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You’re probably already well aware that all dogs are descendants of wolves or other canids, but you might be surprised when you find out just how many still maintain their primitive appearance and temperament.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and have been our pets for over 15,000 years. There was however a time before dogs were domesticated that they looked and acted more like the typical wolves we see today.
Recent studies and DNA evidence shows that our dogs today descended from the Gray Wolf which was actually domesticated 130,000 years ago. This might not come as a shock when you consider how much some dogs still look like wolves, but you may be surprised when you find out your fluffy, unassuming Pekingese is actually closely related to the large, blood-thirsty Gray Wolf.
It is interesting findings like this that make this topic so wonderful and fun to explore. Just because a dog no longer looks like a wolf doesn’t mean it isn’t still very closely related.
In this article today we want to take you on a journey looking at all of the dogs we know and love today that are actually still unbelievably closely related to wolves. You might be in for a few surprises so be sure to keep reading.
What Makes Dog Breeds Closely Related To Wolves
Dog breeds have a close relation to wolves as a result of their genetics. Studies have revealed how a modern dog’s DNA when compared to the Gray Wolf only differs by 0.2%. This insanely small difference makes dogs one of the wolves’ closest relatives. This figure is even more impressive when compared to the coyote’s DNA.
A coyote is considered the wolf’s closest relative but there is actually a 4% difference between their DNA. This shows that some dogs are surprisingly 20 times closer to wolves than any coyote ever has been regarding their genetic makeup. Cross-breeding has affected how close some dogs are in relation to wolves but there are still many that share this relationship.
Dog Breeds Closely Related To Wolves
The Pekingese seems like a great place to start. This small lapdog originating in China was once much loved by royalty. Its name is actually linked to the city of Peking, where you’ll find the Forbidden City. Despite its soft, loveable appearance and charming demeanor, it is actually one of the breeds of dog to have least deviated from its ancestors.
The Saluki looks a little more wolf-like with its tall body and pointed snout. Originally from the Middle East, the Saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds around today, dating back to 10,000 BC. This is the main reason this breed of dog is still closely related to the wolf. Once being used as an effective hunter by tribesmen its relation to wolves isn’t hard to see.
The Siberian Husky originated from Siberia. This northern breed of dog is commonly used for pulling sleds. The Siberian Husky is one of the most closely related dogs on this list. It’s not hard to see why. With both its looks and genetics this husky resembles the wolf.
These similarities often lead to many people struggling to spot the difference between the Siberian Husky and the Siberian Wolf.
This playful, yet stubborn breed of dog also resembles the wolf. This much smaller breed has short pointed ears and a long snout that you would expect to see in any wolf.
Used in Russia to pull sleds, the Samoyed still shares very similar genetics to the Gray Wolf.
The Shiba Inu is a breed of Japanese dog that shows a slight resemblance to wolves. They also share a similar personality with wolves. This can be seen through the way they hunt small birds and rabbits.
Though it may be a lot smaller, the Shiba Inu has close DNA to wolves and shares a number of interesting traits.
Despite its size and cuddly appearance, the Lhasa Apso has a long history of being used as a watchdog within Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Studies suggest this breed of dog originated just 4,000 years ago.
Despite its appearance, it is still regarded as one of the most closely related breeds to wolves.
Originating in Africa, the Basenji is a small to medium-sized hunting dog. Like other wild wolves and dogs, the Basenji is recognized by its loud bark.
In terms of genetics, this breed of dog is considered ancient, making it closely related to its wild and wonderful ancestors.
The Akita is a world-famous dog, used as a guard dog in Japan. Most consider it to be a larger version of the friendlier-looking Shiba Inu.
Like the Shiba Inu, the Akita has genetic DNA that is ancient, linking it heavily to the Gray Wolf. The American and Japanese Akita are also still closely related despite being considered as two different types of dog by many.
In terms of appearance, the Alaskan Malamute is perhaps the closest we can find to wolves. This is largely a result of their genetic makeup that is astonishingly similar to their ancestors. With a wolf-like appearance, the Alaskan Malamute is typically used as a sled dog in its native Alaska.
The Chow Chow is one of the most closely related dogs on this list and one that may surprise you. It may be a larger dog but it looks so fluffy and adorable that many find it hard to believe just how much it is related to the wolf.
Though the two are very different breeds, genetically the Chow Chow is considered to be one of the oldest living breeds of wolves in existence. They show behaviors and temperaments that have made them excellent guard dogs since 150 BC.
Dogs Closest To Wolves In Relation To DNA
From research and studies carried out, scientists have been able to conclude that four dogs share the closest DNA to their wolf ancestors. Those breeds are Shiba Inu, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, and the Chow Chow.
It may come as a surprise to you that Huskies aren’t included in this. This just goes to show that a dog doesn’t have to look like a wolf to be a close relative. Huskies look a lot more like wolves than the Chow Chow but don’t share DNA that relates as closely.
Dogs Closest To Wolves In Terms Of Appearance
You can probably already guess what breeds of dog will be on this list. When people think of the relationship between dogs and wolves their minds tend to automatically turn to the Husky. The Husky has similar features to the wolf including a long snout, pointed ears, similar eyes, and of course their muscular bodies.
Another dog that is also similar to the wolf in looks is the Alaskan Malamute. Like the Husky, the Alaskan Malamute is also commonly mistaken for a wolf. Despite their looks, the Husky and Alaskan Malamute have very different personalities from wolves.
There is a wide range of dog breeds that share similar looks and genetics to their ancient wolf ancestors. They might share similar aesthetic characteristics or close DNA. With most breeds on this list looking like wolves in one way or another, it isn’t hard to see the relationship between the two.
However, with much smaller, fluffier dogs like the Lhasa Apso or the Pekingese, it is hard to see how on Earth they can be related. On top of that, these small, furry friends are more closely related to wolves than the coyote.