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10 Dog Breeds Closest To Wolves Genetically

27 Dec, 2023

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Dogs and wolves are similar in many different ways. From physical attributes to behavior, and even share 98.8% of the same DNA. Dogs and wolves are so closely related that they can reproduce together - however their offspring will not be fertile. For many of us with dogs at home, we will often notice wolf-like characteristics in our pup that seemingly come out of nowhere, given that our dogs are fully domesticated. Our dogs may suddenly start howling, digging, running off on their own, and getting aggressive with dogs that are not a part of their household, and these are all traits that descend from their wolf ancestors. While all dogs are closely related to wolves, some are a cut above the rest and resemble them extremely closely genetically. In this article, we will look at the 10 dog breeds that most closely resemble wolves genetically.


How Did Dogs Become Domesticated?

Understanding how dogs initially became domesticated is an interesting and important topic when learning about different breeds. Based on Archaeological evidence, it is believed that dogs were the first animals domesticated by humans more than 30,000 years ago! The connection between wolves and people began when wolves would scavenge food that humans left behind. Over time, humans slowly made connections with wolves as there were benefits in the relationship for both parties. Humans would have a partner that would assist them in hunting, while humans would help wolves with shelter and access to food and water. This is the old tale of how dogs became man's best friend. Over time, humans bred their domesticated animal friends for specific purposes, and that is how we eventually arrived at the 4-pound purse dogs that are the ideal choice for some dog owners.


10 Dog Breeds Closest To Wolves Genetically


1. Basenji

Basenji Dog Breed

Many researchers believe that the Basenji is only partially domesticated, as their metabolism and behavior closely resemble a wolf. 

The Basenji is one of the oldest breeds and originated in Congo. They were primarily used to flush small game into the hunter's nets as well as control the rodent population in the village. They are sighthounds, so perceiving movement is their specialty.

These pups have an extremely high prey drive and will chase after anything that moves. They have also been known to escape easily from enclosures, so make sure to keep a close eye on your pup!


2. Shiba Inu

 Shiba Inu Dog Breed

The Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese breed originating over 2000 years ago. They are one of six dog breeds that originated in Japan, and closely resemble wolves. 

The Shiba was originally used for hunting small animals in mountainous regions, which made them extremely nimble, agile, and alert dogs. The high prey drive can certainly still be seen in these pups today.


3. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound Dog Breed

The Afghan Hound is quite a remarkable breed. DNA Researchers have discovered that they are one of the oldest breeds and closely resemble wolves, dating back thousands of years. 

This dog originated in Afghanistan, where they were used to hunt large prey and defend their humans from ferocious animals. Their long coats were used to keep them warm in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, where temperatures would be well below 0 degrees Celsius.


4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Dog Breed

They may not look it, however The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed whose name directly translates to "little lion". Despite their friendly appearance, the Shih Tzu is genetically one of the closest relatives to wolves. 

Their origin is not 100% clear, but the legend goes that they were created by Tibetan monks and given to Chinese royalty as gifts. Some also believe that they originated in China, as dog bones were present there as early as 8,000 BC. Similar-looking dogs to the Shih Tzu are portrayed in art and writings dating back to the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907 AD).


5. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed

One of the oldest purebred dogs that still closely resembles its original ancestors. The stunning and powerful-looking Alaskan Malamute. These intelligent dogs have many wolf-like features, and they are believed to be part wolf. They still retain a lot of their wolf-like traits today, such as their incredibly high prey drive and their signature howl. 

While this ancient breed may be intimidating in size, they do not make the best guard dogs. This is because they are so friendly towards everyone they meet.


6. Saluki

The Saluki is a unique dog and is considered one of the oldest dog breeds closely related to wolves genetically. These pups were once referred to as the 'Persian Greyhound' as they closely resemble the Greyhound in both appearance and character traits. The Saluki can be physically identified by their narrow heads and thin, muscular bodies. These dogs were built to run and can sprint at an incredible speed of 30-35 miles/hour.

This dog breed has lived among ancient civilizations for thousands of years. These dogs originated in the Middle East, and images resembling the Saluki were found on carvings from the Sumerian empire dating back about 8000 years ago!


7. Ibizan Hound

Ibizan Hound

It is not exactly clear how these dogs arrived in Ibiza; however, their skills proved to be so useful that they are still used for hunting small game in Spain and other countries. Their great hunting abilities originate from their wolf ancestors.

The Ibizan Hound was originally used for hunting small game such as rabbits and hares on the Spanish island of Ibiza. These athletic dogs typically weigh between 45-50 pounds and have a high energy level. These dogs can be quickly identified by their long, narrow head, their large erect ears, and their beautiful red and white coat.


8. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky Dog Breed

The Siberian Husky has a very unique appearance. Their often multi-colored eyes, thick coats, and wolf-like features will make anyone take a second glance. The Siberian Husky not only closely resembles wolves but is also very closely related genetically. 

The Husky is one of the oldest dog breeds and originated among the Chukchi tribe in Siberia. They were used by this nomadic tribe primarily for transportation but were also often used as companion dogs. The children would sleep on their Huskies, using their fur as a nice warm pillow. Perhaps since they have lived among humans their entire lives, the Husky gets along great with everyone they meet.


9. Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar Pei Dog Breed

This breed's long history dates back to ancient China, where they were used as farm dogs, hunters, and fighters. The Chinese Shar-Pei is a unique dog breed known for its distinctive wrinkles, blue-black tongue, loyalty, and very close relation to their wolf ancestors. Shar-Pei dogs are incredibly loyal to their owners, which is part of why they make excellent guard dogs.


10. Pekingese

Pekingese Dog Breed

The Pekingese is certainly not your average dog. These little guys are packed with character and have a history dating back over 2000 years. This ancient breed is much tougher and braver than their 7-14 pound build suggests, and they are among the dogs that are genetically closest to wolves. 

The "Pekes" originated in China, where they were prized companions of the imperial family. They were always closely guarded and were never allowed outside of the palace. Commoners would even bow down to them! The attitude of this dog today gives off the impression that they know what an important role they once held and still demand that same respect from us mere commoners (yes, even the bowing).



It is incredible to think that once wild and ferocious animals have become our everyday best friends. While we do not usually envision our dogs as wolves, they will always have some similar traits that we will notice.

We are certainly glad that dogs and humans became friends thousands of years ago, as it resulted in the wonderful companions that many of us love and care for today!



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