Dogs come in a variety of breeds and hues. Furthermore, it might be simple to overlook the fact that all living things, regardless of size and shape, are descended from wolves.
Did you know that there are still current dog breeds that are genetically closest to wolves, even though dogs have been domesticated since more than 15,000 years ago?
We’ll mention a few of the dog breeds in this article that are most genetically related to their predecessors. Some may surprise you, yet some you may already know.
THE DOMESTICATION OF WOLVES
All dogs are descended from an ancient and prehistoric wolf species, even though some dog breeds, like the Pug or Shih Tzu, don’t look the part.
Research contends that modern dogs were domesticated wolves from two populations, one in Asia and one in Europe, more than 15,000 years ago, however, the exact date and location of their domestication remain unknown.
And whereas dogs have evolved and have become man’s closest friend, wolves have remained wild and have avoided mankind.
In addition to this, dogs are smaller, stockier, have shorter muzzles and have fewer teeth than wolves. Wolves also differ from dogs in form and structure.
Nevertheless, research by Robert K. Wayne suggests that the two species have 99.8% of the same DNA, regardless of how different they are in terms of look and behavior.
8 DOG BREEDS CLOSEST TO WOLVES GENETICALLY
Though certain breeds no longer possess any physical traits associated with wolves, their genetic makeup is nonetheless wolf-like. Without further ado, here are the eight canine breeds that are genetically closest to wolves.
1. SHIH TZU
The Shih Tzu is one of the dog breeds with the closest genetic resemblance to wolves, despite its diminutive size and lack of wolflike appearance. In actuality, aside from Huskies and Malamutes, Shih Tzus are the breed most closely related to wolves in terms of DNA.
The name of the breed, which translates to “Little Lion” in Chinese, is recognized for its charming looks, big, wide eyes, and floppy ears. Shih Tzus were also raised to spend their days in palaces since they were beloved and revered by the Chinese aristocracy.
2. ALASKAN MALAMUTE
The Alaskan Malamute is one of the canine breeds that are genetically and physically closest to wolves, and all it takes is one glance to realize this.
It is hardly surprising that the Alaskan malamute and wolves have such a striking resemblance due to widespread genetic cross-pollination.
Fortunately, unlike its forebears, the breed is amiable. In actuality, Malamutes are sociable and amiable, which makes them well-liked family pets.
In addition, Siberia is where the Alaskan Malamute originates. They are extraordinarily powerful canines that were created to hunt Arctic wildlife and pull hefty sleds.
3. SIBERIAN HUSKY
The Siberian Husky is another sled dog from Siberia that is related to wolves. This breed is the one that is most frequently mistaken with Siberian wolves among all the canine species that are most similar to wolves.
And the reason for the apparent similarity to wolves is that they share some genetic heritage with the Taimyr wolves, which were also native to Siberia.
The Siberian Husky was developed to pull sleds, despite not being as large as the Malamute.
They are a remarkable breed of dog because, in addition to having a similar physical look to their predecessors, they also howl and work in groups. They are excellent with humans, unlike wolves, yet because of this, they make poor security dogs.
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4. SHIBA INU
One of the dog breeds that is closely connected to its wolf forebears is the Japanese breed known as the Shiba Inu.
Shiba Inus may have up to 5.5% of their DNA in common with Japanese wolves, according to experts at Japan’s Graduate University for Advanced Studies.
And even though they resemble foxes more than their forebears, they are one of the canine breeds that are genetically closest to wolves.
The most popular family pet in Japan today is this friendly and loving breed, which was previously employed as a hunting dog.
Like the Shih Tzu, the Pekingese is another lap dog that doesn’t resemble a wolf yet is genetically the closest canine breed to wolves. Although their outward characteristics may suggest otherwise, their genetic makeup hasn’t much changed from that of their forebears.
Furthermore, the breed was cherished and adored as a companion dog by the ancient Chinese governing elite. In addition, “Pekingese” is the variant Romanization of “Beijing” and relates to the city of Peking.
The Saluki is a huge dog breed that does not resemble a wolf despite being slender and less lean. In terms of genetic makeup, they are among the canine breeds that are most similar to wolves.
The Middle East is where the breed first appeared. They also make excellent hunting dogs since they are quick and nimble.
They are also one of the oldest dog breeds still in existence and are frequently seen in medieval and prehistoric art. And it is known that their DNA still has a striking resemblance to that of their ancestors.
7. AFGHAN HOUND
Another hound with close genetic ties to wolves is the striking and royal Afghan Hound, a cousin of the Saluki.
So, although Afghan Hounds do not look like wolves and do not act like them, they share a close genetic relationship with them, much like Pekingese, with the wolf. And as a result, the Afghan hound is one of the canine breeds that are genetically most similar to wolves.
8. CHOW CHOW
Ancient Chinese dog breeds include the Chow Chow. They are said to be a “basal breed,” which refers to dog breeds that significantly influenced the evolution and creation of contemporary canines.
And as a result, the breed is among those Asian dog breeds that are genetically closest to wolves.
The temperament of Chow Chows is likewise quite similar to that of wolves. They are aloof, forceful, and may be very protective of their family.
In conclusion, you now have a wide range of possibilities to pick from if you’re attracted by beautiful wolves and want a dog breed that genetically closely resembles them. The Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Saarloos Wolfdog, Tamaskan, Shikoku, Utonagan, and American Alsatian are just a few of the eight breeds that have a strong resemblance to their wild forebears.
Though some breeds share genetic traits with wolves, keep in mind that they have been tamed for generations and become devoted, loving friends. For them to thrive, it is crucial to give them the right instruction, socialization, and environment. These breeds may make loving, knowledgeable, and well-mannered pets if given the proper care and attention.
Q: Are these wolf-like dog breeds suitable for families with children?
A lot of these breeds are noted for being kind and sociable, so they are appropriate for households with young children. To maintain both the safety and well-being of dogs and small children, it is essential to closely monitor interactions between the two.
Q: Do these breeds require special care or a specific type of training?
A: These breeds do not need any additional care beyond what is typically required of dogs, although they do benefit from early socialization, persistent training, and frequent exercise. To avoid boredom and potential behavioral problems, it’s crucial to give children mental and physical stimulation.
Q: Can these wolf-like dog breeds adapt to apartment living?
A: Due to their high levels of activity and demand for lots of exercises, some of these breeds, including the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky, might not be the ideal choice for apartment life. However, with the right exercise and mental stimulation, breeds like the Shikoku and Tamaskan may adapt to apartment living successfully.
Q: Are these breeds prone to specific health issues?
These wolf-like dog breeds could be predisposed to specific health issues, just like all other dog breeds. It is recommended to speak with a trustworthy breeder or veterinarian to learn about potential health issues and to implement preventive measures like routine checkups at the vet and a healthy diet.
Q: Can these wolf-like breeds be trained off-leash?
A: Consistent training, rewarding behavior, and forging close relationships are necessary when training these breeds to be dependable off-leash. When thinking about off-leash activities, it’s crucial to maintain a secure and supervised setting owing to their innate independence and high prey drive.