Both dogs and wolves belong to the canine family, although both are completely different from each other. While one is man’s best friend, the other is a dangerous species and top predator in the ecosystem. 
Dogs were domesticated around 15,000 years ago to coexist happily with humans. However, wolves have remained in the wild and tend to steer clear from wherever humans are found. However, that doesn’t mean that some dogs aren’t still close to wolves. Some breeds are so similar to humans, in fact, that people often get confused between a dog and a wolf.

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Let’s take a look at the closest dog breeds to wolves and why they’re close to their distant relative – the wolf.

What makes some dog breeds close to wolves? 

The main reason why dog breeds are close to wolves is their genetics. Dogs are a distant relative of wolves and this can be seen by research done on these two animals. Dr. Robert K. Wayne is a canid biologist and molecular geneticist who states that modern dogs only differ from grey wolves by 0.2% of their DNA.

This is an incredibly small difference considering that coyotes are often considered the wolf’s closest relatives and also have a 4% difference between their DNA. This means that dogs are 20 times closer to wolves than coyotes are in regards to their genetics. Some dogs are closer to wolves than others due to cross-breeding making them look and act so different from one another. 

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Dogs closest to wolves in regards to their looks

When people think of wolves and dog breeds, many will automatically think of the Husky. Both the Husky and wolves have boxy snouts, pointed short ears, muscular bodies, and similar eye shapes. However, Huskies are smaller in size and have many different personalities from wolves. Another dog that looks very similar to a wolf is the Alaskan Malamute.

Both of these breeds are often mistaken for wolves, with some people even wondering whether they are actually domesticated wolves. Below is a list of other dog breeds that look very similar to wolves, and therefore can be considered closest to wolves in regards to their looks.

Samoyed

While this breed is much smaller than a wolf, they could still be considered similar-looking to wolves. They have short and pointed ears with long snouts. Samoyeds are still used in Russia for pulling sleds and herding reindeer. This dog also has similar genetics to wolves. 

Siberian Husky

This northern dog breed originated from Siberia where it is and has been used for pulling sleds. The Siberian Husky resembles a wolf both in looks and genetics. It’s worth noting that the Siberian Wolf is different from the Siberian Husky, although many people get these confused. 

Basenji

The Basenji bears a slight resemblance to its wolf ancestors and is a hunting dog from Africa. It has pointed ears, a long snout, and similar tendencies to the grey wolf. This dog is also genetically similar to the wolf, and you can see a few similarities between their faces. 

Shiba Inu

This breed is a small Japanese dog, but you can see a small resemblance to wolves. They hunt rabbits and birds, also giving them a similar personality to wolves. Plus, their DNA is also similar. While it may be small, the Shiba Inu is very similar to its wolf ancestors. 

Alaskan Malamute

Similar to the Husky, this breed is perhaps the closest to wolves in regards to their looks. This is partly due to the fact that their genetic make-up is still incredibly similar to their wolf ancestors.

Dogs closest to wolves in regards to their DNA

Scientists gathered data and DNA from 1,000 dogs of 85 different breeds. After analyzing the data, they found that four dogs were closest to wolves in regards to their DNA. These breeds were the Shiba Inu, Chow Chow, Akita, and Alaskan Malamute. 

It is interesting to note that Huskies are not on this list. This shows that a dog does not have to look like a wolf to necessarily be close to wolves in regards to their DNA. Below is a list of a few more dog breeds that are closest to wolves regarding their DNA and genetics. 

Shih Tzu

This dog is a small, decadent-looking dog that has no visual similarities to wolves. However, the Shih Tzu is one of the closest dog breeds related to wolves in regards to their genetics.

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Pekingese

Again, this lapdog looks nothing like a wolf and is extremely calm and loving in their personalities. However, they are extremely close to wolves in their genetic make-up. 

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apsos are used as watchdogs for Buddist monasteries in Tibet, where the breed originates from. This dog is very small and fluffy. Despite this, their DNA is very similar to that of a wolf. 

Tibetan Terrier

Similar to the Lhasa Apso, this dog originates from Tibet. This dog is not a true terrier; however, as they have been kept as purebred dogs for over 2,000 years in their native country. Despite this, its DNA is very similar to grey wolves.

Saluki

While the Saluki is larger than the other dogs that we’ve looked at on this list, it is much slimmer and less muscular than a wolf. They have long snouts, but this is pretty much where the similarities in looks end. Salukis are often thought of as the oldest dog breeds in existence, dating back as far as 10,000 BC. Ancient rock art indicates that this is factual. As this dog is considered the oldest breed, it makes sense that they are incredibly close to their wolf ancestors. 

Summary

There are many dogs that are similar to their wolf ancestors, both in their looks and appearance. With the breeds that look like wolves, it’s not difficult to believe that their DNA is still very similar. However, it’s difficult to believe that many breeds, such as the Lhasa Apso or the Chow Chow, are still similar to wolves regarding their DNA.