Everyone knows the saying “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and its negative connotation. Well, in this edition of Animal Facts, we’re focusing on the positive and counting down seven of our favorite dogs in wolves’ clothing—or, our favorite dogs that look like wolves.
7. Kugsha – Dogs That Look Like Wolves
The Kugsha, also known as the Amerindian Malamute or American Husky, is a Spitz-type working dog that was developed to haul cargo, gear, and people from place to place.
This rare canine was created at Wolfen Kennels in Pennsylvania and is believed to be a mashup of wolves and Malamute breeds. Weighing between 70 and 100 pounds or more, Kugshas stand a whopping 20 to 27 inches at the withers. They have dense, double-layered coats that come in pairings of white, brown, black, gray, and fawn with wolf-like markings. They also have athletic, muscular builds, triangular ears, large heads, and long, pointed muzzles which lend to their strong presence. These characteristics, along with the intense stare of oblique, almond-shaped eyes are enough to put any lupine lover under the spell of this pup.
Fun Fact: The Kugsha’s name is an anacronym made up of the names of the three breeders who played a part in the dog’s development: Kulwind (Ku), Gordon Smith (GS), and Habben (Ha).
The Shikoku—or Japanese Wolfdog—is another Spitz type and one of six primitive dog breeds native to Japan. Bred to hunt deer and boar in mountainous areas, Shikokus are strong, agile dogs that learn quickly, but can be a challenge to train.
They are considered medium-sized, weighing anywhere from 30 to 35 pounds and are typically 17 to 21 inches tall with a facial structure, ears, eyes and body type similar to a wolf’s. Shikokus have coats that come in combinations of black and tan, red and black (sesame), and cream. Usually, there is a generous amount of white hair on their snouts, legs, chests, underbellies and around their eyes called “urajiro” (underside). This color placement gives them a masked appearance, much like that of wolves.
5. German Shepherd – Dogs That Look Like Wolves
Although it is common knowledge that all dogs originate from a species of grey wolf, the German Shepherd’s lineage can be directly traced to the wolf as they are descended from the wolfdog, which explains a lot. Shepherds have a similar bone structure and are very close in size and body type. Their intimidating appearance has been a key factor in their success in a wide variety of jobs, including (but not limited to) herding, police work, military duty, drug detection, and search and rescue.
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In general, all Shepherds are similar in appearance to wolves, but there are some Shepherds that tip the scales when it comes to looking like their lupine cousins.
Shepherds that have rarer coat colors like black, white, or blue, have a closer resemblance to wolves than those with the standard black and tan coloring. And regardless of their color, long-haired Shepherds tend to look wilder and more like wolves than those with short hair.
Fun Fact: The German Shepherd was once known as the Alsatian Wolfdog.
4. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog
Speaking of German Shepherds, in 1955 they were bred with Carpathian grey wolves in a military experiment to create a breed that was compliant and trainable (like the Shepherd), with the strength, resiliency, and build of the wolf. This undertaking eventually produced the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
Czechs are so much like wolves that there is no standard range for their height. The lowest measurement for males is 26 inches at the shoulder and 24 inches for females. They have the trademark wolf head shape, eyes, ears and a full, high-set tail. Unlike other wolf-types whose coats come in a variety of colors, the Czech’s coat color only ranges from yellow-grey to silver-grey, with masking.
Czechs have grown in popularity in recent years as they are playful, and devoted to their families. If socialized early, they’ll have no problem getting along with other pets, but particular attention must be given to getting them acclimated to smaller animals.
3. Alaskan Malamute – Dogs That Look Like Wolves
Although today they enjoy lives of leisure, Alaskan Malamutes are basal dogs originally bred by an Inuit tribe called the Mahlemut to pull large loads over great distances in subzero temperatures.
It’s no wonder that Malamutes are often mistaken for wolves. Courtesy of a genotype similar to that of Spitz breeds, they have almond-shaped eyes, wedge-shaped ears, coloring, and markings that would make any wolf envious.
Male Mals usually weigh in at close to 85 pounds and stand between 23 and 25 inches tall at the shoulder. Females typically weigh about 75 pounds and stand 21 to 23 inches at the shoulder.
Their thick, waterproof, double-coats offer protection from the elements and are usually bi-colored and come in various hues of grey and white, black and white, red and white, sable and white, and sometimes, solid white.
They also have a “secret” protective feature common to arctic breeds —to protect their faces from brutal winds, they wrap their fluffy, corkscrew tails around their noses as they sleep.
In the ‘80s, breeders set out to perfect a recipe that included dogs with Siberian Husky lineage, Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, and pure breed Siberian Husky with the goal of creating a canine that looked like a wolf but behaved like a domesticated dog. It’s believed that they added a dash of Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, and voila—the Tamaskan dog was born.
Tamaskans are one of a handful of breeds that look so much like wolves that they’re regularly called on to play them in movies, on TV, and in stage productions. Slightly smaller than an adult Gray wolf, male Tamaskans weigh anywhere from 66 to 99 pounds with an average height of 25 to 33 inches at the withers, while females tip the scales at 50 to 84 pounds, and stand 24 to 28 inches.
Like the other breeds on our list, Tams check off all the physical characteristics that wolves are known for, including a long, narrow muzzle, large head, oblique eyes, and triangular ears. They also have a muscular physique and long, thick coats with bushy tails. Coats come in three standard colors—black grey, red-grey, and wolf grey with facial masking.
1. Siberian Husky – Dogs That Look Like Wolves
With the lush, double-coat, buffed frame, and piercing eyes common to all the breeds on our list, the Siberian Husky’s regal, wolf-like appearance is the perfect balance of strength and beauty.
Their physical characteristics are a direct product of the area in which they originated—Siberia. Huskies have a thick, fluffy coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer topcoat made up of short guard hairs that protects them against frigid, Arctic temps, and releases heat in warmer weather.
Common coat color combinations include black and white, red and white, and grey and white, but some are solid white. Facial markings run the gamut and include spectacles, masks, and other patterns. Some Huskies have a gene that causes hypopigmentation of the snout called “snow nose” or “winter nose.”
Like wolves, they have an intense gaze that is further enhanced by their almond-shaped eyes. Eye colors include brown, black, or blue, but some have a condition not seen in wolves called heterochromia that causes their eyes to be “particolored”—which means that each eye is a different color..
You may be wondering how the Husky snagged the top spot on our list. Well, they’re one of the oldest dog breeds, and while their resemblance to wolves is astonishing, they are virtually as domesticated as any dog. With a Husky you get the best of both worlds.
Fun Fact: A Husky’s howl can be heard from 10 miles away.
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