may hang down when the dog is standing.

Finnish lapphunds are not associated with too many health problems, but some are prone to retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts. Very few have hip dysplasia.

An average lifespan is about 13 years. If you are looking for an active dog that never minds the cold, this is a great choice. Finnish lapphunds are one of the few breeds of dog allowed to legally live outside in Finland.

They are now registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the US.

Honorable Mention

  • Some solid-black German Shepherd dogs are also wolflike in appearance.
  • American Alsatians also look like wolves, but they have been bred to look like the Dire Wolf, an extinct species.

Where to Look If You're Interested in a Particular Breed of Dog

If you are looking for some breeds listed in this article (like the Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute) you might be able to find a dog at your local animal shelter. If you are in a tropical area, your chances are slim, since most of the wolflike breeds are from the Arctic. You can also try Petfinder.com to see if any of these dogs are available in nearby cities.

If you want to look for a breeder, try visiting a dog show and looking at some of the dogs you are interested in. Whatever you do, do not buy your dog from a pet shop or an Internet puppy wholesaler, since you will be supporting a puppy milland will end up with a dog difficult to house train.

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Dr Mark

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      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        2 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Wardog 175, look at my article on American Alsatians, a breed that looks similar to the dire wolf.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        4 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Yes Zain that is correct, it is a wolf mixed with a dog, not a breed of dog.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Hi Jean thanks for those great comments about the Sibe.

        I think that running system that you had set up for your Husky is one of the best around. Unfortunately, people in the US really are "down" on tying dogs up, by whatever means, even though if they saw a dog on one of those runs they would see that they get more exercise than a dog just stuck in a pen or back yard. Like you point out, though, Sibes will eventually get away no matter what!

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Have you seen the Alaskan Klee-kai? They are tiny, like the Pomsky. An apartment sized wolf!

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Thanks for reading and following me, KnowWhatImean. I hope you do really well here!

        If you want to see one of the other new breeds that I think is really interesting, check out the American Alsatian. I have a few articles about the breed but the pictures over at flickr are a lot better than I have in my hubs.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Animals that have been crossed with wolves are wolf hybrids, not dog breeds. This article is about dogs that look like wolves.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Hey Brooke, there is actually a hub by habee called "Lazy Dog Breeds"! Not everyone wants to spend all their time walking a Husky. I had them when I was younger, but my lifestyle is a bit more sedate now and I am a lot happier with a mellow old Pitbull. I am sure the Huskies out there are happy about that.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Not that I know of, Jayden. I am attaching the link to Lois Schwarz´s facebook account and you can leave her a message there and ask about the closest puppies available. She is the founder/creator of the American Alsatian and keeps track of the breed, of course.

        https://www.facebook.com/schwarzkennels

        Good luck finding one of those amazing dogs!

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Ari, when I was a teenager I lived in the upper midwest (US) and my Siberians did fine in the summer--all they did was lie around a lot, of course. I am not sure if the Canadian Eskimo Dogs are more heat sensitive or not, since they are still rare even up in Canada.

        Thanks for leaving a comment.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Thanks, Madison. If you decided to get a Siberian Husky make sure you do plenty of reading about them first, especially about how much exercise they need! Good luck.

      • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

        Dr Mark 

        6 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        I am not sure, but I do not think I would want to try. There are a lot of dog breeds that do not do well in the tropical area I live. (One of my neighbors bought a Siberian Husky and she spends all day in the air conditioning!)

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