What Is The Closest Dog to a Wolf?

All dogs descended from wolves. In fact, wolf and dog DNA differ by a mere 0.2 percent. Genetically speaking, domestic dogs are much closer to wolves than even coyotes are. Wolf and coyote DNA differs by four percent. A study called CanMap was conducted by UCLA, Cornell University, and the National Institutes of Health. It endeavored to discover what the closest dog to a wolf is. They gathered DNA from 1000 canines representing 85 breeds. This study concluded that the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Shiba Inu, and Chow Chow were the closest dog breeds to wolves.

Professor Merete Fredholm at the University of Copenhagen states that previously accepted scientific belief has been that all dogs are descended from one wolf pack in China. However, more recent evidence shows that many human cultures and civilizations domesticated dogs at different times. The consensus at England’s Durham University is that all modern dogs are directly and exclusively descended from gray wolves. However, there has been so much canine cross-breeding over the past few hundred years or so that it’s now nearly impossible to trace a direct link from a modern dog to the wolf. Researchers can only make generalizations based on the genetic evidence they have, which is what the CanMap study did.

Moreover, dogs in recent times have been bred for not only specific tasks but for companionship. Dogs are now pets, which further alters their behavior and blurs the wolf-dog line even more. However, here are some facts about the four breeds from the CanMap study:

What Dogs are Closest to Wolves?

  • Akita
  • Shiba Inu
  • Chow Chow
  • Alaskan Malamute


wolf like akita dog

This magnificent Japanese breed is sometimes called a wolf hybrid. They resemble a wolf with a curly flip tail.

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Shiba Inu

shiab inu puppy

This curly-tailed Japanese hunting dog looks somewhat like a very small red wolf. They are smart, charming, faithful, and fearless.

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Chow Chow

chow chow dog in nature

These are sturdy, blue-tongued, independent, and loyal dogs with a double coat and curly tail. Often red, they can also be black, blue, cream or fawn.

Alaskan Malamute

malamute running like a wolf

These are large dogs that look a great deal like a wolf. Devoted, strong, loyal, and with thick coats, they were often used to pull sleds in Arctic environments.

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