Wolflike Dog Breeds

In 2004, an issue of Science Magazine reported on research conducted by Dr. Elaine Ostrander and Dr. Leonid Kruglyak
about the origins of today’s dog breeds. Their research was based on DNA evidence, and what it showed was that most
dog breeds in existence today are relatively recent, being only a few hundred years old.

wolf heritage in dogs

Many of these dogs
share DNA history, which means they also share physical traits that show evidence of that common ancestry.
These relative newcomers in the dog world fall into three main categories: herding, hunting, or guarding dogs, and they’ve managed to endure themselves to
millions of owners all around the world.

In some ways however, the most interesting of all dog groups is an unrelated fourth group, and these
are the dogs most closely related to wolves, having split away from true wolves as long ago as 30,000 years ago.
Even though some of these cousins to the wolf do not bear the same physical characteristics today as their ancient
wolf relatives, the DNA evidence tells us they are closely related.

Differences between wolf-like dog breeds and others

From the standpoint of ancestry alone, it’s easy to see why there would be differences between the wolf-like breeds,
with their thousands of years of history, and all the other groups of dogs, whose history spans mere centuries. The
wolf-like breeds of today may not be the perfect choice for a pet owner who seeks a cuddly, submissive pet to share
affection with – even though wolf-breed dogs can be very affectionate and loyal, they often retain many of those
characteristics which their ancient ancestors developed in the wild.

You can expect these dogs to have extremely sharp senses, to be more aggressive than other dog types, and to require
a great deal of exercise, just like their ancestors. However, with just a little bit of training and patience, you
can have a thoroughly devoted and loving pet from one of these dog breeds.

chart of dog breeds that have wolves ancestry in their dna

The modern wolf-like dog breeds

Here are some of the dogs whose physical appearance and DNA ancestry includes ties to the wolf :

  • Shiba Inu – this
    is a breed native to Japan that was originally developed for hunting, and still has the instincts and
    characteristics of a skilled hunting dog.
  • Akita – a large, powerful Japanese dog
    breed which is known for its loyalty to household members.
  • Alaskan Malamute – in its
    early history, this dog breed was used for hauling heavy loads because of its great strength and stamina. Those same
    characteristics make it ideal as a sled dog today.
  • Basenji – the Basenji
    is often used as a hunting dog today because of its highly developed senses and athleticism.
  • Chinese Shar
    Pei
    – its name actually translates to ‘sand skin’, a reference to its short-haired coat, but
    this breed is known for its deep wrinkles and of course, its Chinese ancestry.
  • Siberian
    Husky
    – a working dog breed that still looks very wolf-like, it originated in northern Siberia
    and belongs to the Spitz genetic family.
  • Afghan Hound
    – developed in the mountains of Afghanistan, this breed is distinguishable for its long, silky hair.
  • Saluki – an elegant,
    deep-chested, long-legged breed originating in Persia, this ancient dog breed has blazing speed.
  • Tibetan Terrier
    – a medium-sized dog with a shaggy coat, originating from Tibet, but not a true Terrier.
  • Lhasa Apso
    bred by Tibetan monks, this is a non-sporting dog which is often used as a watchdog today
  • Samoyed – a fluffy
    white breed originally used by nomads in Siberia to help with herding.
  • Pekingese
    originating in China, this is an ancient breed of Toy Dog.
  • Shi tzu – most
    well-known as a great companion, this affectionate little dog belies its translated name of ‘little lion’.
  • Tips for owners of wolf-like dog breeds

    First of all, it’s best to acquire your wolf-like dog at a young age, so it can properly bond with
    you and any other pets in the household. It’s also a good idea to do a little bit of research about the particular
    type of dog breed that you want, so that you are aware of best practices, and you can fulfill the needs of that
    particular breed of dog.

    Make sure that your dog gets lots of exercise, because this will reduce its tendency toward aggressiveness, and will
    help keep it healthy and physically fit. Most of these breeds do not do well with packaged dog food on the market,
    and will prefer meals that you can inexpensively and quickly prepare for them. If you’re sensitive to what your pet
    really needs to stay happy and healthy, you can have a wonderful household companion for many years.

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